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April 16, 2004

Out of the test tubes and into the streets!

Daniel Radosh


According to a a new study more than one-third of babies born in the US today were conceived through some form of assisted reproductive technology.

Reproductive freedom really isn't just a euphemism for abortion. Where will you be April 25th?

Update: Ugarte's alarm bells went off where mine should have (see comments). I mean, when a story makes you say, "That can't be true!" your next thought should always be, "Wait, that can't be true."

Part of the problem is that on first reading, I thought the stat in the Reuters article came from the survey that is the subject of the piece, and that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Looking at it again, I see two things: first, the stat has been changed. It now refers not to infants born but to pregnancies. Also, the stat does not come from the NEJM, and is not attributed to any source.

Spurred by Ugarte (and if you're not a regular at Rick's, you should be, though I'm shocked, shocked, to find they still haven't made it easier on the eyes) I did some of the fact-checking Reuters should have and quickly found neither statistic is accurate. In 2000, there were 99,629 ART procedures resulting in 35,025 babies. It's unclear whether that 99,629 figure counts only procedures leading to pregnancy, but even if so, it's nowhere near one-third of 4,019,280, the actual number of babies born, much less the number of pregnancies.

Gina points out that what is possible is that ART accounts for one-third of all multiple births (40,542 in 1999). My best guess: the Reuters reporter simply misread this stat.

I stand corrected. Please disregard any premature calls to a test-tube baby revolution. Those already against the wall can go back to their normal routines.


That stat doesn't sound like a joke (even a deadpan one). Where does it come from? The study that is the basis for the article?

maybe they are counting alcohol as a an ART (assisted reproductive technology)?

My reading of it was that either roughly one-third of all IVF procedures resulted in multiple births, or roughly one-third of all SUCCESSFUL IVF procedures resulted in multiple births.

This doesn't surprise me- clomiphene citrate (Clomid(tm)), which stimulates the ovaries to produce ova by correcting innate hormonal imbalances (thus, not IVF), has a reported 8% rate of twins in successful fertilizations. IVF, on the other hand, slaps fertilized ova into the uterus. Several are used, in case a few don't implant. If the uterus isn't receptive, it'd be hard for any to do so. If it is, well, let's just say I'm surprised the multiple birth rate from successful IVFs isn't higher.

In any case, you're right. Either Gene Emery wrote this poorly, or Reuters screwed it up in editing. There's no telling what they really mean to say. I let my subscription to the NEJM lapse last year- oh well.

No, I'm not going into repro-endo. It did interest me for a while, though.

How fuckin' cute are my kids?

If you squint really hard, the study can be seen as another argument for people getting the hell over their problems with gay marriage. I mean! 99,629 ART procedures in 2000? wtf? Most states will not allow gay couples to adopt, so who is going take care of all the kids that these "dammit, I will too breed" seem to have forgotten about?

ahem: "dammit, I will too" breeders.
also: fab post title. so fab.

They are really fuckin' cute, btw. Sorry if I came off like an insensitive bitch, there.

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