Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Life on Mars

Cybele, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

An interesting story on the BBC news last night, presumably timed quite coincidentally, the day after we have celebrated Easter, the Christian remnant of ancient fertility rites.

It was the story of a woman who had had some eggs fertilised by her boyfriend's sperm before she went to hospital for cancer treatment. The woman had survived and had then wanted to use one of the embryos to create a baby by having it planted in her womb. However, she had by this time split up from her boyfriend and now he did not want to become a father of this woman's children, despite having had his sperm used for the purpose of fertilising her eggs. The law says that both 'parents' of an embryo need to agree before such embryo is to be used to make a baby. The news was that the European Court of Human Rights upheld British Law in requiring both parties to agree before having these embryos brought back to life.

We saw the woman in tears, hardly able to read her statement where she claimed she was being denied 'her human right' to have a baby. The man avoided the question about being mean towards his ex-girlfriend in denying her the chance to have a baby and claimed in his statement only that the decision was a victory for common sense.

We then saw a 'wimmin-type' women come on to the screen to tell us that there is some good news for wimmin because technology had advanced so far recently, that they can extract eggs and store them in frozen conditions, after which they can be thawed out and fertilised presumably by whichever man the women in question is seeing at the time.

However, I do not see much common sense in any of this. What on earth are they doing extracting eggs from women, having them fertilised in a test-tube after which embyros are frozen and stored for five years, pending a use to be made for them? What sort of science fiction horror story is this? Why should anyone think they have a right to have a baby? Why should a man be able to change his mind about having a baby after he has allowed his sperm to be used to make embryos?

Just before the news, we reached the climax of the excellent Life on Mars series, where a Manchester policemn, Sam Tyler 'had an accident and woke up in 1973'. Obviously he did not feel very comfortable about living in 1973 when all his friends and family were carrying on in 2007. However, he was finally brought back to 2007, during a violent train robbery in a tunnel. But after meeting his Mum and thinking about the 'girl' behind in 1973, he was sitting in a meeting of modern day police officers discussing some ever-so-politically-correct and technological issue, and decided that maybe 2007 was not quite the place to be. Sexism and racism might have been rife in 1973 and the police station was always full of smoke, but life was simpler then and he chose 1973.

Not such a bad choice maybe, given our Frankenstein present.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why not, science exists to allow women to store their eggs prior to treatment for cancer, and then to use them later what's the problem, it's not about rights just that it is possible.

However the man gave his consent I don't see that he can withdraw it, just like with conception once the deed is done he can't change his mind.

12 April, 2007 11:39  
Blogger Charles Roffey and Fred O said...

Well, I sort of agree with you, Diana - this is what I wrote on the BBC Have Your Say forum:

"If Mr Johnson did not want to have children, he should not have allowed his sperm to be used to fertilise Ms Evans' eggs. Why should he be allowed to change his mind?

What are we doing anyway with all this Frankenstein science? No-one has the right to have a child and people should not be encouraged to think that they do."

12 April, 2007 11:42  
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