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"THE

By Tracy Young
PAGE
AN ILL-CONCEIVED XMAS SONG
THE PATIER OF LITrLE FETUSES
During the season
one's thoughts turn to such spir-
itual brainteasers as virgin birth,
a concept that is beginning to
lose its old-world ring and
sound instead a lot like what
now passes for jurisprudence.
For instance, a judge in Tennes-
see recently determined that life
begins at the moment of con-
ception. Oh, really? Does any-
one buy that? Let's conduct a
short quiz:
Multiple Pro-Choice
When does life begin?
A. At the moment of
conception.
B. At forty.
C. About fifteen minutes be-
fore you've got your hair just
right.
If you answered B or C, you
are free to leave the room. [f you
A, please go on to the
next section.
Essay Question
In two hundred words or less,
explain how, exactly, one deter-
mines the moment of concep-
tion? (Somewhere in the womb, in
a teeny-weeny diary, in teeny-wee-
ny scrip', is entered: "Today is the
first day of/he resl of my life.")
High Concept
A court decision to call the mo-
ment of conception the begin-
ning oflife may open new possi-
bilities for Hallmark ("Miss,
wlrere are Ihe Conception cards?"
"Right over Ihere between Happy
Birthday Uncle and Pet Bereave-
ment"), even though most peo-
ple have a heck of a time even
remembering Anniversaries.
Meanwhile, the ruling has al-
ready wreaked havoc among
pro-choice advocates who are
worried, and with good cause:
once this logical juggernaut gets
up a head of steam, look oul! Ul-
tra-conservatives won't be satis-
fied to say that life begins at the
moment of .conception; they'll
want to convince us that it all
starts, as Jimmy Carter thought,
208
with lust in your heart. Yipes!
One minute you'll be thinking
somebody's got cute buns, the
next you'll be craving ice cream
and pickles.
Fertility Rights
In another recent ruling,
couched in terms that would
make you think the scales ofjus-
rice are being used to weigh sin-
semilla, a federal appeals court
in Chicago decided that an em-
ployer may bar all fertile wom-
en from jobs that pose a poten-
On the first day of Christmas,
my true love gave to me. some
agar In a petri.
On the second day of Christ-
mas, my true love gave to me.
two chromosomes and some
agar In a petrI.
On the third day of Christmas,
my true love gave to me. three
implants, two chromosomes. and
some agar in a petrI.
On the fourth day of Christmas,
my true love gave to me, four fro-
zen eggs. three Implants, two
chromosomes, and some agar In
a petrI.
On the fifth day of Christmas,
my true love gave to me no lUD,
four frozen eggs, three Implants.
two chromosomes, and some
agar In a petrI.
On the sixth day of ChrIstmas.
my true love gave to me, six tur-
key basters, no IUD, four frozen
eggs, three Implants, two chro-
mosomes, end some agar In a
petrI.
On the seventh day of Christ-
mas my true love gave to me,
seven surrogate mothers. six tur-
key bastenl, no IUD, four frozen
eggs. three Implants, two chro-
mosomes, and some agar In a
petr!.
On the eighth day of Christ-
mas, my true love gave to me,
eight Right-to-Lifers. seven sur-
rogate mothers, six turkey bas-
ters, no. IUD, four frozen eggs.
tial risk to an unborn child. Fair
enough. But here's the kicker:
women will be denied these jobs
even if tlley are nol pregnant or
swear that tlrey have no inte,uio,1 of
getting pregnant, ever. This last
stipulation poses several inter-
esting problems:
1. How will employers find
out if a female employee is fer-
tile-as if it's any of their bees-
wax?
2. Should fertility testing be-
come as mandatory as drug
testing?
3. Should drug testing be-
three Implants, two chromo-
somes, and some agar In a petri.
On the ninth day of Christmas,
my true love gave to me, nine Su-
preme Court judges. eight Right-
to-Lifers, seven surrogate moth-
ers, six turkey basters, no IUD,
four frozen eggs, three Implants,
two chromosomes. al1d some
agar In a petri.
On the tenth day of Christmas,
my true 10lle gave to me, ten
laws-a-changlng, nine Supreme
Court Judges, eight Right-to-L1f-
ers, seven surrogate mothers. six
turkey basters, no IUD, four fro-
zen eggs, three implants, two
chromosomes, and some agar In
a petrI.
On the eleventh day of Christ-
mas, my true love gave to me,
eleven welfare mothers, ten
laws-a-changing, nine Supreme
Court judges, eight Right-to-Lif·
ers, seven surrogate mothers, six
turkey basters, no IUD, four fro-
zen eggs, three Implants, two
chromosomes, and some agar in
a petri.
On the twelfth day of Christmas
my true love gave to me. twelve
wire hangers, eleven welfare
mothers. ten laws-a-changing.
nine Supreme Court judges,
eight Right-to-Lifers, seven sur-
rogate mothers, six turkey bas-
ters, no IUD, four frozen eggs,
three implants, two chromo-
somes, and some agar In a petri.
come mandatory for the bench?
4. How many millions of dol-
lars a year would it COSt industry
to conduct fertility tests for all
female employees of childbear-
ing years?
5. For a pair of unborn twins.
what do you think of the names
Fe/a/dum and Fe/a/dee?
Situational Ethics To-Go
Apart from raising philosophi-
cal questions (can a woman be
considered fertile if she docs not
have a fertile parmer?), the con-
Ration of fertility and pregnancy
also creates various ethical di-
lemmas. For example: you have
a seat on a crosstown bus. You
give up your seat for which of
the following:
A. A pregnant woman.
B. A woman who has no in-
tention of becoming pregnant,
but may nonetheless be fertile
and therefore is pOlelltially
pregnant.
C. A ten-year-old Samoan
girl.
D. A man, who undet current
Jaw cannot be considered a fer-
tile woman, but who may be re-
quired to participate, at close
range or otherwise, in whatever
it takes for a fertile woman to
become pregnant.
Is There Life Mter Birth?
With all due respect to people
who are concerned about safety
in the workplace, wouldn't it
make more sense to use this le-
gal artillery-not to mention
funds that will soon be allocated
for fertility testing-to improve
hazardous working conditions?
Lead poisoning. after all, poses
far Jess of a threat to potential fe-
tuses than to the women, and
men, who already exist-in the
old-fashioned sense of the word.
But no.
Clearly, we are living in a
very strange time. Art doesn't
imitate life; life imitates concep-
tual arc. And the prebom-and
the preconceived!-have more
of a purchase on our legal sys-
tem th:r.n the living.
Mi .. bcll. Dcecmbn 1989