Sorting Pregnant Women: Four Types, Which Get Grouped Together?

Someone (ki sarita, in fact) raised an excellent question in an early comment on the last post:   Why would you call Monica Schissel a surrogate when she is a pregnant woman and she is genetically related to the fetus she carries?  There is some discussion of this in the last post, but I’ve been thinking about it more generally.   This leads me to some observations that might be useful or, failing that, at least interesting.

It seems to me you can think about pregnant women as falling into one of four categories.  Here they are:

A:   Intending to be parent and genetically related to embryo

B   Intending to be parent and NOT genetically related to embryo

C   NOT intending to parent and genetically related to embryo

D.  NOT intending to parent and NOT genetically related to embryo.

I think all pregnant women must fit into one of these categories.   (There is a complicated factor with the intention point–one that bothers me a good deal.  As we all know, intention can and sometimes does change over time.   So in order to make intention a fixed factor, you have to pick intention at some particular moment and then stick with it.  You can see all the questions this raises, I imagine.  But I set them aside here for the moment.)

To make this a little more concrete, I should note that B describes a woman using IVF with a donor egg.   D is the person we most commonly call a surrogate or a gestational surrogate, whether we like surrogacy or not.  And C is like Monica Schissel, who some call a traditional surrogate.)

I believe we all agree that upon the birth of the child, A will be a legal mother.  And I think every legal system I am familiar with reaches that result, too.  So I take the position of A to be uncontroversial.   But how do we think about B, C and D?

You can go at these questions from either of two directions.   First, it seems to me that if you want to argue that B, C or D should be a legal mother you have to argue that she is essentially like A.  With that in mind, you can reason back from the results you want to achieve.

Here’s how that would work:  Suppose you want B (the woman using a donor egg) to be considered a mother.  Then you need to say she is like A.  If you look at the list up there what you can see is that you must therefore argue that the difference (genetically related vs. genetically related) is unimportant, while the similarity (intention) is what matters.   Thus, you attach yourself to the idea of intentional parenthood.   And that actually resolves the other two cases, two.  Neither C nor D intends to be a parent and therefore they are not like A and are not parents.

(The result you reason from might also be that you want someone not to be seen as a legal parent.   So for instance, if you want to promote the broadest use of surrogacy then you don’t want C or D to be considered a legal parent, and it’s fairly clear that this, too, leads you to intention as the defining feature of legal parenthood and means that B should be seen as a legal parent, because she intends to be one.)

The other way you can go at this is to decide what principle you want to adhere to first.  So you might decide that the genetic connection is definitive.   This then tells you that C is like A and so C should be considered a legal mother, while B and D would not be.

Is it worth thinking about things from this angle?  I’m not sure.  It certainly makes it clear that for the ART industry to work they need to go with intention–for that both allows the B to be a parent and C and D not to be parents.   It also demonstrates that the genetic point of view will allow surrogacy–but only gestational surrogacy.   And when someone says “why would you call C a surrogate?” it is probably because they are looking at the genetics as important (rather than intention) and from that perspective, C cannot be distinguished from A (while B can be).   (For someone who puts intention first, it’s obvious why you call C a surrogate.)

I’ll close with one more observation:  You could reject my analysis here in at least two ways.  One is you could say what makes A a legal mother is the combination of genetics and intention, so that only she is a legal mother.  None of the other women are like her.

Or you could say that they are all alike–A, B, C and D–because they are all pregnant women who will carry the child to birth.  From this view (one I often advocate) B, C and D are essentially like A and thus, all should be seen as legal mothers.

 

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178 responses to “Sorting Pregnant Women: Four Types, Which Get Grouped Together?

  1. The problem here is that the discussion is starting off on unequal footing. The fertility industry created the terminology that serves it best and since they were the first on the scene, they got to call the shots. In the last case we discussed, the court continuously referred to the “woman who gave birth” as a SURROGATE, which implies that she is not a legal mother, before evening determining her status. they quoted the American Bar Association Model Act on Assisted Reproduction as defining her as such, merely because she had signed a contract. This is despite the fact that the contract itself was up for adjudication. and besides for the fact that the ABA model effect has no legal authority whatsoever and has not been adopted as a statute.
    But anyway, I looked up the ABA model and what do you know. They admit right out they cameup with their model act in cooperation with The ASRM And SART, organizations of reproductive health practitioners. Now how objective does that sound???
    The model act is long and I am tired, and i have not found yet where it explicitly discusses surrogate but the whole think is riddled with such terminology.

    • love this

      • i conclude that there is a need to contact such organizations and let them know they’re missing part of the picture.

      • julie, if a litigant shows that the outcome was predetermined, isnt that grounds for an appeal?

      • C is also uncontroversial Julie, it’s the rather traditional case of adoption, in which she is a parent until the adoption is completed.
        you forgot to factor in “manner of conception” and “contract” to your list of permutations. (correctly in my opinion, because they should be inconsequential).
        Thus, you have failed to show any differentiation between Monica and another pregnant woman which your list of permutations was intended to do- you haven’t differentiated between C and C.

  2. I think there are potentially two separate questions: (1) how do we, personally, think about how these questions ought to be framed in society and (2) How and when these self-definitions should be inscribed in the law.

    I think people ought to be able to self-define, but I also can see that the right to self-define might be limited by the need for legal consistency. I also recognize that a woman might alter her self-definition during the process. The really tricky part is how to accommodate that change of self-definition.

    In general, I think women should have the ability to alter self- definition at any time during the process of pregnancy and birth. However, I think an exception should be carved out in a single exception: If a woman contractually agrees to carry an embryo to term which is not genetically related to her. Perhaps my views here are overly pragmatic, or have the danger of enshrining the value of contracts over rights, and I’ll continue to think about this.

    In all other situations, I think women should have the ability to self-define as a parent or as a non-parent (or mother or not-mother?) throughout their conception, pregnancy, labor, and birth.

  3. “However, I think an exception should be carved out in a single exception: If a woman contractually agrees to carry an embryo to term which is not genetically related to her.”
    I might agree, but only in the case that the completing claim is by the genetically related mother, and not some equally unrelated party.

  4. Hey I know whose absent from this discussion! The people who A, B, C & D deliver! Who else is missing from this dicusussion? The Center for Disease Control and Department of Public Health.

    Let’s start with public health. Let’s just stop issuing birth certificates completely huh? Why bother recording the names of the women who give birth or the names of their husbands if the child may not be their offspring? The record ceases to contain the kind of vital information about the origin of the individual named on the certificate, its of no medical value and undermines the accuracy of medical research based on U.S. birth records. Let possession be 9/10ths of the law and people can make their own little novelty certificates where they define themselves as whatever they want. Let’s just throw out paternity suits for child support based on the idea that a person is responsible for their own offspring. If B, C & D don’t need to have their mother or father accurately recorded nobody does.

    • Dan in Tennessee

      I can never tell when you’re being serious, marilynn.

      • I’m seriously pointing out that we need to pick a method and stick with it and it can’t be based on the whims of women in the most hormonal states of their lives. If it’s good enough for some people to have just any old person that intends to be their parent, named as their parent on their birth record then, why bother with adoption? Why bother with child support based on DNA tests or why bother collecting information on parents for research on birth defects and heritable disease?
        I just want to get people thinking about the unevenness of having people pass in and out of parenthood based on their own self definition.

  5. Why would we look to the time before a child is born to determine who his mother is? Let’s look at intention in the law shall we? The fact that you did not intend to do something does not mean you did not do it and it certainly does not make you exempt from culpability for your own actions or from damages arising as a result of your actions. It’s the difference between murder and manslaughter for sure but you don’t get off Scott free and you sure as hell don’t get to run from the accident just because you did not intend to hit someone. You don’t get to pretend that someone else hit and killed the person. Even if they really want to go to jail for you. There are far reaching implications to being named as someone’s mother that have nothing to do with care giving or custody. The fact that a woman does not want to raise her child does not mean that she is not the child’s mother. The fact that she never intended to become a mother does not change the fact that at least for medical purposes and citizenship purposes and for inheritance purposes and for death benefit purposes medical insurance purposes, child support purposes, the conduit through which legal kinship to the rest of her relatives is conferred for those purposes she still should be recorded as her child’s mother whether she gives birth or not.

  6. Also very important here in your ABCing of pregnant women and their intentions about motherhood would be the intentions of the women who are going to have offspring once some of these pregnant women deliver. If you want to care so much about intentions what about theirs? What if they did not intend to have their egg fertilized and implanted into the womb of another woman? What if they did intend to have it fertilized but did not intend to have their embryo implanted in another woman? What if they still want to raise their own child and meet their parental obligations because they are the one that reproduced?

    For parenthood to turn on intention or even birth-giving, puts the child in a position where he won’t have rights equal to everyone else; having a right to the vital records of a family that you are not related to is not the same as having access to vital records from a family that you are related to. It’s just not.

    Like my friends that carried one another’s embryos by the same guy. When they split up they took their own kid, not the kid they gave birth to.

  7. Here is a story about why unintentional parents need to remain parents.

    The second person I ever reunited came to me and said her father (who I reunited her with) asked if I would help his friend find her family. I said sure. My friend came to me with a stack of letters there were 7 siblings altogether. Seven 7 siblings taken from their abusive mother and father in the late 1950’s. They were all separated. The eldest found the second eldest. Both had aged out of foster care without ever being adopted. Their rights were unharmed because they were not adopted and still had access to their family’s vital records. The eldest is dead now but she was cared for until her death by her sibling who took family leave act time and who claimed her as a relative dependent. She is looking for the remaining 5 siblings who she knows were adopted. They lost their rights to information and it destroyed the family’s rights to their information. I have only found one of this woman’s sisters. The abuse and cruelty these kids suffered at the hands of their parents is jaw dropping and the fact that they had to loose their true identity and their rights just to get a good home is shameful. They should not have to loose their rights to be legal kin because their mother did not want to be a mother did not act like a mother. They got assigned new mothers who could not take more than 1 kid a piece, it did not stop them from being siblings. I have never felt so defeated after finding a sibling because there are so many more to go.

    So when you ask how we should think of women pregnant women A,B,C, and D based on their physical pregnancy or intention or genetics it’s just so staggering. It’s still all about the people who want to raise the kids its their market their economy I guess.

  8. Thinking more about this — I wonder, is intention the same thing as self-definition or identity construction? Perhaps so, but perhaps there are differences.

    Perhaps self-identification, or the process of self-definition, might be substantially different then the production of a single intention. I will have to think about this. But articulation of identity is a social and cultural process and this process might allow for a bit of messiness and inconsistency that reflects the ambivalence of pregnancy.

    I am not sure I am comfortable with the biological process of reproduction to be the only thing that “counts” in producing identity. Although abortion is legal, in some stages of pregnancy, it is quite possible for an individual to become pregnant through force and remain pregnant through an oppressive situation. I dislike the idea that a person must acquire an identity, particularly one so significant as “mother” through an action that may not be under her control. I hope that a person can retain her ability to self-determination, even in oppressive circumstances that might block her ability to frustrate biological processes out of her control.

    However, the act of gestation and labor is a great act of motherhood. Any individual who gestates a child, and wishes to take on the identity of “mother,” ought to be able to self-identify as one. In almost all cases, with the sole exception of a contractual surrogate w/ a non-genetically related egg, I would also attach legal parenthood to the identity of “mother.” But a legal surrogate (non-genetically related) should certainly be able to self-identify as a non-legal, but biological mother.

    I suppose I don’t see the identity of “mother” as synonymous with legal parenthood.

    • What about in terms of public health and the health of the person born? How do you feel about the fact that the federal government mandates States to collect certain information on birth certificates for the purpose of creating vital records from which the CDC gleans its national vital statistics. In terms of the birth record being a vital record for the people named on it and for the relatives of the people named on it, it has no medical value if the child on the certificate is not the offspring of the people named as parents. Should we continue to pay for the collection of this information for public health purposes and should we continue to represent that the birth certificate is a vital record when we allow persons of no vital medical importance to be named as parents on original birth records? The CDC does not collect birth records amended upon adoption for good reason; they are not parents for the purpose of heritable disease or genetic birth defects and they do not accurately represent the overall reproductive health of the population.

      Where does self definition fit into the public health model of information gathering we currently have. I’m open to the idea of self definition but we’d basically have to throw out vital record keeping in its current form. Or possibly obligate everyone to full and truthful disclosure of the existence of their offspring and them as parents but allow them to self define as non-custodial parents post disclosure. I would advocate for people to have full unrestricted access to records identifying their actual parents who reproduced and no interruption of kinship rights just because the parent wanted to self define as a non parent.

      And Tess when you talk about a woman having the option to self define as a mother, how do you envision that impacting the rights of her child and relatives to self define as being legal kin? Are you more talking about her opting out of custody and care giving obligations? What if she could opt out of those obligations without it compromising the rights of the rest of her family to full and legal recognition as being kin? You don’t think that one person should be able to withhold information that is vital to the health of her entire family do you? Her right to self define should not interfere with anyone else’s right to self define should it? The whole thing with personal rights is that they need to not interfere with anyone else’s. Current adoption and ART laws allow for this self definition of parents to the detriment of their relatives rights and I think that needs to be resolved.

      • Marilynn,

        I see her rights of self-determination as trumping other claims. I don’t want the biological process of conception, gestation and birth to be the sole determiner of the identity of a woman if she has not positively consented to the situation.

        Like abortion, I am not asserting that other claims are preserved. I do not imagine that others may not be harmed by this position, and I don’t imagine that my position is uncontroversial.

        I am also not opposed to a genetic and medical lineage record which is separate from parental identity/rights. But I would be opposed to the state enforcing criminal penalties on woman who refused to give information.

        • tess you’re ignoring the kid. the kid is someone’s son/ daughter and it doesn’t get to choose.

