Open Thread: Child-Free Resources, Suggestions, and General Bitching

Ask and ye shall receive. Commenter Ali says:

“Not to mention that the logical consequence of bringing society around to the point where being childfree is a non-weird, totally acceptable option is more people taking that option.”

Sorry to threadjack for a second but Jill (or Cara or anyone else), could we have an open thread about this please? I was just refused permanent BC (the essure procedure specifically) by my OB as well as another doctor I called because evidently I’m too stupid at 25 to know that I don’t want biological children. ever. I’ve been shaking in rage and frustration all morning and I don’t know what else I can do at this point.

I know this has come up before on the blog, so this may be a good time to pool resources and share stories. These things go both ways: Women who are considered “fit” to reproduce (young, white, middle-income or higher, educated, able-bodied, etc) are often second-guessed in their decisions to not have children or to delay childbearing — and especially in the decision to go on permanent or long-term birth control. On the other hand, women who are deemed “unfit” to reproduce and/or parent (often women of color, poor women, drug-using women and disabled women) are forced or coerced into sterilization, or legally punished for exercising their fundamental right to reproduce.

So this might be a good place to share resources, strategies and information about how we can fully exercise our reproductive rights in a world where our identities shape just how free we’re all allowed to be.

151 comments for “Open Thread: Child-Free Resources, Suggestions, and General Bitching

  1. Sailorman
    February 26, 2009 at 5:58 pm

    Just as a random datapoint, it happens to men too. When I went for a vasectomy, the doctor (a man) asked me how many kids I had. I asked why he cared and he told me he wouldn’t do it if I didn’t have kids. (which I do, so he did. But still.)

    I’m in my LATE THIRTIES, for chrissakes. It is absofuckinglutely ridiculous.

    Anyway, what to do to change it? Two ideas, randomly:

    1) Lobby the medical specialty groups who do sterilizations. If you can get them to agree with you that this is a problem, then they’ll issue a guideline. It’s probably easier and faster to lobby them than it is to do #2, though you might do both.

    2) Go for legislation. NOT the legislation that might first spring to mind, a.k.a. “it is illegal to refuse to sterilize someone.” That may be sensible :) but it will never pass. Instead, pass legislation that limits tort damages for people who get sterilized and then want to sue the doctors. I.e. “the law provides for this consent form and if you sign and notarize it then you cannot sue because you decide later you want kids and feel like you didn’t know it was permanent.” Is that really a problem? I doubt it–but it is probably giong to be effective, anyway. Doctors are weird like that.

  2. Kristen (The J one)
    February 26, 2009 at 6:14 pm

    Yup…I had been telling my OB that I didn’t want to have children since I my very first pap. Doesn’t matter. It wasn’t until I was 27 that someone actually agreed to give me an IUD. Ridiculousness.

  3. Esme
    February 26, 2009 at 6:20 pm

    My OB told me that she wouldn’t ordinarily do an IUD immediately for a patient who hasn’t had children, but that she would do mine because my mother is a doctor, so I’m more familiar with medical risks (which seemed a little odd).

    Obviously EVERYONE can’t be childfree (or homosexual in absence of fertility). And also, quite obviously, not everyone is going to be. If everyone made the same choices in life as everyone else, if everyone was an exact copy of everyone else, it would ignore the basic things that make sexual reproduction a good way to reproduce: that it creates unique beings, thus allowing for the kind of variation which protects from diseases. I hate it when people argue that things like being child-free or gay is bad because there would be no babies if everyone did it.

  4. Poetry
    February 26, 2009 at 6:29 pm

    As someone who decided at age 12 that she would never reproduce and hasn’t changed her mind since, I hate it when people assume that I will want to procreate, and then when I tell them I don’t want to, insist that I will change my mind. Either that, or they act totally shocked, as if I’d told them I was moving to Antarctica. Somehow I think that if I were male, they wouldn’t find it quite so incredible…

  5. oxygengrrl
    February 26, 2009 at 6:30 pm

    Fire your doctor if they don’t respect your choices.

    I once had a doctor who, because I admitted to being “sexually active,” tested me for a slew of STDs when what I had, and knew I had, was a UTI. So I never went there again, and I told all my friends.

    When I have to find a new doctor, I have a conversation with her or him that goes like this: “I take the pill full-time and only take a break about once a year (for that fake period you get on the pill). I’ve done the research. I know what I’m doing. Are you good with this?” If they say no, I find another doctor.

    This doesn’t help in an emergency room, or when your options are limited, but it does help when you have more freedom–and I think the result is that you feel more empowered in the former situations, too, because you’re used to being taken seriously and treated like an adult.

    I also try to make it a practice to call all doctors who address me by first name, by their first name (which is often harder than it seems). I think that helps, too. People question their equals’ choices less than they do those of people they condescend to, consciously or not.

  6. February 26, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    If you’re poor and in Michigan, Plan First covers free IUDs (thanks, Gov. Granholm!). That’s how I got mine. Love it.

  7. Jacquie
    February 26, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    THANK YOU for this open thread… I am 23 and have known ever since I was about 12 or 13 that I do not want biological children. I figure if I ever develop this parental instinct that I was supposedly born with because I’m a woman, that I’ll adopt. I was raised in a very pro-adoption circle and have no doubts about my reproductive choices. Last year when I asked about permanent BC my OB GYN pretty much laughed at me and wrote me another prescription for the Pill. My husband and I are now looking at getting him a vasectomy because it’s just easier to convince a doctor to do that, from everything I’ve been learning. I just want to know: is there ANY doctor that will tie my tubes, or that does Essure or anything permanent, even though I am relatively young and haven’t had any kids? I’m willing to call a hundred doctors to find one that will, but if you have any suggestions, or if it’s pretty much hopeless and I shouldn’t even try, please let me know.

    Also I’ve considered egg donation in the past, but still want to be sterilized. Would getting sterilized automatically make me unable to donate? I’m no medical person so I don’t know if that’s a dumb question or not but from everything I’ve read about the 2 separate processes I don’t know of a reason why that wouldn’t be possible.

  8. Dungeon Keeper
    February 26, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    I have been arguing for years that I never want children and it took me threatening to do self surgery with “a kitchen knife and a copy of Grey’s anatomy” to finally get referred to an OB. And then I had some anti-choicer offer to ‘adopt’ if anything happens between now and my waiting list. I assured her that there was no way I was giving birth by any means necessary, be it a clinic, a coat hanger or a jump in front of a fast moving train. I also reminded another anti-choicer that by getting my tubes tied I could suffer a tubal pregnancy that will kill me and thereby made every possible pregnancy a life threatening one just to make damn sure I will have it terminated. What sort of society makes you have to threaten yourself with self-mutilation and possible death because you choose not to have children?

  9. scootermom
    February 26, 2009 at 7:28 pm

    I knew when I was about ten that motherhood was not for me. Some women see babies and feel maternal. I see a baby and want to get away quickly.

    Fortunately, my husband shares my instincts. We have dogs. And we’re both pushing 50. Soon, menopause will naturally take care of the fertility thing. In the meantim, I love depo because I haven’t had a period in ages.

    I used to get so incredibly angry when people would tell me, “Oh, you’ll feel different once you’ve had a baby.” As if an unwanted pregnancy would suddenly “turn on” my maternal switch and make everything OK, and that I really didn’t know what I was talking about because, you know, I hadn’t experienced maternal bliss yet.

    The really funny thing is that many of my friends have told me that although they love their kids, if they could do it over again they wouldn’t.

  10. qvd
    February 26, 2009 at 7:46 pm

    Just a quick note… if anyone is considering donating eggs (or sperm) please don’t do it anonymously.

    Many donor-conceived children are angry about being forever barred from knowing the identities of their biological parents. It’s parallel to adopting a child and refusing to tell them who their birth parents are. Egg/sperm donation with the option of being contacted later in life is a lot more ethical.

    Tubal ligation doesn’t affect the ovaries.

  11. akeeyu
    February 26, 2009 at 7:59 pm

    @ Jacquie: Having your tubes tied would not affect your ability to donate eggs. Heck, you could have a hysterectomy and still donate eggs. They retrieve eggs via an ultrasound guided needle up your chooch (and before you start crossing your legs in utter horror, they knock you out first).

    But yeah, what qvd said. Anonymity isn’t really fair to the kids.

    But back to the issue. Permanent birth control. I have a co-worker who has a large number of children. Another pregnancy would literally kill her. Her husband’s doctor refuses to sterilize her husband until my co-worker signs off on the procedure. You know, in case he’s getting a vasectomy behind her back? Because…men do that? What?

    So. Dumb.

  12. akeeyu
    February 26, 2009 at 8:06 pm

    Oh, and FWIW, I think some doctors don’t like putting IUDs in women who haven’t had children yet because they’re harder/more uncomfortable to insert and you’re more likely to have certain side effects if your uterus hasn’t had any squatters.

    Not that plenty of them don’t decline for stupid paternalistic reasons, just that those aren’t always the *only* reasons.

  13. preying mantis
    February 26, 2009 at 8:19 pm

    So far, I’ve had two friends tell me about their sterilization/long-term BC experiences, both 30, no kids, and “fit.” The one talked with a new gyno about the possibility of getting an IUD, said she never wanted biological children, and had sterilization put on the table right off the bat. The other asked about getting her uterus removed after some troubling test results, reasoning that she never wanted biological children and definitely did not want cancer. She got patronized and jerked around until they actually were talking uterine cancer, at which point the doctor was finally okay with a hysterectomy.

    I’ve known that I didn’t want biological children since as long as I can remember. If my husband, who wants children very badly, and I ever split up, the very first thing I’m doing is getting an IUD or a tubal. The only thing I have ever fucking heard from anyone but close friends in response to saying I don’t want kids is “You just wait, you’ll change your mind.”

    But when it comes to being childfree, the solutions are ultimately easier than the other side of the coin. If it comes down to it, you could theoretically dispatch federally-funded doctors willing to sterilize people until the cows come home to every corner of the country. You have people who actively want something and can’t get it; supplying it tends to solve the problem.

    Realistically, if I decide I want a tubal and can’t get one, that’s a really bad thing. However, I can still get the pill, I can still get condoms, I can still get depo–I can still get as many non-permanent alternatives as are legal. If someone gets duped into a sterilization or has sterilization forced on them, their chances of being able to have children later on have been monumentally compromised, and when you’ve got people who don’t want something having it forced on them…there tends to be way more than one delivery mechanism in non-eugenicist states.

    Coercing or forcing people into sterilization is already illegal and considered unethical. The people doing it generally know their behavior is at best tapdancing on a legal and ethical line. They go out of their way to hide their behavior from the public and regulatory bodies and put up a lot of window-dressing when they’re getting too publicly close to the line. Target populations are less likely to know their rights, be aware of avenues of redress, or have access to alternate resources.

    Aggressive government programs to combat the problem can do a lot of good–people who’ve received thorough sex-ed in schools are less easily lied to about the reversibility of tubals/vasectomies, people with a viable social safety net and reliable access to short-term contraception are less prone to being bribed or financially coerced into unwanted long-term methods of contraception, etc.–but any time there’s a diverse spectrum of bad actors, you’re going to get cracks. I don’t know that there really is a solution that doesn’t fall into the “better, but far from perfect” category.

  14. purpleshoes
    February 26, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    akeeyu, this is true. The women I’ve known who’ve gotten IUDs who have ever been pregnant said insertion was uncomfortable. The women I knew who’ve had them (apparently they are not hard to get in North Carolina! I have been offered this option by both county health care and Planned Parenthood, and I am white, middle-class, nulliparious, and young) and had never been pregnant reported hellish insertions.

    How many people have asked Planned Parenthood? What has the response been? Planned Parenthood seems like they would have less ideological problem with this…

  15. Mary
    February 26, 2009 at 8:35 pm

    akeeyu,
    Yeah, that’s what a couple doctors told me when I called about 10 looking for someone to insert an IUD in 24 year old me. I ended up going to Planned Parenthood since they didn’t blink an eye at doing it. It was extremely painful (which is rare even for those without children) and the NP was a tad unbelieving about the pain level, but I’ve had it nearly 1.5 years and I’m SO glad I did. I go to PP for all my gyno stuff since it’s so easy to get an appointment whenever I need to and the staff was incredibly supportive when I was leaving in tears after the first failed insertion attempt (my cervix is like a vice).

  16. February 26, 2009 at 8:40 pm

    @ Akeeyu, nulliparous women are more likely to expel the IUD, and they’re also more likely to have small uteri, and more painful insertions due to the cervix having never passed anything larger than a clot of endometrium before. The IUD Divas group on LJ is a GREAT resource for anyone thinking about one.

  17. Butch Fatale
    February 26, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    In light of the long and continuing history of women of color being coerced into sterilization, I would be very concerned with any proposed legislation that would limit the ability of someone to later sue. While I don’t think women who actively pursue sterilization should be prevented from it, I don’t think a law that would further harm women who are coerced into temporary or permanent sterilization is a good solution.

  18. Beth
    February 26, 2009 at 9:03 pm

    While I don’t have any story of my own to add, my friend recently got an IUD after a struggle finding someone willing to do it. She wrote about it here.

  19. February 26, 2009 at 9:30 pm

    I’m still a bit bitter that my husband, who has a disability that is genetic, was sterilized without the least bit of drama, but my requesting a sterilization earlier was refused. I’m older than he is.

    It was very obvious (to me) that they were good with him because he might pass on his disability, but I’m a Nice Able-Bodied White Lady who might change my mind.

    Yeah, cuz at 33 I don’t know what I want. *eyeroll*

  20. bleh
    February 26, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    yes, yes – I heard that I would change my mind throughout my twenties and thirties. Funny, I didn’t change my mind. Of course, I’m not interested in surgery, so I did not try for the tubal.

    I have had problems just getting regular BC pills from doctors w/out jumping through ridiculous hoops. I’ve had friends who had similar problems. Now, I just go to PP because I never have to worry if the staff are bizarrely interested in controlling my uterus. It makes me feel kinda like a teenager, but peace of mind is a good thing.

  21. Eccaba
    February 26, 2009 at 10:00 pm

    I’m 27 and and as soon as my next period ends I’m going to get sterilized, and I’m thrilled! I recently heard about Essure over at Twisty’s. I had never realized that there was such an easy risk free way of getting sterilized. I’ve always known that I didn’t want children. The whole instinct thing has always been absent. I don’t even like kids. Well, I thought about it, and I said, “Self, can you find a good reason NOT to get this done? No.” I went onto the Essure website and searched by zip code. There was only one female doctor who did the procedure in the surrounding area. I figured I’d give at shot. Not to mention, her willingness to hear me out was a great test for weather or not she was qualified to be my doctor. Her staff didn’t bulk when I said why I was setting the appointment and how old I was. She asked me several questions about why, etc, etc. The best part was she believed me.
    She even told me about another operation I can get after.. I forget the name, but it’s this thing where the shoot sugar water into your uterus and thin the lining. It usually makes your period completely disappear. (Apparently some people only get several days shaved off.) I have menarche and bleed for seven days. I’m so looking forward to it as such an operation will greatly improve my quality of life. I’m so very greatful that she told me. And after hearing about everyone’s experiences I thank my lucky stars that I was able to get such an incredible doctor.
    She has a great bedside manor. She also has you fill out a detailed questionnaire beforehand that includes issues like mental health and abuse/sexual assault. I was concerned that she might take me less seriously for acknowledging my rape, but she didn’t. She just spoke frankly to me and asked how I was coping and if I was getting the help/therapy I needed. I said I was generally fine, and I’d already done therapy and discovered feminism. :) I have the feeling she would have helped me with resources if my answer had been different.
    If anyone is in the Maryland area she has a place in both Towson and Glen Burnie. Her name is Dr. Suzie Chung. She is the awesome

  22. Jessica
    February 26, 2009 at 10:06 pm

    LJ actually has a lot of good resources. There’s a community, CF_resources, that is solely for people who have found docs who will sterilize them to post the doc and share their information.

