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This blog is maintained by the Ruth Institute. It provides a place for our Circle of Experts to express themselves. This is where the scholars, experts, students and followers of the Ruth Institute engage in constructive dialogue about the issues surrounding the Sexual Revolution. We discuss public policy, social practices, legal doctrines and much more.
Posted on: Thursday, April 28, 2016
by Jennifer Roback Morse
This article was first published at The Blaze on April 28, 2016.
On Wednesday, Dr. Morse testified against the Louisiana surrogacy bill in Baton Rouge. Surrogacy is a social and medical experiment, with great risks to children. This is her prepared text.
Thank you for the opportunity to share my concerns about HB1102. I am the founder and president of the Ruth Institute, a global non-profit organization, with offices in San Diego, Pittsburgh, and now, Lake Charles, Louisiana. Our organization is dedicated to creating Christ-like solutions to the agony and injustice of family breakdown.
We oppose surrogacy on principle. We consider it a form of family breakdown. Surrogacy breaks down motherhood itself, reducing it to a series of functions. The genetic, gestational, care-giving and even the legally-recognized mothers could all be distinct individuals. The full impact of these divisions cannot be fully known at this time.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
However, we owe it to future generations to look down the road as far as we can, and try, at least, to anticipate the consequences.
We do know that infants attach to their mothers in the womb. Neonatal research has found that newborns can recognize their mothers by sight, by voice and even by odor. Research strongly suggests that prenatal infant attachment is correlated with secure attachment between mother and infant after birth.
We have no idea how surrogacy affects this. Does a secure attachment between the gestational carrier and the infant translate into a secure attachment with the genetic mother? Does a disruption of the bond between the gestational carrier harm the child? We just don’t know.
The practice of surrogacy amounts to a social experiment using babies as subjects. The adults involved, surrogates, donors and commissioning parents, can give meaningful consent, at least in principle. But children, in the nature of things, cannot consent. We have a responsibility to protect their interests, which they cannot protect themselves. Experimenting on small children is morally objectionable, even if it turns out tolerably well. The burden of proof should be on those who claim surrogacy is harmless, not on me to prove specific and identifiable harms.
The Ruth Institute has produced a brochure entitled “Children and Donor Conception and Assisted Reproduction. This is one in a series of pamphlets outlining the risks and harms associated with various forms of family breakdown. I present a copy for the record. I also present a copy of the 16-page report that details the scientific studies supporting the brochure.
On the inside, you will see a chart detailing the medical risks to children from IVF and ICSI procedures. These risks include low birth weight, pre-term birth, cerebral palsy, and a variety of genetic imprinting disorders. One study finds that IVF babies on average, weigh almost one full pound less, and have a 5 times greater risk of being very pre-term, compared with naturally conceived infants. These risks are relevant to this bill, because every surrogacy procedure involves the use of medically-assisted fertilization outside the body.
The inside flap of the pamphlet allows donor-conceived persons to speak for themselves.
I realize that HB1102 limits surrogacy to married couples, using their own gametes. I appreciate this. The drafters of the bill evidently recognize the potential harms posed by third party reproduction.
However, in the post-Obergefell world, I doubt these limitations will survive judicial scrutiny. Some legally married couples in Louisiana will be same sex couples. Some of them will want to use third party gametes to meet their reproductive goals. Excluding them, even indirectly, will certainly be declared unconstitutional.
Hence, this bill opens the Pandora’s Box of third party reproduction, whether you intend it or not. These problems must be weighed in the decision of whether to pass HB1102.
The study of the psychological impact of donor conception is preliminary. But these anecdotes are heartbreaking. One donor-conceived person said, “The words, ‘I’m not your real father,’ will haunt me for the rest of my life.”
Surrogacy is illegal in many countries, including Finland, France, Italy and Hong Kong. Other countries that permit surrogacy, such as India and Thailand are tightening their laws because of abuses and problems.
I moved to Louisiana because I was impressed by the prudence and wisdom of its people. Let other states and countries run the surrogacy experiment. The decisions we make today will affect Louisiana citizens for generations. Let us watch for another ten years and gather the evidence we need to make a truly informed judgment.
