At what cost?

It’s rare that I will post twice in one day, much less use up my precious Sesame Street time to do it, but this story is breaking my heart. This report comes from a local news affilate, for those of you out-of-area. The story details the desperation of couples to have a baby, and they are willing to buy fertility drugs off a type of “black market” online in order to even attempt to afford the procedure.

I will confess that I do not understand all of the emotions that go along with infertility, since I have no firsthand experience of it. The reason the Munchkin has a late December, post-Christmas birthday is because I believed the stats – that women don’t generally get pregnant on the first try. We waited the requisite 3 months after I stopped taking the pill, and then – bam! – pregnant. First try. Christmas baby. And then to add to my complete lack of fertility issues, we weren’t even trying to get pregnant when we conceived Baby Boy. Fertility does not seem to be an problem for my family right now, since both my sister and sister-in-law have conceived without trouble (my new niece will arrive in March, and Little Cousin is crawling now – yikes!).

This is not to say, however, that I don’t have any empathy. I do have a friend who is going through infertility treatment. I always feel deeply aware of my own blessings when we talk about this, because I will never know the pain that comes with not being able to conceive a child, and, in some of the cases written about in the news story, basically mortgaging your future to try to have one.

The black market, though, scares me.

First of all, as is mentioned in the article, it is illegal to sell unused drugs, though they admit that prosecutions are rare. But as is pointed out by a locally prominent doctor, someone may eventually end up dying because of the black market. All it takes is one tampered medication. You can’t honestly say that there won’t be someone out there someday who decides to make a fast buck, and sells tampered or mislabled medications, and someone else will end up dying for it. And the very nature of the black market – i.e. its illegality – may keep the culprit from being prosecuted, because the deceased and any witnesses would have to confess to participating in or having knowledge of the black market.

I think everyone who wishes to should have the chance to have a child. Fertility treatments are hideously expensive. But what should happen? Should the government force health insurance companies to cover a procedure that has a 50% failure rate each time? Should the government itself provide the funds to allow couples to pursue any kind of fertility treatment?

Part of the problem may lie with society. We have placed such a premium on having a biological child that people are willing to commit crimes to get one. People are sometimes just so desperate to have a baby that breaking the law seems a small price to pay. I’m sure that there are black market adoptions that take place, too, and adoptions cost big money as well.

Years ago, if a couple couldn’t have a child, they either adopted or continued on, childless. Modern technology started catching up at about the same time I was born. Yet modern technology cannot heal the human heart when it doesn’t work.

I don’t know how to fix the system. I’m not sure that it can be fixed without infringing on too many freedoms and rights. And yet, there is so much pain and heartbreak out there. Adoption is not the solution for everyone – though, if more agencies made it less expensive (or free, as one local church-based adoption agency does) and the paperwork was less cumbersome and the legal aspects were scaled down, it might become an easier one to pursue. I’m sure that we could all agree to that. In the meantime, I still can’t see the logic to bankrupting yourself to have a biological child. Life carries too many risks to do that.

And I think that my greatest fear is that this problem will keep feeding itself, as the children of these procedures end up finding that they need the same technology to have children themselves. Technology keeps progessing, but so do the costs – financially, emotionally, and physically. I’m not sure where it will all end, or if it will end at all. But I won’t be the one to tell these hungry hearts “no” – I just wish that there was a better way. And if you think of one, let me know.

One Response to “At what cost?”

  1. Renee'
    March 11th, 2007 09:51

    hello, just reading your article “at what Cost” i looked for a place to buy my Fertility meds all over including out of the country. Only to get them from a discount company in New Jersey. Two days after getting the alomost three thousand dolllar prescription filled, it was discovered i had a rare form of uterine cancer and promptly had to have a total hysterectomy. it all happened so fast. It hurts me so bad everytime i look at the very large bag of unused meds, not to mention the one that have to be refridgerated. how I would have been so grateful to find someone who could have sold me theirs at a discount, then the pain would be lessened. The nurse at the fertility clinic offered to give my number to anyone who may be interested. However, people are probably so scared to purchase anything that did not come directly from a Pharmcy. I can’t say that I entirely blame them, but, there comes a point where you need to be a little trusting of humankind. Just my thoughts