Thursday, July 05, 2007

For Your Bookshelf

Last month I finished reading The Baby Business: How Money, Science and Politics Drive the Commerce of Conception (is that not the creepiest baby photo you've seen in a long time?). It was a thorough summary of the varied degrees to which reproduction has been divorced from sexual intercourse. The book's author, Debora Spar, is neutral in her assessment of the options we have for becoming parents. Her interest is in the markets these options create.

No one wants to think of adoption, in vitro fertilization, or surrogacy as the purchase of a human being. Spar argues that, like it or not, commercial transactions are at the heart of nearly all these means of creating families. She makes a case that everyone involved in these transactions would be best served by recognizing them as commerce and bringing transparent regulation to bear on them. Too often, government is afraid to explicitly legislate in the reproductive arena. This leaves all participants vulnerable to uncertainty and exploitation.

It was good food for thought.

And now I'm curious to get my hands on Pushed: The Painful Truth about Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care. It was published only last month by one of the authors of Our Bodies, Ourselves. Without reading it, I don't know if it's comparable to other recent books calling modern maternity care into question (e.g. Misconceptions; Immaculate Deception II; Birth as an American Rite of Passage). It certainly seems to be in that vein.

You can check out an interview with its author, Jennifer Block here. As a teaser (from the interview):

[T]here's a much larger issue of women's access to optimal maternity care that feminists need to address. Some women are going to great lengths to access support for physiological birth, meanwhile most women are getting care that is not evidence-based and more likely to cause themselves or their babies harm. This should be of major concern to feminists. Women deserve better.



Anonymous Julie said...

Ick. That is a creepy picture.

10:26 AM  
Anonymous naomi dagen bloom said...

are you going to write more about these issues? seems so much more complex to make "the right decision" for a young mother now than for me in 1960s. so much coming at them from so many perspectives.

btw, the little head scarf is charming.

8:22 PM  
Blogger doulicia said...

I am very interested in the variety of reproduction methods and probably will continue to post on them. I am still forming my opinions, however.

I understand the desire to have a child, and a child of one's own in some cases. I am sympathetic to the desire to screen for genetic deformities, even in embryo stage.

At some point, however, the whole process becomes so scientific I'm disturbed by it on a visceral level.

Not to say I wouldn't go the whole nine yards. I don't know. I feel blessed never to have had to decide.

But I get nervous about tinkering with the system that evolution has so finely tuned. It seems not only blasphemous to our genetic lineage but just cosmically wrong for humans to take over and more crudely execute this delicate process that took hundreds of thousands of years to refine.

As for adoption, again, I could see myself doing it. Especially after seeing our friends' new daughter they adopted from China. But the adoption situation is fundamentally sad and I don't know what can be changed about that. I have to believe even in cultures where girls have little value, no mother wants to let go of her own child. For every happy adoptive family I see (including my brother-in-law's), I think of a mother out there who wonders "where?" "how?"

10:01 AM  
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5:48 PM  

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