As a woman who experienced four miserable years of infertility, I am well aware of how urgently people sometimes feel about these issues. However, no public health crisis demands immediate action on this bill. Cooler heads must prevail.
Do not legalize surrogacy contracts in Louisiana.
Posted on: Tuesday, April 26, 2016
The hospital wants to withdraw life support as soon as possible!
Posted on: Friday, April 22, 2016
by Jennifer Roback Morse
This article was first published April 20, 2016, at The Blaze.
Sperm donation, egg donation and surrogacy: Third party reproduction seems to be a “done deal” in Western society. Even ardently pro-life people do not seem to see the problems. Hey, these techniques are making babies, not killing them. So what could possibly go wrong? A lot of things can go very wrong. Let me describe just one: making the choice of your child’s other parent into a commercial transaction.
Image source: Shutterstock
A recent story from Canada in The Star illustrates the problem. The profile for Donor #9632 from the Xytex Corporation seemed particularly attractive to many women. His sperm has been used to create 36 children: 19 boys and 17 girls from 26 families. But through an inadvertent breach of confidentiality, one mother discovered the identity of Mr. 9632, and did some internet sleuthing:
The donor was nothing like the perfectly healthy man — aside from some color blindness on his dad’s side — touted on the sperm bank’s website. Nor was he working on a PhD in neuroscience engineering en route to becoming a professor of biomedical robotics at a medical school.
Instead, Chris Aggeles, a now 39-year-old man from Georgia, has struggled with serious mental illness for much of his adult life. In addition to schizophrenia, court documents show he has had diagnoses of bipolar and narcissistic personality disorders, and has described himself as having schizoaffective disorder.
He has a history of run-ins with the law, has done time in jail, dropped out of college and struggled in the past to hold down jobs.
When confronted, the company referred the distraught mothers to the fine print in their agreement:
The donor underwent a standard medical exam and provided extensive personal and health information. He reported a good health history and stated in his application that he had no physical or medical impairments. This information was passed on to the couple, who were clearly informed the representations were reported by the donor and were not verified by Xytex.
Think of it: A man can get paid to masturbate into a jar. He can sire children for whom he has no legal responsibility whatsoever. He can write up his own advertising copy for the catalogue given to prospective mothers, with no verification whatsoever of his self-description.
What could possibly go wrong?
Let me spell it out: This arrangement attracts people with a narcissistic personality disorder. I have talked personally with a number of donor-conceived persons who, as adults, found their biological fathers. Narcissism is not an unusual component of the personality profile.
What about the mothers?
Some of the aggrieved mothers, understandably upset, have a whole list of things they want the industry to do, in order to be more accountable, such as requiring the company to verify the information and requiring the company to keep up with the donors and report any changes in their health status to the customers, I mean, mothers. They want them to establish a fund to help the mothers of the children of Donor #9632. And so on.
But anonymous sperm donation separates a child from his or her genetic origins, and the parents from each other. This is so wrong you cannot paste enough band aids over it to make it right.
One of the mothers said she feels cheated: “I felt like I was duped by Xytex and I failed my son for having chosen Xytex. In hindsight, a hitchhiker on the side of the road would have been a far more responsible option for conceiving a child.”
I agree with her: She was cheated. But not just by the corporation. She was duped by Modern Family and The Kids Are Alright and all the other Hollywood propaganda for “alternative family forms.”
She was duped by the legal system that declares anonymous gamete donors to be “legal strangers” to their children. The state gives unambiguous parental rights to the “commissioning parents.” Yes, that is what the adults who may or may not be biologically related to the child are called: “commissioning parents.”
She was duped by the social scientists who have been whitewashing the fact that children need both of their parents. Divorce and single-parenthood are tough on kids. Data shows this beyond doubt. Widespread experience confirms it. Some social scientists try to explain it away.
She was duped by the culture that says that we can do anything we want sexually, and the kids will be fine. As a society, we disregard the impact on children, their health, their relationships, and their sense of identity. Adults get the sex lives they want: kids have to accept whatever the adults choose to give them.
What could possibly go wrong?
