Monday, April 21, 2008

Recent reading: "Everything Conceivable"

One unexpected side effect of blogging is that even though I seem to be spending just as much time if not more so on the computer (!), I am also reading more books (albeit most of them related to to infertility & pregnancy loss).

Part of that, of course, is due to the Barren B*tches Book Brigade. Earlier this month, prompted by a recommendation from Pamela Jeanne, I dug "Everything Conceivable" by Liza Mundy out of my gargantuan "to read" pile.

Mundy is a Washington Post reporter, and this is very much a work of journalism, as opposed to a "how to" guide. She has put her investigative skills to excellent use on behalf of not just infertile people but those seeking to understand the impact that ARTs are having on all of us -- not just the families created through ARTs, but society as a whole. She talks to infertile couples, children born from ARTs, doctors and embryologists, people who run sperm banks, pioneers in the field. She delves into the history of ARTs, and it's startling to realize just how new this technology really is, and how very little we know about so much of it.

The book examines some interesting -- and sometimes very tough -- questions to which there are no obvious or easy answers -- the implications of using donor gametes, the rights of children to know their biological parents, the rights of the donor to remain anonymous, the impact of multiple births, the question of selective reduction, the dilemma of what to do with leftover frozen embryos, whether the fertility industry should be regulated, should donors and surrogates be compensated, gay & lesbian parents, single mothers by choice, and the impact ARTs are having on traditional feminism.

As Pamela Jeanne noted, throughout the book, infertile people are treated with respect and sympathy. I was moved by so many of the the stories told here.

Because the book is focused specifically on ARTs & how they are changing our world, there is little mention of adoption as an option (most of what there is in comparison to the similar issues raised by use of donor gametes) and none (that I could find) regarding the option of living childfree after treatment. That would probably be my biggest quibble about the book -- I would love to see what Mundy could do with that topic! But it's not enough of a quibble to keep me from recommending this great book. Future BBBB selection, perhaps??


  1. I read this book last fall -- I believe at MLO's suggestion -- and thought it was very good. I liked it much more than "The Baby Business" as a nonfiction, fairly accurate account of ART, although the latter had a fuller treatment of adoption.

  2. I read this book. . .

    Mostly I was depressed. Here I am with PCOS and Pre-eclampsia, and I was left wondering,

    maybe I shouldn't reproduce.

    It was eye opening.