frontline: making babies

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Discussion: What are your thoughts on the brave new world of reproductive choices and technologies?

Dear FRONTLINE,

I thought the show was really interesting and raised a lot of questions for me. How can we make sure this technology is not used to screen out genes for gay people, black people or other unwanted types of people? One woman brought up eugenics but it was not analyzed at all by anyone in the show. I mean that's exactly what this technology is. I think it's a fabulous idea for people who want to conceive that can't and all that but what about the people who don't want to give birth to certain types of people. Or even if you want a blond instead of a brunette. Big behinds or little behinds, hey we're talking designer babies here. I can sympathize with the parents who didn't want their children to suffer the debilitating diseases they had to put with their whole lives, that's valid concern. But if Stephan Hawkings parents had the choice would he still be here? I mean you never can be safe from anything, you could knock yourself out going through thousands of dollars of treatments, give birth to a healthy designer baby of your choice and they can still get hit by a bus. I'm not saying get rid of this technology, I just want folks to be careful with it.

Lori Patterson
Iowa City, Iowa

Dear FRONTLINE,

Who will answer the searching thoughts of a child when he realises he was conceived by a father whose sperm arrived via FedEx? This is not love.

Rich Kennedy
Moorestown, NJ

Dear FRONTLINE,

We do not have to view so negatively towards human cloning. There are people who, even with the most recent technology, cannot have children of their own. For them, human cloning, when it becomes available, should be a legal and acceptable method to reproduce.

Los Angeles, CA

Dear FRONTLINE,

As a professor of commmunication, I want to commend you on your fine use of irony in this piece of investigative journalism.I refer to the human interest interview with a lesbian couple who went shopping at the sperm bank. Isn't it ironic that when the couple finally were able to decide how they wanted to "make a life" together their selection was a sophormore sorority girl's "dream boat"-- 6'1'', blonde, blue eyes, pre-med, musical--an Aryan "Ken doll."

Virgil Moberg
St. Augustine, Florida

Dear FRONTLINE,

I appreciate Frontline's in-depth approach as well as its viewers' frank comments. I'm worried, however, that with some of the encouraging possibilities that RTs offer, we stigmatizing adoption and adopted people in the process.

One viewer wrote about all the "problems" adopted children pose, and many more have glorifed having "own's own" child by this, I assume they mean genetic?. Indeed, "genetic" children too can pose "problems" as can both adoptive and biological parents. How many comically agonizing Thanksgivings does a family need to go through to realize that being genetically related can itself produce some heady "issues." As an adopted person, I recognize that adoption too raises many challenging issues about identity and kinship, but I also assert that adoption is an equally valid means of creating a family. One possibility to build connections and relatedness should not preclude another. Both RT and adoption have pitfalls and potential.

Manhattan, KS

Dear FRONTLINE,

I simply can not believe how ignorant some of the people posting are. Every woman has the right to choose what to do with her own body, and if for some reason she can not conceive on her own...these procedures are a God-send. He gave us the knowledge to develop these procedures, to help EVERY couple have the child of their dreams.

Infertility is a very serious disease and should be given the same attention as Cancer, AIDS, and many other diseases. It may not be life threatening, but it can certainly detract from the quality of life that person leads.

j m
t, AZ

Dear FRONTLINE,

This is an incredibly complex issue, rife with emotional and sophistic elements. At the same time it offers some important hope, as well as practical reasoning when dealt with patience. For those who do not have children and want children they should first consider the child, and not their own desires, because this is what it will come down to for the rest of their lives. Are they willing to live a life of sacrifice and self-denial? Are they willing to love even when it means denying a child's wishes. Child bearing is one of the smallest, albeit, profound elements of human life. I had one tangent question if anyone could answer for me. Is there any research being done, or any developments regarding cryogenics and unwanted embryos or fetus?

chesapeake, VA

Dear FRONTLINE,

As part of an infertile couple, I find it infuriating that people who have never been in our shoes feel the need to judge us. While everyone has the right to their opinion, programs like yours make our struggle that much harder. The media seems to focus on the extraordinary, instead of using its power to inform viewers about the emotional pain of being infertile. I can't tell you how many times I've been asked, when I finally do open up to someone regarding our infertility, "You're not going to have septuplets are you?". At a time when I'm looking for comfort, I'm having to reassure others that I'm not going to have septuplets! I believe this is a direct result of the media stories regarding infertility. Do you focus on the people who have had successful treatments with drugs, corrective surgeries or other treatments besides high tech, and only had one baby? I haven't seen any stories. I haven't seen stories on the emotional pain that infertile couples go through, the toll infertility takes on some marriages. That would be a truly informative, unsensational story that would inform the public about this very real, prevalent 1 in 6 couples experience infertility problem.

