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A work of nonfiction by Belle Boggs called The Art of Waiting: On Fertility, Waiting, and Motherhood, is getting a lot of buzz, with the New York Times calling it a “thoughtful meditation on childlessness, childbearing, and—for some—the stretch of liminal agony in between…It is likely to become a go-to guide for the many couples who discover that having children is not the no-assembly-required experience they were expecting.” The book grew out of Boggs’ essay for Orion Magazine about how her infertility made her reconsider the natural world.

Boggs explores infertility from many angles; poetic, scientific, and medical. In the more personal sections of the book she explores her own experiences with IVF. IVF (In-Vitro Fertilization) has become so commonplace nowadays that it’s easy to forget how only a few decades ago the process was controversial. Pioneers in the field, including the procedure’s creators Robert Edwards and Patrick Steptoe, raised ethical concerns that we’re still grappling with today:

Many cases of female infertility grow out of sexually transmitted diseases…There are, however, some who hold to the view that infertility is often a punishment for promiscuity. Upon this view, infertility should not be relieved lest promiscuity, forbidden by scripture, has rendered its verdict.

…Mr. Steptoe acknowledged a number of problems which he suggested needed to be addressed. First amongst these was the issue of multiple implantation. Given the higher success rate in achieving pregnancies with multiple embryo implantation, is this procedure justified? Even if it is, what is to be done with any excess fertilised human embryos not needed for the purpose of achieving pregnancy?

To read more, download the PDF for free here.


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Journal of Medical Ethics, Vol. 10, No. 1 (Mar., 1984), pp. 45-48