Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

IVF and the ‘right’ to be a parent: the child as an expensive lifestyle accessory

Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
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ROME, April 26, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – One thing has become abundantly clear since the development of a global, multi-billion dollar artificial procreation industry: children are now regarded as luxury commodities, very expensive ones, and they had better measure up to the expectations of customers. This assumption was bolstered the other day with the announcement in the UK from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) that the numbers of single women and lesbians receiving IVF treatment has tripled in the last five years.

Some years ago, I was launched into the pro-life movement when I took an interest in the ethics and debates surrounding what were then still called the New Reproductive Technologies, in vitro fertilisation, artificial insemination etc. At the time, 2002 or so, the Canadian government was considering legislation to regulate the activities already ongoing in labs across the country, and I was put in charge of organising the fight at Campaign Life Coalition against that insidious bill.

I won’t go into the details of that long battle, but suffice to say that we lost, resoundingly. All the efforts of the national pro-life lobby could not crack the determination of the very powerful and wealthy industry, and, as usual, their helpers in the media, to ensure that the billion dollar artificial procreation business was well protected in Canadian law. That the precise same pieces of legislation were being produced in nearly every other country in the west at the time, with precisely the same wording, was not lost on us. IVF and related activities are a gigantic global industry based on one mistaken, and deadly, philosophical assumption: that there is such a thing as a “right” to be a parent.

The failure to mitigate the damage of that bill was a disaster for Canadian society because it contributed mightily to a terrifying shift in the basic understanding of one of the foundational institutions of any human society: the relationship between parents and children. During that period, a massive paradigm change was undertaken in Canadian society, indeed, in nearly every society in the western world, from the presumption that the child is a gift, given into the care of a family, to the concept that the child is an object upon which individuals exercise their “right to parenthood”.

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With the advent of human control over fertility, first with the Pill and legalised abortion, and now with IVF clinics serving as expensive baby boutiques, we have changed that basic paradigm to focus solely on the desires of the parents. All our notions of sex, parenthood and family are now permanently wedded to our personal physical and emotional self-gratification. In other words, we now have both child-proof sex and manufactured children in order to satisfy our various desires for personal fulfillment. It is the final achievement of the sexual revolutionaries: the reduction of persons to the status of things.

Since the global legalisation of artificial procreation techniques, this terrifying shift has become manifest again and again in laws and regulations around the world. The news from the HFEA is only the latest demonstration.

The Christian Institute recalls that in 2008, this government regulator changed the rules on IVF, removing the requirement for clinics to “consider the child’s need for a father” before granting access to IVF, focusing instead on the need to show the availability of “supportive parenting”. 

The article http://www.christianconcern.com/our-concerns/bioethics/big-increase-in-single-and-lesbian-women-receiving-ivf goes on to note some of the voluminous research showing that children really do need both parents, a mother and a father, to thrive and succeed in life. A 2011 report from the Centre for Social Justice concluded that a child growing up without both parents was “75% more likely to fail at school, 70% more likely to become a drug addict, 50% more likely to have an alcohol problem and 35% more likely to be unemployed as an adult”.

Andrea Minichiello Williams, CEO of Christian Concern, an Evangelical lobby group, said, “All of the evidence shows that children prosper the most when they have a married mother and a father. Government policy needs to recognise the importance of the role of fathers and of stable marriages.”

But what we have to understand as pro-life and pro-family people, is that these studies are meaningless under the new paradigm. The priority is not the needs of children. Our society has definitively accepted (in Canada, explicitly in the law) that children are, essentially, not persons. Traditionally, in law a person is something that is protected for his own sake, who has rights of his own and who cannot be bought or sold or killed; as opposed to a thing that is protected only for the sake of others and that can be killed on a whim.

With the advent of legalised abortion, a child can be killed at the whim of the mother, reducing him to the legal status of a chattel object; at best, a lower ranking person, whose needs are always superseded by the needs, rights and even desires of adults. The acceptance and legalisation of artificial procreation simply takes the logic to its next step, saying that a thing that can be destroyed at will can now also be manufactured at will.