Andrea Selear
Indianapolis, IN

Dear FRONTLINE,

I thought your show on infertility was very hopeful for people suffering from this heartbreaking problem. I myself do not suffer from infertility BUT, I have been an egg donor for infertal couples three times and have donated more than 70 eggs. I have one child of my own and can't imagine the pain of how something that was so simple for me, other couples can't achive. Donating my eggs was the LEAST I could do for these couples in need. My decision to donate was NOT based on a financial aspect...I would have done it for free and I still would. People who are so quick to judge others obviously have never experienced the heartbreak that goes along with infertility. It is NOT a crime to want to experience the miracle of being pregnant, labor, and the joy that you experience the second your baby is born. How dare people condemn others for wanting what is such a blessing!

Denise Lane
Great Mills, MD

Dear FRONTLINE,

I am appalled at all the unnecessary comments some people have posted on this discussion board. Many people think it's unethical and many feel infertile couples should adopt. How many people do you know that have adopted and have had problems with that child!! Almost every person I know with adopted kids have problems. God has given us the brain power to give couples a chance to have their own children and I think it's wonderful. I do not believe in cloning. The ivf process is not that at all. It does not interfere with the genetic make-up of the child. It's a manipulation that enables infertile couples to have children of their own. We had to go through infertility treatments. In fact, I just finished with my first IVF and it worked!!

If we had more open minded people,

maybe, the insurance companies will start covering treatment so that we are not forced into transferring more than 1 or 2 eggs. This way the insurance companies are paying for all the medical expenses that occur after a multiple birth which I guarantee is 10 times more than the infertility process. This was my only chance since we have severe male factor. I thank God for a chance to have my own children. Good Luck to all!!!

Jax, Fl

Dear FRONTLINE,

Your show provokes many thoughts. For me, there are two major concerns that I realized. First is the for profit interest of the "fertility industry" that is developing. Economics will not drive the proper balance between personal, social and moral interests without some broader public dialogue, guidance and oversight. My second concern has to do with "the designer approach" in selecting children. There certainly seemed to be a overemphasis on the physical characteristics and getting that right combination; I do not believe that getting the "physical order" just right will assure the quality of life for either that individual or society as a whole. Thanks Frontline for expanding the dialogue raising the issues.

Dan Steinbacher
Lancaster, Pa

Dear FRONTLINE,

I too am disturbed by others' comments above, though I respect their right to a different opinion. Until you have experienced infertility you have no idea of how difficult it is as a happily married couple in a culture filled with those who conceive naturally. I thought the program was interesting; however, rarely or never on these kinds of programs are people interviewed for whom IVF and other treatments have been UNsuccessful. Too often the emphasis is on the issue of multiples, when the large majority of those who undergo treatment may never even be able to conceive a child.

San Francisco, CA

Dear FRONTLINE,

I'm trying to do some math here..30% of infertile couples are male factor, 30% are caused by Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, 29% by Premature Ovarian Failure..where is there room for 75% caused by scar tissue left over from abortions or STD's? Is is "mother nature" telling me I shouldn't bear children? Or is it a result of the chemicals we've been putting in our air and in our food for the 27 years of my life? Does it matter?

I am not even remotely interested in some of the measures other couples take to achieve a pregnancy, but I don't condemn them for trying. For many of us, it's not just a matter of wanting a baby...it's a desire to experience pregnancy. Unfortunately, the media coverage given to the extreme cases of septuplets and octuplets paints the picture that ALL infertile couples are trying to serve some selfish purpose by having an unethical doctor implant way too many embryos than is healthy. Most of us are just normal couples trying to find a way to have a family. Anyone who has never had to struggle for something so basic simply cannot understand.

If you want to chalk it up to natural selection, then I suggest we stop using antibiotics and life support. They mess with the natural selective process as well. Infertility is a disease and those of us who suffer from it have the right to be treated any way we deem necessary. I would not deny anyone the right to be treated for heart disease because it worked against "natural selection." It's time people stop hiding behind a theory they know so little about and start showing some compassion for those around them.

Tipton, IN

Dear FRONTLINE,

I have two beautiful and healthy children 3 years and 11 months thanks to the California Cryobank and the clinic of Dr. Yee, Rosen and Cassidenti. My husband was sterile due to an illness otherwise healthy and was unable to have children. Thanks to two donors we were able to become parents.

It was interesting to read some of the other postings...though I was annoyed by the anti-abortionist input. That is not the issue here. Stick to the subject please.

San Diego, CA

Dear FRONTLINE,

Thank-you for your well balanced presentation on the issues surrounding infertility and its treatment. So much of the programming on Assisted Reproductive Techniques focuses on the extreme cases and issues. However, it is usually overlooked that most average couples in fertility treatment are not using the "state of the art" techniques -- the most common form of ART is the ovulation stimulation cycle with clomid tablets or injectable hormones coupled with IUI interuterine insemination. If this is not successful, and it is often after months or years of trying with these methods, that couples may be advised to proceed to IVF. And for many of us, this follows years of tests and corrective surgeries for common afflications such as fibroid tumors, polycystic ovarian disease and endometriosis. I am grateful that my health insurance covers all these treatments just "short" of IVF. And my husband and I are still hopeful we will succeed.

Robyn Myers, Ph.D.
American Canyon, CA

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