Ruth Speaks Out

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.


Arguments about religious liberty failed to defend traditional marriage

By Marilyn Rodrigues May 27, 2016 at Catholicweekly.com.au.

 

Dr Jennifer Roback Morse believes surrogacy will become more prevalent if same-sex marriage is introduced along with a renewed push for legalisation of commercial surrogacy. Photo: Patrick J Lee

Dr Jennifer Roback Morse believes surrogacy will become more prevalent if same-sex marriage is introduced along with a renewed push for legalisation of commercial surrogacy. Photo: Patrick J Lee

The inherent right of children to be raised by their biological mother and father should be the focus of efforts to promote and defend the traditional understanding of marriage, a leading US marriage and family advocate has urged Australians.

“Arguments about religious liberty and freedom of speech didn’t work in the US when we were debating this issue, they were a bit abstract, and sadly, the public’s respect for religion has been lost,” Dr Jennifer Roback Morse told The Catholic Weekly.

Dr Morse is a widely read author on the importance of traditional marriage and family as well as the founder and president of the Ruth Institute which provides support for sufferers of post-divorce family breakdown, the hook-up culture and other outcomes of the sexual revolution such as anonymous donor conception.


“I think the way [that approach] came off is that people felt that we were just worried about ourselves and how we were going to be inconvenienced. It sounded like we were whining about ourselves – and that’s not very attractive.”

Dr Morse visited Australia this month to advise and assist those promoting natural marriage in the lead-up to the anticipated national plebiscite on same-sex marriage after the election.

She also had the advantage of being able to set out where American pro-family groups had made tactical mistakes and the hard lessons learnt from the loss of the fight for the definition of marriage.

“Someday the kids [of this generation] are going to want answers from us about what we were thinking,” she told The Catholic Weekly.

She warned that redefining marriage by permitting same-sex couples to obtain marriage licences under the law will usher in an era where the right of children to be raised by their biological mother and father, where possible, will be undermined as never before.

She says that contraception and no-fault divorce had already paved the way, helping to separate sex from marriage and procreation, and marriage from procreation, and fostered an adult-centric notion of family.

The creation of genderless marriage will lead to the normalisation through surrogacy of children being born and raised without relationship to their biological parents, their parents’ culture, traditions, and ancestral heritage.

“If you redefine marriage, you redefine parenthood,” she said.

“Instead of parenthood being a natural reality that the state records; parenthood is going to be something that comes about through contracts among interested adults that the state then adjudicates and enforces.

“There have already been cases in the UK where four adults [two same-sex couples] were in court contesting parental rights and custody of a child. These types of situations are unresolvable in a way that is just to everyone. It is important to ban them in the first instance.”

Dr Morse is the author or co-author of four books including Love and Economics: It Takes a Family to Raise a Village, and Smart Sex: Finding Life-Long Love in a Hook Up World.

She and her husband are parents to a birth child, an adopted child, and godchild. They also fostered eight children.

“I know from my own experience how much a child needs his or her own mother and father,” she said.

“It is an injustice to children to separate them from one of their parents without a very good reason.”

In adoption, she argues, people stand in for parents lost through an unavoidable tragedy, which is completely different from deliberately denying a child a relationship with one or both parents through surrogacy.

She believes that the use of surrogacy will become more prevalent if same-sex marriage is introduced, along with a renewed push for legal commercial surrogacy in Australia.

Dr Morse also believes that the gay marriage lobby’s own agenda will be hijacked by others if marriage is redefined.

“All kinds of things will change because if we change the law to redefine the institution of marriage, for the sake of the few people who identify as gay or lesbian, we change it for everyone,” she said.

“If you change family law to say marriage is between any two persons, then it can be any two persons for any reason. Two women or two men would be able to get married without proving that they are gay. The incentives will change for people.

“I think there will be some women who will say all things considered I think it’s easier to put up with another woman than a man. I’ll have my kids and she’ll have her kids, and we’ll get married although we’re not sexual partners. The gay lobby can’t stop that from happening. If you redefine the institution; you’re going to change it for everyone.”

This is similar to what happened with easy divorce, she pointed out, which has caused an untold level of suffering among the children of divorce.