          • Yes. I am not allowing other claims to intellectually trump something I believe is an inalienable right.

            I do not take the position that this inalienable right comes without potential substantial costs. People may not make the most ethical decision or a decision without cost to others.

            I do this in other situations, such as my beliefs about abortion.

            In the realm of abortion I to not allow subsequent potential claims to trump something I see as a prior inalienable right. This includes the the emotional and substantial claims of the grandparents, the potential substantial emotional and material harm experienced by a husband/father/lover, the needs of society for a new generation of humans, and, perhaps most importantly, the needs and potential rights of the unborn child.

            To be clear, I am simply asserting that this is something I believe, in my response to the questions embedded in the blog post. I am not asserting that others share my beliefs.

            • I too am pro choice. But I think your analogy about a woman rights trumping those of her relatives when she aborts, compared to when she has offspring has a logical flaw; the right to information about ones relatives does not apply to relatives that do not exist because they were never born. Nobody, has a right to force a woman to use her body to develop a fetus. It’s her body and her choice whether or not to carry a child to term and become someone’s mother. If her offspring exist, she is their mother and her relatives are kin to her child whether she intended to raise her child or not or even acknowledge her child’s existence, the fact remains that she has offspring and a failure to be recorded as their mother permanently, will permanently interfere with the rights of her child and other relatives. Whereas had she never had any offspring at all nobody’s rights would be violated. Her right to bodily autonomy trumps other people’s feelings about what they’d like her to do, for sure because they can’t force her to become a mother against her will. But once she has offspring she is one and her failure to identify herself as one interferes with their rights to information about a person who actually exists.

              I do however appreciate your thoughtfulness about trying to make your views consistent and to not be a hypocrite – having one view in one circumstance and another in a similar circumstance. It’s just that you cannot reasonably compare two situations where in one, her offspring exists and in the other does not exist.

              • Marilynn,

                It wasn’t meant to be an analogy in terms of content, but merely a statement that I see it as an inalienable right that is present prior to subsequent claims and possible harms.

                The example I gave about abortion was merely meant to give an illustration of how I see potential great harms to multiple other individuals who are affected by the act of abortion. Yet I see legal abortion as part of a right of privacy that I classify as an inalienable right. As this type of right, I view is as trumping other substantial claims of harm, and therefore the state may not criminally prohibit that action.

                That said, I see individuals as free to use moral suasion or other forms of support to encourage a woman to make other choices.

                At a basic level, we’re having a discussion about state power, and the power of the state to enact criminal punishments for certain choices. I see inalienable rights as protecting certain choices from criminal punishment. That does not mean I advocate for particular choices to be made, or ethically support those choices.

                • love this

                • ok so we agree that self definition as a mother, does not matter to the law. but on an ethical level, no I can not ethically go around denying that I am my son’s mother. That would cause him incredible hurt and possible long lasting emotional damage. same as when he grows up, he can not ethically deny that he is my son, unless i have done some very terrible behavior to deserve that.
                  Whats more, the whole idea of self definition has limits. For example If I self defined myself as black, I would be delusional, not exercising my right to self definition.
                  certain things are facts. you can not self-define away facts.
                  the only thing you can do is determine the extent you allow them to represent you.

                  • Very nicely said. I think your example using race is one that should be used a lot in these conversations.

                    In the love-is-enough world of donor assisted reproduction we often hear people who raise donor offspring saying that they want the child to “write their own story” when it comes to their identity. Identity is something that is not self defined and it is not something that can truly be tampered with. You can record things inaccurately and force someone to live under an assigned identity or choose to live under an assumed identity but it is just pretend, it is not real. In reality each person is part of a family that is part of a community that is part of society at large and the inaccurate recording of identity has a negative impact on our ability to monitor the spread of disease in the general population. Nobody’s identity really changes even when the documentation changes like in adoption. There are practical considerations. Currently the Federal Government has tasked States with fixing the mess they made with adoptions because they are having an impossible time matching death certificates to birth records. You have to realize that they do try and keep track of people and adopted people don’t ever die on paper. They don’t ever get married go to school, nothing. They are just born and live forever. And they die under assumed identities. They don’t really keep track of the amended certificates because they are not vital records. The amended birth record is not where people are counted and they are not part of the nation’s birth statistics so falsifying adopted people’s identities has a real negative impact on keeping track of people. The interesting thing is that it is not really necessary. There is no reason to pretend to change their identities, they could remain the son or daughter of Bob and Jane Doe and become the adopted child of Chuck and Charlie Chan without impacting Chuck and Charlie’s custody or control. Chuck and Charlie could even change baby Doe’s name (though I oppose it for being unnecessary) but it could be done as a name change under the same SS number like when a person gets married without altering their identity as the child of Bob and Jane Doe.

                    Deep re-identification happens with black market adoption. The wrong people are named on original records. It is particularly rude.

                    We don’t often think about how falsely identifying people impacts people other than themselves. You raise this issue Ki and I think it is a critical point. To take it further think about a soilder who is a father who returns from war to find that he was not named father on the birth record of his child and someone else self-identified as his child’s father and started playing the roll of father for her and now she is playing the roll of that man’s daughter. The real father’s family has all been re-identified as strangers when in reality they are kin, they should not date etc etc. The self-identifying father’s family is all reidentified as something they are not as well making them appear to be related to someone who is in fact only a member of their family by social construct.

                    So we have to realize that pregnant women B, C and D self-defining identity forces their relatives to assume identities that are not grounded in reality and costs them various rights and places them at a disadvantage due to reduced access to information about the identity of their relatives and vital records documenting their relatives health at birth, marriage and death.

                    A woman who never has a child is never a mother and so her decision to abort never interferes with the rights of her born relatives. Self definition is just fine as long as you don’t have offspring. If you have offspring the self definition that Tess describes should really be defined as related to matters of custody and care giving rather than identity and parental title in order not to negatively impact the rights of the child or the child’s relatives. We just need to take a practical approach that is not dependent upon what people want or wish for. Justice is suppose to be blind to how we feel about the facts, right?

                  • I have a friend in a bi-racial family. Some of the children look “black” and some look “white.” Are the “white” looking children barred from self-identifying with their African American parent?

                    Identity is complicated.

                  • To Tess about white looking black people: They are are what they are and there should be no barring or preventing or concealing or limiting a person from obtaining what ever records they want about their relatives and feeling however they wish about it. If they chose to check the box for black on some application it would not be a lie just because their skin was light.

                • Inalienable rights: Marrying someone eligible who consents to marry, and then (if there is an opportunity) having sex with each other (mutually consenting every time of course) and giving birth to any and all children that result (if they do), and naming them and passing on identity and nationality to your children. Those are inalienable rights.

                  There is an obligation and full expectation that it is proper to raise the children too, but thats alienable, you can lose that right if you are harming your children.

                  Surrogacy and IVF and unmarried sex and reproduction are not rights, and abandoning spouses and children are not rights, but we can choose to let people do those things.

                  • ok john no matter what the topic is you can be counted on to say exactly the same thing like a broken record. can you say something we haven’t heard already? preferably something directly in response to the question?

        • Interesting. Do you mean a woman who refused to identify herself as having offspring?

          Let’s think about the concept of rights-trumping. Shouldn’t personal rights be limited to the person themselves and just as a matter of course not impede anyone else’s personal rights? That is a fairly good test of what should be considered a right. Like the right not to be assaulted, that does not impede anyone else’s rights to assault for instance. Or the right to vote, does not stop anyone else from voting. You can keep going with that it’s a pretty reasonable test.

          For instance a right to withhold information as private is reasonable so long as that information is not of vital importance to anyone else. If the information pertains to other people, as it would in kinship and the rights that arise from it, then withholding that information should be legally viewed as an infringement upon the rights of others to that information and the benefits denied because of it.

          • The definition of an inalienable right is that no other claim may trump it. It’s like a debate about the right to privacy (abortion) or the right to free speech.

            If someone believes something is an inalienable right, that’s what they believe, end stop. You aren’t likely to convince them otherwise.

          • “Shouldn’t personal rights be limited to the person themselves and just as a matter of course not impede anyone else’s personal rights?”

            marilynn,

            no, that’s not the definition of inalienable rights. For example, free speech may cause substantial harm to others. Speech is curbed in European countries that is legal in the U.S.A. because speech is seen as an inalienable right in the US.

            Take the famous SCOTUS case of Nazis marching in front of Holocaust survivors in Skokie. Speech may cause harm, but the inalienable right of speech trumps those potential harms.
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Socialist_Party_of_America_v._Village_of_Skokie

            • Free speech does not cause harm unless it is libelous or slanderous. Exercising your right to free speech does not harm anyone else in any other way than to cause offense unless the speech is libelous or slanderous in which case the person whose character was defamed has legal recourse because of the harm done to their character as a result of people believing false statements made under the guise of free speech. We don’t have a right to knowingly make untrue statements about another person in an attempt to damage their character. Although people do all the time and they get sued for it. Free speech can be relentless enough to be considered harassment and then again the person being harassed has legal recourse as they have a right not to be badgered. Being offensive is not the same as causing harm.

              • Marilyn,
                Europe has different rules governing speech then the U.S.A. This goes back to a different conception of rights. That’s why people can be criminally charged for making racist remarks in Paris, but not for making the same statements in Washington D.C.

  9. The thing about contracts is that they set out the terms of what a person will or will not do, not of who they are or are not. We have a real fundamental problem here with people granting the title of mother or father based on whether or not they have custody and raise the child, rather than whether they have offspring or not. The contract could outline the fact that a woman is the mother but she will not raise her child. I find such a contract to be reprehensible, but at least it would be a contract for custody only and not for parental title.

    Could I sign a contract with someone unrelated to my family and say that they are now my parent’s child and my brother’s sister and that I am no longer desirous of being my parents daughter or my brother’s sister and that this person will now function as both in my absense? Would my parents and brother be bound by this contract and how would it impact my child’s relationship as granddaughter and niece? Would the government allow for me to amend my birth record to eliminate my name and replace it with the name of the person I’d contracted with to serve as daughter and sister? If not, then why? Why would we allow the enforcement of such a contract entered into by a parent without the consent o all their relatives and not enforce a contract entered into for the very same thing by a child without the consent of her relatives.

  10. Great great great comments Marilynn.

    This will all arrange itself out. We donor-conceived and surrogate children are growing up and demanding that anonymity be banned.
    Once anonymity is banned its impossible to deny that what people are actually doing is selling their children.

    It’s buying and selling human beings in the most corrupt sense and though this will take time, just like slavery took time, we will correct this injustice.

    Human trafficking is a constant challenge, for every generation. People like to use new fancy words, and confuse the public about what they’re actually doing- using strange euphemisms and acronyms and legal jargon to confound laypeople.

    The simple truth is that If a woman reproduces or gives birth to a child, and accepts money at any point in time with the intention that someone else will have that child- she just sold her child.

    • My parent's donor is my father

      Absolutely, fully and completely agree with Marilynn and Alana on this.

    • i am afraid the tide is turning in the other direction, that of parenthood-by-contract

      • Agreed.

        I predict that parenthood will become less bio-determinative in the next 50 years.

        Just in the last two years Canada overturned the B.C. sperm bank case, frozen anonymous egg banks are coming into Canada, and frozen eggs (18 yrs old name reveal) are now coming into Australia.

        • To be clear – I agree with ki sarita on her prediction.

          There are larger economic and social forces at work here. The historical factors driving the 19th and 20th centuries, such as the industrial revolution, overturned the Catholic and conservative Protestant views on sexuality and contraception. Likewise the the current historic forces (economic, social, and cultural history) carry great weight in the unfolding history of the 21st century and will ultimately drive what determines legal, social, and cultural parenthood.

          It’s fun to have an intellectual debate about this, but ultimately we are not the factors driving this train.

    • “just like slavery took time, we will correct this injustice.”

      Yeah, I am not getting into another slavery debate on this blog.

      I know to what lengths enslaved people went to enact their freedom in North America. Until I see that sort of effort, and a social movement equivalent (Proportionally!) to 4 million people (circa 1865) I’m not going to believe the above claim.

      • Tess
        You have genuine and sincere empathy for African American slaves of the 19th century. You don’t want to trivialize their suffering by comparing their plight to the plight of donor offspring or adopted people who live lives of relative ease and comfort raised by people who raised them as if they were their own offspring. I admire your desire not to be disrespectful to people who were beaten and abused and forced to perform hard labor by the people who paid to have custody and control of them or were given custody and control as a gift or in some trade arrangement.

        On the surface your words make it appear that you take no exception to someone paying for custody and control of another person or of them being given custody and control as some sort of gift or as part of a barter or trade agreement as long as the person they have control of is treated humanely and is not forced to perform hard labor. Is that the case Tess or have I misunderstood your areas of concern when it comes to slavery. Is slavery defined by the abuse and inhumane treatment after custody and control is obtained, or is slavery defined by the act of trading, gifting or selling custody and control of a human being?

        • Marilynn,

          I object to indentured servitude and forced apprenticeships, which are a way of paying and taking custody of people. I also object to corrupt international and domestic adoptions. I also object to people loosing parental rights of their children for spurious reasons. I object to state corruption and unethical social workers leading to the loss of parental rights. I object to women forcibly losing custody of children because of legal issues in which she goes to jail. But I don’t think corrupt adoptions are the same thing as indentured servitude; I don’t think indentured servitude is the unethical and inappropriate loss of parental rights.

          But these are all different things.

          I object to statements which are not historically correct regarding the institution of slavery as practiced in the United States and colonial North America. I find it particularly objectionable because Americans, in general, do not understand the history of slavery and the full tragedy of what occurred, or the bravery which was possessed by those who fought the institution.