    I was pretty lucky, I had a tubal a year ago, my first real attempt. My doc treated me like an adult, explained the possible affects of the surgery, asked me once if I understood that the surgery was not reversible and then scheduled my surgery. I was really happy with him.

  23. Eccaba
    February 26, 2009 at 10:08 pm

    Also, I can hardly wait to have relatives ask me about when I’m gonna settle down, get married and have kids. Because no matter what I say they smile condescendingly and say, “Oh, you’ll change. Just give it a few years.” Now I can say, “I can’t have children. I’m sterile.” Then the look of uncomfortable guilty horror on their faces and some sort of, “Oh, my. I’m so very sorry.” And then my response, “Don’t be. It was my decision.” And then the silent look of disgust, and the never asking me of it again. It’ll be a great conversation killer. :)

  24. CW
    February 26, 2009 at 10:30 pm

    I got an IUD a couple weeks ago – one of the local hospitals has a program where “high risk” women without health insurance (specifically ones who have just given birth or terminated a pregnancy) can get the Mirena for free. It was horribly, horribly painful to insert and for the first ten days or so just awful cramping and stabbing pains in my uterus. I have an appt to check and make sure everything’s OK with it, but that’s beside the point.

    I’m 23-almost-24. I just had an abortion and I’m dealing with that. But I don’t know if I ever want to have children. I don’t feel even the tiniest inkling of that desire. If it changes it changes but as of right now…no plans.

    In the waiting room with me were a couple of women who had just had babies and were getting the Mirena also. One said – and the other confirmed – that she wanted to be sterilized and the doctor wouldn’t do it. Guess why: because her three kids were all boys. Nevermind that she was 26 and had three kids. Nevermind that she knew she was done, done, done with babies. Nope, she hadn’t had a girl so she couldn’t get her tubes tied. The other woman said the same thing, only she’d just had girls.

    WTF kind of reasoning is that? It absolutely blows my mind.

  25. BeccaTheCyborg
    February 26, 2009 at 10:48 pm

    I’m one of the very lucky childfree. I’m 25 now and I had the astounding good luck to have my open-minded, respectful GP refer me to a feminist-friendly, open-minded OBGYN who did my tubal last spring. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. As far as getting a doctor who’ll do one, it’s a crapshoot in a lot of ways. It’s shocking the degree to which it’s so often assumed that women simply don’t know their minds, and shouldn’t be trusted with long-term birth control.

  26. UnHinged Hips
    February 26, 2009 at 11:06 pm

    “Her husband’s doctor refuses to sterilize her husband until my co-worker signs off on the procedure. You know, in case he’s getting a vasectomy behind her back? Because…men do that? What?”

    Well, I have actually heard of men doing that. But…so what?

    In what world is it okay that a doctor is limiting someone’s medical/reproductive choices because their PARTNER hasn’t consented to it? Sorry, ma’am, no abortion/IUD/pills for you unless your boyfriend says it’s okay. Excuse me, sir, have talked to your wife about having this testicle removed? Has she given you permission?

    So. Very. Wrong.

  27. Liz Barnes
    February 26, 2009 at 11:16 pm

    My husband and I recently decided to get him a vasectomy after I had to have an abortion due to health reasons and was told that with my severe case of diabetes, if I ever did get pregnant again it would most likely kill me. Never having wanted kids, we did some calling around and found him a doc that was willing to do the vasectomy. We called about three different docs and the third agreed to do it. I also asked my gyn about getting something for me and was met with nothing but resistance even though I had my ultra cool prochoice PCP call them and explain to them my situation. I have since found a doctor who is willing to help me as my husband found someone willing to help him. Trust me it makes you shake with rage when people don’t respect and trust you the patient with your own health. I know, lived it and it can annoy you horribly. My advice to anyone seeking help this way keep plugging away at it and calling around and asking most likely if my husband and I can get help in the reddest state ever, you can too.

  28. Liz Barnes
    February 26, 2009 at 11:18 pm

    Oh and for all the haters out there when I got pregnant I was on Yaz so don’t try to tell me I was being irresponsible cause we were. So suck it. Things happen and I shouldn’t even have to explain this but I know somewhere the occasional troll will try to throw the whole personal responsibility thing up. Don’t they just love that one.

  29. AL
    February 26, 2009 at 11:22 pm

    while I don’t have any traumatic BC stories to contribute, I will share one little tibit that absolutely drives me fucking nuts.

    because I am a woman, in a serious relationship and “of age” to reproduce, my family thinks it’s cute to speculate about the kids I will have. I have told them multiple times that I may not have kids/am too young to even think about that shit, but without fail, anytime I am interacting with my nephews, someone makes a comment about what a “natural” mother I’m going to be, along with something like “just wait till she has kids!” family, kindly SHUT THE FUCK UP

  30. Jadelyn
    February 26, 2009 at 11:27 pm

    CW, I know, it blows the mind of any reasonable, thinking person who sees women as fully-capable individuals. However, it’s a natural outgrowth of patriarchal culture which still believes that menz in power must protect the delicate little flowers, because their silly little lady-brains know not what they do. Just like mandatory waiting periods and “informed” consent (read: propaganda) for abortions. It all boils down to: Father Knows Best.

    I’m 23 and have known all my life I don’t want kids. When most of my peers were babysitting, I was running around outside helping my dad and his friends with building projects and stuff. My cousins are all very very…fecund (and Mormon) and so there’s always news of somebody’s new baby, and from an early age, I would get in trouble for being disinterested in them and not wanting to hold them. “Don’t you want to hold your new cousin?” “Nope.” “Isn’t she adorable?” “Nope.” And no matter how many times I say it or who I say it to, that I never want children, I just get a laugh and a patronizing, “You’ll change your mind.” Really? Do you know me better than I know me? Can you see the future? Because I could have sworn this was my life we were talking about. I have an IUD, which I love, and thank all the gods for PP, because not once did I get any lectures or stalling or second-guessing, and they did it for free because I didn’t have insurance. Oh, the blistering tirade I would have given anyone had they said something about it…Though to be honest, I can’t figure out why they would object to an IUD. It’s not permanent. You can have it taken out anytime. Where’s the problem?

    Lastly, I sympathize with the children who grow up and want to know their biological origins. However, I’m considering egg donation, and to be honest, I’m not doing it to be kind, I’m doing it because I need the money. I don’t want some stranger coming up to me in 20 years and going “Hi Mom!” at me. And it kinda weirds me out to hear pressure coming from people here, of all places, regarding what choices I make about what I do with my reproductive system, or how I execute those choices.

  31. Meg
    February 26, 2009 at 11:37 pm

    I will be 39 in a couple month. I had my tubes tied when I was 35, because I finally had insurance that would cover it (it’s an elective surgery, and damned hard to convince any insurance it’s medically necessary. Mine wasn’t) and a doc who was willing. I have know all my life I don’t want kids, I’m not crazy about being around kids, and I have no maternal instinct. I know my own limits and I simply have never ever wanted to experience pregnancy, childbirth, or having a child in my life.

    By the way, I work in healthcare, and there is a Patient Bill o Rights. (to which you have the right to have a copy). This includes the right to participate in your own healthcare decisions, to decide on courses of treatment, and to get a second opinion.

    To the very few people who’ve ever said “you’ll change your mind” to me, I often replied, “And what if I don’t? What if I did it and still can’t stand the thought? Can I give it back or exchange it for the toaster?” That usually shut them up.

  32. Kat
    February 27, 2009 at 12:48 am

    I am 24 and have spent my entire life dreaming of the day I can have any form of steralization. I grew up with disabilities, though they were hidden. They are the excuse people believe now when they hear I do not want kids. I just don’t think I would be a great mother. I hate it when children cry, they can go away, or go away.

    I finally have a doctor who, even with my very dangerous disabilities, even considers an IUD an option for me. My doctor is great, and often surprises me with her open mindedness.

    Since when does it take open mindedness to accept that I am not a baby factory? Why should I be a mother just because I am a woman. My significant other is going to have a vasectomy since I am allergic to every BC item we have tried and an IUD might be too painful for me, due to my innards being a mess. I can already say I am sterile but why take a risk of the doctors being wrong?

    There will always be those who have children and do not want them. Can we not commend people who are aware they cannot emotionally, financially etc care for their kids and therefore don’t make more babies?

    Also, what about those who DO adopt?

  33. akeeyu
    February 27, 2009 at 2:00 am

    @ Unhinged: Yeah, I just don’t get the partner-permission thing. If somebody doesn’t want to have kids, or doesn’t want to have any MORE kids, why should their partner be able to unilaterally veto this decision? It’s ridiculous.

    “I don’t want children.”
    “No! You must remain fertile for meeeee.”

    For me, that would be one of those things that would make me run for the hills.

  34. blnkfrnk
    February 27, 2009 at 2:59 am

    I’ve never tried to get it, but I want Essure. I am so not looking forward to the process of convincing the doctor, but a lifetime of fear and feeling like my body isn’t a home for me makes it worth the effort.

    Since I’ve never tried, other peoples’ stories about resistance from health care professionals has my imagination working. I’m considering telling them I’m related to Hitler and don’t want to pass on the genetics just in case. Do you think that would work? How much is a doctor going to fact check my story? There are some cases of mental illness in my family I could portray as more serious and more heritable than they really are. Perhaps that’s more plausible. I hate having to think about how to con a doctor into doing something legal, safe, and that I’m asking for and paying for off my own bat.

    I guess I’d better call PP before I get too worked up.

  35. lunasalt
    February 27, 2009 at 3:05 am

    I had kind of the opposite experience with my local PP–though it was just a one off thing. At the time I was in my early 30s and the long term relationship I was in was ending badly. I went in for PAP and bc refill and had sterilization not just offered to me, but basically pushed down my throat.

    I was told I was getting too old to be taking the pill. And I soon wasn’t going to be in a monogamous relationship. (So I was going to sleeping around?) I was getting a little old to have kids. And I didn’t seem the maternal type. (WTF?)

    This woman who I had never seen before and never saw again actually came into the waiting room as I was leaving to make sure I had the literature and knew who I could call. I’ve never been into having kids but I did not bring up sterilization and, was, as best, nonplussed when she brought it up. I ended up shaking with unexpressed rage by the time the whole thing was over.

    I’m white, middle class, and well educated. This was PP. Because of this and because I know the history, I’m with Butch Fatale when she says: “In light of the long and continuing history of women of color being coerced into sterilization, I would be very concerned with any proposed legislation that would limit the ability of someone to later sue.”

    Choice needs to be real choice.

  36. Mary
    February 27, 2009 at 6:41 am

    Jadelyn, I agree about not expecting pressure about reproductive decisions here. I don’t think I would find it acceptable at all for someone to insist that I have an open adoption, and in that case the baby already exists. Egg donation, while one is paid for it, is a wonderful gift that shouldn’t have strings attached. If I were to do such a thing I would want to prevent being confronted with a person coming to me in 18 years, calling me mom and wanting a relationship because we share genetic material. For this reason I would never donate eggs or give a baby up for adoption instead of aborting. I would be perfectly fine to share my family’s medical history in case of potentially genetic diseases (like my autoimmune hypothyroidism that reared it’s ugly head around 18 and no one would believe it could be so), but one most also respect the choices the donor made and her desire of privacy.

  37. February 27, 2009 at 8:07 am

    How many people have asked Planned Parenthood? What has the response been? Planned Parenthood seems like they would have less ideological problem with this…

    I got absolutely no hesitation from them. The place I called didn’t do them, but I was given the number and address for the next nearest place which did. They also helped me figure out what the cheapest way was to get stuff done (which, as it happens, was still too expensive for me at the time, but that wasn’t their fault). Love our local PP folk.

    And yeah, ditto all the annoyance at people who think I’ll magically love babies if I end up with one accidentally. Eff that noise.

  38. Betsy
    February 27, 2009 at 9:00 am

    Re: the “just wait, you’ll change your mind, sweetie thing:
    I’m not CF (well I am right now, but I hope not to be – I want to have one or two in a few years). BUT I find the condescension of people who say things like that to women to be so infuriating. I’m addicted to advice columns (I know, I know, they’re my guilty pleasure) but I almost blew my top a few years ago when reading Dear Prudence on Slate. They’d just switched to a new writer, Emily Yoffe. A woman in her 30s wrote in asking how to get her relatives etc. to stop pestering her and her husband about when they were going to have kids, since they were *very clear* that they never wanted to.
    And did Yoffe answer the question? No. She instead mimicked the very relatives the LW was trying to deal with, and said, “Oh, don’t be so sure! Children are wonderful! You might/should change your mind!”
    It was so infuriating. She not only ignored the question she was supposed to be answering, she reinforced the appropriateness of asking such intrusive and patronizing questions. Bleh. I *want* to have kids, and I was enraged by that. Enough that I still remember it, several years after the fact.

  39. Eileen
    February 27, 2009 at 9:05 am

    I also had a great experience with Planned Parenthood. (The pill was making my migraines worse, which increases my risk of stroke, blah blah blah.) I called and asked if I could get one, and they said “Yes as long as you come with someone who can drive you home after”. I have never been pregnant and was 28 at the time; they chatted with me about the risks and about my other options. It hurt like a mofo going in, and for about two days after. I haven’t had a period since! So anyone who is getting crap from their regular docs about an IUD: call your local PP. They even have a sliding scale for people without insurance.

  40. edgy1004
    February 27, 2009 at 9:25 am

    I am 25 and I just got an IUD last month. I know a few other women my age who have had them for awhile. They asked me if I had children but only because it effected the way the procedure was done. I guess I just got a super progressive doc. She seemed totally cool with me not wanting to have kids for awhile.

  41. qvd
    February 27, 2009 at 9:30 am

    Egg/sperm donation to purposefully create a child that will never be allowed to know her genetic origins is neither feminist nor non-feminist.

    It is, however, really greedy and unethical.

    There are no medical establishments that will tell you this because they have a vested financial interest in obscuring that fact. I won’t derail this thread any longer… I suggest people do their own research.

  42. February 27, 2009 at 9:42 am

    This is just another area in which our country and the backwards ideas that our society has about “medical ethics” refuses to respect people’s reproductive choices. And with this they don’t even have “think of the wee little babies inside you” crap to fall back on, revealing the blatant ideology that people’s reproductive organs, especially women’s, are not their own to decide what to do with, but belong to society for the reproduction of the species labor force.