This is why it is irrelevant to the HFEA that children genuinely need two parents to thrive. Single women and lesbians, they believe, have a “right to be parents” and this right takes precedent over any other consideration. That this change has dramatically increased the customer base for the IVF industry seems to have gone unnoticed, or at least unmentioned, by the people making the laws.

While we were fighting the Canadian legislation, the main gist of the pro-life argument was that it would tend to create precisely this new outlook toward children. We treat commodities completely differently from the way we treat a dependent person for whom we have responsibility. A luxury good exists for the customer. It must meet the customer’s specifications and if it does not, it can, and ought to be discarded and exchanged for another. This is certainly reflected in IVF, including the creation and selection of many embryos, the concept of “selective reduction” in which “extra” children are aborted and many other common practices of the trade.

Some years before the legislation passed, CBC taped a program on IVF highlighting the campaign of a group of would-be parents to get the national health service to pay for their IVF treatments. During that interview one of the campaigners said, “We have a right to be parents”. It was the first time this was publicly articulated so bluntly, but the CBC interviewer did not make the next point, that if there is such a things as a right be a parent, there must, by definition, be a right to have a child. Not the right, mind you, to do the things that people have always done that may result in a child, but a right to the child himself, to acquire him.

It only stands to reason therefore, that it would be a short jump to making sure the child is the right sort in terms of sex and in good condition in terms of freedom from disease or deformity. If you are going to spend $10,000 a pop on buying this very expensive commodity, to which you have this putative “right,” you also have a right to get a good one. One that is not defective, and will fulfill the purpose of the transaction.

People can be confused by the objection of pro-life movement, and the Catholic Church, to IVF. Isn’t the whole point that we want people to have babies?

Actually no. What we want is for the laws to treat babies like people. IVF is merely the next step in a long progression of massive societal changes, fundamental changes in our outlook, that reduce babies, and by extension all people, to the status of things.

When we made these arguments in Parliament, perhaps due to the massive change in outlook that had already occurred 30 years before with legalised abortion, we were shouted down. The idea that children could be “commodified” was absurd, ridiculous.

We were told that we were standing in the way of progress, that IVF would be the solution to the terrible suffering of infertility. It was even suggested that IVF could solve the looming population crisis. The Church leaders, even those who were with us in principle, mostly shrugged, saying that the practises were ongoing already and at least the legislation would “regulate” them. And besides, we were assured, once the law is in place, it can be amended, improved, as the situation and the science advances.

Now, ten years on, we have selective reduction, “wrongful birth” lawsuits, sex-selection, and eugenic screening of “designer babies”. The concept of the child as an expensive lifestyle accessory is cemented in the global consciousness in the west. And sometimes I regret being Cassandra.

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A Planned Parenthood facility in Denver, Colorado
Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin

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Colorado judge tosses suit alleging Planned Parenthood used state funds to pay for abortions

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By Dustin Siggins

Alliance Defending Freedom "will likely appeal" a Monday court decision dismissing their suit alleging Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains illegally used state funds to pay for abortions, an ADF lawyer told LifeSiteNews.

The ADF lawsuit claims that $1.4 million went from state government agencies to a Planned Parenthood abortion affiliate through Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains.

Denver County District Court Judge Andrew McCallin dismissed the case on the basis that ADF could not prove the funds paid for abortions. But ADF maintains that funding an abortion facility is indirectly paying for abortions, which violates state law.

ADF senior counsel Michael Norton -- whose wife, former Colorado Lieutenant Governor Jane Norton, filed the lawsuit – told LifeSiteNews that "no one is above the law, including Colorado politicians who are violating our state’s constitution by continuing to fund Planned Parenthood’s abortion business with state taxpayer dollars."

"The State of Colorado even acknowledges that about $1.4 million of state taxpayer dollars flowed from Colorado government agencies through Planned Parenthood to its abortion affiliate. The Denver court seems to have agreed with that fact and yet granted motions to dismiss based on a technicality," said Norton.

According to Colorado law, "no public funds shall be used by the State of Colorado, its agencies or political subdivisions to pay or otherwise reimburse, either directly or indirectly, any person, agency or facility for the performance of any induced abortion." There is a stipulation that allows for "the General Assembly, by specific bill, [to] authorize and appropriate funds to be used for those medical services necessary to prevent the death of either a pregnant woman or her unborn child under circumstances where every reasonable effort is made to preserve the life of each."

