IVF and Rights Gone Mad

We live in an age in which rights are being pushed on all fronts. Individuals and groups are clamoring for rights that until recently didn’t even exist. Much of the “rights industry” has developed around so-called social justice and discrimination issues.

One of the most recent – and outrageous – examples is the discussion in Victoria to allow the “psychologically infertile” access to expensive IVF treatment. Women who have an “aversion” to men (lesbians, single women, etc.) are said to be unfairly disadvantaged and discriminated against. Thus the Infertility Treatment Authority (ITA) is planning to change its guidelines so that singles and lesbians can be allowed IVF access.

The mind boggles at how far some politicians and social engineers will stretch both the English language and common sense in order to push their radical agendas. This is even more so when one considers the history of IVF treatment in Victoria.

When IVF was first made available around 25 years ago, Victoria was one of several states to go through a lengthy and pain-staking consultative process on guidelines for the new industry. After extensive research, consultation and debate, it developed a fairly comprehensive and balanced set of guidelines. Released in 1984 as the Infertility Treatment Act, it said that IVF access could be available only for medically (physically) infertile married couples.

In 1995 the Act was amended to allow de facto couples who were infertile to also access IVF technology. However, more recently, the definition of infertility has been broadened to include “social infertility”. That is, people who are not biologically infertile, but just haven’t gotten around to finding a partner of the opposite sex, should be eligible for the treatment. To deny them access would be discriminatory.

This change in thinking came about when Lisa Meldrum, a single woman, challenged the Victorian legislation in a court case last year. The Federal Court agreed with her, effectively overturning Victoria’s guidelines. Thus “social infertility” became an operating principle in Australian law.

But political correctness is ever ravenous, looking for new avenues in which to overturn centuries of established wisdom and morality. Thus the new definition of “psychological fertility”. Victorian Health Minister John Thwaits has given the ITA the go-ahead to rewrite its guidelines. The change in guidelines can take place without the need to have Parliament alter any legislation.

As expected, the IVF industry is fully behind the move. Melbourne IVF chairman John McBain said, “In a humane and enlightened society, psychological reasons are accepted to be genuine medical problems”. Homosexual groups and the other usual suspects also applauded the changes.

There are of course a number of major problems with such proposals. The first is this whole notion of “psychological infertility”. One wonders what politically correct hat that one was pulled from. And if that concept is embraced, one can expect that it will have to be applied everywhere.

Indeed, to be consistent we cannot stop there. One can easily imagine the need to help the “psychologically” unemployable – you know, people with an aversion to work. It would not be right to discriminate against these poor souls, so let’s offer them free pensions for life.

And what about the “psychologically” unfaithful – people with an aversion to keeping their marriage vows? We dare not discriminate against them so let’s give the swingers all the benefits of marriage – but of course without any of the responsibilities.

While we are at it, let us spare a moment for the “psychologically” un-athletic – for instance short people who are discriminated against from playing with the Victorian Titans, or large people who are discriminated against from being jockeys. The world is full of such discrimination, and far be it for governments to overlook such obvious social injustices.

It is said that verbal engineering precedes social engineering. Talk of “psychological infertility” is one of the best (or worst) examples yet of such nonsense. This is but another attempt of the ruling elite to soak the taxpayer in order to radically remake society in their own image. Where will it all end?

Another major problem with this proposal concerns the weakness of many rights claims. This weakness is two-fold. First, all the emphasis is on rights, while duties and responsibilities are under-emphasized – or ignored altogether. Second, the creation of new rights for special interest groups often comes at the expense of other parts of the community. That is, special rights often take away the rights of other people.

In this case, the needs and interests (and rights) of children are totally overlooked in the debate. The whole emphasis is on the rights of adults to do as they please. No talk of adult responsibility is heard, and no one is speaking up for the poor child conceived in such radical family experiments. The right of a child to be born and raised by two biological parents has given way to parenting by committee. In the IVF process, three, four or five different players in the game can be found. How is a child supposed to make sense of such a reproductive menagerie?

Lesbians and singles will argue that they can love a child just as much as anyone else can. Indeed, this was the line taken ad nauseum by Lisa Meldrum, the single woman who first opened this latest can of bioethical worms. She insisted that she could do a great job of raising her IVF child.

On a debate about the issue on 60 Minutes last year she angrily challenged me, saying who was I to judge her, and claiming she would be a loving, committed mother. In my response to her I said, “No one doubts that you could be a wonderful mother. But you will make a lousy father.” And that is just the point. Children need a father as much as they need a mother. All the social science evidence clearly points to this truth.

To deliberately seek to bring a child into the world, with the intention of depriving the child of one of the two most important persons in their life is a form of child abuse. Strong words – but the weight of social science research overwhelmingly backs this up. By every indicator, a child will do much better when raised in an intact two-parent family, preferably cemented by marriage. A child who is not so raised will be more likely to become involved in crime, do poorly in school, commit suicide and experiment with drugs.

Yet none of this seems to be of concern to the new social engineers. They want to maximize adult happiness, even if it means minimizing child well-being. If these new guidelines are approved, this is just what we will see: maximizing child misery while expanding the never-ending list of demands of the rights industry.

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