          Slavery was a labor system, and individuals performed unpaid labor for slave masters. In terms of African American slavery, the state of “slave” was a status in which the person could be bought and sold, and in which any children born were also slaves, and owned by the same master who owned the mother.

          If an individual is not performing unpaid, forced labor, I don’t see the situation as slavery. Kidnapping, apprehension, abuse, assault, rape — all of these acts are not synonymous with slavery. Slavery is an oppressive labor system, and in U.S. slavery children were born slaves, making it a generational bondage. In addition, physical punishment and rape were all permissible and legal under slavery.

          I see these 4 four elements are characteristic of the type of slavery in the West Indies, colonial South & North America and the U.S. until 1863-65: the legal physical and sexual violence violence, status of the mother determining the slave status of her child, the unpaid forced labor, and the ability to legally re-sell people.

          For Alana Newman to call herself a slave I find almost incomprehensible. It would mean her mother is a slave master, her children are owned by her mother and may be legally sold for money, and she is forced to do unpaid work by her slave master –her mother. It would mean she is legally prohibited from marrying. It would mean she is unable to leave the house without a pass. It would mean slave-catchers could return her to her mother for a bounty. It would mean slave-catchers could chase her and her children with dogs, attack them, maim them, and this would all be perfectly legal. It would mean that family dinners would be awkward, to say the least, and that Alana and her children would be forced to cook and serve dinner, because enslaved people did not sit and eat at the same table as their masters.

          For anyone who has studied the history of slavery, the statement that she is a slave just doesn’t make logical sense.

          • I appreciate your response Tess.
            It puts your opinions in historic context I agree with your opinions about CPS breaking up families as I spend a lot of time helping women on welfare find the children that were taken from them.

            It is sad to me that in all you said you offered not even the slightest bit of empathy for the very real loss of rights that donor offspring experience or anyone who is forced to pretend to be someone they are not in service to people who paid to have possession and control of them or who were given custody and control of them as a gift. They either play the roll of someone else’s child or play the roll of a child that has no father or mother. Their greatest challenge to gaining empathy is the fact that by enlarge they are treated well, but they don’t get to be themselves. It’s all dependent upon them playing the roll of someone they are not.

            Any loss of rights for any reason should be unacceptable. Anyone unfairly treated for any reason deserves empathy and public support. It is outrageous that the reaction they generally garner is that they should count themselves lucky.

            • My parent's donor is my father

              This is a classic example of why the law is incapable of determining ethics. In law, individual adults desires will always trump the best interests of children and society (with only a few exceptions). That is why, I personally have very little respect for debates regarding the law on these issues. The entire house of cards would fall if those advocating for ‘adult rights’ were to give even an inch in admitting that children are wronged (society/culture damaged) by those supporting adults ‘legal rights’ to reproduce in anyway they d*** well please.

              • I agree that the law is not synonymous with ethical choices. Clearly one can be pro-choice, yet personally disagree with the act of abortion.

                Or one can think it’s unethical to get pregnant at a anonymous gang-bang, but also support the position that “fornication” (to use a legal term) ought to be legal. Fornication was a criminal act punishable by law for hundreds of years in North America, just as adultery was a criminal act, punishable under the law.

                I do not think these sexual acts should be labeled as crimes, but that does not mean I think adultery is an ethical choice.

            • I feel empathy for anyone who feels pain as a result of their birth or family situation, including any mystery about heritage, lineage, or family records.

              But any person that decides to go after gay marriage is not on the top of my empathy list.

        • One final clarification:

          I don’t believe eggs, sperm or 5-day embryos are ensouled. Five day embryos can still twin, and thus, I do not believe they have been ensouled at that point. I suspect Alana disagrees. This is a theological disagreement.

          This is one of the reasons I do not see the sale of eggs, sperm or embryos as selling people. I don’t think a 5 day old embryo is an individual person. It is potential human life, and perhaps lives, if that embryo twins.

          I certainly don’t see selling sperm or eggs as the sale of persons.

          • Apparently it becomes selling people if the embryo grows to term but isn’t raised by both biological parents. Not that I agree (obviously I don’t based on my personal choices) but I think that is the argument.

          • Wha? Who on earth said that embryos are people? Alana does not think embryos or sperm or eggs are people neither do I, or Ki or… why would you think anyone here in the conversation viewed those things as people?

            It’s the terminology that is throwing you off. It throws everyone off I think. I say that they are giving up their children because their contractual agreements specifically state that they are giving up their children and are abandoning their parental responsibilities when and if any of their children are born as a result of them reproducing under contract. Now you can play with words about whether or not they were paid for their time and they are just giving away their children for free. That’s fine I won’t quibble over the payment issue except for to say that most would not be signing away their offspring to other people in advance had they not been paid just as a matter of general charity but there are those that do and my position is that they don’t own their children to be giving them away as gifts or selling them. Both equate to objectification. Honestly the whole thing about the eggs and sperm is just a distraction because that is not the object of the contracts they are signing. The object of the contract is possession of their children and the eggs or sperm is simply the method in which they offer up their reproductive services. It could just as easily be a contract for coitus for the purpose of reproducing the point is if they were not offering up rights to custody and control of their offspring under contract nobody would buy their sperm. It’s just a ticket to the show, a receipt for a thanksgiving turkey, whatever. Pay in advance for delivery later. Nobody here thinks a sperm is a person or an embryo is a person.

            So Tess, we are all on the same page. Giving up sperm and eggs and embryos is not giving up their offspring, Giving up their offspring, now that is giving up their offspring. Totally separate clause in the contract. But it’s unlikely there would be much interest in them handing over their genetic material without a promise to abandon their children. Also they have not abandoned their children when they donate their genetic material. After their offspring are born and they fail to take care of them, then at that point they’ve abandoned them. So there is no theological embryo loving arguments going on around here. Not even John goes there and he may actually buy that idea. No need to try and prove that an embryo is a kid when they are signing contracts that say they give up there kid. No point in inviting people to say the opinion is all religious in nature. Nothing shuts a conversation about rights down faster than talk of souls, God, Nature and Normative behavior. It’s like covering yourself in steak and throwing yourself to the lions even if your not religious.

      • Tess, in response to Alana’s hopeful statement that soon we will see justice and equal rights for people who are donor offspring, you said: “I know to what lengths enslaved people went to enact their freedom in North America. Until I see that sort of effort, and a social movement equivalent (Proportionally!) to 4 million people (circa 1865) I’m not going to believe the above claim.”

        First I want to say that Alana is right, this will sort it self out and end as slavery ended, in her lifetime, but only if donor offspring learn to ask for what they want differently. Try asking for the law to change so that all people have equal rights instead of asking for a change that places you still in an inherently unequal position. Slaves asked for all all people to have equal rights and they won. They did not ask for anything that reduced or challenged anyone else’s freedom or liberties or rights, they just asked for all people to have equal rights. It was a perfectly reasonable request that did not interfere with anyone else’s rights to be treated equally or anyone else’s rights to be free. So I would encourage Alana and all the other activists to leave behind all discussions of whether or not reproductive technology is good or bad and just start asking for equal rights and justice.

        Example: Don’t go around saying that you’ve been denied the right to know who your are. Don’t go around asking to end donor anonymity. Don’t go around saying that you have a right to your genetic history. None of that means anything, of course you’ve been denied any legal changes – you’re asking for some nebulous fluffy imagined rights. Find your common ground with others, stand on it firmly and yell loudly that the law needs to chage to treat all people equally.

        Ask for all people to have an inherent right to birth records that are medically accurate vital records as a mater of public health safety and welfare and as a matter of vital importance to each person and all those related to them. Right now only some people have vital records that contain medically accurate information about who they are related to and that places everyone else at a distinct and unintended disadvantage. Clearly the intent of collecting information on each person’s parents is as a matter of public health and naming the wrong people undermines accuracy of medical research and interferes with the rights of family members to access their relatives vital records for health purposes. That is equal that is fair that would be justice for donor offspring and everyone else who does not have a medically accurate birth record. Ask for something reasonable and you will win. Look at how gays and lesbians have won the right to marry, the argument won because they framed the argument in terms of equal rights. Look at slavery, women’s sufferage, segregation ask yourself did they ask for something that continued their unequal status? No they did not. Now change what you ask for and get what you want.
        Don’t worry about there not being a lot of you. Tess is wrong. This is America and the majority may rule, but the minority has rights. Alana if you were the only donor offspring in the world, you could still prove that your rights have been interfered with and that the law needed to change to equalize your rights with others. You don’t have to be many to deserve to be treated equally. Don’t worry about being called a vocal minority yell louder and this time ask for something you cannot be denied. You have pull. Believe you will win because they cannot say no just don’t ask for anything that inhibits the rights or freedoms of others and you will win soon too. Ask for equality that is how its gonna get done dear.

        And Tess, I drive the train. You drive the train we all drive the train of thought on the information superhighway. Our words have power and they are suspended in space for as long as the internet exists. I will change how people see the plight of adopted people and donor offspring. It will be framed as a violation of equal rights before I die. Nobody but me has ever listed out all the rights that donor offspring and adopted people are denied. As irritating as it may be for my fellow commenters to read, you cannot google donor offspring rights without coming up with some rant from me enumerating lists of specific rights lost like citizenship and death benefits and etc etc. (see any comment above). I’m driving a train of thought. We all are. I can help change the world even though I have no money and I’m not important and nobody will remember me. I know I’m influencing a train of thought to change direction, we all are.

        • “Slaves asked for all all people to have equal rights and they won.”

          And it was not without great cost and tremendous bravery. Enslaved people in North American fought for hundreds of years to achieve freedom. The 1960 civil rights acts took 100 more.

          Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton both died before they could see the passage of national suffrage.

          I don’t see historical change as a top down process. Slave emancipation and the Second civil rights movement was driven by many factors, including a Civil War, a massive social movement, and thousands of brave people who put their lives on the line for themselves and their children.

          I am familiar with an article Alana Newman wrote about gay men which I find deeply problematic. Newman, “The New Sexual Predators,” in _Public Discourse_, September 25, 2012. Alana Newman holds opinions towards gay marriage, reproductive rights, and abortion (and perhaps contraception?) which are counter to the intellectual, cultural, social and legal changes which have occurred in Europe and North America in the later part of the 20th century. Perhaps these are her religious views, and she has every right to hold those views.

          But her views on the gay community, marriage, sexuality, and abortion are certainly not about to take a central role in a new civil or social rights movement in North America.

          • Yeah and if she really cares about the advancement of her key issue she’d pipe down about the gay thing. I’m not particularly thrilled with it myself but she can hold those opinions separately and still deserve a medically accurate birth certificate and access to her relatives birth records without anyone running interference for the simple fact that other people have those things and there is no reason for preventing her from having it. She just like those before her are attempting to gain rights by inhibiting the rights of others and it is a circuitous route that has failed. There was no civil war needed to gain access to marriage equality. Not that it has not taken many years to get to the point where people felt confident enough to voice their opinions, but the groundswell for marriage equality was rapid and gained momentum once the argument was made for the sake of equality precisely because we the people are getting use to having to correct our laws when they are unfair. It happens faster and faster with less blood shed the more we become sensitive to the need to treat people fairly. So anyone who is unjustly denied legal kinship in their families needs to focus on asking for the right things and they will get it. Don’t worry about stopping gay marriages just worry about making sure that people with offspring are all equally accountable as parents and the problem is solved without violating anyone else’s rights. Do no harm. But I agree that talking about gay people does not help lend credibility to donor offspring’s complaints. Does not matter what the sexual orientation of the person buying a person is they are buying a person.

          • Also and I don’t know if you missed this detail but she’s not exactly singling gays and lesbians out, she is the daughter of a heterosexual woman who was married and did all the classic things that are suppose to make a person not mind having an estranged father, she provided her with a father figure and all that and she’s still rightfully bent about the fact that she had her rights violated. She really is not on a warpath against anything other than the commidification of human beings but taken out of context as stand alone articles it can be perceived that way. I know her and she is equal opportunity pissed off straight gay undecided she thinks abandoning kids is wrong. Maybe she should drive that point home more.

            • I have a problem with the rhetoric of calling gay men sexual predators, I think for obvious reasons considering the history of gay civil rights. I can accept that she is young, but she is an adult now, with children herself, and is fully accountable for her rhetoric.

              I understand that she grew up in a het family, but I didn’t get the impression it was a good environment. Wasn’t her social father figure pretty horrible? His bad behaviour doesn’t invalidate other legitimate claims, but her personal example doesn’t help her argument when he behaved badly. Apparently in the divorce he fought for custody of her sister but not for her.

              With the trauma of rejection by her social father figure, I can understand, to some extent, why she was attracted to a reactionary approach to marriage. But in the final analysis, what matters to me, is that that person is fighting against equal marriage rights.

              • My parent's donor is my father

                The “sexual predator” article Alana wrote was NOT just about gay men, she included heterosexuals as well. BUT…. This is not a debate about marriage so I won’t go down that rabbit hole (you shouldn’t either). But like my position about holding little respect for ‘the law’ in determining ethical choices regarding procreation, so to with “marriage” (what ever that means these days). Personally, the argument that biological parents matter, procreation/responsibility sways my opinion in a ‘biased’ manner and I will not apologize for that. I think I can speak for Alana in this as well. (she’ll correct me if I’m wrong)

                • I agree that this blog post is not about the predator article. I do feel an obligation to call out rhetoric that I view as tapping into damaging, false stereotypes that historically has been used to justify oppression. If she is going to put herself out as a spokesperson, and publish such material, she is accountable for her publications.

                  “Personally, the argument that biological parents matter, procreation/responsibility sways my opinion in a ‘biased’ manner and I will not apologize for that.”

                  I think every person ought to only create families according to their ethical understandings of the world. I do not think you should apologize for your ethical understandings of the world. There is absolutely to need to do that. We are all not only entitled to conform to our ethical understandings of the world, but we have a duty to do so.

