Michael Cook

An unknown unknown for gay marriage supporters

Michael Cook
By Michael Cook
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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.”

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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.

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Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signs the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
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Indiana faces backlash as it becomes 20th state to protect religious liberty

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By Ben Johnson

INDIANAPOLIS, IN, March 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On Thursday, Indiana became the 20th state to prevent the government from forcing people of faith to violate their religious beliefs in business or the public square.

Gov. Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SB 101) into law, saying the freedom of religion is a preeminent American value.

“The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion, but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action,” Pence said.

Gov. Pence, a possible dark horse candidate for president in 2016, cited court cases brought by religious organizations and employers, including Catholic universities, against the HHS mandate. “One need look no further than the recent litigation concerning the Affordable Care Act. A private business and our own University of Notre Dame had to file lawsuits challenging provisions that required them to offer insurance coverage in violation of their religious views.”

The new law could also prevent Christian business owners from being compelled to bake a cake or take photographs of a same-sex "marriage" ceremony, if doing so violates their faith. In recent years, business owners have seen an increased level of prosecution for denying such services, despite their religious and moral beliefs.

The state's pro-life organization applauded Pence for his stance. "Indiana's pro-life community is grateful to Gov. Mike Pence for signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law,” said Indiana Right to Life's president and CEO Mike Fichter. “This bill will give pro-lifers a necessary legal recourse if they are pressured to support abortion against their deeply-held religious beliefs.”

“RFRA is an important bill to protect the religious freedom of Hoosiers who believe the right to life comes from God, not government,” he said.

The state RFRA is based on the federal bill introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. The Supreme Court cited the federal law when it ruled that Hobby Lobby had the right to refuse to fund abortion-inducing drugs, if doing so violated its owners' sincerely held religious beliefs.

In signing the measure – similar to the one Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed – Pence and the state of Indiana have faced a torrent of venom from opponents of the bill, who claim it grants a “right to discriminate” and raises the spectre of segregation.

"They've basically said, as long as your religion tells you to, it's OK to discriminate against people," said Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, a national homosexual pressure group.

The Disciples of Christ, a liberal Protestant denomination based in the state capital, has said it will move its 2017 annual convention if the RFRA became state law. The NCAA warned the bill's adoption “might affect future events” in the Hoosier state.

Pence denied such concerns, saying, "This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way I would've vetoed it."

The bill's supporters say that, under the Obama administration, it is Christians who are most likely to suffer discrimination.

"Originally RFRA laws were intended to protect small religious groups from undue burdens on practicing their faith in public life,” said Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. “It was not imagined there would come a day when laws might seek to jail or financially destroy nuns, rabbis or Christian camp counselors who prefer to abstain from the next wave of sexual and gender experimentation. And there's always a next wave.”

The bill's supporters note that it does not end the government's right to coerce people of faith into violating their conscience in every situation. However, it requires that doing so has to serve a compelling government interest and the government must use the least restrictive means possible. “There will be times when a state or federal government can show it has a compelling reason for burdening religious expression – to ensure public safety, for instance,” said Sarah Torre, an expert at the Heritage Foundation. “But Religious Freedom Restoration Acts set a high bar for the government to meet in order to restrict religious freedom.”

Restricting the ability of government to interfere in people's private decisions, especially their religious decisions, is the very purpose of the Constitution, its supporters say.

"Religious freedom is the cornerstone of all liberty for all people,” Tooley said. “Deny or reduce it, and there are no ultimate limits on the state's power to coerce."

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Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting.
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Porn is transforming our men from protectors into predators. Fight back.

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By Jonathon van Maren

Since I’ve gotten involved in anti-pornography work, I’ve met countless men who struggle, fight, or have beaten pornography. Each person seems to deal with the guilt and shame that accompanies porn use in a different way—some deny that it’s “all that bad,” others pretend that they could “stop whenever they want,” many insist that “everyone is doing it,” and most, when pressed, admit to a deep sense of self-loathing.

One worry surfaces often in conversation: What do my past or current struggles with pornography say about me as a man? Can I ever move past this and have a meaningful and fulfilling relationship?

I want to address this question just briefly, since I’ve encountered it so many times.