“What [divorce’s advocates said at the time] was that no-fault divorce is just going to make it easier and cheaper for the small percentage of couples who are going to get divorced anyway, never realising that they were making divorce easier and thinkable for people. A lot of people began calculating and acting in ways that would have been unimaginable before.”

Dr Morse has real hope that proponents of natural marriage will succeed if we are to have a plebiscite on the issue here.

However, she concedes that given the momentum that the sexual revolution has garnered over the last 50 years, and the fact that most large English-speaking countries have permitted same-sex marriage, we may end up with it in Australia.

In that case, she believes that most people will look back on the decision with regret.

“It wasn’t so long ago that eugenics was seen as the most progressive, enlightened way to go for society. That idea horrifies us now,” she said.

“I think that down the road if these policies come into effect that these so-called progressives want, we are going to look back and be ashamed.

“We’ll say, ‘What were we thinking, that children could get along without a mother; that they could get along without a father; that children could get along with no rights in that respect at all’.

“We already have the situation where two gay men can get a donor egg from a friend and a surrogate mother from some other country, in order to get a baby. That child is likely to never be meaningfully connected to either of those women.

“The Catholic Church can be proud of the fact that we were the only ones who were against eugenics consistently from the beginning.

“In the same way we are the only ones, from the beginning, who have consistently been against the deconstruction of the family in whatever form that may take.”

In promoting natural marriage and family life to young people Dr Morse agrees that there can be no turning back the clock to a time before there was a divorce and contraceptive culture.
She says that one way to inspire young people to help rebuild a marriage and family culture is to look to the past to find inspiration and hope for going forward.

“When Jesus appeared to St Thomas, he said to him, ‘You believe because you’ve seen, blessed are they who gave not seen and yet believe.’

“That’s what we have to say to young people who have not really experienced what a culture centred on marriage and family is like; you need to believe that it is possible.

It’s important to feed the imagination if you don’t have the lived experience of a culture geared toward supporting marriage and family. I have a friend in the US who is a professor of Renaissance poetry.

“He tells his students that this is how men and women treated each other, and isn’t it charming? This is possible for us today; this is our species, it’s not completely alien to us.”

In families that are reasonably intact and functional, she says, it is important for people to talk to their older children about sexual mistakes they have made, apologise for any affect these have had on the family, and listen to their children without judging.

“That makes us much more credible to our children when we then discuss these issues with them.”

While in Australia, Dr Morse had some other advice for those defending natural marriage in the public sphere and ordinary Catholics wanting help in how to defend marriage in conversations with their friends, family, and work colleagues:

We need to mind our language

It’s more precise to speak of redefining marriage than marriage equality, same-sex marriage, or gay marriage, Dr Morse says. This is because language not only reflects but guides the way that people think.

“If you talk as though there’s such a thing as gay marriage you’re conceding a crucial point,” Dr Morse said.

“Our position is that there’s no such thing as gay marriage. Whatever two men or two women in a same-sex relationship are doing together it’s not marriage. So it’s important to say that and not implicitly affirm it by using the term gay marriage.”

“If you say instead: Changing the terms ‘man and woman’ in the family law with the term ‘any two persons’, it makes people stop and think about what is really being asked for here.”

Transgender rights is next in line

Promotion of transgender culture and a push for transgender rights is “the next step” for the LGBTQ lobby, she says.

“We can ask people who want to know why we don’t support gay marriage, ‘Do you think gay marriage is the last thing you’re going to be asked to accept?’

“Look at the US and most people will see right away that that transgenderism is part of the next step. In the US they’ve almost stopped talking about gay marriage. That battle’s been won and so they’re onto transgenderism which is the next thing.

“People have the idea that if we just give the gay lobby what it wants, it will leave us alone and go away. But they will not go away. The deconstruction of gender is very important to them. They want a completely genderless society.”

It confuses the issue to say children are better off in heterosexual households

This is one argument sometimes used in the context of the marriage debate. But whether or not measurable outcomes are better for children raised in heterosexual households misses the point, Dr Morse says.

“It’s a poor argument. You could just as well say that maybe we should remove all children from poor people and give them to wealthier people so they will get a better education and job prospects.

“Rather, we need to think about what is owed the child; a relationship with both of their parents, and the fact that they don’t get it is what is driving a lot of bad outcomes.

“They may have no role model of the opposite gender, or of their same gender. They may have feelings of loss associated with the biological parent who’s not present.

