I read an account, in yesterday's Times magazine, of the author's decision to hire a gestational surrogate
. It nicely illustrated the kind of circumstances that can lead to surrogacy: protracted infertility on one side; financial and altruistic benefits on the other.
Coincidentally, a solicitation for the Smile Train
ran alongside part of the article. It reminded me of a news item I saw last week linking assisted reproduction (ART) -- particularly in vitro
) -- with increased incidence of certain birth defects
. Among these was a more than doubling of the risk for cleft lip with or without associated cleft palate.
The magazine showed photos of the author's healthy baby. My friends who have used IVF
share similarly joyful results. It seems like it would make the decision to pursue IVF
much more difficult if you suspected something in the process itself made your baby more at risk for certain defects. On the other hand, any choice to conceive, let alone raise, a child is fraught with risk to that child's health and well being.
Perhaps it is the case that parents going the ART route have considered scenarios and answered hypothetical
questions before meeting with a doctor or employing the proverbial turkey baster that the rest of us avoid altogether simply because we can. That does not mean the "unassisted reproducers" don't face risk of loss and complications. Rather, because our initial investment is so low (semen is free), we have the luxury of hoping for the best.