This is a guest post by Sarah. She blogs here.
Like most loving mothers, Penny Jarvis says she wants the best for her daughter, MacKenzie, 2. However, when you read their story, you would be forgiven for thinking her methods of achieving what she believes to be best for her daughter are more than a little unusual.
MacKenzie was born with Turner Syndrome, a rare chromosome abnormality affecting females, that causes restricted growth, heart and kidney problems, bone disorders, hearing loss, ear problems and infertility. MacKenzie will be unable to conceive her own child naturally- but she could carry a child created from a donated egg.
So Penny, 25, wants to freeze her own eggs now, so that MacKenzie will be able to use them for an IVF pregnancy in later life. According to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, the procedure is allowed in this country, though a spokesman for the organisation also told the BBC that it would be very important for both mother and daughter to be given appropriate counselling if they chose to carry out a pregnancy.
As a disabled woman myself, let me say that I have nothing at all against disabled women having children. That is not the problem here. Some quick research on Turner Syndrome revealed to me that most girls with the condition have normal intelligence. So there is nothing to suggest that MacKenzie will ever be too severely disabled to make decisions, or to understand what it means to look after and love a child.
However, MacKenzie is only 2 years old. She will not be ready to have her own child for at least 14 years, if not much longer. Ms Jarvis says she would not mind if MacKenzie chooses not to use the eggs, that she is only giving her daughter ‘options’- but who knows what new medical options will be available to women in MacKenzie’s situation by the time she is old enough to start thinking about having children? And there is one other, simpler, less extreme option that Ms Jarvis doesn’t appear to have considered for MacKenzie- adoption.
Being so young herself now, there is a good chance that Ms Jarvis will still be able to go through the procedure of freezing eggs for MacKenzie in 14 to 16 years’ time- when MacKenzie is old enough to decide for herself that she may want to use them.
Ms Jarvis says that MacKenzie’s diagnosis was, and still is, very upsetting for her. These feelings are only natural- many parents of disabled children have experienced similar situations.
The deep feelings that Ms Jarvis has for her daughter are immediately made clear by the fact that she is even considering carrying out such an extreme procedure. However, from what I have read about the case, personally, I believe that she is thinking too far ahead too early.
I would be very interested to read your thoughts on this case. I’m particularly interested to hear from mothers of girls about what they think they might do in the same situation.
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Filed in: Disability