                  That said, I have a right and an obligation to form my own ethical understandings of the world. And our views may or may not conform to each other.

                  • My parents donor is my father

                    Tess wrote: “That said, I have a right and an obligation to form my own ethical understandings of the world. And our views may or may not conform to each other.”

                    I respect that and I agree with you. And that is also why I respect Alana’s perspective and writing on the subject. She is not ‘targeting’ the lgbt community, but rather the practice (and trends) in general. Everyone is free to form their own opinions and I too believe it is an obligation to put all perspectives out there for consideration.

                  • My parents donor is my father

                    Alana addresses these misunderstanings here:
                    http://familyscholars.org/2012/10/10/the-new-sexual-predators-addressing-some-misunderstandings/

                    The New Sexual Predators- Addressing Some Misunderstandings
                    Alana S. 10.10.2012, 8:39 AM

                    The New Sexual Predators article I wrote fro Public Discourse has gotten some new attention, here at Huffington Post, and here at LGBTQ Nation.

                    From reading the articles and the comments there seems to be some misunderstandings about the piece. People are focusing on the “often violent form of third party reproduction” and they are misreading the term “predator” as if I’m making a direct comparison to rape. I did not mean to directly compare those who use surrogates and egg donors to rapists- I brought up rape as proof of how heterosexual men have used “alternative gene promotion strategies” to reproduce when consensual sex with fertile females is impossible for them.

                    I did however directly compare those who use surrogates and egg donors to Johns. The vast majority of egg donors and surrogates would not be selling their unborn children and renting our their wombs if it were not for the money. Similarly, prostitutes would not be having sex with the vast majority of their clientele, if it were not for the money.

                    And the reason I say “often violent” form of 3PR, is because women still risk their lives to give birth. Surrogates have died. Egg donors have died- and many more have been plagued by resulting health complications after their eggs or babies have been harvested.

                    You can argue with me about the legality and legitimacy of women exploiting themselves for economic gain, but you can not tell me that they are not being targeted, pursued, and seduced with large amounts of money, for something that has always been highly risky for women- so much so it is the basis for all of Feminism and Women’s Health initiatives.

                    Also, many of the commenters assume that I am Christian and that my whole opinion comes from The Bible. It does not. I am not religious and my view point comes from being donor-conceived, being a former egg donor, being a former volunteer for NARAL, a Women’s Studies major, and having google-alerts for the words “egg donor” and “surrogate” for over three years, devouring everything I can on the topic.

                  • Specifically my problem(s) include the title, which conflates all gay men into a category of “sexual predators.” I also have a problem with statements such as these:

                    Her title conflates the gay community with sexual predators. In her article _all_ gay men become a potential danger to a population, a population that as Alana put it “she thought she could trust.” It’s familiar to warnings about the worst sort of propaganda claiming that gay pedophilia is common in community and this is characteristic of the worst type of hate speech.

                    Finally, the article does not talk about people as individuals, but as generalized members of “out” community groups. “They might be after your daughters!” the article exclaims about gay men, reminding me of the racist claims in propaganda movies such as “Birth of a Nation.”

                    “The New Sexual Predators”

                    “But now there are new predators on the scene, for whom we do not have a script. There are new characters eager to exploit our daughters’ bodies, who enjoy unsullied reputations, passing detection even as they blatantly hunt for eggs and wombs with checkbooks in hand. And historically they have been the people women should fear the least.”

                    “These new players vying for access to young women’s bodies are older or infertile women, and gay men—quite often our friends and members of our family.”

                    “Our gay friends and family members may now also be after our daughters’ bodies. These are the only men in the world we thought we could trust because they weren’t interested in our bodies. That is, until they grew older and discovered they wanted to be parents. Today, more and more often, gay men are using egg donors and surrogates to create motherless children on purpose.”

                    “So now, young women must do more than simply defend themselves against aggressive heterosexual males who want to use them for sex. They must also navigate a world filled with new, never-before-seen predators—people they thought they could trust—who aggressively target them for their eggs and wombs.”

                    This type of language and rhetoric regarding the gay community is beyond the pale in my opinion.

                  • I’m not sure why she’s calling herself not a Christian when she’s been discussing her conversion to Catholicism. She also frequently publishes in Catholic venues and in on-board with the conservative Catholic understandings of marriage, reproduction, pregnancy and I assume, contraception.

                  • My parent's donor is my father

                    Tess wrote: “is beyond the pale in my opinion”
                    In your opinion. I understand that. Not in mine or in many other people’s opinions though. She is clearly addressing the practice, the trends of the practice and those who participate in the practice. Anyone who uses this practice is fair game to be discussed and written about. This practice, in many people’s opinions, is highly dangerous and ripe with exploitation. It commodifies, exploits and dehumanizes life, women and children. It will be fought against. It is not hate speech. The only victims here are our women, children, society/culture and free speech/thought/expression.

                  • Free speech is her inalienable right. And, in the end, it is her right to perpetuate stereotypes, if she so wishes.

                  • don’t trip too much over alana. she’s equal opportunity offensive, not just about gays. Although like Marilyn and her slave analogy, Alana I thing your acheive the opposite effect of what you hope for, this kind of stuff does not make friends and influence people.
                    I also agree with Tess that singling out gay men as sexual predators could have effects that you did not attend, because many folks do believe that gays are likely to be pedophiles.

              • Tess, since you yourself brought up the connection between gay marriage and non-biological parenthood, i don’t see how you can fault people as anti equality for opposing gay marriage. It is my opinion that the whole equality thing is a mistaken framing of the issue. I also opposed gay marriage. past tense, not because I changed my mind, but because I accept defeat. Which is why I forecast defeat on the non-biological parenthood issue, exactly as you yourself explained.
                i also oppose Alana’s over the top rhetoric, but that is different than opposing gay marriage. true there is so much bigotry about the question, its sometimes hard to view them as separate, but you yourself brought up the connection.

                • Ki if I could ask you a question. I look at gay marriage as just another in a long string of equality issues raised and on its way to being corrected and it is my hope that the same thing will happen for adopted people and donor offspring and really anyone whose been prevented from accessing information about people to whom they are related by blood, marriage or adoption. It can be framed both as an equal rights issue and as a matter of public health. What’s more it can be framed in terms of human rights as the buying, selling, gifting and trading of not just body parts but whole human beings – possession and title over them forcing people to live under false identities and play a roll rather than living lives as their authentic selves. Access to legal civil marriage becomes almost trivial sitting next to an issue of this enormity. How can anyone not take a lesson from that most recent equal rights success and not see how easily it could be applied to people in Alana’s situation. It would be foolish not to ride on the heels of that recent success. Why do you feel they’ll fail? I don’t think the economic machine of the fertility industry is insurmountable if they go around them, get in front of them, rather than trying to run them over. If they seek legal changes in what happens after a person is born rather than before there is almost assured success.

                • I haven’t accepted defeat, ki, because the public hasn’t considered the ethics and costs of attempting to create offspring of a same-sex couple using stem cells, or what it would do to reproduction rights to have them equated to a same-sex couple’s. The public is barely beginning to realize how much money it will cost them and how it will effect their rights and dignity and only beginning to listen to the donor conceived and hear about men with 100’s of children. So far, the victories in court have been because there is no law against same-sex reproduction, and in public because people are ignorant and intimidated.

                • Ki,

                  My rationale for supporting legal gay marriage is the same for supporting interracial marriage. I don’t think gender or race should limit one’s rights. However, I understand others disagree with this rational, and don’t see gender as discriminatory in this situation.

                  And specifically I am talking about civil marriage, as defined by the state, and as it relates to legal structures such as taxes, ect., not religious marriage, which I see as the domain of religious institutions.

                  • Tess, interracial reproduction doesn’t require creating genetically modified gametes from stem cells in a lab. Interracial reproduction was illegal because it created interracial children that upset the system of racial categorization and white supremacy, and that is not a supportable basis to prohibit it. Same-sex reproduction should be illegal because it would be unsafe and expensive and is not a right and not necessary, and would lead to manufacture of children and eugenics (and sperm and egg donation also is eugenic manufacture of children and should be prohibited also, but it’s not a right of marriage like conceiving genetic offspring is.)

                  • I was talking about same-sex marriage recognized by the state, not reproduction.

                    Technically, sexual reproduction between a same-sex partner will requires an advance in biology. It’s quite possible biology will advance to the point where we can take two cells from two different people, mix genetic codes, and create a new person. But the science has not yet advanced to that point.

                  • Tess, marriage recognized by the state should always approve and allow reproduction. You seem to think that we would approve and allow same-sex reproduction, in which case obviously we should also allow them to marry. But I am saying same-sex reproduction should be criminalized (along with any other attempt at creating a human being that doesn’t join a man’s unmodified sperm and a woman’s unmodified egg), because it would be so expensive and unethical and harm the basis of human dignity and equality. It is bad public policy to say that people have an equal right to reproduce as either sex, or with someone of either sex, because the truth is everyone only has a right to reproduce as the sex they were born as, with someone of the other sex, and in order to preserve that right, we can’t say it is equal to the right to reproduce with the same sex. We need to acknowledge that same-sex couples don’t have equal rights, and that the right they are missing is the essential right of marriage.

                  • I was trying to point out that I wasn’t talking about reproduction, but about marriage rights and my legal philosophy of equal rights and marriage laws.

                    We’re talking past each other, topic wise, here.

                  • Tess, we aren’t talking past each other, we just disagree about whether same-sex couples have a right to reproduce offspring. You erroneously think they do, consistent with your belief about equal marriage rights. You would probably oppose a law that prohibited people from reproducing with the someone of the same sex, right? You wouldn’t accept such a law because it was enough that they were legally married, would you? No other marriages are ever prohibited from reproducing, and we shouldn’t separate marriage and reproduction rights, marriage should always approve and allow reproduction.

                  • We are talking past each other. You are conflating a discussion of marriage rights with a discussion about “reproducing with each other.”

                    “You would probably oppose a law that prohibited people from reproducing with the someone of the same sex, right?”

                    huh? Well, I think it would be profoundly silly for a legislature to pass a law about something that is biologically impossible.

                    I assume that you mean to be speaking about something else- adopting out of foster care or something to that effect.

                  • I’m not conflating them, they are already flated together, the same things: marriage always means reproduction rights. Same-sex couples would have to use genetically modified stem cells or something to reproduce, and I am saying they should be prohibited from trying. You think they should be allowed to. That’s a real practical disagreement, and I think you should have to justify and account for the cost and risk of it and explain why it is necessary or smart to say people have an equal right to reproduce with someone of the same sex.

                  • I’m saying people have a right to marry.

                    You are saying anyone who has the right to marry has the right to reproduce with the help of ART.

                    You are also apparently saying that all legally married heterosexual couples have an inherent right to reproduce — even if that couple cannot do so “naturally” — with the help of ART.

                    I think it’s an odd argument for you to make, because I thought you were against the use of ART in any marriages, heterosexual or same-sex.

                  • It’s an abstract approval of having offspring together, but it never meant by illegal or unethical methods, it is not a guaranteed right to a child. But in same-sex couple’s case, that abstract approval can only mean approving of genetic engineering and/or donor gametes, because they are publicly the same sex, so what else can the approval mean? With a hetero couple, the public only approves of the concept of offspring and allows them to try, which in private may involve medicine, but marriage never makes adultery legal or 3PR . Many marriages won’t have children, but the approval is still meaningful, just being told they have the right to produce offspring with each other is important. Same-sex couples do not have a right to produce offspring, and should be prohibited, we should never approve of the concept of children. That is incompatible and unequal to marriage.

                  • “so what else can the approval mean?”

                    Many people who marry have no intention to either adopt foster children or procreate.

                    State recognition of marriage holds significant legal implications for childless couples on the local, state, and federal level. Among other things, these include inheritance rights, health benefits, pension rights/claims, joint property ownership, social security entitlements, veterans benefits, military death benefits, military health benefits, taxes, IRA distributions, state recognition of who gets to make health decisions for spouses, the right to visit a spouse in a hospital, and citizenship rights transmission and ease of immigration. Immigration problems extend not only to living in the U.S.A. with one’s spouse but in the case of a spouse transferring overseas for work reasons — and the ability to get permission to care for one’s sick elderly family members — in said foreign country. Marriage rights also include the right to divorce, and the legal protections regarding property distribution in divorce that apply to a lesser-earning or non-income producing spouse.

                    Furthermore, there is a social dignity in the state recognizing the union that goes beyond the material legal benefits. Even if the state corrected for every one of the above legal measures, “separate but equal” conveys a demeaning social and cultural message.

                    None of these legal implications include the cultural, social, religious and romantic reasons for marriage. Many post-fertile widows and widowers marry for identical reasons, so it’s not hard to see that the wish for inclusion in state recognition of marriage exists beyond the desire to raise children.

                  • Tess, all of us here who oppose SSM, Alana, ki sirita, and I, support Civil Unions as a way of giving all the legal benefits and social approval of being a couple, without approving (or “celebrating” as Alana puts it) of creating children. Does it demean a same-sex couple to say because they are the same sex they cannot ethically create offspring together? If so they are too-easily demeaned and should not demand we approve of something so unethical. I think it demeans a married heterosexual couple to say they have the same right and approval to have children together as a same-sex couple does, that there is nothing special about their marriage. Even infertile marriages deserve to feel the approval of offspring together, and it demeans them to be equated to same-sex couples, just as it would to be equated to siblings, or other couples not allowed to reproduce. Yes, it is civil marriage that protects and celebrates and approves of procreation, that’s the whole point. Who cares what a minister says.

                  • No concept of “civil unions” has covered all of those rights, most particularly the right to immigrate and the right to social security rights.