As for the mothers’ suit against the sperm bank, I don’t know what to say. Suing a commercial entity is the logical response to a situation in which the entity does not perform in a satisfactory manner. But a child is a human being, not a product. Donor #9632 is not an abstraction: He is the biological father of these children, genetically, half of who they are.
The aggrieved mother continued: “Who would have thought that an industry that makes people would be like this?”
On the contrary: this is exactly what I thought an industry that makes people would be like.
We don’t need an industry that makes people.
Because a whole lot can go wrong.
Posted on: Tuesday, April 12, 2016
by Jennifer Roback Morse
This article was first published at The Blaze on April 12, 2016.
Non-Catholics may be wondering why Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation, “Amoris Laetitia” or “The Joy of Love,” has Catholics in an uproar. Has the Pope changed Catholic doctrine? Has he left the doctrine officially intact, but changed pastoral practice so much that the doctrine is annulled? Now that I have taken the weekend to read it, I am convinced that Amoris Laetitia is a gift to the Church and the world.
What the Catholic Church does is important to everyone, no matter their faith. The Catholic Church is the largest institution still standing against the ideological fraud known as the sexual revolution. Everyone who is trying to deal with the fallout from this massive social upheaval has a stake in what the Catholic Church says and does. If Pope Francis were to change Catholic teaching, the purveyors of the revolution would be dancing in the streets.
And meaning no disrespect, but speaking bluntly: If the revolutionaries take down the Catholic Church, they will squash the rest of you like bugs.
Pope Francis is hugged by a girl after his weekly general audience in St Peter’s Square at the Vatican on May 15, 2013. (Photo: VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)
So let me assure you: There is no change in official Catholic doctrine in Amoris Laetitia.
As for pastoral practice, Pope Francis is encouraging pastors to treat the lost, the wounded, the confused with as much sensitivity as possible. He intends it as an open invitation to the millions of souls who have been harmed by sexual sin, whether Catholic or not, to come home to the Catholic Church and draw closer to Jesus.
I can relate to the need for something like this document. Let me share a bit of Catholic “inside baseball.” I am what we call a “revert.” I was raised Catholic but left the Church for a period of time, and came back. So, I can’t be called either a “convert” or a “cradle Catholic.”
When I returned the Church after my prodigal period, my canonical situation was pretty simple. (By “canonical,” I mean what “canon law” or church law, would say about my situation. More inside baseball.) I was only on a second marriage.
But I had a whole pile of sexual sins. Like the Prodigal Son, by the time I finally came to my senses, I was desperate. I confessed having an abortion to Fr. Bob Cilinski, the chaplain of the campus ministry program at George Mason University at that time. (By the way, priests are not permitted to tell what we say to them in confession. But we can say anything we want! Let me say, how grateful I am to Fr. Bob and all the other confessors I’ve had.)
Fr. Bob was the first person who understood why I was upset about having an abortion. I had spoken to numerous therapists. Not one of them even considered the possibility that abortion was related to my emotional distress.
During that first confession in 12 years, Fr. Bob did not go down a checklist of possible sins. “Now, I cannot give you absolution unless you are sorry for all these sins.” I shudder to think what would have happened if he had. I would have freaked out and run out of there, more upset than before. And I certainly was in no position to have a theological discussion about each and every aspect of Church teaching.
I didn’t ask. He didn’t ask. He gave me absolution for the big sin I came in to confess.
He did tell me I should come to Mass, but not receive communion. He helped me seek an annulment. But I could not go to Communion, unless and until I received a declaration of nullity. (A declaration of nullity is an official finding by a church tribunal that my first attempted marriage had never been a valid marriage.)
In other words, he did not move the goalposts to make it easier and more “pastoral” for me. He stood by the Church’s teaching in every particular way and he set me on the path to a closer encounter with Jesus. Along that path, I eventually came to see that the Church was correct about premarital sex, cohabitation and contraception too. I confessed those sins too, in due course.
By the way, this confession took place in 1988, during the pontificate of Pope St. John Paul II. According to the sexual revolutionaries, those were the dark days of doctrinal rigidity and all-around Catholic meanness. The fact is, Catholic priests have been quietly accompanying people in a pastoral manner for quite some time. Priests know better than anyone the wreckage left in the wake of the sexual revolution. Even the ones who don’t preach about it as much as I would like are still guiding people toward Jesus.