    Most of the people in this thread have the unfortunate privilege to have genes and social traits that society considers “desirable.” So you get pressured to reproduce them. Anna’s husband is a notable example, “medical ethics” obviously thinks it’s ok for him to not pass on his disability. The same is true for plenty of other “unfit parents” and I honestly wish this discussion centered more around who is NOT encouraged to have kids, because it maps pretty nicely onto various kinds of privilege in a lot of cases (at least when it comes to the medical establishment encouraging / not encouraging / outright denying reproduction). Poor? Brown skin? Physically disabled? Yeah maybe it’s a good idea if you don’t have kids. Oh oops, let’s not talk about how we’ve forcibly sterilized you people in the past. Also, we are going to punish Nadya Suleman a lot more for her extreme choices than we would if she was white, if she was married, if she was better-off financially. If she was all three, there would be a celebration with presents instead. Mentally disabled? Maybe we should sterilize you just to be on the safe side. Queer? Yeah, we are not going to let you reproduce, because you need our help and we CAN deny you that. Trans? Sorry, you have to be sterilized before we’ll dole you out a drop of rights, because we don’t want you reproducing. (Yes, this is the law in some places, and the law as made by some court cases in the US.)

    I feel for all you folks who are being pressured against your will to reproduce and pass your “desirable” traits on, whether it’s by you families, your doctors, people you have casual conversations with… obviously the pressure is all over. Thankfully there are lots of ways of NOT having kids, as long as we fend off the forces that want to eliminate contraception and abortion. But you gotta be aware that this is part of the package that comes with (some kind of) privilege, and that in all sorts of ways, people with fewer privileges in one realm or another are less likely to get that pressure, or likely to be pressured not to have kids, or outright denied the ability. There’s a reason for that.

  43. sangetencre
    February 27, 2009 at 9:45 am

    25 and CF here. I’d been asking my GYN for a tubal since I was 21. (To which she finally agreed when I turned 24–and this was only after I presented her with an argument backed up by statistics from JAMA [I think] that state only a very low percentage of women who don’t have children before they get a tubal actually regret the procedure. Unfortunately, due to work, life, and general restrictions on my time, I have yet to get it done.)

    Luckily, my partner got a vasectomy back in July.

    The irritation:

    He’s 6 months older than I am. He walked into the urologist’s office (a urologist he had never seen before in his life) told the guy what he wanted, held up his end of the brief conversation on medical risks and facts.

    And the doctor scheduled the vasectomy for less than a month later.

    I was both elated and rather livid.

    The doctor even said that he wouldn’t tie the tubes of a woman my partner’s age because “a tubal ligation is harder to reverse.”

    …Which is why it’s supposed to be considered fully irreversible, isn’t it?

    I’m sick to death of encountering paternalistic clap trap when it comes to my health and well being.

  44. Ali
    February 27, 2009 at 9:47 am

    Thank you so much Jill, and thank you everyone else who shared stories/suggestions/what have you.

    In my own case, I finally found a doctor willing to at least talk with me but he was the 3rd to last person in a 3 page list so yeah, yesterday was not fun. Like a lot of people upthread I’ve known my whole life that I didn’t want biological children. Even when I was a young’n and thought everyone HAD to get married and have babies the only 2 options I would consider were a convent (seriously) or adoption. It’s extremely condescending that these doctors feel they need to protect women from themselves because we obviously don’t know what’s good for us.

    And yes, I will be firing my current OB since they don’t respect MY informed, noncoerced decisions about MY health, and I seriously doubt they’ll be willing to pay for the next 10 years (evidently I can’t really make up my mind until my late 30’s) of birth control, and the migraine meds and anti depressants I have to take because of the birth control, not to mention any abortions I would have if I did become pregnant.

  45. Ali
    February 27, 2009 at 9:56 am

    And on an additional note, while I don’t deny at all the history of forced sterilization and the current practice of who has easier access to which procedures, one small comfort I can take is that at least in my case, that wasn’t an issue. With the exception of my soon-to-be-former OB, none of the places I called up knew I was white with insurance and a steady job. All they heard was 25 and currently childless and that was enough for a blanket no. And I live in a city that has large minority populations as well. In fact, until I found that one doctor who said “maybe” only one person was even willing to talk to me at all to find out why I wanted the procedure.

  46. Liz Barnes
    February 27, 2009 at 10:00 am

    Thing is I would go to Planned Parenthood but the one that is near to me is all the way north about three hours with traffic. Having a job and only available to go on the weekends, makes it pretty hard to get up there. Not everyone has a pp near by especially when you live in an ultra conservative state who thinks the worst of them. Consider yourself lucky if you do have one, sure wish I did. I do try to contribute as often as I can cause I just think PP is great.

  47. William
    February 27, 2009 at 10:07 am

    Egg/sperm donation to purposefully create a child that will never be allowed to know her genetic origins is neither feminist nor non-feminist.

    It is, however, really greedy and unethical.

    I don’t think this is derailing the thread because I think a lot of the assumptions built into your argument have a lot to do with how society views children, parents, and the responsibilities of individuals to create more humans.

    I think the issue of the ethics or greed of egg/sperm donation depends pretty strongly on what your moral assumptions are and how you view the issue of competing rights. The argument you’re making seems to have some assumptions that are, for me, uncomfortably similar to the assumptions made by some in the forced-birth community. It also seems to be ignorant of some of the legal issues surrounding the donation process.

    When you’re talking about ethics you have to understand that it is a matter of opinion. Your belief that anonymous donation is unethical is rooted in several assumptions. The first is that people have the right to know what bits of genetic material spawned them. The second is the belief that such a right trumps any possible right of anonymity on the part of the donor. The third is that a genetic donor is a “parent” in some meaningful way. The fourth is that, because being a donor means being a “parent”, the donor has certain responsibilities to the child. You seem to assume that a relationship (or at least an attempt to open one) is the right of a child.

    Perhaps more importantly, your argument about the ethics of anonymous donation is infused with a sense that the rights/needs/desires of a child are primary. That sense is a big part of why being child free is so stigmatized; the life of the individual is still seen by many people as being a by-product of The Way Things Are. There is a belief that the purpose of people is to breed, and even though we rarely voice that belief out loud it still comes shining through in the values we have. What you’re saying is that, once a kid is involved, all other concerns become moot.

    And then comes the “greedy” characterization. I’ve heard that a lot from people who’ve found out my wife and I aren’t really planning on having kids. I’ve been guilted by both sides of my family for “denying” them grandchildren. I’ve heard parents say “grandchildren are the dividends having a family pays.” I’ve been told that my decision is greedy (and thus wrong) if I factored my personal comfort, goals, or wants into my thinking. I’ve been told that if I don’t want kids because I’m not sure I’d be a good parent then theres something wrong with me. All of those judgments scream one thing: it is my responsibility, my place, my role to have kids.

    But theres something a little more subtle hiding beneath that. When a person decides not to have kids it is a transgression. It is saying that there is another option, that there was a choice in the matter, that perhaps the assumptions others made weren’t right. Remaining child free is a direct challenge to a lot of people who have a vested interested in society remaining as it is. Because being child free is being a walking reminder of the doubts a lot of people would rather not be conscious of, you get all these little judgments, all these peripheral rules and beliefs that serve to discourage you from making that choice. The pro-lifers argue that sex is for reproduction and that you shouldn’t be able to change that by getting an abortion or using birth control (or even knowing how), people argue that any claim an individual might have on you as a “parent” (no matter how tenuous) becomes a moral obligation. Any decision to not have a child is seen as evidence of greed, or cowardice, or personal failure.

  48. Ali
    February 27, 2009 at 10:20 am

    To which she finally agreed when I turned 24–and this was only after I presented her with an argument backed up by statistics from JAMA [I think] that state only a very low percentage of women who don’t have children before they get a tubal actually regret the procedure.

    sangetencre, I don’t suppose you have a link to this saved somewhere so you can share it with us do you? I’d like to be as prepared as possible when going to the new dr next week.

  49. preying mantis
    February 27, 2009 at 10:24 am

    “She even told me about another operation I can get after.. I forget the name, but it’s this thing where the shoot sugar water into your uterus and thin the lining.”

    Probably uterine ablation. It can be a lifesaver for women with really heavy periods who are done with/don’t want kids.

  50. bleh
    February 27, 2009 at 10:25 am

    I don’t feel very privileged by being viewed as a baby factory. While I and others here might have what some consider “desirable” traits, that *ain’t* the reason they won’t give us bc or sterilization. The real reason is that they cannot have the wimmins running their own lives without the ultra-time consuming, soul-devouring (and I like my colleague’s kids) task of giving your life over to others (as one commenter said to produce new workers and consumers for the capitalist patriarchy). So don’t go pretending that forced birthers are responding (solely) to white privilege, when they are trying to keep us from beginning the revolution (feminist, racial, marxist, etc) by keeping us busy birthing and raising spawn.

  51. preying mantis
    February 27, 2009 at 10:29 am

    “Thing is I would go to Planned Parenthood but the one that is near to me is all the way north about three hours with traffic. Having a job and only available to go on the weekends, makes it pretty hard to get up there.”

    You could try calling them and asking if they have a list of pro-choice practitioners in your general area. It would likely be way easier to get a yes by calling a list of folks who already support reproductive autonomy than by going through a list of unknowns.

  52. cubicalgirl
    February 27, 2009 at 10:40 am

    My advice to women (and men) who want to be sterilized is to keep looking for a doctor until you find one that respects you and your ability to make your own decisions about your healthcare. After my GYN actually laughed at me and told me I’d change my mind when I brought up the issue of sterilization, I left her practice and kept calling doctors until I found one who told me sterilization was my choice. Turns out he’s super pro-choice, queer friendly, and just all-around awesome.

    I was 29 at the time (I’m 32 now) when I initiated Essure proceedings, and actually ended up unable to have the procedure because of another gyn problem that my doctor discovered (and which I’d had for years but my previous doctor never bothered about). We went with a Mirena IUD instead, which I’ve had for almost a year now, and I love it. The insertation wasn’t as horrible as others have reported on this thread (two days of cramping and I was fine). Essure is still an option for me in the future, but since I’m clearing up my other problem and have worry-free bc at the same time, I’m happy to go along as-is for now.

    I also have to mention that through all of this I was lucky enough to have health insurance provided through my job and was able to see private doctors. I know people are not always so lucky so please explore all the avenues you can though Planned Parenthood or similar prviders in your community.

  53. Mary
    February 27, 2009 at 10:42 am

    Egg/sperm donation to purposefully create a child that will never be allowed to know her genetic origins is neither feminist nor non-feminist. It is, however, really greedy and unethical.

    Thankfully ethics aren’t determined by one person’s opinion or background. I find egg donation rather ungreedy considering the hormones one must take with some awful side effects. It’s also completely ethical to me to not rank the unborn above the already living. I really dislike society’s constant prioritization of children (born or not) over adults. A child’s parents are those who raised it, not who gave the genetic material. Forcing egg donors to have relationships with the products of their donation so easily spins into illegalizing abortions.

  54. AMG
    February 27, 2009 at 10:49 am

    I’m 40 and when I had a cantalope sized fibroid removed from the top of my uterus, I asked the OB if I could have my tubes tied at the same time. They were in there anyway–why bother going back on the pill, which I am semi-convinced caused the fibroid anyway. My female surgeon was OK with it, but I had to get a consent signed by my HUSBAND!!! In 2008, in a publically funded hospital (albeit originally Catholic run), in the socialist medicine heaven of Canada. Crazy!! The surgeon took the signed consent (which my husband laughed at) and wrote something around it that made it look like I had a child, to make it acceptable to the hospital board. They finally said OK (my age was probably a factor) and it happened. Wonderful stuff to be off the pills (except for rediscovering a bit of hormonal acne!). I would say that without the burden of potential pregnancy & the fibroid gone, I regret not having this done earlier.

    By the way, my husband & I have been married 20 years, no kids, no dogs (yet!) and tons of travel. Like the other writers, I have never wanted kids, and my husband pretty soon agreed too. When I was first married, I used to tell people who asked me when we were going to have children that I’d had an illness and was ‘barren’. I actually used that word—the look on people’s faces was priceless. Then I would laugh and say that I was joking. I was a bit of an arrogant git in those days…

  55. ACG
    February 27, 2009 at 10:52 am

    I was really lucky to find a GYN who didn’t blink at my request for an IUD. She did ask the necessary questions and warn me about the possibility of pain, cramping, spotting, etc., but she was happy to go ahead and do it. And, yeah, it hurt like a bastitch (I’d read that some women have experienced pain “as bad as childbirth,” and if that’s the case, I definitely don’t want kids), and it kept cramping-sweating-throwing-up hurting for about two hours, and I don’t regret my decision for a minute and think that this is one of the greatest things ever.

    My aunt had a very different story. She went in at age 25 to get a tubal, and she got all the guff from her (male) doctor about how she’ll eventually want kids and change her mind and yadda yadda, and finally he told her to come back in a year if she still wanted it. One year to the day later, she was sitting in his waiting room, and he did the procedure.

  56. qvd
    February 27, 2009 at 10:54 am

    @William: But I’m not talking about the rights of the child. I’m talking about the rights of the adult. Once a donor-conceived child becomes an adult, I do believe their right to know their genetic origin is more important than the right of a donor to be anonymous. Besides, it’s not just about the two of them. The state and the medical establishments are also part of the equation. Does a medical establishment have a right to enforce this kind of secrecy? We realize that the general public has a certain right to information about themselves, hence the Freedom of Information Act.

    If either adult party doesn’t want to have a relationship, then they can negotiate that… as adults. We already have existing things in place like restraining orders. But basic knowledge of identity is as much of a right as privacy.

    The argument against state-sponsored genetic secrecy has already been made successfully in the UK.

    Also, look at who has the power and the money here, and who anonymity benefits. It’s not women. It’s not men. It’s the people who are making money from these reproductive transactions. Right now the rules are simply being decided by the people who have the most money. For example, who regulates the counselling that egg donors need to receive? Egg donation involves massive doses of hormones and is a very invasive procedure. I know several women who have been through infertility treatment who said they were pressured to take these hormones and never fully explained the side effects.

    Also, there’s a disturbing eugenetic aspect to anonymous donation. It’s the people with the most money who can afford to buy the eggs and sperm of people who look most like them, who seem the most intelligent and fit. It’s basically adoption-to-order… when there are already so many older children, disabled children, children of color, waiting for permanent homes in the foster care system here in the U.S.

    I believe if you adopt a child, that child has a right to know what their genetic origin is, and you have an obligation to preserve that information for them as much as possible.

    I don’t believe a zygote or embryo or fetus has any rights that trump the rights of a woman. However, I also don’t believe that we should keep letting the ethics of artificial reproduction be determined by the interests and institutions that are throwing around the most money. And I don’t see any contradiction between those two beliefs.

  57. Lisa
    February 27, 2009 at 10:59 am

    Seconding all the people who say to call Planned Parenthood. They tend to be much more willing to give IUDs or tubals (if the clinic in question is set up for it), and even if they’re not close enough for you to get there, they may be able to refer you to someone in your area who will do it – doctors talk to each other, after all, and every PP doctor I’ve ever met kept a mental list of pro-choice/pro-woman doctors that they knew.

  58. qvd
    February 27, 2009 at 11:03 am

    And I’ll again try to make this my last comment so I can stop hogging the child-free topic…

    The Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Finland, Switzerland, Austria and New Zealand are all countries that have ended donor anonymity. I don’t think any of these are countries that are known for weak abortion rights. There is no such thing as a slippery slope from ending donor anonymity to forced childbirth.

