Opinion: Recent reproductive rulings don’t seek to protect children. They seek to control women like me.

It seems that when laws or rulings are put in place to govern reproduction, we as Americans lose.

(Sang Tan | The Associated Press) In this Aug. 14, 2013 photo, an in vitro fertilization embryologist works on a petri dish at a fertility clinic in London.

When a good friend was dying from kidney cancer, a group of us helped her prepare her final month’s bucket list and made our own. At that point in life, I had reached my professional goals, as well as most personal goals.

The goal at the top of my sheet was to have a kid. I was 36 and terrible at first dates — which does not lead to many second dates. I decided I would start looking into making it happen without a partner. I found a reproductive endocrinologist who was friendly to women looking to become single mothers. It took another year to make it through all the reproductive testing and six rounds of intrauterine insemination (IUI). None were successful.

The choice was then to stop or to move forward with in vitro fertilization (IVF). If I were to undergo the process today, my options for treatment would be limited depending on the state I live in. Were I to live in Alabama, I would have the serious risk of my procedure being canceled in the middle of the arduous process.

If we truly valued life in this country — as this ruling asserts — we would push for universal healthcare and environmental protections.

Most people have heard of IVF, but most truly do not grasp the process. It includes follicle counts, hormone monitoring, transvaginal ultrasounds, shots, egg retrieval, fertilization of the eggs, blastocysts culture, blastocysts grading, blastocysts selection, blastocysts transfer and, finally, what is affectionately known in the “trying to conceive” community as the “two week wait” to learn if the process resulted in a pregnancy.

Theoretically, all eggs retrieved have potential to become a child. But in reality, about 80% will get fertilized on day one, with 30% to 50% making it to being a day-five blastocyst.

I had 11 follicular cysts (also known as eggs) harvested. I ended up with four. I chose to transfer one, and freeze the other three for potential use in the future.

I was lucky. The little blastocyst that was transferred, did in fact implant in the right spot and become an embryo. And that embryo made it to being my kid. But anyone who has been pregnant is aware of what can go wrong once you have that positive test in hand.

Up to 20% of women experience miscarriages. While 80% of those miscarriages happen in the first 12 weeks, there are still 20% that happen after. The women I know who have experienced one — or more — mourned the loss regardless of the stage. I know I breathed easier after that 12 weeks, but it was not until after the anatomy scan that my worrying about pregnancy dropped significantly.

Even then, though, I worried about development. Every stage in growing a human is setting that human up for a better chance to survive outside the nice cozy, amniotic sac — and the United States has a pretty dismal record for infant mortality rate at 5.4 deaths per 1,000 live births. So even if everything goes “right” during gestation, there is the chance the baby will die being born.

This is an even more dismal statistic when separated down to skin color. I have the privilege of being white, which means I am listened to more than women of color. Good for me, terrible for our country. Every person deserves to be treated with the kid gloves reserved for white women.

Pregnancy is a trip! An exhausting one. It made me a stronger believer in a woman’s right to choose. I cannot imagine being forced to carry a baby to term. I got through it because my child was so very wanted.

A little over a week before my kid’s third birthday, Roe v. Wade was overturned. I felt — and still feel — dread about the ramifications of that decision. After that initial wave, I thought of the three blastocysts I was paying to store. I knew I did not want to be forced to implant. Or forced to donate them to someone else to implant. I knew I wanted control over my genetic material. I also knew that the idea of giving those blastocysts more rights than an actual breathing human would be too much. There was no guarantee those blastocysts would even make it to the embryo stage. So, I made the hard call to have my remaining blastocysts destroyed.

Gone was the option for a second child with the same genetic donor, gone was the option to donate to someone who had exhausted other options. But at least it was all my choice.

It seems that when laws or rulings are put in place to govern reproduction, we as Americans lose. This has never been about children, but more so about control.

Once the basic needs for every living, breathing child is met in the U.S., I will believe this was about protecting the children. Until then, I see it for what it is — a way to control women in our country.

(Photo courtesy of Jenni Oman) Jenni Oman

Jenni Oman is a civil engineer. She reads banned books and regularly picks up litter on walks around her neighborhood. She adores the small human she parents and declares having them as the best thing she has done with her life.

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