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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PBS defends decision to air pro-abortion documentary ‘After Tiller’

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By Dustin Siggins

Under pressure for showing the pro-abortion documentary "After Tiller" on Labor Day, PBS' "POV" affiliate has defended the decision in response to an inquiry from LifeSiteNews.

The producers of the film say their goal with the documentary, which tells the stories of four late-term abortion doctors after the killing of infamous late-term abortionist George Tiller, is to "change public perception of third-trimester abortion providers by building a movement dedicated to supporting their right to work with a special focus on maintaining their safety.” 

POV told LifeSiteNews, "We do believe that 'After Tiller' adds another dimension to an issue that is being debated widely." Asked if POV will show a pro-life documentary, the organization said that it "does not have any other films currently scheduled on this issue. POV received almost 1000 film submissions each year through our annual call for entries and we welcome the opportunity to consider films with a range of points of view."

When asked whether POV was concerned about alienating its viewership -- since PBS received more than $400 million in federal tax dollars in 2012 and half of Americans identify as pro-life -- POV said, "The filmmakers would like the film to add to the discussion around these issues. Abortion is already a legal procedure."

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"This is an issue that people feel passionately about and will have a passionate response to. We are hopeful that the majority of people can see it for what it is, another lens on a very difficult issue." 

In addition to the documentary, POV has written materials for community leaders and teachers to share. A cursory examination of the 29-page document, which is available publicly, appears to include links to outside sources that defend Roe v. Wade, an examination of the constitutional right to privacy, and "a good explanation of the link between abortion law and the right to privacy," among other information.

Likewise, seven clips recommended for student viewing -- grades 11 and beyond -- include scenes where couples choose abortion because the children are disabled. Another shows pro-life advocates outside a doctor's child's school, and a third is described as showing "why [one of the film's doctors] chose to offer abortion services and includes descriptions of what can happen when abortion is illegal or unavailable, including stories of women who injured themselves when they tried to terminate their own pregnancies and children who were abused because they were unwanted."

Another clip "includes footage of protesters, as well as news coverage of a hearing in the Nebraska State Legislature in which abortion opponents make reference to the idea that a fetus feels pain." The clip's description fails to note that it is a scientifically proven fact that unborn children can feel pain.

The documentary is set to air on PBS at 10 p.m. Eastern on Labor Day.

Kirsten Andersen contributed to this article.

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He defended ‘real’ marriage, and then was beheaded for it

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By Pete Baklinski

A Christian man was executed during the night by a high-profile ruler after making an uncompromising defense of real marriage.

The Christian, who was renowned for his holiness, had told the ruler in public that his relationship with his partner was “against the law” of God. The Christian’s words enraged the ruler’s partner who successfully plotted to have him permanently silenced.

John the Baptist was first imprisoned before he was beheaded. The Catholic Church honors him today, August 29, as a martyr and saint.

While John’s death happened a little less than 2,000 years ago, his heroic stance for real marriage is more pertinent today than ever before.

According to the Gospel of Mark, the ruler Herod had ‘married’ his brother’s wife Herodias. When John told Herod with complete frankness, “It is against the law for you to have your brother’s wife,” Herodias became “furious” with him to the point of wanting him killed for his intolerance, bullying, and hate-speech.

Herodias found her opportunity to silence John by having her daughter please Herod during a dance at a party. Herod offered the girl anything she wanted. The daughter turned to her mother for advice, and Herodias said to ask for John’s head on a platter.

Those who fight for real marriage today can learn three important lessons from John’s example.

  1. Those proudly living in ungodly and unnatural relationships — often referred to in today’s sociopolitical sphere as ‘marriage’ — will despise those who tell them what they are doing is wrong. Real marriage defenders must expect opposition to their message from the highest levels.
  2. Despite facing opposition, John was not afraid to defend God’s plan for marriage in the public square, even holding a secular ruler accountable to this plan. John, following the third book of the Hebrew Bible (Leviticus 20:21), held that a man marrying the wife of his brother was an act of “impurity” and therefore abhorrent to God. Real marriage defenders must boldly proclaim today that God is the author of marriage, an institution he created to be a life-long union between one man and one woman from which children arise and in which they are best nurtured. Marriage can be nothing more, nothing less.
  3. John did not compromise on the truth of marriage as revealed by God, even to the point of suffering imprisonment and death for his unpopular position. Real marriage defenders must never compromise on the truth of marriage, even if the government, corporate North America, and the entire secular education system says otherwise. They must learn to recognize the new “Herodias” of today who despises those raising a voice against her lifestyle. They must stand their ground no matter what may come, no matter what the cost.