First, however, I’ve written before how I at times dislike the language of “struggling” with pornography or pornography “addiction,” not because they aren’t accurate but because too often they are used as an excuse rather than an explanation. It is true, many do in fact “struggle” with what can legitimately be considered an addiction, but when this language is used to describe an interminable battle with no end (and I’ve met dozens of men for whom this is the case), then I prefer we use terminology like “fighting my porn habit.” A semantic debate, certainly, but one I think is important. We need to stop struggling with porn and start fighting it.

Secondly, pornography does do devastating things to one’s sense of masculinity. We know this. Pornography enslaves men by the millions, perverting their role as protector and defender of the more vulnerable and turning them into sexual cannibals, consuming those they see on-screen to satisfy their sexual appetites.

What often starts as mere curiosity or an accidental encounter can turn into something that invades the mind and twists even the most basic attractions. I’ve met porn users who can’t believe the types of things they want to watch. They haven’t simply been using porn. Porn has actively reshaped them into something they don’t recognize and don’t like. 

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Porn is this generation’s great assault on masculinity and the role of men in society. It is essential that we win this battle for the sake of society’s survival. Contrary to what the gender-bending and family-morphing progressive elites claim, good husbands and good fathers and good church leaders are necessary for a healthy society. But pornography is destroying marriages, creating distant and disconnected fathers, and, metaphoricaclly castrating men, hindering their ability and desire to make a positive difference in the society around us.

So, with this sobering set of facts in mind let’s return to the question: what do pornography struggles, past and present, say about a man?

The proper way to respond is with everything that is good about masculinity. We have to fight pornography as men have fought countless evils throughout the ages. We need to fight pornography to protect women, and wives, and children, and our society at large. This is how pornography threatens society, by castrating men, and turning them from protectors into predators. Rooting out the evil in our own lives allows us to better fulfill the role we are called to perform in the lives of others. Battling our own demons enables us to battle the wider cultural demons. Every day without porn is another bit of virtue built. Virtue is not something you’re born with. Virtues are habits that you build. And one day without porn is the first step towards the virtue of being porn-free.

Many men ask me if men who have had past porn addictions are cut out for being in a relationship or working in the pro-life movement or in other areas where we are called to protect and defend the weak and vulnerable. And the answer to that is an unequivocal yes. Our society needs men who know what it means to fight battles and win. Our society needs men who can say that they fought porn and they beat porn, because their families and their friends were too important to risk. Our society needs men who rose to the challenge that the evils of their generation threw at them, and became better men as the result. And our society needs men who can help their friends and their sons and those around them fight the plague of pornography and free themselves from it, too—and who can understand better and offer encouragement more relevant than someone who has fought and been freed themselves?

So the answer to men is yes. Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting. Lend them support and encouragement. We cannot change the fact that porn has left an enormous path of destruction in its wake. But we can change the fact that too many people aren’t fighting it. We can change our own involvement. And we can rise to the challenge and face this threat to masculinity with all that is good about masculinity.

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Red Alert!

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By John-Henry Westen

I don’t like having to do this, but we have always found it best to be totally upfront with our readers: our Spring fundraising campaign is now worrying us! 

You see, with just 6 days remaining, we have only raised 30% of our goal, with $125,000 still left to raise. That is a long ways to go yet.

We have no choice but to reach our minimum goal of $175,000 if we are going to be able to continue serving the 5+ million readers who rely on us every month for investigative and groundbreaking news reports on life, faith and family issues.

Every year, LifeSite readership continues to grow by leaps and bounds. This year, we are again experiencing record-breaking interest, with over 6 million people visiting our website last month alone!

This unprecedented growth in turn creates its own demand for increased staff and resources, as we struggle to serve these millions of new readers.

And especially keep this in mind. As many more people read LifeSite, our mission of bringing about cultural change gets boosted. Our ultimate goal has always been to educate and activate the public to take well-informed, needed actions.

Another upside to our huge growth in readers is that it should be that much easier to reach our goal. To put it simply: if each person who read this one email donated whatever they could (even just $10) we would easily surpass our goal! 

Today, I hope you will join the many heroes who keep this ship afloat, and enable us to proclaim the truth through our reporting to tens of millions of people every year!

Your donations to LifeSite cause major things to happen! We see that every day and it is very exciting. Please join with us in making a cultural impact with a donation of ANY AMOUNT right now. 

You can also donate by phone or mail. We would love to hear from you!

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