by Shelton Hull by Shelton Hull
The world's first “test-tube” baby, Louise Brown, turned 25 in the last week of July, 2003. Unlike most women her age, she has not yet had children of her own, and judging from the looks of her, there is no guarantee that she ever will. It's enough to make me wish that some enterprising agency of the public good would conduct a study on the rates of obesity among people who were conceived via artificial means. That would be almost useful, instructive, even. After all, it's well-known that humans often retreat to food for comfort in stressful times; one could hypothesize that knowing one's earthly existence is due not to the intervention of a higher power but to experimental science might be enough to keep Ms. Brown up to her double-chin in bangers and mash.
But that's all fine for her, because she's British. No one will be trying to destroy Britain any time soon. America, however, is much more of a target for the enemies of freedom, fairness and fun than any or all of the countries we have tapped for “regime change” in the 21st century. It remains to be seen whether the American people, when faced with a truly undeniable threat to our survival, will rise to the challenge or collapse like cheap steel girders in a jet-fuel fire. Judging from how this country deals with its future, how it treats its children and its land, air and water, preventive war might indeed be the only thing that can save us in the long run.
It is a testament to humanity's moral, ethical and strategic slackness that we have normalized the use of Frankenstein games as a substitute to the most basic of physical processes: reproduction. The physical differences between men and women are there precisely to facilitate the expansion of our species, and that should have been enough. At some point, however, it was decided that modern society's adherence to Darwinian dogma stopped just short of the crucial issue of reproduction. If the world's scientists know for sure how the infertility rate of the artificially conceived compares to the statistical norm, or what will become of the children born through these methods to parents who were themselves born through these methods, there is no official document that even attempts to speculate for the record.
I find it ironic that the major achievements of social science in the last 30 years have been the legalization of abortion – really just a “preemptive strike” at the source of great stress and inconvenience for a culture in decline – and the standardization of all those many and sundry drugs and procedures designed to force fertility upon people whose bodies were not made for such things. Not to equate, say, in-vitro fertilization with infanticide, or to suggest that people who go this route are necessarily bad people. Not at all. They have simply failed to keep their egos in check, and have thus done a colossal disservice to all those children without parents and the millions who fall under the rubric of “medical waste.” The children we've aborted over the past 30 years are the ones who should be getting drafted now to help kill the kids of Islamic fundamentalists.
Let's be straight about this: infertility is a function of natural selection, and the use of artificial means to thwart this process has an effect on society that cannot be fully appreciated one generation in. It is insane to push so hard to pass along genes that may well include infertility, and to use this “advance” as an excuse not to reinforce existing genetic material in the form of children who need to be adopted. There was a time when adoption was the only option for barren couples, and everyone benefited. But now we live in a world where human life has no value whatsoever, and our attitudes toward that most pure form of human potential, children, reflect that.
I've touched on this issue elsewhere before, and I got some very strong and eloquent responses in support of what could be called “neo-conception.” My only regret is not putting on a CD of Heifetz before reading the things. There is a widely-held perception that discussion of reproductive matters centers on the rights of adults to do what they want with their bodies, and that is largely correct. But the larger question, I think, is what government shall endorse in both law and in budget appropriations, and here a line should be drawn.
If either or both of two consenting adults want to have sex in a certain position in hopes of determining their baby's sex, good luck. If their diet, sleeping habits, work schedule or environmental makeup is regulated in consultation with a doctor or anyone else, wonderful; people would be better off if they spent more time thinking about such things. If a mother wants to smoke dope while pregnant so the kid will be mellow, that's nutty but no worse than abortion, really, or even the slow lobotomization that passes for public education these days. If two lesbians want to utilize a “sperm donor” or anyone of sound mind and clean criminal record wants to adopt a child, that should be encouraged through tax breaks and whatnot. Likewise, if someone chose to ingest chemicals to increase the odds of conceiving, it's their business.
Humans are sovereign over their own bodies; few reject that notion on principle. But when government takes the step of helping people conceive or destroy children in a matter that is not consistent with the biological imperative of that individual, they are putting the best interests of the entire human race at risk. Remember the Byrds' song, “Turn, Turn, Turn”? It's lyric “To everything/there is a season/and a time for every purpose/under heaven” is absolutely true. When Mother Nature is assaulted, she retaliates with the full force and willful consent of the Creator. Hence, the present condition, with all its strange, lethal diseases and its environmental anomalies.
Rather than move to strengthen our youth, we have made them weaker in mind, body and spirit, than any generation of Americans since the dawn of the Industrial Age. As such, there is nothing to celebrate in Louise Brown's 25th except the birth of one person. The rest simply strikes of internal subversion.
Shelton Hull [send him mail] is a columnist and writer based in Jacksonville, Florida. His work has appeared in FolioWeekly, Counterpunch, Ink19 and Section 8 Magazine.