According to court documents, the Colorado law was affirmed by state voters in 1984, with an appeal attempt rejected two years later. In 2001, an outside legal firm hired by Jane Norton -- who was lieutenant governor at the time -- found that Planned Parenthood was "subsidizing rent" and otherwise providing financial assistance to Planned Parenthood Services Corporation, an abortion affiliate. After the report came out, and Planned Parenthood refused to disassociate itself from the abortion affiliate, the state government stopped funding Planned Parenthood.

Since 2009, however, that has changed, which is why the lawsuit is filed against Planned Parenthood, and multiple government officials, including Democratic Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.

According to ADF legal counsel Natalie Decker, the fact that Planned Parenthood sent funds to the abortion affiliate should have convinced McCallin of the merits of the case. "The State of Colorado and the Denver court acknowledged that about $1.4 million of state taxpayer dollars, in addition to millions of 'federal' tax dollars, flowed from Colorado government agencies through Planned Parenthood to its abortion affiliate," said Decker.

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"Without even having the facts of the case developed, the Denver court seems to have granted motions to dismiss filed by the State of Colorado and Planned Parenthood on grounds the term 'indirectly' could not mean what Ms. Norton and Governor Owens said it meant in 2002 when they defunded Planned Parenthood."

"That, of course, is the plain meaning of Colo. Const., Art. V, § 50 which was implemented by the citizens of Colorado, and the reason for Ms. Norton’s lawsuit."

Decker told LifeSiteNews that "Colorado law is very clear," and that the state law "prohibits Colorado tax dollars from being used to directly or indirectly pay for induced abortions."

She says her client "has been denied the opportunity to fully develop the facts of the case and demonstrate exactly what the Colorado tax dollars have been used for." Similarly, says Decker, it is not known "exactly what those funds were used for. At this time, there is simply no way to conclude that tax dollars have not been used to directly pay for abortions or abortion inducing drugs and devices."

"What we do know is that millions of Colorado tax dollars have flowed through Planned Parenthood to its abortion affiliate, which leads to the inescapable conclusion that those tax dollars are being used to indirectly pay for abortions."

A spokesperson for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains did not return multiple requests for comment about the lawsuit.

The dismissal comes as Planned Parenthood fights an investigation by the state's Republican attorney general over a video by Live Action, as well as a lawsuit by a mother whose 13-year old daughter had an abortion in 2012 that she alleges was covered up by Planned Parenthood. The girl, who was being abused by her stepfather, was abused for months after the abortion.

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Courtesy of Online for Life
Steve Weatherbe

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Fledgling high-tech pro-life group marks 2,000 babies saved: 2-3 saved per day

Steve Weatherbe
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Online for Life, the Dallas-based pro-life marketing agency, saved its two-thousandth unborn baby earlier this year and is well on its way to saving its three thousandth by 2015.

“We are getting better all the time at what we do,” says founder Brian Fisher. “It used to be one baby saved every four to six weeks and now its two or three a day.”

But the most significant save? “It was the very first one,” he says, recalling the phone call from a crisis centre a month after OFL’s 2012 startup.  “And for me personally it was just a massive turning point … because [of] all the work and the money and testing and the volunteers and everything that led up to that moment. All the frustration of that was washed away in an instant because a child had been rescued that was about to be killed.”

Though increasing market savvy has led Online for Life to expand offline, the core of the non-profit, donor-financed operation remains SEO -- search engine optimization -- targeting young women who have just discovered they are pregnant and gone onto the Web to find the nearest abortion clinic.

Instead, they find the nearest crisis pregnancy center at the top of their results page. Since OFL went online it has linked with a network of 41 such centers, including two of its own it started this year, in a positive feedback loop that reinforces effective messaging first at the level of the Web, then at the first telephone call between the clinic and the pregnant woman, and finally at the first face-to-face meeting.

