Some Home Truths

I count on Patricia J. Williams as a voice of reason, and her recent essay, Eight is Enough in The Nation is clear-sighted and compassionate without letting anyone off the hook. She discusses not only “the Octomom” but large families on reality TV, and Alex Kuczinski who paid a surrogate to carry her baby and wrote about it the New York Times Magazine.

Against the backdrop of a cold, impersonal and lonely world, these well-feathered and overly populated nests look villagey and warm. It’s an undeniably seductive vision, even if other options like adoption and fostering are almost never mentioned. Also less discussed are the side effects of this mad race for biological generation at all costs: the likelihood of multiple births, low birth weight and birth defects; the ethics of using poorer women as fetal hatcheries; the health risks to young women who have their “Ivy League” eggs extracted for handsome sums of cash.

Freedom and responsibility, choice and consequences. The questions won’t get easier as science advances, and we have to find answers.