Debates over reproductive rights are always thorny, but the question of whether or not obese women should be banned from receiving in vitro fertilization is an especially loaded one. My immediate answer? No, of course obese women shouldn't be banned (what a harsh word!) from getting fertility treatments. That's discrimination against overweight women!
But a closer look at the medical reasons why some doctors want to ban the procedure for women with a BMI higher than 35 does make you stop and think. Or it made me stop and think, anyway.
The health risks faced by obese women during pregnancy are definitely real, and there are quite a few: Greater chances of miscarriage, gestational diabetes, some birth defects, lower conception rates, and complications during C-sections.
When you take those factors into consideration, denying obese women in vitro does seem like a legitimate restriction to make. Still, it doesn't sit right with me.
And I think I know why. There are a host of physical conditions that make pregnancy more risky for certain women: High blood pressure, autoimmune disorders, kidney disease, diabetes (not caused by being overweight). Do we ban women with these problems from fertility treatments, too? Are only women who are genetically predisposed to perfect health worthy of reproducing?
So even though, as I said, I don't deny that there are valid concerns associated with obese women getting pregnant, this should still be a matter of individual, informed choice.
Do you think obese women should be banned from receiving fertility treatments?
Image via Menno/Hordijk/Flickr