By Valerie Hartouni
Booklet via Hartouni, Valerie
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Extra resources for Cultural Conceptions: On Reproductive Technologies and the Remaking of Life
Whose property were they, what was their status, the nature of their relationship to each other and their "genetic sponsors," the extent of their claims? Should they be thawed and flushed, used for experimentation, or "put up for adoption"? If "adoptable," were they to be separated or kept together? And once adopted, implanted, and born, did they have rights in the distribution of their "parents'" apparently quite considerable estate? Various courses of action were being pursued by various interested parties—Michael Rios, the son of Mario Rios by a previous marriage, right-to-life groups in the United States and Australia, as well as potential surrogates from around the globe—when several more announcements were issued regarding the identity and status of the embryos.
28 Physician Michael R. Harrison puts the issue this way: The fetus could not be taken seriously [we might ask by whom] as long as he remained a medical recluse in an opaque womb; and it was not until the last half of this century that the prying eye of the ultrasound (that is, ultrasound visualization) rendered the once opaque womb transparent, stripping the veil of mystery from the dark inner sanctum, and letting the light of scientific observation fall on the shy and secretive fetus. . Sonography can accurately delineate normal and abnormal fetal anatomy with astounding detail.
Indeed, that appropriation becomes a question at all reveals a tear in the fabric of fact and a fracturing of the core of women's identity. Fetal protection statutes, then, mend and solder. They reassert the "voice of the natural" where this voice has been muted or silenced and thereby function, perhaps most importantly, as an indictment. Inasmuch as it is through women that this voice has traditionally spoken, fetal protection statutes imply by their mere existence that women have lost heart or touch with the deepest source of their identity and thus become not only dysfunctional but potentially dangerous.