First, addressing earlier posts...
Natalie_ca, have you heard of the Is-ought problem
or the Appeal to nauture
? Both are logical fallacies (I've linked Wikipedia pages), that is, arguments that don't prove/support what they claim to prove or support. Just because something happens a certain way, or just because something happens in nature or is natural, doesn't mean that it's good.
You have to make an argument other than "it's nature's way" in order to convince other people. You've addressed this in part, but agreeing that "nature's way" of reducing population by disease should be treated with medicine. Other people keep bringing up disease because the "it's nature's way" argument doesn't, in of itself, distinguish between infertility and other types of disease. You're making a distinction based, not on nature, but on your basic moral understanding that life is valuable and your sense that there are too many people on the earth. These are external moral judgments that, when put together, do argue against fertility treatments. But every time you say that it's about "nature" people are rightly going to point out the fallacy.
The point about underlying diseases and your own personal position is very important in the fertility debate, I think. If a couple are infertile they should have a fertility evaluation to figure out what's going on. Does the male have a low sperm count? Why is this? Is it because of an infection earlier in life? A varicose vein in the scrotum? Personally, male fertility treatments because a guy has a low sperm count because he got mumps after puberty makes a lot of sense to me. However, sometimes there are good genetic reasons for a couple not to have children. There are also sometimes good general health reasons for a couple not have children; they do need to be at least somewhat likely to be able to raise the child.
gayef, there is one little thing you said that I think needs to be re-thought a bit...
Originally Posted by gayef
There have been many, many people who are much, much smarter than either you or I debating the medical ethics of such treatments since their inception. The sheer fact that such treatments are available to us at all tells me that these people don't seem to have a problem with them
There is a lot of money in fertility treatments (couples who did the career first and then found out they weren't fertile any more is a demographic with a lot of money and influence) and I really don't think there is a universal agreement among bioethics experts about a lot of different issues that come up with IVF. Ironically, this is another case of the Is-Ought fallacy; just because IVF exists, doesn't mean it's right.Not addressing earlier posts, just my opinions...
Something about fertility treatments that is about sex and gender really bothers me. Women become infertile (and have increased risks of birth defects) earlier than men. That means that it's harder to have a baby, and more likely to have one with problems, if women wait a long time to raise a child. However, we are living a very long time on average, and our society values education and requires quite a bit of preparation for many careers. I think mature, stable people are much better at raising children than young, confused, searching for themselves fertile 20-somethings. Does this really mean that women should choose between children and a career and men don't have to? Does extreme fertility treatment (like IVF) level the playing field?
Personally, I think that there are plenty of humans on earth that we should avoid using too many resources on fertility treatments. I think adoption for older people should be made much, much easier. I really think that people should pay a lot of attention to their health genes and the likelihood of a healthy baby before they decide to have one. Sometimes infertility IS signal of illness that will make reproductive problematic, and sometimes it isn't. Distinguishing between those two, and not giving fertility treatments to people who have greatly increased risk of unhealthy children, seems to be like a really important part of the ethics of fertility treatments. I also think that things like IVF are just too resource-intensive, period, and simply don't make sense.
Older people need to be able to adopt, but the option of being a foster parent is also very important. It's easier to do, can sometimes be a path to adopting, and is always a way to help a child in need.