While I do wish Pope Francis had been more clear on some points, I consider Amoris Laetitia a gift to the Church and the world. No matter your faith tradition, I urge you to read the document. Start with chapters 4 and 5.
You will find Pope Francis to be like a wise grandfather or great-uncle sitting across the kitchen table. You can imagine him sharing a cup of coffee or bouncing a baby on his knees. He invites all of us to love one another, and teaches us how. That is gift enough.
Posted on: Wednesday, April 06, 2016
This article originally appeared at The Blaze. (Note: all the photos in this story are of male-bodied transgenders.)
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) has become a whipping boy for the advocates of the latest round of the sexual revolution. The Human Rights Campaign has gathered a bunch of business owners to bully the governor in an attempt to get him to back down. “Your bigotry is bad for business,” is their mantra.
The gender radicals and sexual revolutionaries cannot tolerate this. Gender is fluid. Gender is a choice.
Gender used to be a social construct. Now, gender is a personal construct. Not everyone who has the word “male” on their birth certificate self-identifies as “male.”
Let’s look at a few items that suggest we all have a stake in the “gender binary,” especially women and girls.
Item one: A male-bodied transgender claims he/she was raped in the unisex bathroom of the Stonewall Inn.
Item two: A man entered a girls locker room, stripped, and claimed he had every right to be there, under the new transgender law.
Item three: A man who claimed to be transgender assaulted women in a women’s shelter. He has since been arrested as a sexual predator.
All these incidents bring one thought to mind: What about the safety of women and girls?
If a man dressed as a woman is at risk in an open-access unisex bathroom, what chance does an actual woman have against a potential attacker? If women and girls cannot feel safe in women’s locker rooms or women’s shelters, will society provide any safe public places for women?
Item four: Fallon Fox, a male-bodied transgender fought in a professional women’s boxing match. In less than three minutes, Fox inflicted an orbital bone fracture and a concussion on his female-bodied woman opponent, out and proud African American lesbian Tamikka Brents. Fox also inflicted soft tissue injuries to Brents’ head that were so extensive that they required 8 surgical staples to close.
As one commentator wryly put it, “On Saturday September 13, 2014 in a ‘cage’ in the Springfield, Illinois Convention Center, a crowd gathered to watch something that happens thousands of times a day worldwide: a man battered a woman.”
I am reading a very interesting book called Gender Hurts, by a lesbian feminist named Dr. Sheila Jeffreys, who recently retired from her position as professor of feminist politics at the University of Melbourne in Australia. She opposes the transgender movement. She sees it as undermining feminism. She views male-bodied transgenders as, well, men.
Jeffreys sees them as asserting their male privilege, men demanding to be part of the sisterhood. They have not experienced what she sees as the demeaning and unequal socialization and upbringing that is a part of women’s experience.
I would not have expected to agree with a radical lesbian feminist. However, in this case, I absolutely agree with her: Bruce Jenner was never a little girl. I don’t care what kind of fantasy life he has. I was once a little girl. So was Jeffreys. Jenner never was.
Jeffreys sees the workings of male privilege in the stereotyping of women that is so much a part of male cross-dressing. She sees it in the demands that women who are comfortable in their own bodies refer to themselves as “cis-gendered.”
It is almost as if these men were saying to us:
“We men reserve the right to tell you women what it means to be a woman. (Personally, I wouldn’t be caught dead dressed like some of these female impersonators. Which women are they actually impersonating?) If a man says he is a woman, then he is a she. She is allowed to use the women’s restroom, women’s shower facility, and compete in women’s sports. We insist that the entire country refer to this person as ‘she,’ and we will use the power of the State to enforce that demand. We don’t care how cis-women and girls feel about it. They need to be disabused of their cis-privilege.”
By the way, I took a look at the “120 business leaders” who signed the Human Rights Campaign petition excoriating the governor of North Carolina. I counted only 12 with recognizably female names. Maybe Jeffreys is right: transgenderism is just another example of male privilege asserting itself.
So hang in there, Gov. McCrory. You have more allies than you know. Women and girls from around the country and around the world will thank you.