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Who gets IVF, and Bob Dylan

Peter van Dyk | 17:51 UK time, Wednesday, 30 August 2006

We've finished for today - but our discussion about who should get fertility treatment and Bob Dylan continues here as always.

As Anu wrote earlier, we looked at the proposal of an organisation of fertility experts in the UK that called for a blanket ban on IVF treatment for very obese women but would treat same sex couples and single women in the same way as heterosexual couples, and that smokers should not be barred from having the treatment.

And of course, the everlasting Bob Dylan released his 44th album this week - why is his appeal so universal?

You can read emails and text messages here, and of course post your own comments as well.

To start off, Susan in Hertfordshire said obese women should lose the weight first. But Kiri in East Anglia disagreed. Dr Mark Hamilton explained the proposal - and said it was an effort to make the policy fairer.

Given the current overpopulation of the planet that has led to pollution, global warming, wars for energy resources, and the huge number of destitute orphans especially from third world countries, IVF treatment is an absurdity of the rich Western countries. The earth doesn't need any more human beings, and the idea that our lives make sense only if we procreate and thus contribute to the destruction of the planet is sheer madness.

David in France argued that the NHS is a health service, and as such shouldn't be providing IVF at all. Lee in London said his second child was conceived with IVF and argued that completing his family was so important that, even though his family paid for the treatment, it should be available on the NHS.

Pat, New Jersey, USA
The comparison of denying fertility treatments to obese women to giving cancer treatments to smokers or liver treatments to drinkers is specious. The latter two are treatments of the ill effects of those two lifestyle choices and are often a matter of life or death. If it was a matter of denying obese women appetite supressants or an angioplasty because they refuse to quit eating cheeseburgers, then we'd have a valid comparison.

Melanie in Italy said it was right to encourage people to lose weight as resources were limited.

Alex in Bristol
The health service has to operate with finite resources as the state faces conflicting priorites and an ageing population. Its time to stop thinking there is an endless capacity in the system.

Valerie, Cleveland, OH
I think it's kind of scary that we're promoting a certain type of genetic pool by cutting off certain body types from fertility treatment. What's next? Those with lower IQs aren't allowed? It is a slippery slope of regulation.

Jay, Riga, Latvia
IVF is available in '3rd' world countries for 1/10 the cost in Britain. Here in Latvia, IVF is available for less than 3k USD.

I just wanted to comment on the discussion about fertility treatment for obese individuals. Really, the BMI is only one of many indicators of health, and it would not be descriptive enough to exclude candidates for federally funded fertility treatments. For example, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who many believe to be a picture of health, has a BMI of over 30. I do think that these treatments should be limited to healthy, stable prospective parents, but a variety of tests should be used to determine this, and not just the BMI.

Ladi, Aberdeen, Scotland
People should understand that the NHS has limited resources. Only people who cannot loose weight due to medical reasons ONLY should be given the treatment.
Anything else should not be allowed. Most people get offended and call you RUDE when you tell them to lose weight for their health

Modern Times

Derek in the UK spoke to Oumer, an Ethiopian in Denmark, Les in New Zealand, and Bob and Robert in the USA.

They said that Dylan's songs were universal because everyone can identify the issues he writes about.

Oumer thought that his voice fitted his songs, but not so much these days with his older songs. Others disagreed, arguing that his voice had changed with his performances.

And you joined in by SMS and email:

Faris from Sri Lanka
Bob is a king of music.

Carolyn, Silver Spring, Maryland, USA
My 15-year-old daughter is a HUGE Dylan fan and was willing to shell out $120.00 of her own money for two tickets for her dad to take her to see Dylan when he came to the Washington DC area two weeks ago. She was very disappointed in his performance. No one could understand him – he mumbled all his words. He changed the tune to numerous songs to fit his voice now – so the songs weren’t immediately recognizable. And worst of all, he didn’t even attempt to engage the audience at all. He never even spoke directly to the audience. My daughter was very disappointed in the man she greatly admires. What a shame!
It reminds me of Frank Sinatra when he reached his 60’s. The voice isn’t what it was and maybe it’s time to call it quits on the concert circuit.

Pamela, Prague, Czech Republic
I’ve been a Dylan fan since I was a teenager back in the 60’s, although there have been times when I was less of a fan, like during the early 90’s I think when he went through his religious phase. His early folksongs are still the most potent for me, Masters of War, which I think he hasn’t sung in years is still very powerful. He really captures the anger of young men fighting unjust wars. However, I only saw Dylan for the first time this year in Prague, where I currently live and work. I don’t quite comprehend why he’s such an international icon. I actually use some of his songs, Blowin’ in the wind sung by Stevie Wonder and The Times They Are a Changin’
sung by Tracy Chapin from the 60th anniversary album in my English classes.
I know it’s blasphemy but I change the words to Blowin’ in the Wind and have the students correct them by listening and I have them put the rhymes in order from cut up lists of words to Times they are a Changin’. And I find that most of my students, who are Dylan fans, have never known the words before. So, of course, we discuss them. I have to say he was nearly impossible to understand in concert but he had a great New Orleans band. So maybe it’s the music as he himself likes to claim. My favorite album however is Blood on the Tracks.

Andrew, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
I can tell you that there is at least one Bob Dylan fan in Ethiopia.
The release of this album is hugely exciting - although it will take a while to get out to Addis. Most other 60s heroes have lost it over the years - the Rolling Stones come to mind. But Dylan's last three albums have been among his best.
It's nothing to do with his honesty - in most of the songs he's acting out characters. It is about his amazing voice and the ancient feel of the songs.
His best song ever is of course Isis.

I went to see him in the the early 80's....wow, unforgettable there was a standing ovation for bob and his troupe doing all along the watchtower

Mark - Danville CA USA
I am a long standing Dylan fan who met Bob when he travelled to The University of Chicago as a young relatively unknown folk singer. I hung around with Bob and others off an on in NYC until Dylan catapulted to success. I am eagerly awaiting the new album.


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