                    It seems to me it’s a word-game to use the word “civil union” and mean “marriage.” (With the possible exception of sexual reproduction, which is not a physical possibility with today’s technology.)

                    Are you all opposed to people who are not heterosexual adopting foster children? I hadn’t realized how socially conservative commenters were on this blog.

                  • hey Tess, (with apologies to Julie for the discussion having gone so far afield)
                    regarding your question about adoption: I am one hundred percent in favor of single or civilly-partnered gay folks adopting children (it goes without saying only children who really need to be adopted…). This is because adoption is not reproduction.
                    unfortunately much of the rhetoric against gay marriage centered around ugly stereotyped depicting gay folks as unsuitable for raising children whether their own or someone elses, not a reasonable discussion of the value of biological kin in itself.
                    civil unions fail because they were not defined as they should have been: as a status completely equal to marriage with the exception of anything related to biological reproduction.
                    of course even if they were, they would have pleased few- not gay marriage advocates for whom rights and statuses associated with ART are just as imortant to them, and not anti-gay bigots.
                    The community of people who view biological parenthood as a value in itself is too small.

                  • let me add that when i say most people don’t realize the value of biological kin, it’s not because they’ve made a really thought out informed decision…. they’ve merely adopted the dominant cultural narrative. often they don’t realize how important it is to them until it hits them in the face, like in many of the cases that appear on julie’s blog.

                  • “let me add that when i say most people don’t realize the value of biological kin,”

                    I’m not sure how common this saying is, it was not uncommon in my family to here the phrases, “You can’t trust anybody but family” or “you can’t trust anybody but blood.”

                    Unfortunately, some portions of the population have been betrayed by their “blood.” IE – mileage may differ.

                    In any case, I think the focus on civil union versus marriage does not bring about the legal changes John thinks it would usher in with regards to ART. The 14th Amendment and general right to privacy laws would prohibit the states from restricting a particular form of medical treatment to one targeted population.

                    Furthermore, marital status cannot work as a restriction because of the general right of privacy.

                    Once the states decriminalized heterosexual fornication (sex outside of legal marriage) and contraception for heterosexuals, this type of state regulation was not going to be possible under the US Constitution, whether or not legal “marriage” versus “civil unions” was the operative term.

                    John would need to successfully re-criminalize heterosexual fornication to get what he wanted from the legal system.

                  • “Furthermore, marital status cannot work as a restriction because of the general right of privacy.”

                    Don’t confuse the right of privacy of unmarried people to use contraception to prevent conception, to their right to intentionally conceive a person. People only have a right to conceive with the person they are married to. You are Marilynn (and ki sarita too) are always exaggerating what it means or what it would take to stop 3PR and prescribe the effect of marriage as approving and allowing conception. It wouldn’t mean marital rape or forced abortions or having to police fornication again, it would just mean jailing and fining people that trade in human gametes intended for creating a human being.

                    Did you all see the Globe story yesterday, about Lee Silver’s new company GenePeeks, to help ensure good genetic matches when choosing sperm donors? That just shouldn’t be allowed for anyone, it will be hugely expensive and intrusive.

                  • “Don’t confuse the right of privacy of unmarried people to use contraception to prevent conception, to their right to intentionally conceive a person.”

                    I don’t follow your logic here. If you want to make ART illegal for all people, there is no reason for you to target gay marriage.

                  • A person’s sex is not private, it is public. Privacy covers what happens in the bedroom and in the doctors office, it doesn’t mean people are not male or female, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters. That stuff is public.

        • “They did not ask for anything that reduced or challenged anyone else’s freedom or liberties or rights, they just asked for all people to have equal rights.”

          Marilynn,
          It’s not just she wants an end to anonymity and she doesn’t believe in equal rights. She doesn’t believe in gay marriage.

            • She’s not an advocate of equal marriage rights for all, nor does she pretend to be. Which is her right — she has no obligation to be a equal rights activist or believe in a capacious understanding of equal rights in the realm of marriage or abortion. If she’s going to advocate Scalia’s legal arguments, it should not be as surprise when those who disagree don’t get excited about her political philosophy.

              My answer was in response to a suggestions Marilynn made about equal rights rhetoric.

              • equal rights rhetoric? explain

                • M,
                  It sounded like you thought she was a supporter of equal marriage rights:
                  “She really is not on a warpath against anything other than the commidification of human beings but taken out of context as stand alone articles it can be perceived that way”

                  But Alana is against gay marriage. http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/2012/08/gay-marriage-and-the-test-tube-tidal-wave

                  “Marriage is a celebration of two people’s union and the possibility of parenthood. And gay marriage entails not just social approval of gay love, but also social approval of the possibility of gay parenthood. But should we celebrate the possibility of gay parenthood?” – Alana Newman

                  “On the point, why am I talking about gay marriage when what I should be doing is campaigning against ART specifically?…
                  After a lot of this kind of push-back I had to sit down and think about how I feel about gay people having kids, and then I thought about what marriage is for… And that’s how I arrived at my current position.” -Alana Newman

                  • Duly schooled and spanked thanks Tess. I take a knee. And I’ll keep working on my very dear friend encouraging her to at the very least realize that her arguments against the commodification of human beings are best argued broadly by saying that it’s simply wrong to obtain parental rights through any sort of financial transaction or gifting or trade agreement. Again you’ve made your point. You need to understand that we are talking about a person I’ve grown very close to and have much compassion for and am a huge supporter of hers but I want very much to see her views on that topic shift to a position that if you want equal rights you really have to believe in equal rights. By truly embracing equal rights the people she’s trying to help will gain theirs. Something as simple as ending the marital presumption of paternity and or maternity for all married couples would solve the problem of people thinking that they can just call themselves the parent of their spouses offspring even when the child is not their offspring. It is a proposition that would prevent people of any sexual orientation from trying to buy someone else’s parental title from them.

                    I know Alana is against anyone buying children and parental title straight or gay as she obviously fell victim to it herself through marital presumption in a straight marriage. I don’t think she or other activists have truly thought about the laws that would need to change to prevent it in straight relationships other than in crying out for a ‘ban’ on ‘donor conception’ or ‘ending anonymity’ both are failed strategies considering market forces as you point out and they also interfere with the personal rights of people seeking reproductive treatment or those seeking to donate their gametes for other than reproductive purposes.

                    Donor offspring were I think victimized by the conservatives campaigning against gay marriage. Most of the activists appear to have had heterosexual mothers and their personal feelings against the process were in that context and were focused on access to information similar to adopted people wanting to see their original birth records. Nobody cared nobody listened and feedback was largely that they were spoiled and ungrateful. Conservatives against gay marriage came along and said they care and gave them some political backing and got them to realize how many more people would be born with estranged donor parents if gays and lesbians were allowed to marry. It’s true. Bunch of marriages of people that want to raise kids together but are incapable of making kids together are going to use the same methods as straight couples that can’t reproduce together. So then obviously they’d be against any situation that would cause more people to abandon their kids like they were abandoned. Finally someone seems empathetic to their cause and gives them a venue to talk and it’s people fighting gay marriage. Well when gay marriage won the people backing them packed up their shit and appear to have left the donor offspring cause high and f-ing dry. The only allies they have with political clout left appear to be in the catholic church. Which is why Alana gets a lot of play there but explains she’s not religious.

                    I don’t know that my friends agree with me about me thinking they were used and tossed aside when the battle was lost but that is how it looks from here. It made me cry at one point because their battle for rights and information is not over and were they only important for the purpose of defeating gay marriages? I only got involved because I was good at solving puzzles it was a game to me that made me feel good but I knew puzzles fun for me to solve were a nightmare for people to have to live through. I hope they were not exploited and chucked. Maybe the conservative politicos who supported them will resurface. I worry that it may have left the whole cause with a reputation for being of all things oppressive of equal rights. I would like to see Alana who is frequently interviewed recover from that because I believe her main goal is to stop commodification of children. She’s my friend and I’ll stand by her and other donor offspring despite disagreeing on that issue.

                  • Given that I just ate crow Tess has anything I’ve ever said got you to see these topics in a different light? I’m not arguing from a religious or natural law perspective surely you can appreciate that. Like when you say donors are not giving up their offspring because sperm and eggs and embryos are not offspring and I say the reason I say they are giving up their offspring is that they sign contracts where they agree to give up their offspring…are you willing to give on that one a little? Tiny bit? I could grab a california cryobank agreement for you to peruse. I’d like to at least get you to say that given the evidence it appears that they give up more than just eggs and sperm.

                  • “I’ve ever said got you to see these topics in a different light?”

                    Marilynn,

                    I have been interested and thinking about many thoughtful things that you have said. I am particularly interested and concerned with the idea that someone may feel damaged or hurt by the circumstances of their conception.

                    I can see that Alana has sort of been hijacked by the “welfare wingnut” people, as I see them. The anti-gay marriage people are using her, she’s young, and I give her a lot of wiggle room because of that. But she isn’t a teenager anymore, and I have to ask myself, at what point is she using them? Or sometimes people convince themselves of all aspects of a particular ideology because they perceive themselves as gaining support from the people involved.

                    I do feel bad for her, because her social “dad-figure” sounds like a real sh*t and no kid should have to go through that. Maybe as she grows older she will become a bit more subtle in her thinking, and not feel that she has to oppose gay marriage.

                  • Love that you get something out of these round tables as well. If I could get you to accept that it is not the circumstances of conception that violates the rights, it’s the parental abandonment that kicks off the rights violations.

                    If I have learned anything in the past few years debating on this topic is that people don’t have any rights to dictate the circumstances of their conception because they did not exist yet. See I listen and pay attention to what people with opinions say to win debates on the subject. People can feel upset about their conceptions all they want but their rights were not violated until they were born and one of their parents was not named on their birth record. Gamete donors interfere with their kids rights first, but not until their offspring are born and they are absent, followed by rearing parents and their partners.

                  • My parent's donor is my father

                    How society defines marriage is intimately connected the importance of biological parenthood/procreation/responsibility. Regardless of how the law dictates it’s definition, this is a truth that cannot be denied.

                  • My parent’s donor,

                    The societies residing in western Europe, Canada, the U.S., and New Zealand seem to be disagreeing with you regarding the definition of marriage.

                  • My parent's donor is my father

                    Yes, by “law”, that is true. By “law” these countries including the US, define my father as a “sperm donor”. By “law” he is not recognized as my father (and by extension, my paternal grandparents, half sibs, aunts, uncles, cousins – ancestry/heritage are also not recognized or defined as such). The truth is, my parent’s ‘donor’ is my father and my paternal kin are also my kin. The law seems to be incapable of defining the truth.

                  • My Parent’s Donor Is My Father, when you say “Regardless of how the law dictates it’s definition, this is a truth that cannot be denied,” you are making a big mistake. The law should “prescribe” the meaning (as per the FF&C clause) as approving and allowing the couple to have sex and reproduce genetic offspring together, as it always has done and still does do. That’s super important to everyone’s dignity, equality and rights.

                  • My parent's donor is my father

                    I’m very educated (too educated??) on all the arguments. I agree with you to an extent….(See “What Is Marriage?: Man and Woman: A Defense) But the law is broken John, even IF all your dreams came true – My parent’s ‘donor’ still would not be recognized (by law) as my father. Truth is a stubborn thing.

                  • Parent’s donor,
                    I think of the law as many different things, but I’ve never thought of the law as truth. I hope that judicial proceedings end up in justice. But statutory law — I suppose I see it as statutory law.

                    Culturally and socially, though, marriage equality seems to be increasingly accepted in western Europe & North America — to an extent I would not have guessed 20 years ago.

                • My parent's donor is my father

                  Justice is truth, there is not justice in law without truth.

                  • My parent's donor is my father

                    The law is incapable of justice and truth in these matters of humanity and human dignity – like it is incapable in many other ways (regulating the marketplace for example). Doing the right thing has to come from within – putting ourselves (or personal desires) aside for the greater good. It takes are rare breed to be able to do that unfortunately. But it’s not unattainable. I still have hope.

                  • A statutory law is a law– a determination to regulate or criminalize. A decision to decriminalize an act (let’s say fornication) doesn’t change any truths, it simply changes the state’s willingness to regulate or punish.

                  • RE: the economy. l I dunno — the early modern world did a pretty effective job of regulating trades & economies under mercantilist systems.

                  • Tess- a statute sometimes intentionally subverts truth by which i mean facts as they are (not poetic concepts such as MPDIMF’s “truths is justice”. This is known as a “legal fiction.” A legal fiction may be justified for the greater public good I suppose but I oppose it because it’s a dangerous not to have objective standards in law based on facts.
                    Although I suppose to a person like you with a more relativistic worldview this doesn’t matter.

                  • much of the law around ART depends on the creation of legal fictions

                  • Relativism is not the right word for my theoretical view of the law. Critical legal history would be more accurate. I’m interested in how history effects the creation of law & vice versa. See J. Willard Hurst, Law and the Conditions of Freedom in the Nineteenth-Century United States (University of Wisconsin Press, 1956)

                    For example – in the past, “fornication” (sex outside of marriage) has been criminalized in the U.S. Likewise – seduction and adultery. Fornication & seduction have also operated as torts in the U.S.

                    The decriminalization of fornication does not make the fact of sex outside of marriage untrue. It’s decriminalization is a comment on state power and what & when state power regulates that particular sexual behaviour.

