Michael Cook

An unknown unknown for gay marriage supporters

Michael Cook
By Michael Cook
Image

May 29, 2012 (Mercatornet) - If we are in the middle of a culture war over gay marriage, why not take advice from someone who knows about combat, former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld? Long after he left the scene, people are still quoting his description of the fog of war: “[T]here are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say, we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – there are things we do not know we don’t know.”

Since gay marriage has existed only since 2001, when it was legalised in the Netherlands, the dangerous known knowns are still meagre and the dangerous known unknowns vast. As for the dangerous unknown unknowns: well, is anyone so rash as to say that they don’t exist?

How children fare probably fits into the known unknown category. Supporters of gay marriage insist that children can flourish with two parents of the same sex. There are even claims, based on tiny studies of lesbian parents, that gay parenting is superior to having a married Mom and Dad. Opponents have much more data backing up their case. A group called the American College of Pediatricians summed up the evidence recently:

“Over thirty years of research confirms that children fare best when reared by their two biological parents in a loving low conflict marriage. Children navigate developmental stages more easily, are more solid in their gender identity, perform better academically, have fewer emotional disorders, and become better functioning adults when reared within their natural family.”

Click “like” if you want to defend true marriage.

However, in the unknown unknown category is where the children of homosexual men will come from. Once same-sex unions have been sanctified with the word “marriage”, some gay couples will have children. It’s understandable – marriage has always been about children.

But where from? If lesbian couples want children, all they need is a sperm donor and possibly the services of an IVF clinic – if they do not already have children from a failed relationship.

But it is vastly more complicated for gay couples. They may have children from a previous heterosexual relationship. They can foster or adopt. But some will want a child who is genetically related to them. They can provide half of what is needed, but they still need a womb – a surrogate mother.

No one has any idea how big the demand for gay surrogacy market. There are good reasons for that. Commercial surrogacy is illegal in many countries and where it is legal, it can be shameful. But we do have some idea of the supply of gay surrogacy. Thanks to the internet, surrogacy brokers are springing up all over the world – wherever there is poverty and sympathetic government regulation.

The United States has a number of surrogacy agencies, but the growth market seems to in the developing world where it is far cheaper. Click on the site AffordableSurrogates.com. It markets surrogates in Greece, Panama, and India. Click on surrogatemothers.biz for surrogate mothers from the Ukraine.

Through sites like these, babies are effectively being sold as a product. “Did you know that thousands of people are saving money by going to foreign countries to have a child through hassle-free surrogacy?” Affordable Surrogates asks its gay clients. Another site specialising in gay clients, Advocates for Surrogacy, advertises Guatemalan women who cost 70 percent less than their US counterparts.

The best-known destination for people seeking surrogate mothers is India. Light regulation there allows IVF clinics to have herds of surrogate mothers available for their overseas clients, including gay couples. It is there that the dark side of gay parenting is most evident. Exploitation of surrogate mothers in India is not an unknown unknown. It is a known known.

This was exposed in the death of a 30-year-old Indian woman with two children of her own, Premila Vaghela, earlier this month. She died in the eighth month of her pregnancy of unexplained complications after collapsing in her IVF clinic, Pulse Women’s Hospital, in Ahmedabad, in the state of Gujarat. The doctors at Pulse quickly did an emergency caesarean. The child was given to the American woman who commissioned it.

In the quaint lingo of the Indian media, it was noted that “Premila paid the price of offering herself as surrogate with her life.” She was to have been paid about US$4,500, although the clinic generously gave her family US$18,000.

The fate of Mrs Vaghela is a stark reminder that death is one of the hazards of being a surrogate mother. Not that it seems to bother IVF doctors there much. The hard-boiled woman boss of an unrelated clinic, Dr Nayana Patel, commented:

“the contracts signed between the surrogate mother and the couple (whose baby she is carrying) does not talk of any compensation in case of death of the surrogate mother. Those who agree to become surrogates are told well in advance about the complications involved in pregnancy.”

It’s unlikely that the clients of the surrogate mothers ever read the contract to which these women – who may be illiterate – put their signature or mark. They are incredibly exploitative. The pro-forma contract displayed by the Pulse Hospital on its website is loaded in favour of the genetic parents and the hospital against the surrogate mother.

The woman has to agree to the most intrusive limitation of her lifestyle and even to accept foetal reduction (see Pulse’s video) if necessary. Since up to three embyros are transferred at a time—not international best practice—this is quite possible.