  59. kp
    February 27, 2009 at 11:09 am

    I also encountered problems at my GYN when I asked about getting an IUD (I am 26 and unmarried). I was told it simply wasn’t an option, and when I asked if I could try a new BC because I wasn’t 100% happy with mine, the response was “no, yours is fine. you are probably one of those girls who needs a new cell phone every time they come out with a new design.” I was shocked by the condescending attitude of the young female doc. I promptly quit visiting that office and am very happy with the level of care and open-mindedness of my local PP – where I can ask about whatever BC I want and was told, “of course you can get an IUD if you would like!” I can only imagine based on this experience the frustration many of you have felt – I hope you can find medical professionals who respect your needs.

  60. Phenicks
    February 27, 2009 at 11:11 am

    Sad but true doctors HAVE been sued and lost civil cases against them in which a man or a woman was sterilized by their own choice and then later decided they wanted kids only to find that permanent BC is actually permanent. Most just don’t know you well enough to bet their entire careers that you mean what you say. There are other countries however that are much lax about such things. But if you really want to get it done I’d suggest seeking out like minded doctors. Maybe an abortionist could help in finding a doctor who is less worried about the rare chance of a patient changing his or her mind and sueing and more concerned with assisintg patients with exercising their reproductive rights medically. I would try the National Abortionist group (sorry forgot the rest of the name).

  61. Phenicks
    February 27, 2009 at 11:13 am

    But if you donate anonymously you do so because you do not want to be a parent beyond the biological sense. I would like to see the effect that ending donor anonymity has had on the frequency of people donating gametes.

  62. Phenicks
    February 27, 2009 at 11:14 am

    Oh and PS young white women aren’t the only ones that take flack and face obstacles for wanting a permanent form of BC.

  63. Jadelyn
    February 27, 2009 at 11:15 am

    William said it much more eloquently than I could have, but I’d still like to add my $.02:

    Egg/sperm donation to purposefully create a child that will never be allowed to know her genetic origins is neither feminist nor non-feminist.

    Agreed. However, getting all up in a woman’s business about how she chooses to utilize her reproductive capacity IS unfeminist.

    It is, however, really greedy and unethical.

    Why thank you for judging my reproductive choices. I appreciate it, really. As others have said, ethical/unethical is a matter of opinion. I personally think it’s unethical to call someone you’ve never met (and don’t know the financial circumstances of) “greedy” for choosing to anonymously donate eggs. Would you jump all over a woman who gave a child up for adoption anonymously?

    Seriously, this privileging of the child over all else has got to stop. Why does that child have more rights to a relationship with me, than I have rights to my privacy? If I didn’t carry it, birth it, or raise it, I’m not its parent, and it has no inherent right to me, my time, or my attention.

  64. Butch Fatale
    February 27, 2009 at 11:36 am

    To the folks objecting to non-anonymous donation:

    If you’re interested in this topic from the standpoint of actual practice, you should check out the Sperm Bank of California’s info page: http://thespermbankofca.org/pages/page.php?pageid=45&cat=12

    The Sperm Bank of CA started (afaik) the first program to give donors the option to have their information released to the ADULT children born as a product of their donation. These children are not the donor’s child, and the identity release option is NOT about connecting them with their “father”. It’s about giving them the option to find out about their genetic history. I doubt that many children born of sperm or egg donation think of their donor as a parent in the way they might had they been adopted. But I’m totally willing to be proven wrong if anyone has information to the contrary (anecdata welcomed, but I’d like a study of some sort).

    Anyway. I’m glad to let it go and avoid derailing, but since I’ve been doing a lot of looking into this recently, I thought I’d share.

  65. akeeyu
    February 27, 2009 at 11:40 am

    Um. Couple of things.

    I totally respect everybody’s right to not have children, to get sterilized, to not like children, all that stuff. It’s cool! Really! We should have drinks!

    But can you stop referring to women who choose to have children as BABY FACTORIES? Am I not more than my uterus? Isn’t this the attitude we’re collectively fighting? Ditto “Breeders”. Animals breed.

    Re egg donation: I don’t get the anonymity argument. If you don’t want contact, all you have to do is say “I don’t want contact” if the kid comes calling in 20 years. I DO believe that many donor conceived children want to know where they came from. A lot of adopted kids do, too.

    Egg donation isn’t an accident or a necessity. You don’t HAVE to do it.

    My question is, if you don’t give a hang about the product of your donation, why do it? It can’t be altruism. If it’s financial, that’s cool, but in that case, it’s more of a financial choice, not a reproductive one. If it’s because you want your genes to go on, well, if you’re asking that kid to have a job (to keep your genes alive in this world), you might as well give them the information about those genes when the time comes.

  66. Jadelyn
    February 27, 2009 at 11:48 am

    @qvd – Sorry, I hadn’t realized you’d already posted again. I’ll try to keep up.

    So you outright admit you think the donor-conceived adult has more right to sate ves curiosity than the donor has to preserve ves privacy. Why? What makes the child’s rights more important than the donor’s? (Wow, that sounds familiar.)

    The problem with arguing that people have a right to information about themselves is that a donor-conceived adult isn’t seeking information about veself. Ve’s seeking information about another individual. And it’s not as if the medical establishment is going to great lengths to hide things; standard patient records confidentiality requires explicit permission from the patient to allow anyone else access to ves information. Why should that be any different in this case? Why should a donor be compelled against their wishes to allow a person access to ves records?

    Yes, people can negotiate a relationship, or not, as adults. But for me, the point is to avoid all that before it begins. I know I don’t want a relationship, and I don’t see why I should be forced to resort to a restraining order (or at the least an awkward conversation) later in life when I can nip it in the bud now.

    Lastly, who’s to say that donor anonymity doesn’t benefit donors? If it didn’t, why would they choose it? Where’s the big benefit to the medical establishment in keeping their confidentiality? It sounds like you expect some kind of conspiracy, but I’m wondering why companies would care that much, seriously. It’s not like they’re the ones going to be tracked down later if they open the records.

  67. February 27, 2009 at 11:58 am

    I don’t feel very privileged by being viewed as a baby factory. While I and others here might have what some consider “desirable” traits, that *ain’t* the reason they won’t give us bc or sterilization. The real reason is that they cannot have the wimmins running their own lives without the ultra-time consuming, soul-devouring (and I like my colleague’s kids) task of giving your life over to others (as one commenter said to produce new workers and consumers for the capitalist patriarchy). So don’t go pretending that forced birthers are responding (solely) to white privilege, when they are trying to keep us from beginning the revolution (feminist, racial, marxist, etc) by keeping us busy birthing and raising spawn.

    You missed the point a bit, and it’s partially my fault. I don’t regard coercive practices to try to get people to stay fertile as a privilege. That’s why I called it an “unfortunate privilege,” but I probably should have said “highly dubious privilege” with “privilege” in sarcasm quotes. But here’s the thing: being consigned to baby factory duty is something that society does along privilege lines. They want nice class-privileged able-bodied straight white women with husbands to have babies. They don’t want other people to, to varying degrees.

    his is all really fucked up, but being pressured out of sterilization is a problem that affects privileged groups more than less privileged ones, and 90% of this thread is concerned with that problem rather than the “stop reproducing NOW” problems, which are just as bad — I’m not even going to try to say which is worth because all reproductive coercion is horrifying — and are disproportionately used against less privileged people. That needs to be pointed out, it needs to be part of the awareness of what’s going on with people and institutions trying to mandate reproductive control.

  68. Abby
    February 27, 2009 at 11:59 am

    There is a (now-defunct) blog called Purple Women, run by and for childfree women with some neat perspectives and resources. Even though they’re no longer posting, I like to poke around the old posts: http://purplewomenblog.blogspot.com/

    Also, check out the Childless by Choice Project: http://www.childlessbychoiceproject.com/

  69. Phenicks
    February 27, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    “Forcing egg donors to have relationships with the products of their donation so easily spins into illegalizing abortions.”

    I agree however we REALLY need to do something about forcing sperm donors into relationships with their offspring (financially) when they had no desire to be parents at ALL via child support. This way children are not put before adults, if the man or woman who aided in the conception of the child did not want the child conceived at all they should be able to “abort” all parental rights and responsibility.

  70. qvd
    February 27, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    “So you outright admit you think the donor-conceived adult has more right to sate ves curiosity than the donor has to preserve ves privacy. Why? What makes the child’s rights more important than the donor’s?”

    Because they’re not a fetus or even a child when they go looking. They’re an adult. Adoptees and donor-conceived are frequently treated like perpetual children, but they do grow up.

    The potential for one “awkward conversation” does not outweigh a potential lifetime of frustration and searching and being denied information that many consider integral to their identity. Many donor-conceived spend huge amounts of time, energy and money in forming links with each other, genetic testing, trying to pass legislation and so on. Donor/Parent/Institutional convenience comes directly at their expense. Again, please see my comment #58 for why this has no connection with anti-choice initiatives in the real world.

    I don’t think there is a conspiracy by medical establishments. It’s simple capitalism. They use anonymity to sell donation as being “easy” and with no long-term implications. When anonymity goes away, the pool of donors shrinks. It can be enlarged again by things like extra outreach and counselling… but that costs money, and that cuts into the profit margin. I don’t think they should be put out of business at all, just regulated more. There are ethical ones like the Sperm Bank of California that Butch Fatale mentioned.

  71. preying mantis
    February 27, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    “The argument against state-sponsored genetic secrecy has already been made successfully in the UK.”

    Haven’t donation rates pretty much fallen off a cliff as a result? Which would indicate that for most anonymous donors, it was pretty damn important to not have someone turning up on their doorstep 18 years later? And please correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t you have to fill out pretty detailed questionnaires about known family medical history before you donate genetic material, so that prospective recipients can screen against bad-idea matches and (presumably, at this point) the grown result of the donation will be able to make informed medical decisions for themselves?

    “But can you stop referring to women who choose to have children as BABY FACTORIES?”

    What I’m getting from the use of that term in this thread is not “any woman who has children is a baby-factory” but “when my intense desire to remain childless is aggressively disregarded and intensely discouraged, it feels like society sees me as a baby-factory.”

  72. February 27, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    @Eccaba

    I had never of Essure but this sounds like a godsend. My PP said they would preform a tubal when I was 23 (two months to go!) but I’m scared of a tubal pregnancy. Everyone I know who has had the procedure done has ended up pregnant.

    Thank you so much for this thread, it has been SO helpful. I’m calling my PP right now to talk about Essure.

  73. preying mantis
    February 27, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    It also occurs to me to wonder if the argued right to donor information goes the other way, as well. If you donate anonymously, should you be able to get records that tell you if your donation ever produced a live birth? Should you be able to obtain the name of the individual whose genetic makeup you contributed to once they’re an adult?

  74. ACG
    February 27, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    But can you stop referring to women who choose to have children as BABY FACTORIES? Am I not more than my uterus? Isn’t this the attitude we’re collectively fighting?

    That is the attitude we’re fighting. And I don’t think (correct me if I’m wrong) that anyone has tried to imply that women who choose to have children are being forced into it or reduced to their uteri (the “choose” part negating the “forced” part).

    I suppose you could think of a woman who chooses to have children as a woman who sews her family’s clothes. It’s a labor of love, and she gladly takes on the measuring and cutting and sewing to create this beautiful thing. She probably does some embroidery, too, and all of her work results in a gorgeous new dress. She’s not a factory, she’s a craftswoman.

    Now imagine the woman who never wanted to sew in the first place. She cuts, and she sews, and she bodges it all up, and she never even wants to look at it when she’s done. Her work is probably going to be lousy, and no one will benefit from it. She’s not a craftswoman, she’s a sweatshop. And that’s what we’re talking about.

    No one is saying that a woman who chooses to be a craftswoman is being marginalized or reduced to her skills; she’s more often praised for her efforts. But the woman who chooses not to sew at all shouldn’t be forced into sweatshop labor just because that’s what’s expected of her.

  75. February 27, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    Has anyone here had the Essure procedure? The description makes me feel a little squicky, especially since it involves two invasive procedures (insertion and then testing for blockage). Just wondering if this is really that much easier than a tubal ligation.

  76. Eccaba
    February 27, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    From the research I’ve done, it is much easier than a tubal. Its about as invasive as an IUD and I should be able to work the same day. I think the testing for blockage is pretty minor. (That’s when they send some sort of colored liquid in to see if your tubes are closed. Then, if they are closed you have a guaranteed no ectopic pregnancy.
    MissAnthropy: “Everyone I know who has had the procedure done has ended up pregnant. ”
    That’s awful, I didn’t realize getting your tubes tied was so unreliable. Also, you man want to check out Essure’s website: http://www.essure.com/ and search by zip code. Its a newer procedure so not everybody does it. You might have to go outside of planned parenthood.
    But, as to how the procedure is I’ll post so that Superlagirl and everyone else can hear how it is after I get it done. It’ll probably happen in the next week or so.

  77. Butch Fatale
    February 27, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    “I agree however we REALLY need to do something about forcing sperm donors into relationships with their offspring (financially) when they had no desire to be parents at ALL via child support. This way children are not put before adults, if the man or woman who aided in the conception of the child did not want the child conceived at all they should be able to “abort” all parental rights and responsibility.”

    The Uniform Parantage Act provides that donors are not considered the natural fathers of the children born as a product of their donation, provided that the donor places the deposit with a physician, not the recipient. There are also legal procedures a donor and recipient can take to make him not legally responsible, but going through a sperm bank is probably the easiest. Not the cheapest for the mother, which is unfortunate. I guess then you weigh the value of not having to go to a lawyer versus the value of not having to go through a sperm bank. (The UPA is a model law and adopted in various forms in a number of states. But being a donor and releasing your identity at the child’s 18th birthday, should they ask for it, does not make you liable for child support.)

    As with many other high-stakes contracts, saying you give up parentage rights and the other person won’t seek support isn’t necessarily good enough for a court to enforce it. Of course, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania did end up enforcing just such an agreement (based on more than just oral agreement, but sans anything in writing), so it depends to a certain extent on your jurisdiction, I guess. When the law makes a particular default assumption you have to work to overcome it, and there are channels for doing so – namely, using a sperm bank or a lawyer in the case of a known donor. It’s true that they’re not all accessible to all people equally, and that’s a problem. But it’s not the same problem that you seem to be posing here, as far as I understand your statement. Anyone who actually wants to make a donation to a bank should ask the bank about their legal rights and obligations. This industry wouldn’t survive if everyone who participated was liable for child support in the event someone came knocking 5 years later.

  78. Eccaba
    February 27, 2009 at 1:33 pm

    I suck at proof reading, sigh. Make that “you man want” to “you may want”
    I’d also like to add that the reason I’m doing this is because it isn’t major surgery. I don’t want to have kids, but I’d rather take pills than have an operation. But this way its cheaper and I don’t have to put any drugs in my body. Of course now that I’ve heard about uterine ablation (thanks praying mantis) I’m completely sold.

  79. shah8
    February 27, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    I’ll word Holly at 42. I think bleh‘s reply at 50 is somewhat off-target.

    I found this thread slightly disturbing. However it’s really hard for me to say why.

    I don’t have a problem with women having access to sterilization, but…the absence of class in the discussion in twigging me.

