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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Although it is widely believed that people with Down syndrome are doomed to a life of suffering, in one large survey 99% of respondents with Down syndrome described themselves as "happy." Shutterstock
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‘Sick and twisted’: Down’s advocates, pro-life leaders slam Richard Dawkins’ abortion remarks

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By Dustin Siggins

Advocates on behalf of individuals with Down syndrome, as well as pro-life leaders, are slamming famed atheist Richard Dawkin’s statements made on Twitter earlier today that parents have a moral responsibility to abort babies diagnosed in utero with Down’s.

During a shocking Twitter rant, Dawkins responded to questioners saying that it was "civilised" to abort Down Syndrome babies, and that it would be "immoral" to choose not to abort babies diagnosed with the condition.

He said that his goal is to "reduce suffering wherever you can," indicating that unborn children cannot suffer, and that unborn children don't "have human feelings."

In addition to being scientifically challenged - unborn children can feel both pain and emotions - Dawkins' comments drew criticism for his callousness towards children with disabilities.  

"A true civilization – a civilization of love – does not engage in such cold and ultimately suicidal calculus"

“It's sick and twisted for anyone to advocate for the killing of children with disabilities,” Live Action President Lila Rose told LifeSiteNews. “Dawkins's ignorant comments serve only to further stigmatize people with Down syndrome.

“While many people with Down syndrome, their families, and advocacy groups are fighting discrimination on a daily basis, Dawkins calls for their murder before they are even born,” she said. “Those with Down syndrome are human beings, with innate human dignity, and they, along with the whole human family, deserve our respect and protection.”

Carol Boys, chief executive of the Down's Syndrome Association, told MailOnline that, contrary to Dawkins’ assertion, “People with Down’s syndrome can and do live full and rewarding lives, they also make a valuable contribution to our society.”

A spokesperson for the UK disabilities charity Scope lamented that during the “difficult and confusing time” when parents find out they are expecting a child with disabilities, they often experience “negative attitudes.”

“What parents really need at this time is sensitive and thorough advice and information,” the spokesperson said.

Charlotte Lozier Institute president Chuck Donovan agreed with Rose’s assessment. "Advocates of abortion for those 'weaker' than others, or of less physical or intellectual dexterity, should remember that each of us is 'lesser' in some or most respects," he said.

According to Donovan, "we deliver a death sentence on all of humanity by such cruel logic."

"A true civilization – a civilization of love – does not engage in such cold and ultimately suicidal calculus" he said.

One family who has a child with Down syndrome said Dawkins was far from the mark when he suggested that aborting babies with Down syndrome is a good way to eliminate suffering.

Jan Lucas, whose son Kevin has Down syndrome, said that far from suffering, Kevin has brought enormous joy to the family, and "is so loving. He just has a million hugs."

She described how Kevin was asked to be an honorary deacon at the hurch they attend in New Jersey, “because he is so encouraging to everyone. At church, he asks people how their families are, says he'll pray for them, and follows up to let them know that he has been praying for them."

It's not just strangers for whom Kevin prays. "My husband and I were separated for a time, and Kevin kept asking people to pray for his dad," said Jan. "They didn't believe that Kevin's prayers would be answered. Kevin didn't lose hope, and asking people, and our marriage now is better than ever before. We attribute it to Kevin's prayers, and how he drew on the prayers of everyone."

"I don't know what we'd do without him," said Jan.

Speaking with LifeSiteNews, Kevin said that his favorite things to do are "spending time with my family, and keeping God in prayer." He said that he "always knows God," which helps him to "always keep praying for my friends."

"I love my church," said Kevin.

Although it is widely believed that people with Down syndrome are doomed to a life of suffering, in one large survey 99% of respondents with Down syndrome described themselves as "happy." At the same time, 99% percent of parents said they loved their child with Down syndrome, and 97 percent said they were proud of them.

Only 4 percent of parents who responded said they regretted having their child.

Despite this, it is estimated that in many Western countries the abortion rate of children diagnosed in utero with Down syndrome is 90%, or even higher. The development of new and more accurate tests for the condition has raised concerns among Down syndrome advocates that that number could rise even higher. 


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Asked about Iraq on his return flight from South Korea, Francis replied that 'it is legitimate to halt the unjust aggressor.' Shutterstock
Steve Weatherbe

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Pope Francis: steps must be taken to halt ‘unjust aggressor’ in Iraq

Steve Weatherbe
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Pope Francis and his emissary to Iraq’s persecuted non-Muslim minorities, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, have both called on the United Nations to act in concert to protect Iraqis Christian and Yazidi minorities from the radical Islamic forces of ISIS.

Asked about Iraq on his return flight from South Korea, Francis replied that “it is legitimate to halt the unjust aggressor.”