“That’s why the donor conception issue is so important.”

 

 



Career women: Counting on IVF after 40? Think again

An Australian study came out with success rates for women over 40, using their own fresh (that is, not frozen from years before) eggs. The figures are shocking:
 

The latest, Australian-only numbers given to Four Corners by the industry show the chance of a live delivery for initiated cycles by all age groups for the year 2013.

The numbers for women older than 40, who are trying to collect and fertilise their own eggs, are extremely low.

The average Australian woman aged 41-42 years old has a 5.8 per cent chance of having a live birth per initiated cycle.

If you're 43-44 years old, you have a 2.7 per cent chance of having a live birth per initiated cycle.

And if you are over 45, you have a 1.1 per cent chance of having a live birth per initiated cycle — which is almost a 99 per cent chance of failure every time.

If you are a twenty-something planning to "have it all," using IVF after 40 if necessary, I beg you to think again. You are being sold a bill of goods. 

 


Pro-Family Political Leaders and legislators: low-hanging fruit

 

Pro-Family Political Leaders and legislators: here is some low-hanging legislative fruit. Propose that your state standardize the reporting for all IVF clinics in your state. The measure you want is Live Birth per Cycle Initiated. This proposal allow you to educate the public, including women who are being misled by the industry. This proposal also allows you to take the moral high ground as a consumer protection advocate, in opposition to the fertility industry, which really does take advantage of very vulnerable people.   

You don't want the number of pregnancies because not all pregnancies make it all the way to the birth of a live child. This is especially true with IVF because the rates of miscarriages and still birth are higher than for naturally conceived children. 

You also don't want the number of "embryo transfers" as your baseline number. Not all women make it to the point of doing a successful embryo transfer into the woman's uterus. The woman may have difficulty at the stage of egg retrieval or fertilization for instance. Yet she has been through a cycle. Her body and soul have taken some abuse. It is not fair for the clinics to exclude these women from their "success rates." 

 


 

This story quote a couple of IVF experts from Australia, but the point is the same everywhere. Women contemplating assisted reproduction have a right to know the actual probability of success, for the amount of money and physical trauma she will experience per cycle. 

Fertility clinic websites have a number of different ways of reporting success rates. For instance, clinics may report success rates in terms of pregnancy, or they may report it in terms of live birth rate per embryo transfer.

IVF pioneer Alan Trounson said pregnancy rates were not helpful to the consumer, because some pregnancies were lost.

"What you need to know is the probability of having a baby, because you didn't come in to get pregnant, you came in to have a baby," he said.

On top of that, Professor Norman said clinics defined "pregnancy" differently in their website claims.

If you count a pregnancy at an earlier stage, or a later stage, the statistics change — and that also meant consumers could not make proper comparisons between websites.

"There's [a] big inconsistency," Professor Norman said.

"You'll find some clinics define pregnancy on the basis of an ultrasound.

"Others are included from 12 weeks onwards, so it's a bit of a mess all over the place."

Some clinics also present success rates in terms of live birth rate per embryo transfer.

But this does not reflect all those women who could not make it to the embryo transfer stage. If your eggs could not be retrieved, or fertilised, you are not included in this statistic.

Also, see Dr. Norman's "5 things to ask your fertility doctor."

 


The Powerful vs. The Impregnable—How Louisiana Politicians Get What They Want

Politicians want power and to pass on their genes at any cost.

by Alana Newman, from her newsletter Coalition Against Reproductive Trafficking, sent May 15, 2016.

Let me tell you about my Senate committee hearing experience.

In the last several weeks, I have had my first legislative experience. For a decade now, I have focused my energy on story-telling, speaking, and publishing articles. I tell the truth—mine and others'—when and where I am invited. My skills don't naturally synch with political strategy, but regarding Louisiana's current surrogacy bill, HB 1102—I feel a great responsibility to share what I've learned and rescue my beloved state before the legislature makes a huge mistake.

 


 

I am greatly disappointed by the behavior of the proponents of this bill. They claimed that the provisions in their updated bill would not allow sophisticated people to exploit surrogate mothers (for example, not "allowing" commissioning parents to pay a surrogate to abort)—yet every move they've made thus far proves that sophisticated and powerful people will do whatever it takes to get what they want.