    I think I will go with this. Society, as a conglomeration of humanity, has an interest in seeing that enough children be born in each generation. That pretty much means that any functional society, one way or another, is going to coerce some number of women who don’t want kids into having them. If you think you can ever change that, then you *really* need to check out what happens in a country with strong demographic stresses. It may not be Children of Men or Handmaiden’s Tale, but it would suck very, very, badly–quicker than you might think, too. There *will* be a cascade of decisions to try an fix the situation. For every childless couple, there are going to be either more severely overworked people or poor women who are more forced by “circumstances” to have more kids. The US has done as well as it has in the last 20 years because of the many immigrants and their larger families.

    I strongly disagreed with bleh, not because I really disagree with some of the ideas in the response. I just disagree with where that comes from. I consider feminism, in my mind, as ending inter-generational warfare, and I think that ending the practice of using women’s bodily functions as a weapon against them and against the young generations as a whole. Children are supposed to be time-consuming and psychically exhausting. That’s why the Patriarchy weaponizes them. Even so, at a fundamental level, they *are* The Revolution, along with the death of their parents and grandparents–they decide what is sustainable and worthy to continue, good and bad. To think that the revolution is stifled by kids is contradictory. What stops the Revolution is *how* we have the kids.

    I think discussions like this must stay embedded in some kind of overall framework if it’s not to sail off into malvolent impracticality. This kind of “choice” can involve some other *real* person’s loss of choice, even if it’s not direct. I do not advocate that women should be made to make babies, but I sure as hell want to make sure that *every* woman has this choice (or no one, if necessary), and that everyone has to deal with the fallout equitably–splitting the work, spending hella-more on education, making hard decisions about what “retirement” means.

  80. preying mantis
    February 27, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    “That pretty much means that any functional society, one way or another, is going to coerce some number of women who don’t want kids into having them.”

    I don’t think that necessarily follows. Most people actually do want kids. Plural. Not gobs and gobs of kids, no. Not all at once, no. Not starting when they’re 16, no. But they do want children.

    The problem crops up when you have a society that says certain people shouldn’t have kids, regardless of what those people want, and the other people who should have kids have to have enough to make up for the shortfall. Oh, and while neither group is actually getting what they want, employers can jerk both groups around economically to the point where even people who want kids and are “allowed” to have kids suffer for having kids.

    Pass laws to keep companies from penalizing workers who are also parents, strengthen social programs to make sure people who want to be parents can afford it without living on ramen for eighteen years, and stop acting like certain segments of the population are a nuisance to be tolerated only so long as genocide is out of style, and we’ll be fine. Just like you get the oddballs who actually do want no kids, you get the oddballs who actually do want five or six or seven kids. If you’re willing to subsidize those people to the point where they can indulge that desire, there’s no need to coerce the unwilling into producing new bodies for the state.

    Of course, this relies on a society that isn’t hellbent on getting what it wants, precisely when and how it wants it, and screw you if you don’t like it.

  81. Sarah
    February 27, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    I’m with you, Mary.

    I’m 32 and donated eggs when I was 21, anonymously. There is nothing unethical about doing so. I don’t think sperm donors have to be identified to the products of their fluid. I helped a couple make a baby – that particular baby would not exist if not for me. I certainly have the right to offer such assistance without fear of someone coming to find me in the future. The commenter who is concerned about the kid’s right to know who donated their egg is doing a lot of worrying about the lucky kid and not a lot of worrying about the rights of the good samaritan (i.e. me).

  82. Sarah
    February 27, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    Must add to qvd, that you refer in an almost linked manner to the egg donation with a child or fetus. I donated an egg (or actually several eggs). In fact, I drop an egg a month, so it’s not nearly the same thing. I also shed skin everywhere I go, and I had a tooth pulled last month. I did not donate a child or a fetus or an embryo, but an egg. This difference is everything.

  83. Phenicks
    February 27, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    I meant in terms of having sex with someone you have no desire to sire a child with and she ending up pregnant. Whethe or not she has the baby is up to her but if sperm donor doesn’t want a child he shouldn’t be held reliable and if he wants to maintain anonymity he should be able to do that so long as this choice is made while the woman is still pregnant. This effective preserves the reproductive rights of both the man and the woman equally without one burdening the other with parenthood they do not want. To force the man to be a parent against his will financially or otherwise “in teh best interest of the child”, it effectively places the child or fetus even before the adult, which is exactly what no one wants.

  84. Phenicks
    February 27, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    Ok and on the issue of getting sterilized “behind your partner’s back”, I think thats childish. You may do whatever it is you want with your body and your future but if you want a future with someone else and they want kids and you don’t you should be mature enough to vice your stance on that issue and be sure the other person knows that you’re serious and that you are looking into becoming sterile. Because the flip side of the coin is, if you don’t want to be pregnant and your partner got a surrogate to carry his kid you wouldn’t want to have your sleep ruined by midnight feeding sessions by dad to his child any more than he or she wouldn’t want to NOT have those thinking its what you want too. I mean just as you have the right to cheat on someone just mean you should or that if you do it is only your business ESPECIALLY if you and that person aren’t using protection.

  85. Bunny Mazonas
    February 27, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    “The argument against state-sponsored genetic secrecy has already been made successfully in the UK.

    Haven’t donation rates pretty much fallen off a cliff as a result? Which would indicate that for most anonymous donors, it was pretty damn important to not have someone turning up on their doorstep 18 years later? And please correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t you have to fill out pretty detailed questionnaires about known family medical history before you donate genetic material, so that prospective recipients can screen against bad-idea matches and (presumably, at this point) the grown result of the donation will be able to make informed medical decisions for themselves?”

    Yeah, it pretty much has. We’re crying out for donors, over here, because we don’t have sufficient sperm to meet demand any more. Personally, I support the anonymous donation camp. I don’t see why access to another person’s private information should be a right, regardless of the reasons behind it. I know not being able to donate anonymously in my country is the main reason for my decision not to donate my eggs – I have zero childbearing/raising desire, and I would not be interested in meeting the results of my genetics – the person raising a child MAKES the child and is their parent in every meaningful sense. That’s how I feel about my “stepdad”, anyway.

  86. qvd
    February 27, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    “the person raising a child MAKES the child and is their parent in every meaningful sense.” … your experience is not the universal benchmark. Some people feel no emotional connection to their biological origins, but then again, for others, it means the world. Don’t deny their reality.

    France also has a critical sperm donor shortage, and they still have anonymity. The pool of potential donors is a complicated issue that intersects with government regulation, financial supply and demand, liability for child support, cultural traditions, public outreach, counselling and so on. The “give me convenience or give me death” argument is very dominant when it comes to donor anonymity, and if it was ameliorated then there would be more non-anonymous donors.

  87. February 27, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    I have one question.

    What makes your parents’ genetics so important that you have a RIGHT to know it?

    Seriously? I don’t understand it. Yeah, it would be nice and all, but why is it SO fundamentally important?

    Is it, perhaps, because of the value placed on a person’s genes when they are of privileged classes?

    Is it, perhaps, because of the fear people have of disability? And how is it going to keep you from facing health issues to have the name and address of the person? Do you think it’s insurance against disease or something?

    Is it, perhaps, a result of upper-class privilege — since when did even most middle-class folk have real access to genetic testing?

    If this is such an important right, why isn’t there free genetic testing for every person?

  88. qvd
    February 27, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    To understand, you could read accounts by the adoptees and donor conceived themselves.

    Confessions of a Cryokid (donor-conceived)
    Harlow’s Monkey (transracial adoptee and social worker)
    Ethnically Incorrect (two transracial adoptees)
    Ungrateful Little Bastard (white adoptee from closed adoption)

    All these blogs are written by people who were denied their genetic origins for various reasons, experienced huge lifelong pain as a result and have become activists on the issue. They link to many, many others who feel the same way.

    If you want to bring up privilege, it’s a privilege not to have consider the feelings of people like these when it comes to making reproductive choices.

  89. Phenicks
    February 27, 2009 at 6:17 pm

    Amanda I think you miss the point that many people simply need to know. If you have a family history of certain medical conditions that you don’t know and can’t find out because your donor parent thinks of it as priveldged information it could effectively derail you exercising your rights to choose. You need to know your fmaily medical history and only the people who are your genetic parents can tell you this information. The comprommise here should be that all family medical history be revealed. The identity of the donors needn’t be exposed for this to be known.

  90. February 27, 2009 at 6:23 pm

    I don’t see that you really addressed what I was speaking to, tho. Please do point out if I misunderstand, but what I see (as relates to a person’s rights to know their donor parent) is mainly sentimental value. Now, I do NOT mean to diminish that, and I really don’t know what else to call it, because “sentimental” seems dismissive. But how does this give you a right to your donor parent’s information? Not just the history they provide the donor agency. But knowing who the actual specific person is.

    What is the reasoning behind that? Why do you have a right to that?

    And what are the assumptions behind that asserted right? Cause I see a whole lot of stuff to be unpacked there.

  91. ZoetheShort
    February 27, 2009 at 6:23 pm

    The rights of the “results” of donation are no more or less important than those of the donors. How to balance them, I have no idea. But it’s really neither here nor there in a fabulous thread about childfreedom and feminists.

    Speaking of, the only problem I’m running into in getting fixed in KS is the high cost. My SO got his done in his PCP’s office. No hassle at all there.

  92. February 27, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    Why do you have a right to know about your family’s history of medical conditions? This is what I’m getting at.

  93. Phenicks
    February 27, 2009 at 6:38 pm

    Are you serious?!!! Amanda people DIE slow and painful deaths because they are given medications that normally would NEVER be given to them had they been able to tell the doctor their family history. Its a pure matter of survival, the donor could hop off into mars for all I give a crap but why is it sooo important to keep MEDICAL information of another human being a secret? Had the donors parents not told them hey one of us has sickel cell disease and they took the wrong birth control u know it could KILL them?! We’re not talking about aborting fetuses we’re talking about aborting ADULTS via withholding vital information.

  94. February 27, 2009 at 6:46 pm

    – How does that mean you have a right to know — not just the medical history (which most agencies require, to the best of the donor’s knowledge, do they not?) — but the IDENTITY of this person?

    – Why, then, not insist on testing the product of conception for a reasonable range of conditions — why the insistence, again, on knowing the IDENTITY of the person?

    – I don’t know; I’ve just always regarded this insistence dubiously: does any of us know our full medical history? Does any of us really know the specific risk of developing each and every possible health problem there is? On the one hand, I understand the desire to know, and sympathize. On the other, I still think there are a lot of cultural assumptions all packed up in there in re disability (aside from the other assumptions I threw out in my first comment) and that just makes me wary — just to make sure you know where I’m coming from.

  95. Alissa
    February 27, 2009 at 6:49 pm

    The main discussion is really fascinating, but I couldn’t help but weigh in on the side conversation.

    the person raising a child MAKES the child and is their parent in every meaningful sense.” … your experience is not the universal benchmark. Some people feel no emotional connection to their biological origins, but then again, for others, it means the world. Don’t deny their reality

    Isn’t it the responsibility of the parent who chooses to create and raise a child to help that child get a sense of who they are in the world? So if I decide I want to make a baby with IVF or some other method, I need to decide if I want my future child to have the option of contacting their biological parents. someday. I’m not saying that the would-be parents’ desires should override those of the donors. I am saying that potential parents need to take into consideration that their kids may want access to that person’s information in the future, and then make the decision of where they get the eggs or sperm with that in mind. It’s the same with adoptive parents. Anyone who raises kids is going to make some irrevocable choices for them. This is kind of a huge one, but there it is.

    The definition of “donation” is “gift.” The gift of genetic material is to the would-be parents, not to any child produced from that material. The role of providing a person with a sense of background and family belongingness is that of a parent. The role of helping a kid come to terms with sharing genetic material with someone they don’t know, is again, that of a parent. How a child or adult child copes with that information is bound to be very personal, and I in no way want to trivialize their experience, but again, the donor’s responsibility begins and ends with a medical service to the parent(s).

    I think it’s also useful to separate the ideas of personal identity from access to medical history. A lot of care is taken to screen a potential egg donor for health, and that’s good. Would it also be awesome for a donor to provide a medical history at the time of the donation, one that has been altered to remove identifying details? Yes. Would it make the gift much richer to leave the door open to future contact? I think so. But only the giver gets to make that call.

  96. February 27, 2009 at 6:49 pm

    Eh. I feel like I’m majorly derailing here (esp. among concerns about the direction/composition of the conversation in the first place) and I’m not making my argument terribly well. I apologize.

  97. February 27, 2009 at 6:56 pm

    *might one day donate gametes for teh $$$, but is otherwise completely childfree*
    Imo, my feelings are far more important than some potential person’s. I would only ever donate anonymously because I have no interest in kids–or having blood-related family of any sort.
    It’s bad enough getting coerced/guilt-tripped into having “relationships” (if you can call them that) with most of my blood-relations, it would be horrible to have some random person decide that they need a “relationship” because I decided to get some free $$$ for something that would have otherwise gone into the trash.
    What about my anguish at having some random person try to form a relationship? What about my mental health? I’d bet that having such a person contact me, even just a call/email, would do *~*~wonders~*~* for my depression and anxiety.
    If I donate it’ll be for the money and it’ll be anon. Any later thoughts I’ll have would be along the lines of whether or not the money was worth the hassle and/or if I need more cash.
    Sure, I’ll provide a medical history of my relatives and what not, and they can access that medical history; but if I have to provide any resulting children/adults with my name? Only if it’s my completely last choice (I think I’d prefer a number of unpleasant jobs, like cleaning up sewage or sucking Bush’s cock, to having some random snot try to call me “family”).

  98. Phenicks
    February 27, 2009 at 6:58 pm

    Amanda I think you missed what I said, I’m not talking about revelaing who the person is or having some delusional reunion, there are wealthy famous men n women who are adopted or from donoated gametes and the parents they lavish their wealth on and seek are the ones who raised them. I am talking about simply knowing the family medical history of the person who donated the egg and sperm and if they did more than one donation who their half siblings are so they might not reproduce with them, or at minimum be able to say donor AG1 was my biological mother. No one needs to know who AG1 is for her to say no i don’t have cancer in my family or yes I do etc.

  99. February 27, 2009 at 7:00 pm

    I’m not going to defend anyone preventing another person making their own choices, but I think it’s worth keeping in mind that not all of them are doing it from a place of oppression or disrespect. I’m afraid to say that I was one of those people who contribute to the opinion that “you will change your mind”. I never wanted kids from 12. Wasn’t maternal. Didn’t like babies (still don’t). But between 25 and 28 I changed my mind and I can’t tell you why. My father dying contributed, but I don’t know why. The point is, some people do change their minds. Clearly, it doesn’t follow that all people change their minds.

    I’m also guessing quite a lot of people know someone who regrets not having kids (for whatever reason). When you put these two things together, there is an overwhelming urge to try to stop someone from putting themselves in a position where they might regret their decision later. Also, in Australia adoption is not really an option, so sterilisation really is final.

    But the simple fact is, once you have provided the person with all relevant information, you must resist that urge. It’s their decision, irrespective of consequence.

    I’d be interested to know whether anyone has looked at the life history of people (male and female) who are childless by choice and determined how many actually do regret it. For me, it would be a useful resource. If I was making a decision that 5% of people later regret, I reckon I could pretty safely decide that I knew my own mind and that coercion or other extraordinary circumstances resulted in that 5%. If, on the other hand, the number was of the order of 60%, I would have to consider that there may be factors beyond my control or current knowledge that might dissuade me to make the decision just now.