The contract also states that “the Surrogate and her Husband agree to assume all medical, financial, and psychological risks and to release, the Genetic Parents, their attorney(s), the Treating Doctor, other professionals contemplated herein and/or involved in any aspect of the surrogacy arrangement, and each said person’s agents and employees from any legal liability except professional malpractice (malfeasance or negligence).”

In short, a surviving spouse can only seek compensation if he can prove negligence on the doctor’s part. His chances of success will be vanishingly small.

In a chilling section of the contract headed “life support”, the surrogate and her husband agree that “if she is seriously injured or suffers a life‐threatening instance during her third trimester of pregnancy”, then she “will be sustained with life support equipment to protect the fetus’ viability and insure [sic] a healthy birth on the Genetic Parents’ behalf”.

Forget about altruism. Indian surrogate mothers endure these insults to their dignity for the cash. “Surrogacy has picked up majorly all over Gujarat,” notes the Times of India. “The decent money offered by couples, majority of who are NRGs [Non Resident Gujarati]and foreigners, attracts many women from poor socio-economic backgrounds.”

The local government benefits from the exploitation of these women as well. Ironically, the government English-language magazine promoting Gujarat, “The Gujarat”, currently features a promotional article on the booming surrogacy business in Anand: “Where the storks dare to fly… Bringing smiles to couples across the world via Reproductive Tourism”.

“The state has set a precedent in embracing humanist ideas by facilitating reproductive tourism which has proved to be immensely valuable. Apart from empowering the surrogates, it is bringing in a lot of revenue for the state itself, furthering its development,” writes the author.

Conditions for surrogate mothers in Guatemala or Panama or the Ukraine are unlikely to be any better.

Supporters of same-sex marriage have to face the stark fact that legalisation will mean misery for women in developing countries. Perhaps death will be rare. But it will certainly happen. Are gay couples ready to force women to have selective abortions? Are they ready to accept that some women will die bearing a child they paid for? Are they ready to accept the degradation and exploitation that are inherent in their dream of being married?

Michael Cook is editor of MercatorNet. This article is reprinted under a Creative Commons license.


Advertisement
Featured Image
Saturday Chores / Tumblr
Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben

This woman mocks pro-lifers every week but raises money to save animals

Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben
By Ben Johnson

Tina Haver Currin and her husband, Grayson, have become heroes in the feminist blogosphere for mocking pro-life counselors who oppose abortion. But the feminist couple, who spend their Saturdays holding irreverent signs in the midst of sidewalk counselors in North Carolina, do not approve of killing in every case: They raise money for a no-kill cat shelter and have an abiding concern over “the ethics” of eating meat.

Tina, a “creative strategist” at Myriad Media and former English teaching assistant at UNC-Chapel Hill, is a self-described “atheist” with a penchant for “black metal” – a genre of heavy metal music extolling Satanism, with occasional ties to the neo-Nazi movement. She met her husband, Grayson, through a friend and bonded over their love of similar music.

She says she and Grayson were driving past A Preferred Women's Health Center, a chain of abortion facilities with an office in Raleigh, in March when the site of pro-life sidewalk counselors angered them.

After her husband suggested they make their own signs to stage a counterprotest, they took pictures of themselves holding placards with such derisive messages as “Honk if you're horny” and “Bring back Crystal Pepsi.”

Another sign simply said, “pro-cat.”

They began documenting their shenanigans on their blog, Saturday Chores, and soon they received profile pieces in Cosmopolitan and The Huffington Post. The executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina, Suzanne Buckley, recently sent Tina “a *heartfelt* thank-you” for her efforts.

“It's true that we're mocking people,” Grayson Haver Currin – who adopted his wife's maiden name when he married – told several media outlets. But Tina said their actions have been well received, except for “some creeps on the internet.”

While the couple cannot fathom anyone being concerned with unborn children – the first sign they ever made had an arrow pointing at pro-life advocates with the words “Weird hobby” – they are heavily involved in protecting stray cats from being put to sleep.

Tina is an organizer of the annual HepCat race to benefit the SAFE Haven Cat Shelter and Clinic, which its website describes as “a nonprofit, no-kill shelter” in Raleigh.

Tina, who has been a vegetarian since she was 12, told Cosmo that one of the first disagreements she and her husband had was over “the ethics and the politics of” eating meat. (The other was “about Grayson using gender pronouns.”) In time she convinced her husband to give up the joy of eating Bojangles chicken.

