September 29, 2005

Inconceivable Actually Sounds Pretty Conceivable

Haven't seen it, but NBC's new soap opera/series Inconceivable is set in a Beverly Hills fertility clinic, and is full of "come on, that'd never happen!" storylines and ethical dilemmas that, at least according to Slate's Liza Mundy, are barely the tip of the sperm iceberg:

In L.A., land of 48-year-old actresses-turned-first-time-mothers, the trade in donor eggs is so active and so normalized that the college-age daughter of a friend of mine, sitting at a cafe in Santa Monica, was approached by an unknown couple who asked if she would be their donor. Surrogacy laws are friendly in California. Fertility treatment is cheaper in California. In Los AngelesóI think this is fair to sayódoctors may debate ethics, but chances are the end of the debate will be: Yes.

Mundy, who's writing a book on assisted reproduction, goes on to explore the under-reported, largely unregulated, under-discussed ethical and emotional landscape of in-vitro fertilization and other reproductive technologies.

There are gay dads negotiating how much fast food their surrogate will be allowed to eat, the endemic fear of sperm/egg/embryo switching, and the opposite: the widespread practice of not telling kids they were conceived using a donor egg. Sounds like it'd make a great documentary.

All Too Conceivable [slate]


You keep using that word - I do not think that word means what you think it means.

[? what, sperm? -ed.]

I sincerely hope they present at least a semi-balanced view. As a donor myself, working with a reputable agency, I cannot think of anyhing better or more rewarding than helping someone else have a baby.

I'm uncomfortable with egg donation.

Yes, it's a kind, noble, good thing to "donate" an egg (or sperm) to needy folks/relatives, etc. But when it becomes a business; when ads in 'zines lure folks to sell their body parts... Ewww.

Seems to me like these "treatments" veer toward medical experimentation on women. What's the success rate for IVF again? Like 20%? And the mega-multiples--Oh man that's painful to think about.

I know the people involved all willing participants, but it seems to me like the medical profession likes to come up with bizarre procedures and try 'em out on us.

Then, the most bizarre (think partial birth...) get the attention of the righties and all our reproductive options are at risk.

FWIW, the "mega-multiples" very rarely come from IVF (because responsible reproductive endocrinologists won't tranfer more than 2 or 3 embryos--the goal is a live baby or two, not a precarious high-order-multiple pregnancy). They're mostly from IUI (aka artificial insemination) because there's no way to control how many eggs are fertilized.

Anyone who watches that show has a higher tolerance for Ming Na and Angie Harmon than I do.


Thanks for the clarification. So many acronyms, so little time to figure them out.

AS for watching the show: what am I doing wrong? I get home from work, feed the kid, bathe her, read & do bedtime and, what, I'm supposed to have the energy to watch tv? Egad.

OK, we watch movies--thank the gods for netflix... But scheduled programming? Never. No, I won't do tivo--I'd need cable first...

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