    My gut feel is that the answer to this issue is closer to the 5% mark than the 60%, but I have no evidence to back that up. Maybe the answer is not what researchers want to find.

  100. Faith
    February 27, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    In the waiting room with me were a couple of women who had just had babies and were getting the Mirena also. One said – and the other confirmed – that she wanted to be sterilized and the doctor wouldn’t do it. Guess why: because her three kids were all boys. Nevermind that she was 26 and had three kids. Nevermind that she knew she was done, done, done with babies. Nope, she hadn’t had a girl so she couldn’t get her tubes tied. The other woman said the same thing, only she’d just had girls.

    WTF kind of reasoning is that? It absolutely blows my mind.

    The same thing happened to my sister. She is certain that she does not want to have any more children. She has one daughter who is a pre-teen and she hasn’t tried to have any more children since she was born. The doctor still told her that she couldn’t do permanent birth control until she had three kids. Could the paternalism be any more obvious? The reasoning makes absolutely no sense unless, of course, you think all women want to have children. Even if they don’t, somehow their “maternal instinct” will kick in and they will want to have children. :rolls eye: I guess one of the best options for women in this situation is the IUD, especially the copper IUD since it lasts 12 years.

  101. Diosa Triste
    February 27, 2009 at 7:38 pm

    “some random snot”

    Jesus christ. If you feel that hostile to this potential person, don’t play a part in creating them.

    Listen to yourselves. These are real people saying that anonymous donation has been hurtful to them. Some of them are saying they would rather not exist. And the response is “well, it’s my RIGHT to make some money?” And this is considered ethical? If you really cannot handle the thought of your own genetic offspring tracking you down, don’t donate your genes.

  102. Butch Fatale
    February 27, 2009 at 8:27 pm

    Phenicks – A medical history is generally required before donation, along with screenings for genetic diseases. Most places offer that history to the prospective parent(s) to allow them to make an educated choice about medical history & health risks given the history of the person receiving the donation.

  103. Felicity L'Amour
    February 27, 2009 at 8:43 pm

    79. shah8 says:
    “That pretty much means that any functional society, one way or another, is going to coerce some number of women who don’t want kids into having them. If you think you can ever change that, then you *really* need to check out what happens in a country with strong demographic stresses. It may not be Children of Men or Handmaiden’s Tale, but it would suck very, very, badly–quicker than you might think, too. ”

    Okay, so I’ve heard that there can be bad economic implications when there are fewer children, like, I dunno, Japan? But the thing I imagine with that this, there are many factors, and I don’t know that these factors are inevitable. Like, as someone mentioned briefly, the meaning of retirement. The idea of stopping work at age 65 seems kind of arbitrary. I don’t think that idea, for instance, has always been historically true (even living to age 65).

    So, like, the idea behind that I think is there are not enough younger workers to support the older generation. But I don’t always think it’s right for older people to count on children or grandchildren as their “retirement plan.” I think in this day and age it’s a good idea and more helpful to plan for your own retirement. I know today’s elderly have not always been in a position to do this, but the younger generation has a chance to do this.

    So I’m curious, what other stresses does people having fewer children cause? And how would this result in a Handmaid’s Tale-type situation? If anything, I think a mentality of reproductive choice either way (as preying mantis says in 80) would kind of correct things.
    And I also think people will always want to have children.

    I think a larger issue of “whether humanity will continue or not” is whether humanity will continue in a humane way. So your assertion of more people choosing not to have children making things bad is interesting because I haven’t ever connected that with society going downhill – quite the opposite, I imagined more the idea of too many children, fighting for resources, and nature correcting itself in a very ugly way. (This with the idea that if people who didn’t really want children didn’ t have to have them, the children whose parents were happy to become parents would be better off and have a better quality of life.)

  104. bleh
    February 27, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    I never meant to call women who choose to reproduce baby factories. I’m claiming that *the patriarchy* looks at all women as baby factories. Their view – not mine.

    And I’m curious how children are the revolution. My friends who research in couples and family therapy have explained that when people have children, they invariably (statistically anyway) revert to traditional gender roles even when they were progressive before; and they usually end their work in the larger community to attend to the nuclear family (ONLY). Not very revolutionary is it?

    I may be missing how children are revolutionary. Can you explain?

  105. Kyra
    February 27, 2009 at 9:44 pm

    The doctor still told her that she couldn’t do permanent birth control until she had three kids.

    I’d have asked if abortions count.

    It kinda defeats the purpose of preventing having children if you have to have them in order to prevent them (prevent more, rather, since it doesn’t work retroactively (another fun question to ask a refusing doctor). It’s like a bulletproof vest that only stops bullets after three of them have gone through you.

  106. Stephanie
    February 27, 2009 at 11:51 pm

    Eccaba, I just want to say THANK YOU!! I’m a 25 year old female living in Annapolis, and I am most definitely going to make an appointment with Dr. Chung.

  107. William
    February 28, 2009 at 2:18 am

    All these blogs are written by people who were denied their genetic origins for various reasons, experienced huge lifelong pain as a result and have become activists on the issue. They link to many, many others who feel the same way.

    If you want to bring up privilege, it’s a privilege not to have consider the feelings of people like these when it comes to making reproductive choices.

    Forgive my bluntness but tough shit. Outside of a detailed medical history and possibly testing for genetic disorders I really can’t see any reasonable legal or ethical theory which would provide a right to donor information. Time and again you’re talking about people being denied their genetic origins, but what happens when they get a name, a phone number, and a “fuck-you-I-wanted-to-be-anonymous-you-stalker”? Whats the next step there? Does the donor have an obligation to talk about ethnicity, family history, favorite colors? In a perfect world this wouldn’t be an issue, but this ain’t a perfect issue and it is.

    You’re arguing that individuals who came from donated genetic material (lets cut the adult/child bullshit because its irrelevant in both directions) have a right to sate their curiosity at the expense of another’s privacy. Sure, they might feel strongly about it but so might the donors. If you want to argue the primacy of their interest in obtaining information you’re going to need a lot more than “they really want it.” You’re going to need a convincing explanation why one individual gets to invade the medical privacy of another. You’re going to have to explain why, legally rather than morally, donor privacy is not a right and also what the legal interest is in obtaining information. Beyond that you’ll need to explain why the government ought to coerce doctors into divulging information (because that is what all laws ultimately are, violent coercion), and what compelling interest the state has to do that (not to mention how the authority to do so is granted).

    You can’t just assert something to be a right an then expect others to fall in line. This is especially true when infringing upon the established rights of others is required in order to fulfill the right you’re asserting. What you are saying, at the core, is that one private individual has the right to detailed personal information about another private individual and that that government has a compelling interest in enforcing that right. Moreover, in order to enforce that right the government will, of course, need access to that same information. Right there you’re running into problems with Roe v. Wade, not to mention all the other privacy rights cases out there. You’re probably violating HIPAA. You’re in direct violation of several different codes of professional ethics. This is a sticky area and saying “people like me or those close to me wish we knew more and not knowing hurts” doesn’t cut it.

  108. February 28, 2009 at 10:28 am

    And I’m curious how children are the revolution. My friends who research in couples and family therapy have explained that when people have children, they invariably (statistically anyway) revert to traditional gender roles even when they were progressive before; and they usually end their work in the larger community to attend to the nuclear family (ONLY). Not very revolutionary is it?

    Well, which is it — invariably, or statistically? There’s an enormous difference. If it’s invariable, well I guess we better oppose parenting, huh? There’s no way to change the course of affairs and no way for child-rearing to ever be revolutionary.

    You just generalized parents as reactionaries and gender-role enforcers, so I think you had better be more specific with that broad brush.

  109. Eccaba
    February 28, 2009 at 10:37 am

    You’re welcome Stephanie! :) Glad to help. It’s unfortunate everyone doesn’t have access to such a good doctor for all their medical needs. Last time I went to the eye doctor’s I had a real creepy guy who asked me some very inappropriate questions. So, yeah, good ones are hard to find.

  110. February 28, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    When I was 22 I asked my local PP for an IUD, they agreed immediately and made me an appointment a month later. For some reason there had to be an interview appointment beforehand during which they made sure I had all the information about IUDs. I got the ParaGuard, not the Mirena; I am childless and the insertion was quite painful. In fact I was unfit to go outside for the following three days because the pain was too much to walk. My periods are heavier and have a bit of cramping, compared to before when I not even once experienced it.

    I’m 24 and am still glad to have it! The only way I’d ever go through a pregnancy is if a loved one asked me to be a surrogate for them. PP here in San Francisco never once second guessed my decision for which I am very grateful.

  111. Erin
    February 28, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    I’m claiming that *the patriarchy* looks at all women as baby factories.

    Not all women.

  112. Sarah9380
    February 28, 2009 at 7:27 pm

    I got the Essure procedure done when I was 24. The IUD wasn’t the best option for me due to my swinger lifestyle (they apparently make bacterial STDs more dangerous?) and other medical issues. Plus, I really wanted permanant sterilization.

    I played to all of the doctor’s possible bigotries in order to get him to agree. I was living with a girlfriend at the time and told him that if we ever changed our minds, we had a spare uterus available to us (hers). He was confused as to why I’d need sterilized if I was a lesbian. I informed him that I am bi, had a boyfriend at the time, and was a swinger and into BDSM (all true facts, even though they should have been irrelevant). I asked him if he really thought I should be raising kids and he scheduled my surgery for the following week. Not the most PC way to go about it (I have friends who fit all of those labels who are excellent parents), but I was feeling deperate after having been point-blank rejected by other doctors for my non-married, childless status.

    The Essure procedure was great. I feel very reassured by the fact that I got to see the Xray thing proving the tubes are blocked and that the whole fallopian tubes are affected, so the chances of things growing back together are very very small. 3+ years later, I’m still very happy with it. And every day, I feel secure that my decision was right for me, especially as I watch friends and lovers deal with the things about parenthood that make it completely unappealing for me. Medical issues also make hormonal BC very difficult for me and I’m increadibly glad I don’t have to fight with that anymore.

    I’ve also found that being sterilized makes doctors more likely to talk to me about treament options like hysterectomy or ablation for my medical problems because I’ve already removed the option of future pregnancy from consideration. It completely sucks that the world works this way, but I thought I’d throw that out there in case anyone else is in the same situation.

  113. March 1, 2009 at 5:44 am

    I chose not to get Essure because I have a few allergies, and the idea of developing a nickel allergy after those things had grown into my tubes freaked me out. Luckily, my laparoscopic sterilisation (with Filshie clips) was a piece of cake.

    My gyn didn’t so much as ask me a single question about my partner. Which was awesome.

  114. Ali
    March 1, 2009 at 8:39 am

    Ariane,
    You’re right that the number of people who regret permanent sterilization is closer to 5%. I’ll try to remember to link to the studies I found when I get back to my house but I do know the CDC had 2 good articles. All the 5 year studies I found had an rate of regret for ALL women at 7% or less and for younger women there was only a 2% more chance of regret than older women. One article actually detailed some of the possible reasons for regret, most involved getting sterilized soon after a major emotional event (divorce, death of a child, right after childbirth, etc) or when there’s conflict with your partner before the sterilization.

    One long term study (14 years) did day that the rate of regret for women under 30 was 20%, but I would keep in mind the definitions of regret for that. Also, the lowest regret in young women (6.something %) was in single women who had no previous children.

    One last thing another study mentioned, regret DOES NOT MEAN desire for a reversal. The rate of reversal I found was closer to 2% for all women.

    So yeah, obviously us 20 somethings just don’t know our minds yet. /snark

  115. bleh
    March 1, 2009 at 9:41 am

    Holly, you don’t want the numbers really do you? You want to be angry at someone whom you mistakenly believe is challenging your choices or lack of them.

    And yes (you caught me), I believe we should all avoid parenting at least as it is currently constructed in a nuclear family, but that wasn’t what we were talking about. I had presented some claims contradicting earlier claims and asked a question.

    Thank you for getting snippy, not answering, and trying to shame me. I can get those numbers if you really want them. Just ask :)

  116. March 1, 2009 at 10:27 am

    Sure, post the numbers. And yes, I thought your earlier post was a ridiculous shotgun broadside against “parents” and a caricature of their political beliefs.. It made you lose credibility — with me, at least, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. Now you’re trying to bring more nuance and criticizing only nuclear families. Sure, I’ll hear that, the nuclear family model is problematic in any number of ways. If you want to present a more coherent argument with real data, feel free to post away, nobody’s plugging their ears and droning “I’m not listening to you” on repeat.

    I also wonder what my choices (or lack of them) you suspect I feel are being challenged here?

  117. Addie
    March 1, 2009 at 11:09 am

    “I’m claiming that *the patriarchy* looks at all women as baby factories.”

    Not all women.

    Well, actually, I’d still say that the white-supremacist ablist classist patriarchy still looks at all women that way–it’s just that it sees some women as *polluting* factories that should be shut down. Or, rather, since pollution is just a side-effect of what a factory is making, perhaps the patriarchy sees some women as scary overseas factories that flood the market with shoddy, dangerous products.

    The point I’m trying to make, I guess, is that I do see a lot of commentary that reduces “undesirable” women to discussions of their fertility and factory-like production of offspring–the talk about women who are immigrants and/or poor “popping out” children, for example.

    I do think the more pressing issue in these cases is the demonization of women with “undesirable” traits–but I would still say that the patriarchy is likely to have similarly dehumanizing perspectives on female biological processes, whether the women’s offspring would be considered desirable or undesirable. The dehumanization and othering is just likely to be expressed in different ways–usually more subtly or more gently for women with more privilege, for example.

  118. March 1, 2009 at 9:58 pm

    Very much in the no kids/don’t want category.

    It took me a few GYNs to find one who was willing to listen to me when I said “I don’t want children, I never want children, I can’t take the pill anymore, I want permanent birth control.” I’ve heard everything from “you’re too young” to “why don’t you wait until you’re married” (translation: husband makes decisions about your womb, not you!) But even when I was able to find a sympathetic ear, I did have to push back a little, by reminding them of how old I was and then asking how old I had to be before I was a *really real* adult, and explaining that until I could safely have sex without fear of pregnancy I was basically celibate against my will. Coming across as a rational, well-reasoned adult–not making threats, not entering into hyperbolic descriptions of your predicaments (e.g. “if I have a kid I’ll kill myself!!!”), and forcing the GYN to address the reality of your concern (and asking for a referral if they don’t do surgeries) is the best way to secure a decent sterilization.

    Now, nearly six years later, happily married to a fellow traveler, with no regrets, I still deal with people who can’t wrap their brains around the fact that we do not want children (although interestingly, my husband doesn’t get the sort of shit about it that I do), and that the fact that I have absolutely no desire to have kids, don’t really get all excited about random children squirreling around near me, and who is frankly baffled by some of the “reasons” that people have for having kids doesn’t mean that I *hate* all children, should never be around a child, or don’t remember what it was like to be a child myself (hell, maybe I remember too well and wouldn’t want to inflict that one someone else).

