We’ve written extensively here in the manosphere about the falsehood that is the “have it all” meme and the very real limitations women face that seem so often willfully obscured by feminists. The biological clock is arguably the most prominent of those limitations. The restriction it places on female fertility combined with the general desire that the vast majority of women have to become mothers at some point in their lives makes for a powerful force.
Halle Berry’s recent pregnancy has generated a lot of discussion both in the manosphere and out. Some have gone as far as to mark it a crucial step forward for the “have it all” crowd, a sign that career women will soon be able to delay childbirth indefinitely without penalty. Halle Berry, they say, will become a model for women who wish to prolong their ride on the career track or the “Sex and the City” casual dating carousel for as long as possible.
These fears are exaggerated, and I will explain why.
1. Halle Berry’s pregnancy was, in all likelihood, extremely expensive.
IVF is pricy, even after over three decades of time for the medical community to perfect it. In the USA, costs for a single cycle of IVF can top $13,000. When you consider the fact that most couples undergoing IVF will require multiple cycles, you can start to see how astronomical these costs can get. The average woman simply will not be able to afford to follow in Halle Berry’s footsteps.
A pregnancy like Berry’s was likely made even more expensive by the following realities:
What are my odds of getting pregnant at 46 naturally?
Not good, said Klein. “Natural pregnancies—when a woman is trying to get pregnant with her own egg—do occur in women in their mid 40s, but it would be nearly miraculous,” he said. Even in women using the assistance of IVF (in vitro fertilization), there has never been a clearly documented case of a baby being born from an IVF pregnancy in a woman older than age 45 using her own eggs.
Klein estimated that the chance of having a baby at age 46 without intervention is probably about 0.01 percent or less.
In short, there is about a 99% chance that Halle Berry not only had to undergo multiple treatments for IVF, but then also had to pay for donor eggs. The acquisition and maintenance of said eggs is not cheap, and certainly far out of reach for the ordinary woman.
2. Subsidization for these high costs is limited, and will probably remain so.
Israel is one of the only nations on Earth that makes IVF somewhat affordable for the non-celebrity woman. In the USA, most states do not mandate health insurance coverage for IVF and those that do often attach significant limitations to the assistance (e.g., covering just a fraction of the cost and restricting the number of cycles and embryos involved).
These realities have kept IVF pricy even in nations with a much more liberal attitude to government subsidization of healthcare than the USA.
Political realities make further subsidization a very uncertain proposition. Western nations are aging, and with that reality comes an abundance of medical issues. When placed next to heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, infertility stands out as an issue considered by most to be less than essential to the continuance of life, a more casual lifestyle problem of sorts. Though fertility issues can result in some emotional distress, they don’t carry the same danger or urgency posed by the likes of breast cancer, alzheimers, and many other ailments. This distinction has played a large role in keeping fertility treatments from getting the amount of government subsidization that other medical concerns receive, and I suspect it will continue to do so in the future.
This distinction is further enhanced by the perception many have of IVF users as women who “frittered away” their best years and now seek to have the taxpayer cover the cost of their indecisiveness and poor judgment. Though not all users of fertility treatment fit this bill (many have genuine fertility problems), the fact that many do will keep taxpayers and politicians wary of subsidization.
People are not interested in paying for consequences of somebody else’s “Sex and the City” fantasy carousel ride. Male opposition to this is obvious, but female opposition is likely to be strong as well. Keep in mind that those likely to be the most vocal about fertility treatment subsidization and most likely to take advantage of it are the same women served most directly by modern feminism: highly educated, affluent, and (usually) white women. Women who do not fit into some or any of these categories have plenty of reason to be suspicious of any plan seeking to use their tax money to subsidize those who do.
Combine these political realities with the high costs associated with the coverage of fertility treatment and the economic concerns facing the advanced Western nations most likely to consider providing it and you have a rather bleak picture of the future for fertility subsidization.
3. IVF is not foolproof.
IVF is challenging process without large guarantees of success, and those guarantees decline rapidly with age:
Because of the emotional, physical, and financial toll exacted by IVF, it is preferable that a couple undertake the process with the mindset that they will be in it for more than one attempt. If a couple can only afford one treatment cycle, IVF may not be the right course of action.
Recall that on average, with conventional IVF, there is only about one chance in three that it will result in a live birth, and there is a tremendous letdown if it fails. It is thus unreasonable to undergo IVF with the attitude that “if it doesn’t work the first time, we’re giving up.” In vitro fertilization is a gamble even in the best of circumstances.
Statistically speaking, a woman under 40 years of age, using her own eggs, having selected a good IVF program is likely to have a better than 70% chance of having a baby within three completed attempts – provided that she has adequate ovarian reserve, (the ability to producing several follicles/eggs in response to gonadotropin stimulation), has a fertile male partner (or sperm donor sperm) with access to motile sperm, and has a normal and receptive uterus capable of developing an “adequate” uterine lining. Women of 39-43 years of age who meet the same criteria, will likely have about half that chance (35%- 40%).
As mentioned earlier, multiple cycles are to be expected for IVF treatment. That means that even in nations where IVF costs are lower than they are in the USA ($3000-4000 in some parts of Northwestern Europe), a couple could still expect to fork out more than $10,000 for a pregnancy after three or more cycles of treatment. That is more than even many solid upper-middle class couples can reliably fork out.
These realities only get more dire with age. For a 35-year-old woman, three cycles could provide a 70% chance of a baby. Just four years later, those chances are cut in half. A woman at Halle Berry’s age almost certainly has to give up on the idea of using her own eggs and, by extension, having her own biological child.
Halle Berry’s pregnancy is not a sign of a future godsend for the carousel riders and wannabe Carrie Bradshaws among us. Such a godsend does not exist and probably never will. Berry is merely another in a line of expensive exceptions to the rule. Any woman looking to her experience as a reason to hold fertility treatments up as an insurance policy for her carousel ride will have to contend with exorbitant costs, relatively low success rates, and still limited time. Those who dislike these realities will not be able to count on change.
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