Same job, different uniform.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Reflection is Inconvenient; Resort to Name-Calling

More thoughts on the 63 year-old woman who, through the magic of fertility treatment, is on the road to becoming Great Britain's oldest mum…

This Guardian writer posits that nay-sayers of the procedure (and there haven't been many) are sexist.
Those who are horrified should ask honestly whether it is really the fate of her child that concerns them. I hope they are equally worried about every child of problematic mothers too. Or is this just a visceral yuk about old women's bodies that they don't feel about old men's?

The author suggests that cries of, "It's not natural!" are meaningless. After all, nature is a cruel mistress. Disease is an example of this. In fact, overcoming nature is often a sign of progress.

With that loaded argument swept aside, sexism remains as the only source of consternation.

There is a problem with this logic. We cannot compare disease with pregnancy. This doesn't involve the cell-ravaging effects of cancer or the mind-ravaging effects of Alzheimer’s. Honest attempts to eradicate Polio are hardly synonymous with, let's say, cloning. Healing can be distinguished from manipulating.

It's unfortunate that a 63 year old sperm is just as good, so to speak, as a 25 year-old sperm but a 63 year old uterus is different than a 25 year-old uterus. Nature makes the distinction. So should we.

When nature sends women through menopause, nature is sending a message that this woman is past childbearing, and childrearing, years.

I suppose that we are all beneficiaries of the "progress" of conquering nature. I am quite fond of modern dentistry as I am a big fan of my own teeth. But we should be wary about getting too excited about conquering nature. When all of outside nature is conquered, there is only one undiscovered country left, and that is the brave new world of human nature (forgive the mixed metaphors). I prefer to leave that nature unconquered by science.

Sexism is not the only possible explanation for serious reflection on these matters. It is low to imply it.

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Blogger Briana LeClaire said...

Human nature HAS been changed by science, already. I think THE biggest change in human nature, ever, has been brought about by the availability of (relatively) safe and reliable contraception. For the first time in human history there is a real disconnect between sex and procreation and that has permanently changed what it means to be human. I think this is what C.S. Lewis's "Abolition of Man" is about, or at least the book can be read keeping contraception in mind, and his predictions have come true.

Saturday, May 13, 2006


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