    Yeah, I do have times where I hate kids. Like when some dipshit brought a toddler to War of the Worlds or the kid sitting behind me on the plane starts kicking my seat, or when a shopping trip turns into the 4pm Meltdown Circus. And with the obvious caveats to people who are trying desperately hard to raise special-needs kids, it’s pretty obvious who the lazy-ass parents are who obviously didn’t want kids all that much. If I look at all of the people who just sort of “slid into” parenting, because not wanting kids is ranked just slightly higher than killing puppies with hammers in this country–and I picture how our world would look if every child was a wanted child in the truest sense of the word, it makes me more than a little angry to think about all of those well-meaning assholes who sit there and tell me “I’ll change my mind” (if they bully me enough).

    The whole “childfree” thing is fraught with racist and classist crap, though, which I always knew but only recently have I really started to understand just how pervasive and insidious it is. Both my husband and I are “the type who *should* have children” according to various drive-by experts. And frankly, I felt that a lot of the resistance that I encountered from GYNs was precisely that — because I foolishly thought that a female GYN would be more receptive to my needs when my eventual awesome dudes were minority males.

  119. March 2, 2009 at 10:17 am

    because not wanting kids is ranked just slightly higher than killing puppies with hammers in this country

    OMFG Mighty Ponygirl, I just spit coffee all over my screen! BWA ahahahaha!

    (with that said, I’m glad you finally got what you wanted. It shouldn’t have been that difficult.)

    My friends who research in couples and family therapy have explained that when people have children, they invariably (statistically anyway) revert to traditional gender roles even when they were progressive before; and they usually end their work in the larger community to attend to the nuclear family (ONLY). Not very revolutionary is it?

    First off bleh, when you mention “couples and family therapy”, I’m thinking that automatically skews towards a certain socioeconomic set—the socioeconomic set that is already geared toward taking advantage of things like “traditional gender roles” because they can. That traditional-gender-role thing doesn’t work out so well for people who don’t have the kind of social or economic status that requires.

    Next, how do same-sex couples with children manage “traditional gender roles”, hm? What about single mothers (yeah, you caught me); we don’t have a man around to foist traditional shit on, so we do it ourselves.

    What sends red flags up to me about your comments is the underlying assumption that feminist parenting is impossible, an assumption I reject. Your family-therapy friends can probably tell you about how extended family relationships are discouraged and pathologized in U.S. culture (ever hear the term “enmeshment?”), so while you’re being cagey about it, your bias is showing. Which is to be expected—hey, it’s not just conservatives that have internalized antifeminist ideals, progressives have too. Besides the obvious problem of not-enough-time-in-the day as a reason for parents to be somewhat less involved in hands-on organizing activities in the community there is also the not-inevitable hostility directed towards folks who bring children along to community activities or places that don’t have children as the main focus. Progressives can also take the conservative tack of gearing organizing with the asuumption that everyone has someone else around to take care of the day-to-day essentials; in other words, The Grand Coolie Damn is still very much a feature of the U.S. left (and unfortunately still viewed as a feature-not-a-bug).

    Just thought that bore repeating. Back to your regularly scheduled thread.

  120. Ali
    March 2, 2009 at 11:34 am

    These are the rate of regret data links I mentioned earlier:
    The National Institutes of Health talked about this CDC study.

    Journal or Reproductive Medicine
    1991 CDC study
    14 year long CDC study
    This last one is probably the one most doctors would cite when denying treatment because it found that 1 in 5 women express regret within 14 years of the sterilization, but it’s worth looking at the breakdown of the specific subgroups and also remembering the diferent possible cause of regret.

  121. William
    March 2, 2009 at 11:35 am

    My friends who research in couples and family therapy have explained that when people have children, they invariably (statistically anyway) revert to traditional gender roles even when they were progressive before; and they usually end their work in the larger community to attend to the nuclear family (ONLY). Not very revolutionary is it?

    That might just be because two of the more common/widely used schools of family therapy encourage traditional gender roles. Both Bowenian systems theory and Minuchin’s structural theory have very specific ideas about what a family ought to ideally look like, what roles must be filled, who must fill those roles, and how power is to be held and exercised within a family. Granted, most modern family therapists are aware of those biases, but its pretty difficult to get around them when they’re built into the ideas of what is “healthy” or “sick” within a theory.

    Theres also the issue of society to consider. If society is built to force you into specific gender roles, it takes a certain amount of strength, will, and privilege to resist. Thats a difficult play for a single person, harder for a couple, and even more difficult once you bring in all of the other people and institutions that get involved the moment a child enters the equation. Society is set up to reward certain ways of behaving and punish others, its hardly surprising that couple who have children tend to revert to traditional roles if those are the roles being rewarded.

  122. Ali
    March 2, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    mods, I wrote a comment that contained links to the stats I mentioned earlier but it seems to be lost now. Did it get caught by the spam filter?

  123. March 2, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    Dug it out, Ali.

  124. Sailorman
    March 2, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    # Diosa Triste says:
    February 27th, 2009 at 7:38 pm – Edit
    Listen to yourselves. These are real people saying that anonymous donation has been hurtful to them. Some of them are saying they would rather not exist. And the response is “well, it’s my RIGHT to make some money?” And this is considered ethical?

    William may have said it better, but: yes, it’s perfectly ethical.

    The desire of a person who does not know who his or her parents are, needs to get balanced against the desire of those parents not to be known. In fact, based on the linkage between anonymity and donative frequency, we can safely assume that many of those parents would not have donated if they were not anonymous.

    Now, you seem to be saying that we should only pay attention to the desires of the children of donations, but you don’t seem to be providing many reasons why we should ignore the desires of the donors (nor the implied contract that they made when they donated.) It makes no sense to pay attention to one side.

  125. Laura
    March 2, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    Late to the discussion, because I wanted to read the blog links provided by qvc and re-read comments.

    Continuing the derailing:

    qvc, I have only read one of the blogs linked, but it and your comment seem to reflect the same thing:

    The harm done here seems to be the pain that these people feel with being unable to find their donor parents.

    Without trying to marginalize that harm, I really don’t see an argument in your comments for this potential, perhaps even common, perhaps even in the majority of cases, to outweigh the right of privacy and anonymity of the donor.

    Other stakeholders may benefit from the anonymity, but the adoptee/donor-kids simply don’t have a “right” to try to avoid this harm through overriding the existing right of anonymity.

    If you have another reason why these adults should have a right to the identity of donors OTHER THAN the psychic pain it has caused them, please present it.

  126. qvd
    March 2, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    Because not all donors want or need privacy… only SOME donors. Why should their rights override the rights of everyone else?

    Again, go look at donor-conceived sites. There are plenty of donors who donated anonymously, then years later, their thinking altered and sign up for registry lists so that their children can find them. The medical establishments roll over their rights as much as they roll over those of the donor-conceived.

    The same with closed records and adoption. Many birth parents desperately want to find their adult children, just as many adult children want to find their birth parents.

    I’m not arguing that everyone has a transcendent right to their genetic information. That would not be realistic. What I’m arguing is that everyone has the right to NOT have their genetic information actually denied to them by the state or any other institution.

    The argument for privacy in this case is totally false. It’s being made on behalf of a group of people that don’ even unanimously want or need privacy. It’s all in the service of keeping up a steady supply of identity-stripped babies for the people who can afford them.

  127. Laura
    March 2, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    I agree that denying genetic information is at best, problematic, and at worst, a violation of rights and a violation of a kind of self. But genetic information is not the same as “full donor identity.”

    If privacy is the default (as I believe it should be) but non-anonymity is an option, then the problems I think you are talking about are more about the process of “un-anonymizing” than about the process of privacy.

    If this is what you are driving at (I may be mistaken) then what would you suggest? I don’t know much about this topic, but it sounds from your comment like there is an option to “un-anonymize,” at least in part, at least in some cases.

    Would you rather non-anonymity be the default? Would you rather there be a checkbox of options for donors?

  128. noelle
    March 2, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    As a childfree woman AND a doctor this is an issue near and dear to my heart, on several levels. For all of you who have met rudeness, scorn, or other improprieties at the hands of your doctors: report them. Report them to the medical board. To healthcare grading websites. To planned parenthood. To your friends. To the doctor section on your local city guide. Tell them that this is not okay. That adult women are adults first and foremost, and can make their own decisions. If they need your husbands signature for sterilization, report them to the hospital ETHICS board. Don’t take this crap quietly!

  129. Ali
    March 2, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    Thanks Cara!

  130. Ali
    March 2, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    To add to what noelle just said, file a complaint with the states’s medical board, but also post a complaint (this can be done anonymously) on doctor review sites online. The public won’t see the complaints you make to a medical board unless it results in disciplinary action, but lots of people google a doctors name to see the good and bad things prior patients have to say about them.

  131. qvd
    March 2, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    @Laura:

    I think the right thing to do is pretty simple. It should be illegal for any medical establishment to facilitate anonymous donation of sperm or eggs. Closed adoption records should also be illegal. Birth certificates should always reflect the genetic parents to the extent that this information is known; amended birth certificates issued in case of adoption, or reflecting the legal parents, should be filed alongside the original birth certificate but the original certificate should be accessible to the child once they reach a certain age, 18 at the very latest. In fact, a copy of the original birth certificate should be automatically sent to every person with an amended certificate at age 18. That way lying about origins would be unlikely.

    People who give up their parental rights voluntarily through egg/sperm donation or adoption should first be fully informed by a neutral party with no financial interest in the matter. Then after they legally give up parental rights they should not be financially or legally liable in any way for any resulting children.

  132. Sailorman
    March 2, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    There is absolutely no reason not to allow WILLING donors to WILLINGLY give up their personal information. I am a bit confused about how those rights can even be restricted; there’s nothing the government can do to prevent me from releasing my own information. None of the people arguing for anonymity are, AFAIK, arguing for mandatory anonymity.

    It may get a bit trickier if there is a private corporation which holds the crucial “linkage” data that links donors to children. I would certainly support a law requiring the companies to accede and release information if all interested parties request it.

  133. March 2, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    qvd, I was adopted 3 months after my birth through closed adoption in 1970. I will fight tooth and nail–up to the Supreme Court if I had to–to prevent my biological parents and/or any siblings from unsealing those records. This isn’t because I bear them any ill will or have any reason to believe they are bad people–it’s because I have a family, I have a life, and I am keenly interested in protecting my privacy.

    My adoptive parents told me the truth about my adoption from the time I was five years old. We received a bit of family health history from the adoption agency. I don’t have resentment, I don’t think the biological mother “abandoned me” or did anything immoral. I think she gave me a gift, because for whatever reason she didn’t want or couldn’t take care of a child at that time in her life. So I got a life with a family that desperately wanted me. I’d like to keep the gift.

    I know this is just my own experience, but not everyone is psychologically damaged and in pain due to closed adoptions.

  134. ACG
    March 2, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    The argument for privacy in this case is totally false. It’s being made on behalf of a group of people that don’ even unanimously want or need privacy. It’s all in the service of keeping up a steady supply of identity-stripped babies for the people who can afford them.

    Do what, now? qvd, you present two very different scenarios. The one, donors who want anonymity, can be undone. The other, donors who want open donation, can’t be. You just named a site where donors who chose an anonymous donation could “undo” it by coming out and announcing themselves. There’s no site where donors who don’t choose anonymity can go back and fix it after the fact.

    Don’t want to donate anonymously? Hell, want to exchange Christmas cards and live as the Cool Aunt of a child conceived with your gamete? Go right ahead and make your information open. But don’t tell a person who wants to donate anonymously that his or her identity has to be readily available just because the whole group isn’t “unanimous.”

  135. March 2, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    WHY is it so awful not to know every genome from both biological parents? I honestly don’t get it. Yes, it would be nice to know and all, but who the hell thinks that everybody else knows every detail of their parents’ DNA? Who knows EVERY health risk they could possibly ever face? This is an issue separate from donor identity. Why is it even ethically questionable that a person not know their parents’ genetic information?

  136. Sara
    March 2, 2009 at 6:39 pm

    Mighty PonyGirl said:

    Hurling epithets like “dipshit” and “lazy-ass” at parents who go out in public with their children and stating that it’s pretty obvious that they didn’t want kids is a pile of bullshit. If you really want a kid-free life, don’t have them. You might want to consider not going out in public, either. Children have a right to be almost anywhere in public. Think their “lazy-ass” parents shouldn’t have brought them to the store? Shop online.

    Because you don’t want to have kids but because you expect them to be, what, seen but not heard? Neither seen nor heard? Invisible?

    Whether you believe it or not, those kids have just as much right to be on a plane or in a store or at the movies as you do. Does any other group in society annoy you? You’ve taken on children and parents. Maybe you think people of a different class than the one to which you belong are dipshits and lazy-asses, too?

    Get off your high horse, PonyGirl. Think of it this way. You might be rich enough to afford a babysitter or nanny. Most people aren’t.

    The adage that children should be “seen, not heard” has roots in the eugenics movement. So I guess it all comes full circle.

  137. William
    March 2, 2009 at 7:50 pm

    qvd:

    How does this:

    I’m not arguing that everyone has a transcendent right to their genetic information.

    mesh with this:

    It should be illegal for any medical establishment to facilitate anonymous donation of sperm or eggs. Closed adoption records should also be illegal. Birth certificates should always reflect the genetic parents to the extent that this information is known

    The bottom line is that you’re making a very simple argument. The desire for information that an individual might have about the origin of their genetic components outweighs any desire that any donor might have for anonymity. Thats your argument. The way you want to enforce this is using the violent coercion of government. Be an adult and say what you mean. You believe that people shouldn’t be able to make the decision to be anonymous and that those who would offer them that ability ought to be punished because someone might want to know later on or the person asking for anonymity might change their mind. You’re using condescension and a paternalistic attitude to cover up the fact that you want to enshrine your opinion as a legally protected right.

    So far I’ve avoided putting this out there, because it seems that you have some personal investment in the issue, but here it is. What you’re proposing is to violate medical privacy because someone else has an interest. You’re proposing to override reproductive privacy for another. Thats a violation of a long line of precedent from Griswold to Roe to virtually all reproductive rights decisions in the modern era. For your own comfort and piece of mind. Think thats worth it?

  138. qvd
    March 2, 2009 at 8:38 pm

    I’m just repeating the same points over and over again, so there’s not much point in me continuing. I’ll state them and then leave.

    1) there is no slippery slope to getting rid of abortion rights. Restoring a right to adults doesn’t mean giving the same rights to fetuses. The various countries that have done away with anonymity have a pretty strong standard of respect for individual liberty and women’s rights.

    2) Getting rid of anonymity does not destroy the practice of donation.

    3) There is no absolute right to medical privacy for egg/sperm donation, because there’s no “right” to donate (and by “donate”, meaning “sell”) egg/sperm. Just as there’s no right to donate (or illegally sell) a kidney. If you don’t want to have children contact you later in life… don’t donate.

    4) Some donors change their mind and don’t want to be anonymous anymore. But institutions won’t let them contact adult children any more than the other way around.

    5) Right now, the state mandates secrecy and will back up institutions that mandate secrecy. Getting rid of total anonymity REDUCES state coercion on individuals at the expense of increased scrutiny on institutions (regulation).

    6) And this is not about enforcing individual morality, it’s about judging between competing interests. If a woman has a child and refuses to name the father, whether her reasons can be said to be justified or unjustified, that’s a matter of personal morality. The state has no business enforcing anything in that case. But if an institution facilitates anonymous donation for profit, it’s not private anymore… it becomes a public matter.