May 4th was the House Floor vote. It passed. The next step— the Senate Committee vote—appeared on the schedule for May 17th, which would have allowed for opposition voices to prepare, organize, and make childcare and travel arrangements to come to the capitol. However, on Monday May 9th at 4 pm, the schedule was changed and the committee hearing was rescheduled for Tuesday, May 10th at 9:30 am.

This was a shady move that gave opposition less than 18 hours (including sleep) to get it together and have their voice heard. I knew of at least four experts who were willing and wanting to testify, who could not because of the impossible logistics. This included former Yale professor, President of The Ruth Institute and author of Smart Sex, and Love & Economics, Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse as well as Staci Gulino—a psychiatric mental health expert and former labor and delivery nurse specializing in attachment and maternal-infant health. Also wanting to attend and testify were two LA family life experts, David Dawson and Rickard Newman.

I heard about the schedule changes at 7:30 pm, and at 8 months pregnant, and even though my family is in the middle of moving, I woke up at 5 am to drive to Baton Rouge and testify. I was mocked and literally laughed at during my testimony shockingly by Senator Gary Smith—who is the original author of this bill and used two surrogates in order to have his two children with his wife, a long time state lobbyist.

The truth is that the authors of this bill felt that oh-so-intense need to pass on their genes, and were willing to spend tens of thousands of dollars to use a stranger as a surrogate to do it. They are now using their power and political skills to change state law to appease their consciences.

The bill's authors claim to be pro-life, but they do not seem at all concerned about the sanctity and humanity of the many embryos that will be destroyed with this bill. They claim to be Catholic, but they have completely disregarded Pope Francis's condemnation of surrogacy along with clear statements from the LA conference of Catholic Bishops. They claim to be conservative, but they are at ease venturing into this massive social experiment on children whereby mothers are dehumanized as "gestational carriers" and the maternal-infant bonds are nowhere given consideration.

I tremble for the future of Louisiana. The law teaches—and this law teaches that birthmothers are unimportant and disposable.

People will go to great lengths to pass on their genes—that desire is what it is. But while families are good and every child a worthy human being worth infinite dignity—not every form of conception should be celebrated. Surrogacy involves serious health risks, human trafficking, eugenics, systematic abortion, and broken maternal-infant bonds. Therefore, we don't need it in Louisiana.

Please reach out to your state senator.
reproductivetrafficking.org/action

 

 



Why Everyone Should Oppose Surrogacy

By Jennifer Roback Morse

This article was first published at The Blaze on May 4, 2016.

I am an outspoken critic of gestational surrogacy, in which the gestational mother carries a child to term for another person or couple. I have noticed that many people do not understand the stakes in this issue. Pro-life people think, “gosh, surrogacy makes babies, how can that be bad?” Feminists think, “gosh, surrogacy allows people to meet their reproductive goals, how can that be bad?”

SRIRACHA , THAILAND - AUGUST 6: In this handout photo Thai surrogate mother Pattaramon Chanbua poses with baby Gammy at the Samitivej Hospital on August 6, 2014 in Chonburi province in Bangkok, Thailand. David and Wendy Farnell have made international headlines for abandoning their disabled infant son, Gammy, in Thailand with his surrogate mother, Pattaramon Chanbua. Gammy's twin sister lives with the Farnells at their home in Bunbury, Western Australia. The couple have denied abandoning their son on a recent television interview in Australia. (Handout photo via Getty Images)

SRIRACHA , THAILAND – AUGUST 6: In this handout photo Thai surrogate mother Pattaramon Chanbua poses with baby Gammy at the Samitivej Hospital on August 6, 2014 in Chonburi province in Bangkok, Thailand. David and Wendy Farnell have made international headlines for abandoning their disabled infant son, Gammy, in Thailand with his surrogate mother, Pattaramon Chanbua. Gammy’s twin sister lives with the Farnells at their home in Bunbury, Western Australia. The couple have denied abandoning their son on a recent television interview in Australia. (Handout photo via Getty Images)

Read on. Surrogacy has something to offend everyone.


Pro-life Reasons to Oppose Surrogacy

Every surrogacy procedure retrieves eggs and fertilizes them outside the body. These are now tiny human beings. (That is why adults are willing to pay for them.)