                  • Justice is truth. But if a law can be unjust it can just as easily be made just. It does not have to stay that way. Minority rights majority rule. Some things are by popular vote
                    For instance disabled people had the right to go to restaurants and to use the bathroom but they were prevented from entering the restraunt or bathroom because the doors were too narrow for a wheelchair to pass through. They won the right to have the built environment that human beings control be constructed to accommodate the width of a wheel chair. Well you have a right to your family’s vital records but are prevented from that because your father’s name is not on your birth record. Is there anything wrong with accommodating you and your brothers kinship by allowing you to present DNA test to prove that your siblings if ever the need should arise that one of you might have to take care of the other and benefits turned upon relatedness? Is there anything wrong with accommodating people in your poition by posting the names of their fathers to their birth records in order so that rights for all family members would flow freely and correctly to all the relatives once your aware and can prove that he’s your father? Does it not make sense to correct the record?
                    And if truth is justice why would you think that expecting the truth to be recorded was unjust big government interference with privacy. I’m constantly blown away when people think the right to privacy means the right to lie or withhold information about people other than themsleves.

                  • I’m not sure this logic train holds for many legal structures: justice = truth = law.

                    In the case of a straightforward physical assault, I can see it. Person Y beats Person X. Person X correctly identifies and testifies against person Y. Person Y is punished by the State.

                    Let’s take a nineteenth-century civil law: “Breach of marriage promise.”

                    Person X & Y get engaged. Person Y reneges on the agreement, and marries somebody else. Person X sues for civil damages.

                    It is a true statement that X & Y got engaged. Is breach of marriage promise really an “unjust” law? Or have legislatures, reflecting the wider society, decided that this specific action should not involve the legal system?

                    However, changing the law doesn’t change the “truth” of the situation. And I’m not sure the law is “unjust.” Why shouldn’t someone recover damages for a promise on which they renege? Particularly if Person X has changed their life for Person Y — Let’s say Person X quits a job and moves across the country for the relationship?

                    Anyways – it’s one example of how I don’t necessarily see this logic chain following: law = justice = truth. But that doesn’t necessarily make the statutory law invalid.

                    For me the question is not so much about “justice” or “injustice,” but rather a question of how much (and in what arenas) I want the State to possess the power to regulate, interfere, and punish.

                  • My parent's donor is my father

                    Please don’t think I’m being rude, but I have no further comment on the laws of man. I’ve said my peace.

          • I admit to being the lone wolf who is down with gay marriage and is advocating for the rights of donor offspring. I hammer away at that point all the time with donor offspring that are my personal friends because I see equal rights as balanced on the head of a pin; the better interests of nobody are in the best interests of everybody. If I want my religious freedom I have to give you yours, etc etc. Truly equal rights can be exercised without interfering with another person’s exercising of their rights. So for donor offspring and adopted people and anyone whose records are falsified or inaccurate, the right to records that define themselves in relationship to individuals they’re related to by blood, marriage or adoption would not interfere with anyone’s right to the same, nor anyone’s right to privacy as the information being sought relates to more than just them and so is not theirs alone to conceal. No rights are violated. They may not like it but their rights are not violated. Such is the same with gay marriages. Who someone else chooses for a spouse does not interfere with your right to marry the spouse of your choice and there are no public financial implications since civil marriage is essentially a merger of financial assets and liabilities. You can think that it will lead to the downfall of society and it may be against your religion, but your rights are not violated by someone else’s spousal choice. And so I encourage anyone seeking equal rights to stand up for the equal rights of others in other situations. You cannot gain equal rights by restricting the rights of other people which is why I adamently oppose the idea of restrictions on reproductive therapy. There are other ways to achieve their equal rights that will not interfere with people’s rights to reproduce in whatever fashion they see fit with whomever they wish. Simply make the reproducing parties accountable as parents for their offspring and no rights are violated in the process of gaining equal rights for every person born.

          • “they just asked for all people to have equal rights.”

            All people do have equal rights: the right to reproduce as the sex they are with someone of the other sex. No one has a right to reproduce as the sex they were not born as, or with someone of the same sex.

            This record is not broken, and it is not stuck on repeat. What is broken is the brain of everyone who thinks same-sex couples have equal rights, and I am patiently trying to repair their brain. It takes time.

    • Yes it is so true that they are selling their children. Don’t forget though that even if no money or goods or services are exchanged, even if the act is sincerely done in the name of charity as a gift, the rights of their offspring are violated as they don’t belong to their parents like property they are not an object to be gifted or sold or traded or discarded. They are people and we don’t give custody and control of human beings as gifts. Objectification is wrong whether the parent is paid or not. Know that the money element could be taken away and it would still be wrong. Don’t compromise when you know in your heart you’re right, you were wronged.

      • 🙂 I’m still not getting into an argument about African slavery.

        • yeah marilyn, stop bringing it up… you’re not winning friends and influencing people with it

          • I just want to note that I did not bring it up this time. Also I just want to note that paying a parent to abandon their child so that you can have custody control and parental title over that person’s child, meetsthe salient charicteristics of human commodification. They are not free to be who they actually are they are only free to live life under an identity that is false, one that is assigned to them. And they loose a truck load of rights. Contracts for to produce young and provide them to others to raise for money can’t be seen as humaine by either of you http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commodification

  11. We could just ban ART (very easy to justify doing from a perspective of fighting overpopulation, minimizing inessential medical procedures to lower healthcare costs, or “people who can’t reproduce naturally shouldn’t reproduce at all”) which eliminates B and D. Then A becomes a mother and C gets an abortion and doesn’t. Problem solved.

    As it stands, I’d say only D is a surrogate. A and B are mothers-to-be. C is a victim of laws restricting abortion.

    • Steve
      “We could just ban ART”
      I’m still not sure what all constitutes “ART”. If you mean banning people from being sperm and egg donors, then are you restricting them because there is something really wrong with letting someone put their eggs or sperm on a shelf and stare at it? Or is the real reason for banning egg and sperm donation to prevent the donor from abandoning parental responsibility and accountability for their own offspring? I think that we are so use to the terminology used by this industry that we forget that it is meaningless. The title of egg or sperm donor does not describe what they are actually contracted to do, so banning egg and sperm donation similarly does not adequately describe the goal of the ban you might be proposing. If the goal is simply to have people who are donors join the rest of the population in terms of full responsibility for any children they create then I think that simply eliminating the exemption from parental responsibility they currently enjoy would be the most direct route since donation of sperm and eggs for the purposes unrelated to cloning or reproduction to study the difference between a healthy egg and one that is unhealthy is fine. But I think the identity and DNA code for sperm and eggs and oversight would still be needed as theft and misappropriation would still be an issue.

      I don’t know if you were serious about justifying the ban idea to fight overpopulation as that is tantamount to interference with restricting the number of offspring people can have like they do in China and that is scary. Also minimizing inessential medical procedures, is interfering with people’s right to elective surgery so ban nose jobs and see a Hollywood outcry. I don’t see that it would have any impact on healthcare costs. I’m offended by saying that anyone should not reproduce. If they can they can. If they need assistance that is fine but they should be treating themselves and not paying for someone else to reproduce so they can take their child and raise it. That is hardly the practice of medicine.

      There is an idea though. I think that sperm and egg banking ammounts to a glorified dating service and that physicians and medical professions should be barred from investments in such deeming it a conflict of interest and well outside the practice of medicine and laboratory science and more akin to internet dating or bunny ranching. After all eggs and sperm and embryos are not exactly transplanted tissue they never operate in support of any other body’s reproductive function than the bodies they came from.

  12. Tess

    Her article is a play on words, She is highlighting the difference between what we’ve come to think of by the phrase “sexual preditor” versus the very real definitions of words in context with human life.

    Sexual reproduction by definition does not require coitus only the fertilization of an egg with sperm from the same species. It does not matter whether reproduction is assisted in a laboratory or not, human reproduction is always sexual because it requires sex cells from each gender.
    And to be a predator is to be a hunter of something/someone in order to use that something to satisfy some need, some hunger some desire.

    When females are the victims of sexual predators people typically think of hetero males seeking sexual pleasure.

    The whole point of the play on words is to dig into the meaning of the word sexual in terms of reproduction rather than pleasure and gratification and people seeking to obtain human sex cells from young females for the purpose of using them to reproduce their bodies is indeed predatory.despite there being a willing exchange. These preditors are not the same as the first group they are in fact among the individuals least likely to prey on young women for sexual purposes. However now that sex cells can be removed from a woman’s body – they need to guard against less familiar forms of sexual usury.

    • Look, gay men have historically been stereotyped as “sexual predators” of young people.

      We must agree to disagree about that article. It raises my blood pressure to hear gay men spoken about with that type of rhetoric.

      • She’s just saying that women’s bodies are now preyed upon for sex [cells] by people that women never before viewed as being sexually predatory. It is interesting to note but I doubt she’s ever going to live the article down at this point. It is fascinating to me that people read what they want to read into something if they have their minds made up. Like the fact that the whole article is about the fact that Women have never viewed gay men or elderly women as sexually predatory, that they are historically the safe haven in a see of Rushin hands and Roamin fingers is like totally off people’s radar. I don’t even think she meant like rapists but more like how women think heterosexual men never just want to make friends to be friends, that they are always after sex at least they did not worry that there were other motives for making friends with someone who would not be interested in them sexually.

        Anyway Alana will learn from the feed back she’s gotten on that article how better not to be misunderstood by her audience.

  13. Poll time
    Anyone have an objection to replacing marital presumption of paternity with sworn statements of maternity and paternity by persons wishing to be named parents on someone’s birth certificate that the someone is in fact their own genetic offspring and that they are aware recognition of their parenthood is invalid if the person is not their offspring or is at any point determined not to be their offspring with proof of genetic testing whether or not the identity of the person’s actual parents are known or obtainable.

    Just as a matter of public health because original birth records are intended to record biological parentage so that the record has medical and statistical value. The CDC does not collect ammended birth records with the names of people who are not the person’s bio parents.

    Does not matter whether the marriage is between opposite sex or same sex, elimiate the vehicle by which people can claim to be parents of their spouse’s offspring. I think there would be lots of support for this idea and it does not violate anyone’s right to anything. There is no right to be the parent of another person’s offspring.

    • Like the birth record would state only enter spouse’s name if person certificate is issued for is the biological genetic offspring of the spouse otherwise leave blank

      We could pass laws that ensure spouses are defined as step parents only unless they adopt and if they adopt the identity of the person they are adopting from has to be disclosed, cannot be entered as unknown or donor

      None of that messes with reproductive rights

    • My parent's donor is my father

      Yes, Marilynn, that is highly invasive of people’s privacy. Don’t get me wrong, in principle, I fully support it but reality check…it won’t work.

      • My parent”s donor is my father. You did not really just try and say that what I’m suggesting involves big government and is an invasion of privacy did you?

        Everything I suggest is already being done and nobody is complaining that it’s an invasion of their privacy.

        Do you hear 99.9 percent of the population complaining that it is a violation of their privacy to have to be recorded as parents on their own offspring’s birth records? The ones who run and hide know damn well they are doing something wrong. Do you hear everyone in an uproar that the Federal government requires states to hunt down potential fathers and test their dna to determine if they have a paternal relationship with a child? Do you think it’s a big old invasion of privacy that they will force a relative of a suspected father to submit to dna testing if the suspected father is hiding out to avoid confirmation that he’s the father? I mean force contempt of court. They do that because concealing your identity as a parent interferes with your child’s right to support. There is no right to privacy when you have offspring. You have to be named as parent and it is against the law to help you avoid a support order. The only segment of the population who is exempt from responsibility for their own young is people classified as donors.

        Marital presumption of paternity can already be rebutted by anyone with biological evidence to the contrary. Paternity describes a biological relationship. The presumption was that the relationship was biological. If it is not biological then naming the father as husband is a false presumption that interferes with fulfillment of parental obligations by the actual father.

        Whose right to privacy would be violated by eliminating the marital presumption of paternity in favor of the same voluntary declarations currently required before adding an unmarried man’s name as father on a birth record? You realize that women who give birth to foreign egg donor’s children outside the U.S. are given maternity tests and its considered maternity fraud if they tried to say that they were the mother of the child on a citizenship application for the kid? There is no right to privacy when you have offspring and there is no right to pretend you have offspring when you don’t. There are only loopholes that need to be closed up and in equities in the law that need to be corrected.

        You don’t think marital presumption should remain intact when you yourself fell victim to it do you? It is an actual invasion of privacy to federally mandate the number of offspring people can have and donors are people too – offspring caps for donors is big government and an invasion of privacy. Requiring that all people be equally obligated to their kids and saying that the term donor gave differential treatment to some people with offspring and is therefore eliminated from the code as it relates to family law – that would not violate anyone’s privacy or rights. It might leave people not getting what they want but what they want is not equal so they should not get to have it that way anymore.

        I’m kind of pissed off that you think holding a donor to the same standard of care somehow invades people’s privacy and smacks of big government. I’m kind of pissed off that you think married people should get to pretend that they had a kid together when they did not. Like its OK to lie and screw a kid’s family up and destroy a biological family if you put a ring on it? Are you serious. Your only hope of stopping the commodification of children across the board by all people is eliminating marital presumption and you who are a victim of it want to maintain it? What on God’s Green earth would you want to do that for? It’s the golden ticket that will stop gays and straights from destroying biological families. Trying to stop gay marriage would not have stopped straight people from continuing to lie under the presumption. Just end the presumption then it won’t matter who gets married they won’t be allowed to destroy biological families if they want to play house.

        OK I have to get the core question cleared up. Would you oppose eliminating marital presumption of paternity in favor of sworn statements by persons asserting themselves to be parents that the child named on the certificate is their maternal or paternal offspring? I’m talking about a form that is the same as the VAP that the Federal government already requires in the absence of genetic testing when an unmarried man is going to be named as the father on a birth certificate. Proof is given to the state either by sworn statement specifically calling out the child as his biological offspring. Do you feel that is an invasion of his privacy to be asked to sign such a form before adding his name to a birth record? Do you feel that it is an invasion of men’s privacy when the federal government hunts them down and gives them paternity tests to determine if they are or are not the father of a child? Do you think it’s an invasion of privacy when they give require for unmarried men asserting themselves to have a paternal relationship.