    7) Everyone has been studiously ignoring the economic, class and racial component of all this. It’s in the interest of upper-income people to maximize their reproductive choices and there are many institutions that help them do this… but their choices are frequently made at the expense of others. If anyone wants to read feminist theory in this area that goes beyond simple entitlement to choice based on consumerism, try this book.

    8) The idea that it shouldn’t matter who your biological parents are is highly universalizing. There’s a wide spectrum. Some people don’t care. Some people are merely curious. For some people, it’s the most important thing in their life. Society as a whole is obsessed with ancestry. Look at how many narratives, from Star Wars to Roots, feature the rediscovery of biological parentage. Look at how much money the genealogy industry makes. But the people who don’t care should not be the standard by which everyone else is judged.

    9) the harm done to people by REDUCING state-mandated parental anonymity is hypothetical and hyperbolic. If adults don’t want to have relationships with each other, then they can refuse to talk to each other. They shouldn’t need the state to keep them apart unless there’s a compelling need. On the other hand, the harm done to people BY anonymity is widespread and thoroughly documented, from emotional pain to dying young of leukemia because there are no donor matches in your unknown extended family.

    Finally, I’m not adopted or donor-conceived. I have an interest in respecting the rights of adoptees because I’m an adoptive parent. I know who all my own parents are, I’m just capable of having empathy for others who don’t have that knowledge and experience that as a loss.

  139. William
    March 2, 2009 at 10:03 pm

    qvd:

    1) You have no way of knowing what slippery slope might or might not present itself. In this country, with the way precedent works, the political power of the forced birth movement, and the actively deceitful methods they use, any restriction of patient or reproductive autonomy or privacy is a threat. You’re already talking about granting rights to a fetus by restricting the behavior and rights of parents before said fetus becomes a person. You’re talking about restricting the options available to an individual based upon the potential desires of a theoretical being. Maybe that wouldn’t be a problem in a European country that didn’t have state legislatures openly assaulting abortion rights, but it is a problem here.

    2) I honestly couldn’t care less if the practice of donation is destroyed or not. My problem is with an assault on patient rights. If someone wants to engage in an open donation, thats fine. Pointing a gun at someone and saying “your choices are not donating or giving your name” is not.

    3) Well, there is an absolute right to medical privacy unless there is either a significant risk of infection or a situation of criminal abuse which brings mandated reporting laws into play. Constitutional rights are not situational and they certainly are not subject to the whims of someone with an axe to grind.

    4) At the risk of sounding uncaring, boo hoo. At best a donor in that situation should be allowed to unseal their identity while a third party offers the child in question an opportunity to know their identity. If the child doesn’t want to know, then that the end. The reverse ought to be true as well. That covers the issue of anonymity and the issue of changing minds without limiting the options of individuals with a legally recognized right.

    5) No, it most certainly is about judging morality. Thats what the law is, it cleaves the world into forbidden and permitted. Suggesting that personal values don’t factor into what laws are passed, how they are interpreted by the courts, and how the executive branch chooses to enforce them is at best naive and at worst disingenuous.

    Further, this isn’t about competing interests, it is about competing rights. There is a difference. Your interest, no matter how grand or important, is irrelevant if you want to violate another’s right in order to satisfy it. There exists a medical right to privacy. The onus of proving an exception to that right lies with those who would seek to violate it, not those who would seek to claim it. Your argument about that right being negated by a third party’s involvement is poor because that would make all abortions performed by Planned Parenthood an open matter.

    7) The issue of race and class in reproductive freedom is important, though I find it interesting that your response to an inequality is to bring everyone down to an equally miserable level rather than raise everyone to the same position or address the underlying issues which lead to the inequality. Even then, its a red herring. Medical privacy is and individual sovereignty is the issue here.

    8) What you’re suggesting is a positive, rather than a negative, right. In our society we (in theory) restrict active behaviors which infringe upon the rights of others. We do not take from one and give to another based upon some utilitarian principle. What you’re suggesting is that some individuals have a right to the identities of other individuals, that one person’s need can be inflicted upon another regardless of their desires, that the direction of that demand flows from the child to the parent, and that the only way to avoid such a situation is to not put yourself into it in the first place. We avoid unbreakable contracts in this country, and we have since the 13th amendment.

    9) Rights are not an issue of harm, they are an issue of rights. There are lots of potential goods to society that might be gained by violating rights. I called bullshit on PATRIOT, too.

  140. Sailorman
    March 2, 2009 at 10:13 pm

    # qvd says:
    March 2nd, 2009 at 8:38 pm – Edit

    I’m just repeating the same points over and over again, so there’s not much point in me continuing. I’ll state them and then leave.

    1) there is no slippery slope to getting rid of abortion rights. Restoring a right to adults doesn’t mean giving the same rights to fetuses. The various countries that have done away with anonymity have a pretty strong standard of respect for individual liberty and women’s rights.

    I agree. Anonymity of gamete donation and abortion rights are really fairly easy to separate, unlike sterilization and abortion rights.

    2) Getting rid of anonymity does not destroy the practice of donation.

    Do you disagree that it has a pretty large effect? Or is “destroy” your only criteria?

    3) There is no absolute right to medical privacy for egg/sperm donation, because there’s no “right” to donate (and by “donate”, meaning “sell”) egg/sperm. Just as there’s no right to donate (or illegally sell) a kidney. If you don’t want to have children contact you later in life… don’t donate.

    Well, duh: obviously this is the decision which would be made in a hypothetical no-donation world (which makes #2 a bit less believable.)

    But other than that, what exactly are you saying here?

    4) Some donors change their mind and don’t want to be anonymous anymore. But institutions won’t let them contact adult children any more than the other way around.

    NOBODY here appears to be opposing sharing of data, so long as both parties agree. But if we are to protect provacy, it needs to go both ways: it is not any more reasonable to allow donors to contact children against their wishes than it is to allow children to contact donors against their wishes.

    5) Right now, the state mandates secrecy

    This is flat out, 100%, wrong. THE STATE DOES NOT MANDATE SECRECY. The state permits secrecy, which is a cmopletely different thing. If you want to donate and have your recipient know who you are, the state will not prevent it.

    and will back up institutions that mandate secrecy. Getting rid of total anonymity REDUCES state coercion on individuals at the expense of increased scrutiny on institutions (regulation).

    See above.

    6) And this is not about enforcing individual morality, it’s about judging between competing interests.

    Aha! So: where is your analysis of the competing interests?

    7) Everyone has been studiously ignoring the economic, class and racial component of all this. It’s in the interest of upper-income people to maximize their reproductive choices and there are many institutions that help them do this… but their choices are frequently made at the expense of others. If anyone wants to read feminist theory in this area that goes beyond simple entitlement to choice based on consumerism, try this book.

    What are you saying? Are you implying that people who donate gametes are upper class and/or racially privileged in comparison to those people who use those gametes for in vitro fertilization? Do you have any cites? Given taht the fertilization process is quite expensive I have to say that this doesn’t seem insanely likely, though I don’t know the data.

    8) The idea that it shouldn’t matter who your biological parents are is highly universalizing. There’s a wide spectrum. Some people don’t care. Some people are merely curious. For some people, it’s the most important thing in their life. Society as a whole is obsessed with ancestry. Look at how many narratives, from Star Wars to Roots, feature the rediscovery of biological parentage. Look at how much money the genealogy industry makes. But the people who don’t care should not be the standard by which everyone else is judged.

    The average is how everyone is judged. generally speaking.

    9) the harm done to people by REDUCING state-mandated parental anonymity is hypothetical and hyperbolic. If adults don’t want to have relationships with each other, then they can refuse to talk to each other. They shouldn’t need the state to keep them apart unless there’s a compelling need. On the other hand, the harm done to people BY anonymity is widespread and thoroughly documented, from emotional pain to dying young of leukemia because there are no donor matches in your unknown extended family.

    Huh. So are you implying that a gamete donor now has some obligation to provide bone marrow? Or to take care of the emotions of a child that they did not raise or want to parent?

    Even from your own example, those seem like neither hyperbolic nor hypothetical problems.

  141. bleh
    March 2, 2009 at 10:29 pm

    La Lubu – don’t be a turd. These are the same people who fought the entire university to change the name of their department from “Marriage and family therapy” to “couples and family therapy” because they are feminist and gay allies. They hired their first gay faculty member, who does research on trans people, two years ago. Assumptions as a bad idea. Feminist parenting is possible, but difficult. I never said it was impossible.

  142. bleh
    March 2, 2009 at 10:36 pm

    Anger makes bleh’s comments not clear. I won’t try and amend the word choice problems above, but I’ll just acknowledge they are stark. Ahem.

  143. March 2, 2009 at 10:41 pm

    Bleh, please cool it. La Lubu was making a perfectly legit point in response to your comments. While I appreciate the term “turd” as an insult, reserve it for people who are actually being assholes. La Lubu is a regular part of this community, and we will ask you to leave if you start treating her poorly. That would be a shame, because your comments are also interesting and informative. So it would be much appreciated if you would curb the insults.

  144. March 2, 2009 at 11:50 pm

    thanks for the backup, Jill, but I think this comment:

    Anger makes bleh’s comments not clear. I won’t try and amend the word choice problems above, but I’ll just acknowledge they are stark. Ahem.

    is a fine example of some of that dynamic being taked about on the “Tokenism” thread—the non-apology apology, the redirecting, speaking in the third person, defensiveness, not to mention the complete ignoring of any actual critique.

  145. amanda h
    March 4, 2009 at 11:18 pm

    i was lucky enough to get sterilized in southeast texas at the ripe old age of *25* – i had found the essure website, called them for a dr recommendation, went to see him and it was over & done with in less than a month. i came in with the essure pamphlets, my mind made up, and the doctor never gave me any push back. his name is gene barry, and he was working in beaumont texas – i had my essure done 4/11/2005

    i’m thrilled with how i feel, after having it done. i feel much better than i ever did on the pill or on depo, and i would do it again in a heartbeat!

  146. SheilaK
    March 4, 2009 at 11:37 pm

    Has anyone stated exactly *what* information about their biological progenitors they believe people have a right to know, regardless of the wishes of the progenitor? And what information they don’t have a right to, and may have access to only if the progenitor wishes it? And why?

  147. March 5, 2009 at 12:07 am

    Finally, I’m not adopted or donor-conceived. I have an interest in respecting the rights of adoptees because I’m an adoptive parent. I know who all my own parents are, I’m just capable of having empathy for others who don’t have that knowledge and experience that as a loss.

    And yet you lack the merest shred of empathy for the person who donated gametes or made a difficult decision to give a child up for adoption and now just wants to be left the fuck alone.

    I’ve donated eggs, twice. Both times anonymously, and both times because I needed the money. And both times, the clinic took a complete medical history from me. The information about me is in my file, in terms of medical issues. What’s not there is my identity, and that’s how I want it.

    The way you’d want it, though, I might get a knock on the door in a few years from some stranger who wants to know me because I’m his or her “mother.” Yet I’m not anyone’s “mother” in any sense of the word — the woman who gave birth to and raised this person is.

    And you’d like to completely sweep away the terms of the deal I made back then — that I wouldn’t go trying to insert myself into the life of any child conceived with my eggs, and that that child wouldn’t have any way of inserting him- or herself into mine.

    And why? To satisfy your curiosity? Well, as Miss Manners says, just because you’re curious about me doesn’t mean that I have to give up my privacy and indulge your whims. And just because I want to maintain my privacy, it doesn’t mean that I have something to hide.

    Besides, if you think that not knowing the identity of the person who donated a gamete is hurtful, how hurtful do you think it would be if that person slammed the door in the child’s face? I used to date a guy who had that very experience — he was adopted in the bad old days when girls were sent away, and while he had found his birth mother and established a relationship with her, his birth father didn’t want anything to do with him because the whole thing was too painful. Do you think that set very easily with him?

  148. qvd
    March 5, 2009 at 9:54 am

    @Zuzu: “The way you’d want it, though, I might get a knock on the door in a few years from some stranger who wants to know me because I’m his or her “mother.””

    Then you could act like an adult and say “I don’t want to talk to you.” Is your sense of self so fragile that you need state protection from looking at their face or hearing their voice even once?

  149. Sailorman
    March 5, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    qvd, you seem OK with parents making a “no contact” decision, as you just said above.

    So why, then, do you think it is bad to make that SAME DECISION in advance? Why can’t parents decide they don’t want to be identified or known before someone knocks on their door? Why can’t they decide they don’t want to be known before the child even gets born?

    Why should you force them to have ANY contact, if they’ve already decided they don’t want to?

  150. Lychee
    March 5, 2009 at 6:45 pm

    Just wanted to step in with some comments from a UK perspective. The right to anonimity for donors was abolished a couple of years ago and this has definatly had an impact on donations of sperm which have been falling since it first became clear that the legislation was going to be passed (Falling 40% from a 1990 high although the numbers did improve 6% in 2007 from a 2006 low. )However there are still nowhere near enough donors to meet demand and this leads to more children being fathered by the same donor in the same area- increasing the liklihood of half sibling relationships.

    Egg donations have decreased by 40% since 2005 and the waiting list is now two years for IVF in some areas this is obviously a major problem that is not getting any better.

    It also has have some worrying consequences around reproductive rights and access to fertility treatment as it has been suggested that couples who want to recieve a donor egg must donate sperm in order to access (NHS) treatment. Which seems worryingly coercive.

    A further negative side effect has been the increase in ‘private’ sperm donations where women buy ‘live’ sperm from donor usually over the internet. This is obviously not screened and regulated, leading to a whole host of potential problems.

    Incidently it is illegal to pay more than ‘expenses’ (Max of £250 for lost earning plus travel and childcare) for gamete donation in the UK so everyone who did it either now or previously did do it for altruistic reasons

    On the whole I can see the very good reasons behind bothethe donors wish fir annonimity and teh offsprings desire to find out where they came from. However I don’t feel that the system in teh uk is working particularly well at the moment and perhaps a more intermidiatary system could be put in place with an agency holding teh details and acting as a place for correspondence to be sent, with the sending or recipt of any correspondence at the discretion of both parties involved.

  151. March 6, 2009 at 12:08 am

    Then you could act like an adult and say “I don’t want to talk to you.” Is your sense of self so fragile that you need state protection from looking at their face or hearing their voice even once?

    Can you guarantee it will be only once?

    You haven’t articulated a reason why someone would need to know my identity. You’ve made an argument for medical history. I said that I had provided that when I donated.

    But what you’re not doing is making an argument for breaching the contract that I made all those years ago, which was meant to not only protect *my* privacy, but protect the privacy of the donee family. Your whole argument rests on the hurt fee-fees of the child. Who isn’t even a child at the point you imagine all this will take place.

    So I’m supposed to be happy that some stranger has violated a privacy agreement and tracked me down after 18 years for who knows what reason? I’m supposed to be happy that my privacy is violated because some stranger is curious about me?

    To throw your argument back at you, is the sense of self of this hypothetical child so fragile that he or she needs to use the apparatus of the state to abrogate my agreement with the clinic so his or her fee-fees aren’t hurt?

    Also — you seem to be under the apprehension that there’s some kind of state protection involved here, but you don’t identify it. What state coercion are you talking about with regard to egg donors? All I did was waive any parental rights I had to my genetic material through a private contract. There wasn’t any representative of the state there.

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