The born activist has taken to the streets throughout their marriage. She was arrested as part of the “Moral Monday” protests at the state capital, the weekly liberal protests against the policies of Republican Gov. Pat McCrory. In addition to McCrory's policies on abortion, she has said she is “upset about voter ID laws, [and] reduction of education funding and social programs.”

“By the way, we support marriage equality, too,” she blogged.

But it was not until they began opposing the pro-life movement that she gained any notoriety. Now, she said, her movement has ballooned from just two people to dozens.

She told The Huffington Post she “probably” had 60 people supporting her side outside the abortion facility last week. A photograph for the following Saturday showed perhaps half that many people in attendance.

Her ultimate goal, she said, is to have enough pro-abortion protesters to “crowd them out,” so that pro-life sidewalk counselors “don't have a chance to show their signs.”

“We would love to see this more humorous take on combating these hateful things spread,” she told Cosmo


Advertisement
Featured Image
womenagainstfeminism.tumblr.com
Hilary White Hilary White Follow Hilary

Growing ‘Women Against Feminism’ movement draws fury

Hilary White Hilary White Follow Hilary
By Hilary White
Image

Critics of feminism have long said that it is entering the final stages of its long career, with more of its assertions about the nature of human sexual and social relations being contradicted by the evidence and fewer young people following its dictates every decade. But in the last few weeks, it seems that feminism’s last gasp is being used to direct insults at young women who are lining up to publicly reject and ridicule it.

The Tumblr site Women Against Feminism has started a social networking trend in which thousands of young women photograph themselves holding signs bluntly denouncing feminism, giving a sharp indication that the feminist brand has become poison to young, hip, and internet-savvy women.

Mainstream and journalistic feminists have lashed out at the site and its followers, entering into an online spat over the increasingly popular photos. The signs say, “I am not a victim,” and “This is what an anti-feminist looks like.”

They continue: “I am an adult who is capable of taking responsibility for myself and my actions. I define myself and derive my value by my own standards. I don’t need to be ‘empowered’. I am not a target for violence and there is no war against me. I respect me and I refuse to demonize them and blame them for my problems.”

The messages held by the women pinpoint with pithy and acerbic precision exactly the reasons given by many critics that the movement has lost favour with young people. They call it a creed of double standards that promotes victimhood and endorses bullying of anyone who critiques it.

The site’s explanatory page, which was taken down for unknown reasons in the last two days, said, “Feminists are the only people who lose their minds with rage when you tell them that women already have the same exact rights as men. That’s not good enough. They want more. They desperately want to be victims. They want a privileged social position.”

The author goes on to accuse feminism in general of systematic censorship, discrimination, elitism and “policing other women” who do not toe the line – as well as baseline misandry. The anonymous creator denounced feminism’s adoption of “abortion as ‘empowerment’”:

This opinion is unpopular, but I don’t agree that I need to have my baby scraped out of my uterus in order to feel empowered. But the abortion industry (i.e. Planned Parenthood) makes a ton of money off this perversion of empowerment. ‘Abortion as empowerment’ teaches women to see their wombs as nothing but garbage bins full of disposable waste.

One of the contributors wrote, “I don’t need feminism because my self-worth is not directly tied to my victim complex. As a woman in the western world I am not oppressed, and neither are you,” says one. Another: “I don’t need feminism because I don’t need to bully someone to share my opinions with others.”

Some come right out and say that feminism promotes exactly the evils it purports to fight against: “I don’t need feminism because I believe in equality, not entitlements and supremacy.”

Although the site and its contentious photos have been running around the internet for many months, arguments among journalism’s feminists started breaking out this week after a mocking Buzzfeed feature helped the site gain momentum on social media outlets.

Some feminist journalists simply flung insults. Lillian Kalish sniffed on Ryot, “These Women Who Think They Don’t Need Feminism Don’t Know What Feminism Is.” “Did these posters ever think to look up the actual definition of feminism?”

Nuala McKeever, in the Belfast Telegraph, called the women posting the photos “silly, ignorant, vacuous wee girls with absolutely no thoughts beyond their own self-absorbed inanities.”

Time Magazine’s Sarah Miller said, “I Really, Truly, Fully Hate ‘Women Against Feminism’—But…” Miller wrote, “[T]he tendency to see sexism everywhere is proof that feminism is healthy and vigilant, and that is not necessarily a bad thing, because misogyny is insidious and rampant… We need feminism.”