        Nobody else gets to hide from being named as a parent of their own damned offspring! None of the rest of us get to conceal our identities as the parents of the offspring we create, not even people that ultimately give their children up for adoption escape being named as the parents of their own offspring on original birth certificates or like in classic black market adoption we could just always skip that recording of the bio parent’s identities and just record the names of people who are going to be raising the kid as parents. What are you thinking? Do you honestly believe that a man should have the right to be named as the father of his wife’s children

        • it’s really difficult to tell a wife or girlfriend that you don’t trust her, and sometimes a couple doesn’t want to have the mailman named as the father. That’s been happening since time immemorial. Yes now it can’t ha[[en anymore, but you should acknowledge how disruptive it is to take away the right of a married couple to keep adulterers and rapists out of their family. The CDC can’t track genetic defects as perfectly as you think they can anyhow, it’s actually better that their data is flawed, that lets people lead better lives.

  14. Oh and how about a law that requires federal and state government to recognize biological kinship based upon positive DNA testing even when one or both parties have false and or incomplete birth records? Like someone who is reunited with siblings late in life deserves legal recognition that they are siblings if they can demonstrate it with a positive dna test and they deserve to have their birth records corrected to reflect the actual names of their biological parents so that their vital records are historically accurate.

    That legal change would not violate anyone’s rights.

    • My parent's donor is my father

      It all sounds very “Brave New World” “Big Brother” “Big Government” to me. How about we start a new “Green Movement” promoting organic, unaltered gametes/with known and responsible bio-parent origins – reproduction and responsibility (marriage?)….Supported by our culture/society and Hollywood (the United Nations)? Slap warning labels ALL OVER the use of non-organic and/or altered gametes/with un-known and/or un-responsible bio-parent orgins – like we do with cigarettes. Including HIGH taxes and certainly none of this should be funded by “Obamacare”. For a start.

      • Yeah, a “Green Movement” is just what we need. I don’t get why people don’t have the same worries about organic non-GMO human beings that they do with food. I once handed a flyer to a woman in Harvard Square, and as she was descending the escalator into the T station, she shouted back at me, Animal Farm style, “Genetic Engineering of food, Bad! Genetic Engineering so that two women can have a baby, Good!” I’ll never forget it.

      • Why are you giving some parents the option to be unknown and not responsible for their own reproductive actions?

        For Tess and Ki that think owning people is OK if you don’t beat them, they won’t care, but since owning people is against the law, shouldn’t it make sense that people not buy other peoples body parts? If you agree to reproduce with someone shouldn’t you be able to change your mind? That is freedom. How can you be free to change your mind if someone you don’t know who does not know you has a vial of your sperm? They think they own the right to reproduce you.

  15. My parents donor is my father: the laws needs to be brought up to date, we need to get Congress to prescribe the effect of marriage as approving and allowing the conception of offspring together using their own genes, and prohibit creating people by any method other than joining a man and a woman’s unmodified sperm and egg. But that law wouldn’t stop 3PR, so we also need a federal law that prohibits intentional unmarried conception. I thought maybe you were saying that the laws don’t matter, only “the truth” matters, and I was saying that no, the laws really matter, we really need police to put people who do illegal things in jail.

  16. btw julie your post has a very talmudic sound to it…. the talmud often opens up a chapter with “there are 4 types of x” or “there are 2 types of x subdivided into 4…” 😉

  17. See Tess and I are MILES apart in some areas John but we both scratch our heads I think when you start talking about marriage and reproduction and rights. Individual human beings have reproductive systems and those systems either function or they don’t. No different than their lungs or liver or heart. If medicine can help their body reproduce, fine. Unlike livers and hearts and lungs, donated eggs and sperm are not transplanted into them and therefore don’t do anything to support the healthy reproductive function of the recipient. Donated gametes continue to function to reproduce the person they came from. People reproduce in pairs. It’s a bodily function. People are free to walk they are free to reproduce any restriction would be bondage wrong. Does not matter if they are single, straight, gay, green married. You don’t restrict another person’s body from reproducing it’s not fair. We hold people responsible for their actions. It’s the reasonable thing to do. If you make children you take care of them. If you don’t take care of them, hopefully someone else will but there are no guarantees. If you cannot or do not want to care for them, there are ways to go about it somewhat responsibly, you don’t just leave them in a parking lot and assume someone will come along and help them. You identify yourself as their parent and prove your not being renumerated for giving your kid up and you make sure whoever cares for your kid has been checked out by the court first.

    I don’t believe human or animal experimentation is ethical because the researcher is taking chances with someone or something else’s life, not their own which means they’ve steped over an ethical line. If risks are to be taken the person at risk should not be anyone other than yourself always in all dealings. That means yes I understand much medicine would not exist if it were not for animal research, but I think it is still unfair and wrong So we should not experiment with trying to make people with altered genetic material as the person at risk for turning out a freak is not us. That said if they are ever able to do it and children are born who are the genetic offspring of two women or two men or are the offspring of an assorted bakers dozen, it would not alter my opinion that people need to be obligated as parents of their own offspring permanently and formally because of a multitude of good solid practical reasons starting with needing to know their relatives. So ultimately it does not make a difference to the rights of the minor, whoever their parents are they should be identified and accountable. Nobody should be off the hook as a “donor”. Your offspring are your responsibility no matter who you happened to reproduce with. Marriage and sexual orientation and love or lack of it don’t change the physical reality that someone would not exist if you never existed and that is an enormous responsibility. Nobody should be exempted from responsibility for their own children.

    We have to stop calling them donors also. People are lulled into thinking that they are frozen in time. Their offspring are never born and they never become bio parents? All they’d have to do is look at the contracts they sign to see they give up their kids, not just their gametes.

  18. John what might be a perfectly reasonable concern is totally obscured by your concern with marriage and sexual orientation. Under all that pontificating appears to be genuine concern that society is embarking upon human experimentation that involves modifying the x and y genes that are the fundamental building blocks of the human body and that such experimentation might result in horribly deformed or cognitively impaired individuals who will suffer the consequences of human experimentation on them that they did not consent to. It is generally unethical to take risks with other peoples things or their lives or their health without their consent whether for personal gain or for some noble advancement of mankind, it’s wrong to gamble with someone else’s chips. I think animal experimentation is wrong even though I’m sure many of the medicines I take for granted were first tested on animals. If I ran the world we might still be in the dark ages, its true. But on pure ethics alone human experimentation where the risks are to a person who cannot weigh the benefits and risks associated with having modified genes where their genes have been tampered with to create hybrid forms of human beings is unfair to those people once they are born. The fact that the experimentation happens to their genes before they are born is a sticky loophole, but their rights are not violated until they exist. However if they have horrible seering back pain or are blind due to gene modification they had no control over then they’ve been wronged. They could just as easily have existed with unmodified genes. They are the offspring of their parents no matter how many no matter what gender whether married or single gay or straight – the key to all of this is not banning anything but rather expecting that all actions in laboratories that involve risk to human subjects obtain consent from those subjects. If the risk is to an individual who has not been born yet, if the risk is to the physical body of a minor when born then it stands to reason that those procedures could not ethically be undertaken, privately or with public funding. Again, it does not matter who it is that is throwing their genes in the hot hopper to be modified, their offspring cannot consent to the risks taken with their physical health and so therefore people should not be aided in reproducing themselves when the trajectory is pure hypothesis. It’s not like two people who have genetic disorders like bad eyesight and a history of cancer getting together, that is not experimentation playing with the code to make new people. It would be more efficient John and have a more universal impact to suggest that Physicians not undertake experimental research when the potential risks will not be suffered by them or the contributing or the rearing individuals. This is not to say that it is better that someone never be conceived or should not be born, it is to say that born individuals deserve the dignity of having the choice whether or not to put themselves in danger for some benefit. When people suggest the benefit gained is life and therefore they must choose to be genetically modified the answer should be no, they could just as easily have been the child of any of their parents whether one or 10 without being modified and experimented upon.
    If however science pushes forward and people do have three or more parents or two parents of the same gender my position would still be that they be obligated to their own offspring as parents on the record.

    • excellently spoken.

    • By that logic, should people who could pass on problematic genes then be prevented from having children too since they could be harming a future person? Or should they only be allowed to reproduce with others who do not have the specific gene to lower the chances? I carry a recessive fatal gene. Should I only be allowed to have children with non-carriers? Or not at all since I could still pass on the carrier gene to future generations? For what it’s worth I would not have a child with another carrier unless we did IVF with PGD which you probably don’t agree with either since freezing embryos is usually required while waiting for test results.

      • PGD is not experimental, although at one point it may have been, at this point it has passedthe test.
        government can not interfere with people carrying out normal human functions of which reproduction is one like eating and going to the bathroom.
        scientific experimentation is not a normal human function.
        oh whoops i used thatword normal again what other word am i supposed to use?

        • I hate how the replies work, when the thread gets too many comments – that was actually toward Marilyn who has said she is against freezing embryos (which is sometimes required for that type of testing the results are not ready fast enough). However I still feel the same logic could be used towards two people who know they have a high chance of passing on an extremely bad/painful/fatal gene.

        • PGD and IVF were, I’m sure, probably considered experimental at some point.

    • “John what might be a perfectly reasonable concern is totally obscured by your concern with marriage and sexual orientation. ”

      The problem is YOUR concern with marriage and sexual orientation. I am not concerned with sexual orientation, only preserving the right of everyone to marry and procreate offspring with their spouse using their own genes, and stopping genetic engineering and eugenics. If people don’t want to marry and procreate that’s fine with me, I don’t want to either. I am not concerned with people that don’t want to reproduce, it’s people that want to reproduce using sperm banks or genetically engineering that concern me. And you apparently agree it is unethical, but you seem to think we have to let them do it. No we don’t, we can stop it like we stop incest and rape and child porn. There is no individual right to create a human being, it is a right exclusively of marriage, and the government has always had restrictions on what relationships are allowed to marry.

  19. I get so frustrated with the backward thinking. If my side does not change its tactics they’ll just continue to loose. It’s only been 50 years of continuous loss for adopted people and now the same for donor offspring. Just keep asking for things that leave them in an unequal position, keep asking for an end to anonymity or access to original birth records at 18 or asking that gay people not be allowed to get married. I swear its like the whole lot of them had a brain tumor for breakfast. Ask that there be no amended birth records so that they are no different than anyone else. Ask that their biological parents not be exempted from the same requirements as other biological parents because its a matter of public health and safety. Ask that marriage not be a determining factor in achieving state presumption of maternity or paternity and that the criteria for achieving state presumption be based on the same standard as is used in deciding court cases when paternity or maternity is contested.

    • So your position is, all newborn babies and their mothers and their mother’s husbands be given DNA tests (by federal law?) before recording them on the Birth Certificate? I agree in principle, that the father and mother should be left blank if they don’t match. In some ways that would be what ought to happen, but I disagree in practice that we should actually start doing that, because to suddenly start doing that would be incredibly radical and intrusive and lead to terrible outcomes, as well as be expensive and error prone. It’s much better just to never really be sure that your father is really is your father, but to trust that he is, because adultery and 3PR are out of the question and extremely rare. The idea that I would actually test my father and mother to make sure I am really their son is ridiculous, and I think it’s better that way than mandatory testing to verify all husbands as genetic fathers. Your position is extreme and radical. Also your position that we should continue to allow sperm donation as long as the donors agree to be named on the birth certificate and remain legal parents without custody, is also extremely radical and doesn’t make much sense.
      But you and Tess both agree and are both consistent in that you both think sperm donation should be legal, and that unmarried people have a right to intentionally procreate with people they aren’t married to, and that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry.

      Notice how consistent our positions all are: everyone that thinks same-sex marriage should be legal also thinks sperm donation should be legal (but more regulated in favor of the mothers and their children), and everyone who opposes same-sex marriage also thinks gamete donation should be illegal even if we get rid of anonymity.

      • Yes, you are much more consistent in your tolerance for state regulation and criminalization.

        I want the police, judges, the local government, and political representatives to stay out of the bedroom.

        I am also opposed to the state regulation and punishment of adultery, fornication, bastardy, sodomy (including oral sex) and contraception.

        • Oral sex was included in the Texas definition of criminal sodomy.

        • not at all John, Marilyn is pro gay marriage, and I don’t think sperm donation should be illegal, just not state- supported. and none of us believe unwed parents should be put in jail and their kids farmed out to the nearest orphanage. I’m not married to my son’s father and I never was.

          • I know Marilynn is pro-gay marriage, and she also thinks sperm donation should be legal. I thought you were against sperm donation. It doesn’t really make sense then, that you don’t support gay marriage but think gay couples should be allowed to use sperm donation to start a family. Do you also think they should be allowed to use future stem cell derived gametes to have shared offspring?
            And I don’t think unwed parents should be put in jail and have their kids placed in orphanages. We would assume it was unintentional and treat them just as we do now. It would only be intentional unmarried conception that would be illegal, aka 3PR. But no one would be going to jail because no one would be selling sperm. It would be the operators of the sperm banks and people selling it on the internet that would first be going to jail and paying fines, and we wouldn’t have to punish the parents or take their kids away. But that should be the threat, so that people don’t feel they can get away with crimes. If too many people continue to flaunt the law, then maybe we’d have to consider punishing them. But keep in mind that parents are routinely put in jail and their children are routinely sent off to foster homes, it is what happens when parents commit crimes, even if their punishment would hurt innocent children.

        • “I want the police, judges, the local government, and political representatives to stay out of the bedroom.”