He added, however, that “halt” does not mean to “bomb” and lamented “how many times with the excuse of halting the unjust aggressor…have powerful nations taken possession of peoples and waged a war of conquest!”

He also cautioned that no single nation could determine the right measures. Any intervention must be multilateral and preferably by the United Nations, he said.

Meanwhile, Cardinal Foloni, who is visiting Iraq on behalf of Pope Francis, issued a joint statement this week with Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako and the Iraqi bishops that urged the international community to “liberate the villages and other places that have been occupied as soon as possible and with a permanent result.”

The statement also urged efforts to “assure that there is international protection for these villages and so to encourage these families to go back to their homes and to continue to live a normal life in security and peace.”

Archbishop Giorgio Lingua, the Vatican nuncio to Iraq, was also asked by Vatican Radio earlier this month about the U.S. airstrikes in Iraq.

“This is something that had to be done, otherwise [the Islamic State] could not be stopped,” the archbishop said. 

Although Pope Francis’ own remarks about an intervention in the war-torn country were carefully guarded, Catholic commentator Robert Spencer, author of such bestselling exposes of Islam as “The Truth About Muhammad: Founder of the World's Most Intolerant Religion,” told LifeSiteNews he believes the pope was clearly calling for an “armed intervention, though a very limited one.”  

“Only a fool would think there is another way to stop an ‘unjust aggressor,’” he said.

Spencer expressed concerns that both Francis and Pope John Paul II before him have both referred to Islam a “religion of peace,” which Spencer says is “completely false.” However, he suggested that Francis’ remarks calling for action in Iraq are a sign of a more realistic attitude towards Islam.   

On this, Spencer would likely have the support of Amel Nona, the Chaldean Catholic archbishop of Mosul, who issued a letter last week warning the West in stark terms about the encroaching threat of Islam.

“Our sufferings today are the prelude of those you, Europeans and Western Christians, will also suffer,” Nona warned. “Your liberal and democratic principles are worth nothing here.

“You must consider again our reality in the Middle East, because you are welcoming in your countries an ever growing number of Muslims. Also you are in danger. You must take strong and courageous decisions, even at the cost of contradicting your principles,” he said

“You think all men are equal, but that is not true: Islam does not say that all men are equal. Your values are not their values. If you do not understand this soon enough, you will become the victims of the enemy you have welcomed in your home.”


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'Apparently I'm a horrid monster for recommending WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS to the great majority of Down Syndrome fetuses,' said Dawkins. 'They are aborted.' Shutterstock
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Richard Dawkins: it’s ‘immoral’ NOT to abort babies with Down syndrome

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By Dustin Siggins

In a bizarre rant on Twitter earlier today, atheist Richard Dawkins wrote that choosing not to abort a child with Down Syndrome would be "immoral."

The conversation started when Dawkins tweeted that "Ireland is a civilised country except in this 1 area." The area was abortion, which until last year was illegal in all cases.

A Twitter user then asked Dawkins if "994 human beings with Down's Syndrome [having been] deliberately killed before birth in England and Wales in 2012" was "civilised."

Dawkins replied "yes, it is very civilised. These are fetuses, diagnosed before they have human feelings."

Later, Dawkins said that "the question is not ‘is it 'human'?’ but ‘can it SUFFER?’"

In perhaps the most shocking moment, one Twitter user wrote that he or she "honestly [doesn't] know what I would do if I were pregnant with a kid with Down Syndrome. Real ethical dilemma."

Dawkins advised the writer to "abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have the choice."

According to Dawkins, the issue of who should be born comes down to a calculation based upon possible suffering. "Yes. Suffering should be avoided. [The abortion] cause[s] no suffering. Reduce suffering wherever you can."

Later, however, he said that people on the autism spectrum "have a great deal to contribute, Maybe even an enhanced ability in some respects. [Down Syndrome] not enhanced."

When Dawkins received some blowback from Twitter followers, he replied: "Apparently I'm a horrid monster for recommending WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS to the great majority of Down Syndrome fetuses. They are aborted."

It is estimated that in many Western countries the abortion rate of children diagnosed in utero with Down syndrome is 90%, or even higher. The development of new and more accurate tests for the condition has raised concerns among Down syndrome advocates that that number could rise even higher. 

Although it is widely believed that people with Down syndrome are doomed to a life of suffering, in one large survey 99% of respondents with Down syndrome said they were "happy." At the same time, 99% percent of parents said they loved their child with Down syndrome, and 97 percent said they were proud of them.

Only 4 percent of parents who responded said they regretted having their child. 

A number of Dawkins' statements in the Twitter thread about fetal development are at odds with scientific realities. For example, it is well-established that 20 weeks into a pregnancy, unborn children can feel pain. Likewise, unborn children have emotional reactions to external stimuli -- such as a mother's stress levels -- months before being born. 

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