It’s been a while since I posted on my blog – but there are times in life when you have to and also want to prioritize other things. When I started my blog my biggest worry was that it at some point becomes just another thing on my to-do list, another thing to stress about. After some agonizing, I promised to myself that I can’t simply allow that happen. The most amazing thing is that it has worked – weeks and weeks have gone by and no anxiety attacks, no raising blood pressure for the fear of – not even sure of what. Definitely not of the end of the world. I’ve also realized that I should and want to write only when I’m compelled to write.
What compelled me to write now is the recent article in the Toronto Star about people who argue that in-vitro fertilization should be covered by medicare because motherhood is a right that every woman should have. My first reaction – shared by many as I found out a few days later – was that that’s a pretty excessive demand. I don’t have a problem with motherhood being a right – while most people seems to have, according to the Toronto Star article.
To be honest, I’m not entirely sure why my first reaction was that demanding medicare to cover IVF goes a bit far. Maybe it is because as far as I’m concerned, motherhood is not a medical procedure that is needed to save your life. Perhaps I agree with those who are critical of the sense of entitlement around the argument for medicare paying your desire to be pregnant. As one woman (who requested to stay anonymous) responding to the Star article maintained: “I am so fed up with people who believe it’s society’s duty to provide them with whatever they want, no matter the cost.”
Yes and no. If pregnancy is not a right, is waging war then a right? If we protest paying for IVF under medicare, why don’t we protest as vigorously and with passion against the government spending our tax dollars on war? Personally, I prefer my tax dollars going toward supporting new life rather than killing people – isn’t this a no-brainer? I’m not alone – another commentator in the Star article wrote: “Of the myriad of stupid and wasteful things my taxes pay for, I would have absolutely no problem with government-funded IVF.”
And we are not talking only about my taxes but as I recently learned, this includes my very payments to the Canada Pension Plan. In the latest issue of the Canadian Dimension, Richard Sanders writes: “And Canadian workers are now forced, through the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), to invest in many of the world’s largest war industries. For example, the CPP’s portfolio includes $100 million in investments in Boeing and Lockheed Martin, which manufacture the AH-64, F-15s and F-16s.” I have no say whatsoever how CPP invests its funds – and I’m disgusted at the idea that if I ever retire in Canada, my monthly pension payments will be cashing in from the global arms trade. In short, how can we retire ethically?
In fact, the Star article is somewhat misleading in talking about right to motherhood while the issue is the right to be pregnant. Equating motherhood with pregnancy is a very narrow interpretation and ignores a variety of other ways of becoming and being a mother. And it’s not only adoption of babies abroad that I’m thinking of here – despite it being the latest trend thanks to the craze doing circles among the Hollywood crowd. Perhaps this equation is at the core of my unease with the article. Is every woman entitled to be pregnant at any cost if not every woman is not entitled to abortion at any cost, for example? Should we talk about these issues together? And doesn’t arguing that pregnancy is a medical procedure only add to the medicalization and pathologizing of women’s bodies? And we know that IVF is big business. If it was covered under medicare, there is no question that pharmaceutical and other medical companies would be pushing IVF even more aggressively than so far.
I know motherhood studies is its own field and that most likely these issues have already been debated and examined. I’d like to hear them – I hope those scholars will join this public debate.