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Playing God

.....or not

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, March 16, 1994.

Whatever happened to our belief in Mother Nature?

In the abortion debate, the fanatics on the Christian Right always bring up the fact that abortion means someone is playing God, removing a life or life potential for convenience. All true, and likely defensible, but we play God at the opposite end and nobody raises an eyebrow. Here in Colorado, fetal surgery is a new and profitable medical procedure that is putting money in pockets that don't need it and sucking money from the rest of us. To wit, a couple with a clearly defective child, one with all sorts of physical defects and likely retarded, can have expensive surgery performed that ensures the child survives to be born and be a ward for the rest of its life. Clearly, nature had decided that this was a mistake, and that the child should die. Perhaps nature was also telling the parents they should not reproduce, that their line was botched, that they were unfit to be birth parents. The signs are there, however we choose to interpret them.

Well, technology allows us to ignore nature's verdict and flame the vanity of American parents, who feel that they have a right to be birth parents because they are Americans. Further, they feel that the state has the responsibility to cover their medical expenses and therapy, all of which can cost millions. This thinking is as defective as the child, smells a lot worse, and lasts a lot longer and eventually costs a lot more.

I've complained before and will grouse again that the most powerful lobby group in the United States is the unadmitted one of parents. Far too many laws and social hallucinations are based on the supposition that parenthood is sacred, and that parents can do no wrong. In underpopulated times and nations, this may be so, but parenthood is, economically, ecologically, and socially, one of the great dangers to our species today. Spending zillions of dollars so that cameramen and twenty-four year old social commentators can effuse into the camera about some darling child gurgling for cooing grandmothers at home is an egregious error. There are enough physically fit puddleducks growing up in hospitals and foster homes and orphanages on whom the money should be better spent.

This is not popular thinking, and is usually assigned in the public mind to crabby old white people - men, specifically - who resent people, somewhere, being happy and fulfilled. True, as far as it was goes, but think about it. Deserving shelving clerks and their beautician wives discover they cannot conceive despite the piles of cosmopolitan and Redbook how-to guides. They go on fertility drugs, which may or may not be paid for by insurance. They get pregnant, despite nature's warnings. And they give birth to five, assumed healthy, children, which they can neither afford nor properly attend to. But they are rewarded effusively with tearful television updates and gifts from local merchants. And this for playing God. More specifically, defying God - or nature, or fate, whatever your belief is.

If, however, they go to the same doctor, explain they made a mistake and are pregnant with a child they cannot afford and do not want, and then the doctor aborts the child, they have offended powers greater than themselves by playing God. If they decide life is altogether too much and kill themselves, people condemn them for playing God. If they soak up three million dollars from the public till getting pregnant and then overcoming, more or less, the physical defects of the child - all of this to the detriment of existing children - they are hailed as blessed by God. Go figure.

These are no longer vague concerns. The nation gears up for new health insurance and like all debates without the terms defined, the outcome is unclear. What is health and what is disease? Is a syndrome a disease, or merely an excuse for insurance coverage. Should expensive plastic surgery be covered because it hurts a self image? My fear exists we may end up covering artificial pregnancy as if inability to conceive is a disease. Further, genetic defects in the womb - microscopic surgery - may be covered. Like predator surgeons, the predator therapists, such as were displayed in the Menendez trial, gear up for medical recognition and the obvious remora, insurance coverage. Such therapists council artificial pregnancy and such if, in their view and the view of their bank account, their patients are unfulfilled. This is the sort of thing nobody can afford, Mother Nature least of all, and this needs to be debated by the public. But don't hold your breath. Which, by the way is a syndrome, caused by childhood trauma. Lie down and tell me about it.