But Miller added, “Still, the pain that we experience as women—even physical—does not give us the right to tell people there’s one way to think or feel, or to assume that we have some god-like understanding of everyone’s motivations.”

Cathy Young, however, responded in Time, saying, “Stop Fem-Splaining: What ‘Women Against Feminism’ Gets Right.” She writes, “The charge that feminism stereotypes men as predators while reducing women to helpless victims certainly doesn’t apply to all feminists—but it’s a reasonably fair description of a large, influential, highly visible segment of modern feminism.”

The site, Young says, “raises valid questions about the state of Western feminism in the 21st Century — questions that must be addressed if we are to continue making progress toward real gender equality.”

Sarah Boesveld wrote in the National Post on Friday that the site shows that feminism has become “complicated” and “sometimes alienating.” She quotes an email sent to the paper by 22 year-old Australian Lisa Sandford, who “believes in equality for the sexes” but firmly rejects feminism as “rude and nasty” and intends to be a stay-at-home mother. 

Sandford wrote, “If feminism really accepted equality, they would not tell me my views are wrong, they would accept it and let me be.”

Browse the 'Women Against Feminism' archives here (warning: occasional strong language).


Advertisement
Featured Image
Shutterstock.com
Steven W. Mosher and Anne Roback Morse

,

Welcome Baby Filipino 100 Million!

Steven W. Mosher and Anne Roback Morse
By Steven W. Mosher and Anne Roback Morse

Population Research Institute welcomes the birth of little Chonalyn Sentino. Baby Chonalyn was born this past Sunday to parents Clemente and Dailin, and was feted in the Philippines as “Baby 100 Million.” PRI welcomes Baby Chonalyn as well, saying that she will be a blessing to her family, her community, and her nation.

The Philippines is one of the largest Catholic countries in the world, and its people value children. For this reason, it has been a target of the population controllers for decades. It was one of the countries singled out by Henry Kissinger’s National Security Council in 1974 for special “attention” and, more recently, has been bullied by the Obama administration into passing its first population control law. 

The bill, which was touted as being all about promoting “reproductive health,” was actually intended to drive down the birth rate. For example, section 15  requires that all couples receive a “Certificate of Compliance” from the local Family Planning Office before becoming eligible for a marriage license.

Some in the Philippines are decrying Chonalyn’s birth, repeating USAID’s talking points about the “dangers” of overpopulation. They welcome Chonalyn as an individual little girl, while simultaneously calling for future little girls and boys to be removed from existence.

The Philippine Star wrote that the birth symbolized a “large population that will put a strain on the country's limited resources.” Another paper cited the executive director of the official Commission on Population who bluntly said “We'd like to push the fertility rate down to two children per (woman's) lifetime.” And the Global Post cited “concerned advocates” who thought the current population was not a “complement with the country's economic growth.”

Click "like" if you are PRO-LIFE!

But many other Filipinos aren’t buying into the anti-people hysteria. Francisco Antonio, a Filipino Chemical Engineering graduate student at Yale, adamantly rebutted the notion that there are too many Filipinos, saying: “I celebrate life because population control is defeatism disguised as pragmatism. And because human creativity holds more potential for protecting this planet and its inhabitants than any other resource I know of.”

A Filipina currently living in California told PRI that she welcomed the transition of her country to 100 million persons: “Filipinos are not a burden to the world population, because we not only care for our own but also for others in the world. One of the greatest and most sought after exports of the Philippines is our skilled, motivated, and exemplary workforce. And these workers tirelessly cultivate their family and community abroad and in the Philippines. We are a very social and civic minded people. We care and share because it is part of our culture and we do it with a smile.”

 Ed, a Filipino accountant, also celebrated the birth of Baby Chonalyn: “The typical Filipino does not associate a baby with ‘cost’ or ‘expense’ but rather as a ‘blessing’ and a ‘gift.’ This is because Filipinos recognize that true happiness does not come from the accumulation of material wealth or prestige, but rather, from true, genuine, and strong relationships with other people. [Filipinos] value life, not because the Church says or the Pope says so, but because they recognize it to be true. And the truth about the value of life, will continue to shine, long after the debates are over.”

It goes without saying that we at the Population Research Institute also welcome Chonalyn’s birth. We need more Filipinos, not fewer. 

Reprinted with permission from Pop.org.


Advertisement

Customize your experience.

Login with Facebook