Kathleen Gilbert

‘Get over it’: children of anonymous sperm donors met with hostility, ridicule, say activists

Kathleen Gilbert
Kathleen Gilbert
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June 19, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - For children of anonymous sperm donors yearning for a connection to their biological father, the world can be an unwelcome place.

Instead of meeting compassion, many say that society treats their pain with a dismissive or even hostile attitude - a rift caused by lack of awareness as much as by the brute force of a $3.3 billion industry.

Alana, the child of a sperm donor and the activist behind AnonymousUs.org, says she realized the hard way what she was up against when she began her awareness campaign.

“I thought it would be so easy to arrive, state the obvious that children need their fathers, and everyone would be like, oh my God, thank you for reminding us!” she said in the documentary “Anonymous Father’s Day.” “But there is a huge monster of money and people desperate for children, who don’t want me to make it harder for them to buy and sell children.”

She said that she has often met with ridicule and vitriol from people who tell her to “just go the beach and get a puppy and run around and have fun, and just get over it,” and even recounted the horrifying words directed at a colleague, who was told, “too bad you weren’t the load your Dad flushed down the toilet.”

“People are extremely vicious,” she said.

Elizabeth Marquardt, director of the Center for Children and Families at the Institute for American Values, who authored a study on the subject, said that most children begin to ask who their father is at “about age three.”

People are normally encouraged to “share, if we have them, stories of loss or confusion” about our families, Marquardt noted, “but these people somehow are just supposed to be grateful to exist.”

Documentary creator Jennifer Lahl, who was also behind the film “Eggsploitation” on the practice of egg donation, told LifeSiteNews.com that she has also noticed peculiar hostility to those most victimized by the commoditization of children.

“Just from the work that I’ve been doing ... there’s a lot more sympathy toward [exploited] egg donors than towards donor-conceived children,” Lahl told LifeSiteNews.com at a screening of the latest documentary in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday.

“When I show ‘Eggsploitation,’ there’s an overwhelming, oh my gosh this is horrible, we shouldn’t do this to young women,” she said, “versus, when I show ‘Anonymous Father’s Day,’ it’s like, well, so what? We’ve all had bad upbringing experiences.” Lahl said the reactions of egg-donor children are harder to track because she said most “are never told” of their origins.

Another hurdle, according to Alana - a women’s studies major who says she was inappropriately ridiculed as a Christian extremist because of her advocacy - is the gay and lesbian community, who see sperm donation as “the cleanest method for them to have children.” Another major demographic, she said, was “older couples with money.”

“The fact that they’re willing to spend $100,000 for a kid is—money talks, and I can’t compete with that,” she said.

Lahl said she was hopeful that the LGBT community would be won over to oppose sperm donation once they heard the stories of children conceived in this way. “If we can educate gay men on the harms of fertility drugs, on the harms of these procedures to the women that they need, and the reality of the children’s needs and children’s right to know, then I’m hopeful that we’ll win them over,” she said.

Statistics from 1988, the latest official numbers available, placed sperm donor births at 30-60,000 per year in the United States. However, as records are in many places now minimal to nonexistent - sperm donors can even be found on Craigslist - the true number has become virtually impossible to track.

Barry Stevens, one of 500-1,000 half-siblings fathered by a fertility clinic owner in the U.K., said that many object by saying that people shouldn’t question how they were conceived because they wouldn’t otherwise exist.

“If that were true, then anyone who is the product of a rape would have to endorse rape,” he said. “It’s quite possible to be grateful for your life and question aspects of your conception.”

Stevens said he learned of his origin when he was 18, after his stepfather died suddenly in an accident.

“I’m one of the first produced by science, and not sex. There was no sexual act that produced me, except masturbation,” he said.

Stevens illustrated the “genealogical bewilderment” suffered by those like him by describing a scenario in which a couple gives birth at a hospital and asks to see their baby a few hours later.

“The nurse says, OK, we’ll bring you a baby. And the father says, well, of course, we want to see our baby.” The nurse responds, “Oh well, we don’t do that in this hospital. Don’t worry, everybody who comes here is very healthy, very intelligent, we’ll bring you just a random baby, but it will be perfectly healthy and it’ll love you and you will love it, everything will be fine. What could be wrong with that?

“And of course, there is something wrong with that,” he said.

“If it’s so important in that situation, why is it so hard to understand that it might be a little bit important to us?”


Click here for more information on Anonymous Father’s Day.

Click here for more information on Eggsploitation.

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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.

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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!

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