  • Abortion: If the doctor implants multiple eggs hoping some of them will survive, the surrogate is sometimes contractually required to do “selective reduction” and abort some of the babies.
  • Frozen Embryos: If “extra” embryos are created and not implanted, they are frozen indefinitely, destroyed immediately or “donated” for research.
  • Eugenics: Surrogates are sometimes contractually required to abort babies that do not meet the specifications of the “commissioning parents.”

Pro-woman Reasons to Oppose Surrogacy

  • Broken bonds: The gestational mother’s bond to the child is treated as if it were important during the pregnancy, and completely irrelevant afterwards.
  • Objectifying women: The gestational mother is used for her womb and then is legally – and perhaps emotionally – set aside.
  • Fewer rights for the mother, compared to adoption: If the gestational mother grows attached to the child, as mothers often do, or if she has concerns about the “commissioning parents,” too bad. Mothers who agree to place a child for adoption can almost always change their minds after the baby has been placed in their arms. Denying gestational mothers the same right is, quite simply, inhuman.

Pro-child Reasons to Oppose Surrogacy

  • Psychologically risky for babies: Infants attach to their mothers in the womb. Will the infant’s attachment to the surrogate transfer over to the commissioning mother? We have no idea.
  • Medically risky for babies: Babies conceived through In-Vitro Fertilization are at risk for premature birth, low birth weight, cerebral palsy and other problems. Surrogacy procedures require the use of IVF or similar techniques.
  • Risk of rejection for imperfection: “Commissioning parents” have been known to abandon the child they commissioned due to birth defects, leaving the child with the surrogate mother in a legal limbo.

Progressive Reasons to Oppose Surrogacy

  • Economically exploitive: Surrogacy exploits poor women for the benefit of the rich, who can afford the use of surrogates to achieve their “reproductive goals.” See the second half of this video, “Outsourcing Embryos,” about the surrogacy industry in India.
  • Introducing the profit motive into baby-making (which should be about love): The surrogacy industry is estimated to be a $30 billion business worldwide.
  • Rejected by progressive countries: Surrogacy is illegal in many countries, including progressive countries like France and Finland. The European Parliament recently rejected a proposal to legalize surrogacy throughout Europe.

Pro-liberty Reasons to Oppose Surrogacy

  • Reducing the private realm: Surrogacy drags the law into baby-making, an arena that ordinarily takes place in the most private and intimate realm of love. Removing the sperm and egg from the body places those gametes in the realm of commerce and law. Surrogacy may involve as many as 5 separate individuals: egg donor, sperm donor, gestational carrier and one or more “commissioning parents.” The law must decide which of the adults shall be the legal parents of the child. In natural conception, the law’s role is strictly limited to recording the natural parents of the child.
  • Artificial, state-created separations between parents and children: The woman who carried a child for nine months has no legally recognized parental rights or responsibilities. The law makes egg and sperm donors into “legal strangers” to the child.

And the ultimate pro-liberty reason to oppose surrogacy:

  • Creating a market in human beings: Allowing some people to buy other people, even if they are really young and small, is not a pro-liberty policy.

With all these disadvantages of surrogacy, we should look for other solutions to the problems that surrogacy is supposed to solve. We need natural solutions, such as NaPro Technology, for medical infertility. We need more love between men and women to solve the socially-caused infertility of being unable to find a suitable co-parent of the opposite sex.

Whether you are progressive or conservative, feminist or pro-life, straight or gay, surrogacy is not the answer.


Surrogacy experts can't testify on LA HB1102: Coincidence?

Update: Alana Newman got up the next day at 5 AM, drove all the way to Baton Rouge by herself. She testified. Alana told me that when she showed up to testify, Katherine Smith, the wife of Senator Gary Smith, shot her a very dirty look. The plan to keep Alana away failed!

I am incredibly proud of Alana!

I just sent a version of this letter to several Louisiana newspapers. It speaks for itself. Yes, I'm annoyed. 

To the editor: 

HB 1102 proposes to legalize surrogacy contracts in Louisiana for the first time. I am concerned about the unprofessional manner in which this bill is being handled.

Two nationally-known experts on surrogacy live in Lake Charles: Alana Newman, founder of the Anonymous Us project, and me, Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Founder and President of the Ruth Institute.