“Testing is crucial,” says Fisher. “We test everything we do.” Early on, Online for Life insisted the clinics it served have an ultrasound machine, because the prevailing wisdom in the prolife movement was that “once they saw their baby on ultrasound, they would drop the idea of having an abortion.” While the organization still insists on the ultrasound, its own testing and feedback from the CPCs indicates that three quarters of the women they see already have children. “They’ve already seen their own children on ultrasound and are still planning to abort.” So ultrasound images have lost their punch.

OFL has had to move offline to reach a significant minority who have neither computers, tablets, or cell phones.  Traditional electronic media spots as well as bus ads and billboards carry the message to them.

As well, says Fisher, “unwanted pregnancy used to be a high-school age problem; now that’s gone down in numbers and the average age of women seeking abortion has gone up to 24.” By that age, he says, they are “thoroughly conditioned by the abortion culture. Even before they got pregnant, they have already decided they would have an abortion if they did get pregnant.”

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What they need—and fast, in the first two minutes of the first phone call—is sympathy, support, and a complete absence of judgement. Online for Life is always gathering information from its network on what responses are most effective—and this can vary city to city. The organization offers training to clinic volunteers and staff that stresses a thorough knowledge of the services on tap. “Any major city has all sorts of services—housing, education, health—available,” says Fisher.

The problem that OFL was designed to address was the crisis pregnancy centers’ market penetration. Three percent of women with unwanted pregnancies were reaching out to the CPCs, and seven per cent of those who did reach out were having their babies. “So about 2.1 children were being saved for every 1,000 unwanted pregnancies,” says Fisher. “That’s not nearly enough.”

So Fisher and two fellow volunteers dreamed of applying online marketing techniques to the problem in 2009. Three years later Fisher was ready to leave his executive position at an online marketing agency to go full-time with the life-saving agency. Now they have 63 employees, most of them devoted to optimizing the penetration in each of the markets served by their participating crisis centers.

The results speak for themselves. Where OFL has applied its techniques, especially with its own clinics, as many as 15-18 percent of the targeted population of women seeking abortions get directed to nearby crisis pregnancy centers. “It depends on the centres’ budgets and on how many volunteers they have to be on the phones through the day and night,” he says. “But we are going to push it higher. We hope to save our 2,500th child by the end of the year.”

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Shock: UK mom abandons disabled daughter, keeps healthy son after twin surrogacy

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By Pete Baklinski

A UK woman who is the biological mother of twins born from a surrogate mom, has allegedly abandoned one of the children because she was born with a severe muscular condition, while taking the girl's healthy sibling home with her.

The surrogate mother, also from the UK — referred to as "Jenny" to protect her identity — revealed to The Sun the phone conversation that took place between herself and the biological mother over the fate of the disabled girl.

“I remember her saying to me, “She’d be a f****** dribbling cabbage! Who would want to adopt her? No one would want to adopt a disabled child,’” she said.

Jenny, who has children of her own, said she decided to become a surrogate to “help a mother who couldn’t have children.” She agreed to have two embryos implanted in her womb and to give birth for £12,000 ($20,000 USD).

With just six weeks to the due date, doctors told Jenny she needed an emergency caesarean to save the babies. It was not until a few weeks after the premature births that the twin girl was diagnosed with congenital myotonic dystrophy.

When Jenny phoned the biological mother to tell her of the girl’s condition, the mother rejected the girl.

Jenny has decided along with her partner to raise the girl. They have called her Amy.

“I was stunned when I heard her reject Amy,” Jenny said. “She had basically told me that she didn’t want a disabled child.”

Jenny said she felt “very angry” towards the girl’s biological parents. "I hate them for what they did.”

The twins are now legally separated. A Children and Family Court has awarded the healthy boy to the biological mother and the disabled girl to her surrogate.

The story comes about two weeks after an Australian couple allegedly abandoned their surrogate son in Thailand after he was born with Down syndrome, while taking the healthy twin girl back with them to Australia.

Rickard Newman, director of Family Life, Pro-Life & Child and Youth Protection in the Diocese of Lake Charles, called the Australian story a “tragedy” that “results from a marketplace that buys and sells children.”

“Third-party reproduction is a prism for violations against humanity. IVF and the sperm trade launched a wicked industry that now includes abortion, eugenics, human trafficking, and deliberate family fragmentation,” he said. 

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