          Right, we are talking about clinics and labs and commerce, not what happens in bedrooms. The law I am suggesting would prohibit 3PR but would not change anything regarding fornication, adultery, or contraception. It would affirm that marriages have a right to have sex and procreate offspring, in order to protect that right against eugenic interventions, and would hopefully lead to more marriage and more people having kids in marriage and fewer out-of-wedlock births, but it wouldn’t be because they feared arrest for fornication, it’d just be a cultural shift toward marriage. As long as people aren’t blatant about intending to have kids outside of marriage, they wouldn’t be afoul of the law, and even if they were blatant, we wouldn’t have to punish people. It’s intended to shut down 3PR, which must stop as it is a huge violation of human dignity and rights.

          • There is no 3pr. It’s still just 2 parties deciding to have a kid together and the crime, John, is not in them deciding to have a kid together nor is it in being unmarried it is in one of them not being there and being named as a parent when their child is born. Everything else here is a distraction. Who people are or are not married to what their sexual orientation is what their intentions are its all a distraction from the fact that it is still just a male and female with a kid that one of them is not taking care of.

            To say that it should be against the law for two unmarried people to make a plan to have a child together and work out some sort of joint custody arrangement would be ridiculous. If two people can be friendly enough to make that plan together it is not anyone’s business to say that it is wrong because in the end they are meeting their obligation to their child. If they happened to have spouses who would be step parents fine. Intentional unmarried conception is so not the crime against the kid. The child does not have a right to have married parents the child has a right to have their own relationship with each parent fully acknowledged with all the rights that stem from those relationships. But how the parents relate to one another is not something anyone should have any say in. They must take care of their own kid period.

            Human medical experimentation on subjects that cannot consent is a horrid thing and there are other avenues of stopping that hopefully.

            • No it’s ridiculous to say it’s OK for people who are not married to make a human being together intentionally. It’s not even OK to do it accidentally, that’s always a tragic situation for everyone, especially the kid to be between two worlds. Marriage isn’t too much much to ask, however much you think men are all jerks and women shouldn’t have to respect their authority. No one has to have kids.

              In fact it’s not OK to create people intentionally at all, even by married couples, as it implies that people are products ordered up on demand, and even property to be bought and sold. Married couples have the right and approval to have sex and conceive offspring, but they don’t have a guaranteed right to a child. They have a right to privacy as far as their medical procedures to get healthy and what they did to have kids, but they don’t have a right to use any technology like IVF or PGD and certainly not a right to commit adultery or purchase gametes or embryos, or adopt a baby. Intentional conception is inherently unethical, because it uses people as a means to achieve the adult’s ends, instead of treating babies as people the adults are supposed to respond to and be responsible for. No one should intentionally make a human being, and certainly not by eugenic methods like choosing traits or cross checking genetics or altering genetics. That puts everyone’s human dignity and equality and reproductive rights in jeopardy, and it’s an inevitable result of allowing intentional unmarried conception.

  20. Unmarried people have a right to privacy according to US Constitutional rulings.

    See Eisenstadt v. Baird and Lawrence v. Texas.

    • You can’t privately have a baby, Tess. Eisenstadt says individuals have a right to use contraception, not conceive a baby. And Lawrence wasn’t about having a baby either. And interestingly, Lawrence affirms that marriage is about the right to have intercourse and conceive a baby together, at the core of it.

      • RE: Lawrence. Well, then it sounds like this SCOTUS will disagree with you in regards to gay marriage within the next few years.

        In any case, we are, at a basic level, arguing over the meaning of liberty in the 14th Amendment.

        I tend to defer to the individual, and I am wary of the state power to criminalize. You tend to defer to the state and are far more comfortable with state power. That’s a basic view of the scope of government and comfort with the use of criminal law that will not be reconciled.

        • Oh, you’re a Tea Party Libertarian then? Right, I’m not a Libertarian, I think they’re daft, irresponsible idiots. Responsible government restricts certain activities and protects people from harm and considers long term issues to preserve liberty for ourselves and our posterity .

          SCOTUS hasn’t implied there is a right to same-sex marriage or to create people however you want to. But they do imply that as long as states let same-sex couples create people together, then denying marriage to same-sex couples is discriminatory.

          • Unsure about your point regarding the right wing of the republican party. Personally, I would be surprised to see right-wingers rushing to join up with the ACLU, but you’re certainly entitled to your opinion.

            You said..”And interestingly, Lawrence affirms that marriage is about the right to have intercourse and conceive a baby together, at the core of it.”

            We don’t need to guess what SCOTUS will do. Let’s see what happens in the next 10 years.

  21. http://dissidentvoice.org/2013/10/reproductive-rights-and-responsibilities-2/

    This is a cool article that I mostly agree with. I think it overstates the importance of genetics, even though it recognizes that it would be awkward and dangerous to say that people have a right to know the identity of their progenitors. I think it’s better to say that that people have a right to be conceived only by married parents, and shut down sperm banks.

    • My parent's donor is my father

      I liked that article too John. I think it actually says that people do in fact have an ethical right to know the identity of their progenitors and with dna testing that can no longer be made legally unavailable to them.

      Alana wrote a post about the the harms of ‘donor’ conception from a big picture POV and she concludes with the need for a new ‘Green Movement’ in human reproduction which I think you will appreciate (remove spaces to link):

      “INTRODUCTION TO HARMS OF DONOR-CONCEPTION”
      http : // alananewman. com /introduction-to-harms-of-donor-conception/

      • Read the article. Interesting that she argues Giuliana Rancic shouldn’t be a mother because she had cancer.

        I do wonder how much of this movement is driven by a fear of gay marriage.

        There is a fear of non-normative gender and sexual behaviour that underlies many of these arguments. Giuliana cannot carry her child herself because of a cancer scare — ergo, she is not behaviour “normatively” in terms of motherhood — thus, she should not attempt to have a baby. It seems to me that the rational behind these arguments is that her cancer scare was a “sign” (perhaps from God? or from Jefferson’s Nature’s God?) that she is not “meant” or “destined” to have a child.

        Thus, these arguments follow, any attempt to circumvent God’s plan, or Nature’s God, is a violation of the natural order, and are immoral, wrong, and sinful.

        Alana combines a “new age-crunchy” — everything “natural is good” & “anti-science/ chemical/ pesticides/ medical doctors/ non-organic = bad & cancer!” with the use of religious theology to justify hetero-normative, 1950s style-marriages with the associated appropriate gender-roles.

        Biology and pregnancy = gender norms for her, and she employs a very common anti-science crunchy attitude towards the world typical of many new age-y types.

        (Organic is good! All poisons are synthetic! The Body is always right! Homeopathy! You gave birth in a hospital with an epidural – sinful! You need to obey nature! Nature is always right, and good for you, and beware medical doctors.)

        • interesting response Tess. I usually don’t read Alana’s articles because I find much of her rhetoric offensive. But your response interested me in reading this one. and I found none of what you said. I didn’t find any new age innuendo. what I did find is multiple references to scientific studies, and logically argued points. Since I haven’t looked up and studied all the references I can not comment on whether they are being used in valid fashion or not.
          Have you?

          • I get very curious about people and their psychology.

            I find Alana curious because she is a combo of the crunchy anti-science/anti-chemical crowd and this throwback to 1950s gender roles. She’s drawn to conservative Catholic family roles regarding the family, sex and reproduction. I’ve read her stuff because she strikes me as typical of this merger of ideologies.

            I’ve always wondered what is going on in a certain type of person who is simultaneously drawn to the dogmatism of certain strains of the “green” movement and in some far-right sects of religious theology. (If you’ve ever been lectured to by someone who is a “missionary” vegan, you know what I’m talking about.)

            In any case – it was stuff like this that struck me in her particular article: “Endocrine disrupting chemicals found in pesticides, plastics, cosmetics and cleaning supplies, as well as synthetic estrogens like the birth control pill are harmful to reproductive health and normal sexual development.”

            And this:
            In fact, many customers of commercial sperm and eggs are infertile precisely because they have developed cancer of some type already.[8] (The footnote goes to a story about Guiliana, who, of course, did not purchase eggs or sperm.)
            Spencer, Amy. “Giuliana Rancic: How I Got Through The Tough Stuff”. 2013. http://www.health.com. 10/12/2013.

            And again with her criticism of Guiliana’s nerve in producing a child with her husband. Women who have experienced cancer should not be having children if her own body does not work well enough. She’s not “meant” by “nature” to have a child, and should reconcile herself to that fact:

            “Women as a group have little rallied against surrogacy or egg donation because so many powerful women have themselves used surrogacy and egg donation (Sarah Jessica Parker, Giuliana Rancic, Nicole Kidman).”

            The research on the biochemistry have been extensive. Unless someone is working directly with certain pesticides, this is a problematic statement. Now, mining and other dangerous work situations are another story. But using eye shadow is not going to hurt your fertility, unless you are using something pretty damn strange. But the fear of chemicals and the “unnatural” underpins this panic. There is also a deep suspicion of corporations (I’m not suggesting populations should simply trust corporations, but there is a particular strain of ideology that merges a phobia of chemicals with a deep suspicion of certain types of corporations, such as the research and development departments of pharm companies.)

            In terms of writing — to be blunt she’s got a problem with developing a strong thesis statement and supporting arguments. She’s thrown several things into this article, yet does not argue any of them in any sort of depth. She also leaves herself open to easy punctures by using flawed studies in problematic ways.

            For example, she wrote: “There is no evidence that children conceived via sperm donation fare differently. In fact a new study out of Canada shows that children raised by lesbian parents are 15% as likely to graduate high school as compared to their peers raised by opposite sex parents.[10]

            See footnote number 10. The study does not separate out children who were born in heterosexual unions that ended in divorce, from children who were adopted through foster care, or at birth or from 3rd party R. All of these variables were thrown in together in this study, which, as we know from any science or stat class, adds up to a big fat nothing of value for researchers who want to analyze anything of significance. It’s not even a useful quant analysis because all of the variables are mixed in together.

            I am sure she is familiar with the long-term and in-depth studies Julie has pointed us to on this blog, but she would rather ignore them, as I suspect her goal is not to persuade others, but to attract attention (thus the inflamed rhetoric).

            • but nothing “crunchy” “new agey” or anti science there, although perhaps a lack of scientific knowledge on how to apply scientific studies. in fact she points to the dangers still inherent in pregnancy in the modern day- quite the opposite of crunchy. perhaps you are conflating with adifferent article.
              Regarding cancer, yes, isn’t it obvious that cancer survivors should consider their chances for recurrence, and how pregnancy might impact that- before embarking on childbearing? (and sometimes the answer is simply unknown…) as for age, seems like a very reasonable consideration. In my case it really hits home because my son’s father will hit retirement age while he is still a minor and I’m terrified to think of the possible scenarios that could occur.
              on a more lighthearted note, regarding cosmetics, i used to laugh at my sons father for his religious avoidance of all paraben containing products, but hey if my son is any indication his sperm was sure pretty top quality for a guy his age, so maybe there is something to it, although one man does not a scientific study make….

              • We may just have different reactions to the text.

                Regarding cancer or other risk of death: I think this is an issue which people need to evaluate themselves. But her approach to Rancic is what I’m taking about regarding “nature.”

                “although perhaps a lack of scientific knowledge on how to apply scientific studies.”

                “Endocrine disrupting chemicals found in pesticides, plastics, cosmetics and cleaning supplies, as well as synthetic estrogens like the birth control pill are harmful to reproductive health and normal sexual development.”

                I have some familiarity with the tests required for FDA approval. This may have lowered my patience for tolerating certain “green” rhetorical flourishes.

                And she’s factually incorrect. The b.c. pill preserves female fertility by preventing the growth of PCOS, cysts and endometriosis. These are among the most common causes of female infertility.

              • Check out Ki with the Mommy references now. So cool.

            • Tess I need to read that article but I think the green movement is maybe just an attempt to ride a trend grasping at straws seems silly to me when there are plenty of concrete legal and public health reasons to make changes requiring everyone be accountable for their own offspring as parents.

              On the topic of a woman not being able to have a child with her husband. It does not mean that she cannot raise one with him just that she cannot have one with him. If she can’t she can’t, carrying some other woman’s pregnancy to term won’t change that she can’t have a child with her husband. It’s not an issue of whether she deserves it or not its just for whatever reason not possible.

              • I was referring to Alana criticizing Giuliana Rancic for using ART.

                Rancic’s breast cancer was caught during screening in the middle of her IVF cycle. They finished her cycle, took her eggs, froze the embryos, and then Rancic had a double mastectomy. Although clear of cancer, she was put on an anti-estrogen medicine, as a precaution, for a couple of years. Because of the medicine, they couldn’t transfer her embryos to her, so they used a surrogate.

                The resulting child is genetically hers.

                • ah. clarification noted.

                • that does’t make things better as far as i’m concerned. no one “deserves” to use any one else’s body.

                  • You asked about Alana’s discussion of cancer. Then Marilyn was confused about her use of eggs. So I clarified.

                    However, I note your judgement of Bill and Giuliana (and also Delphine?)

                    btw- Have you been watching the show? Do you also think it’s immoral to film it? They are all getting ready for a second try.

                  • One aside — I’ve never gotten the impression that either Bill or Giuliana thought that they “deserved” or felt “entitled” to what Delphine did for them.

      • “I think it actually says that people do in fact have an ethical right to know the identity of their progenitors and with dna testing that can no longer be made legally unavailable to them.”

        Maybe, but we’ve had pretty reliable paternity tests for several decades now, and yet I don’t think anyone has said people have a right to test their presumed mother and father to make sure they are really their children. I don’t know if men have a right to demand paternity tests when they want to be sure either. Is that the case now that it’s possible?

        • If the mother objects to a paternity test the father can ask the court to order one. I think what grounds the courts can use to approve or deny that request vary by state.

  22. Is our fearless leader OK? I’m serious she’s been gone a long time. I feel like I want to send flowers to a hospital or something. Which is stupid cause she’s fine. Say your fine.

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