Neither of us has been able to testify on HB1102. We were told the night before the house hearing that it had been postponed, and we shouldn’t drive from Lake Charles. The very morning of the hearing, the committee decided to consider the bill. We were of course, not present.

We came for a second house hearing. Mrs. Newman (who is 8 months pregnant) came with her husband and two pre-school children. Halfway down I-10, we learned that we could only testify regarding the public records consequences of the bill. We both scrambled to adapt our testimony. We were interrupted and not permitted to complete our testimony.

Tonight, May 9, after close of business, we learn that the bill will be considered in the Senate Judiciary Committee B, tomorrow at 9:30 AM.

I do not believe the whole sequence of events preventing our testimony is a coincidence.

The chairman of Senate Judiciary Committee B is Senator Gary Smith. He and his wife have been very public about their use of surrogacy for the birth of their two children. Senator Smith should recuse himself from this topic.

Sincerely,

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse

Founder and President, The Ruth Institute

 

 

 


Who is the Child's Mother? LA House passes surrogacy.

Watch Representative Joe Lopinto assume the very thing that needs to be proven: he asserts that the genetic parents should not have to adopt their "own" child. But according to Louisiana law, and indeed the law of every civilized country until the day before yesterday, the woman who gives birth to the child is the child's mother. 


When a husband and wife make love, the man "donates" his sperm to his wife. The woman "donates" her eggs to her husband. Actually, each of them donates their entire selves to the other. This unlimited gift of self may result in the creation of a new life. In a lifelong, sexually exclusive union of one man and one woman, the identity of the mother and father is certain. There is no ambiguity. The business of the law of the state is simply to record what the law of love has created. 

All this changes when we remove our sperm or eggs from the body. Now, the law is involved. Contracts and commerce are involved. 

The woman who removes her eggs from her body and gives them to another woman to gestate, is the person who has created the ambiguity about the identity of the child's mother. It is right and just that the obligation to clarify the situation should rest with her, and not with the woman who gives birth to the child.


Motherhood, fatherhood at heart of America’s founding principles

By Ellen Giangiordano

This article was posted May 2, 2016, at CatholicPhilly.com.

On May 8, America will celebrate Mother’s Day. In June, America will celebrate Father’s Day. As nationally promulgated holidays, every citizen should have the equal right to celebrate both. But all citizens do not have this right.

As in the days of slavery, we as a nation again support the intentional amputation of certain children’s ancestry in whole or in part, and laud the commercial human reproductive system that requires the amputation to survive.

The advertisement at right, which hangs in car 110 on SEPTA’s Paoli/Thorndale line, makes the truth of this statement all too plain. In this, the Year of Mercy, Pope Francis has requested us to perform concrete works of mercy which includes “Instructing the Ignorant.”


What Americans today have forgotten, or may have never known, are their country’s equitable principles and what we as a nation owe to posterity.

When we fought the American revolution, we rejected the notion that equality could ever be man-made. In the Declaration of Independence we specifically stated that nature’s God, through the laws of nature, creates all men equal. In our federal Constitution, we pledged to ensure that posterity would enjoy every right we claimed for ourselves.

This idea, that posterity would have the same rights we do, found its fullest expression in the Virginia Declaration of Rights penned by George Mason in May 1776: “all Men are born equally free and independent and have certain inherent natural Rights, of which they cannot by any Compact, deprive or divest their Posterity.”

Donor-conception, however, is just such a compact. A veritable army of citizens — the transit authority, advertisers, egg and sperm sellers, processors, egg and sperm buyers, refrigerator manufacturers, lawyers, doctors, and the state which licenses many in this commercial system — work together to ensure that some children grow up not knowing one or both of their biological parents. This is public action at its worst.

In his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, Dr. Martin Luther King said: “When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.”

That promise included the promise not to take from others that which nature gives, and one of the first things nature gives to all citizens is a biological mother and a biological father. For us as a nation to work together to sever a child’s biological roots today is no less tyrannical than it was during the slave trade.

As we celebrate the national holidays of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day this year, may we return to our senses and re-embrace biological mothers and fathers as essential to everyone’s life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Attaching this comment to a letter to your state representatives would be an easy way to make your opinion known.

***

Ellen Giangiordano is a member of St. Margaret Parish, Narberth.

 



Experiment on Small Children? Really?

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

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.

 



In An Industry That Makes People, What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

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

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.

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