John the Baptist was not intolerant or a bigot, he simply lived the word of God without compromise, speaking the word of truth when it was needed, knowing that God’s way is always the best way. Were John alive today, he would be at the forefront of the grassroots movement opposing the social and political agenda to remake marriage in the image of man.

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If he were alive today he might speak simple but eloquent words such as, “It is against God’s law for two men or two women to be together as a husband and wife in marriage. Marriage can only be between a man and a woman.” 

He would most likely be hated. He would be ridiculed. He would surely have the human rights tribunals throwing the book at him. But he would be speaking the truth and have God as his ally. 

The time may not be far off when those who defend real marriage, like John, will be presented with the choice of following Caesar or making the ultimate sacrifice. May God grant his faithful the grace to persevere in whatever might come. St. John the Baptist, pray for us!

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The Wunderlich family Mike Donnelly / Home School Legal Defence Association
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German homeschoolers regain custody of children, vow to stay and fight for freedom

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

One year to the day since a team of 20 social workers, police officers, and special agents stormed a homeschooling family’s residence near Darmstadt, Germany, and forcibly removed all four of the family’s children, aged 7 to 14, a state appeals court has returned custody of the children to their parents.

The reason given for the removal was that parents Dirk and Petra Wunderlich continued to homeschool their children in defiance of a German ban on home education.

The children were returned three weeks after being taken, following an international outcry spearheaded by the Home School Legal Defense Association.

However, a lower court imposed the condition on the parents that their children were required to attend state schools in order for them to be released, and took legal custody of the children in order to prevent the family from leaving the country.

In a decision that was still highly critical of the parents and of homeschooling, the appeals court decided that the action of the lower court in putting the children in the custody of the state was “disproportional” and ordered complete custody returned to the parents, according to a statement by the HSLDA.

The Wunderlichs, who began homeschooling again when the court signaled it would rule this way, said they were very pleased with the result, but noted that the court’s harsh words about homeschooling indicated that their battle was far from over.

“We have won custody and we are glad about that,” Dirk said.

“The court said that taking our children away was not proportionate—only because the authorities should apply very high fines and criminal prosecution instead. But this decision upholds the absurd idea that homeschooling is child endangerment and an abuse of parental authority.”

The Wunderlichs are now free to emigrate to another country where homeschooling is legal, if they choose, but they said they intend to remain in Germany and work for educational freedom.

“While we no longer fear that our children will be taken away as long as we are living in Hessen, it can still happen to other people in Germany,” Dirk said. “Now we fear crushing fines up to $75,000 and jail. This should not be tolerated in a civilized country.”

Petra Wunderlich said, "We could not do this without the help of HSLDA,” but cautioned that, “No family can fight the powerful German state—it is too much, too expensive."

"If it were not for HSLDA and their support, I am afraid our children would still be in state custody. We are so grateful and thank all homeschoolers who have helped us by helping HSLDA.”

HSLDA’s Director for Global Outreach, Michael Donnelly, said he welcomed the ruling but was concerned about the court’s troubling language.

“We welcome this ruling that overturns what was an outrageous abuse of judicial power,” he said.

“The lower court decision to take away legal custody of the children essentially imprisoned the Wunderlich family in Germany. But this decision does not go far enough. The court has only grudgingly given back custody and has further signaled to local authorities that they should still go after the Wunderlichs with criminal charges or fines.”

Donnelly pointed out that such behavior in a democratic country is problematic.

“Imprisonment and fines for homeschooling are outside the bounds of what free societies that respect fundamental human rights should tolerate,” he explained.

“Freedom and fundamental human rights norms demand respect for parental decision making in education. Germany’s state and national policies that permit banning home education must be changed.

"Such policies from a leading European democracy not only threaten the rights of tens of thousands of German families but establish a dangerous example that other countries may be tempted to follow,” Donnelly warned.

HSLDA Chairman Michael Farris said that acting on behalf of the Wunderlichs was an important stand for freedom.

“The Wunderlichs are a good and decent family whose basic human rights were violated and are still threatened,” Farris said.

“Their fight is our fight," Farris stressed, "and we will continue to support those who stand against German policy banning homeschooling that violates international legal norms. Free people cannot tolerate such oppression and we will do whatever we can to fight for families like the Wunderlichs both here in the United States and abroad. We must stand up to this kind of persecution where it occurs or we risk seeing own freedom weakened.”

Visit the HSLDA website dedicated to helping the Wunderlich family and other German homeschoolers here.

Contact the German embassy in the U.S. here.

Contact the German embassy in Canada here.

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