John M. Smoot

Why and how we should tackle the sperm-sale industry

John M. Smoot
By John Smoot
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February 28, 2013 (PublicDiscourse) - Yesterday I explained the problems that arise from commercialized sperm donation—namely degraded men who are absent fathers to children disturbed by the circumstances of their birth. Today I explore more closely the role that money plays as men’s greatest motive for donating sperm, and its impact on future children. I conclude by proposing how we can challenge the sperm-sale industry.

Money Matters

Many people in the assisted reproductive technology world want adult-conceived donor children to hush their complaints and ignore their own suffering. But some new buyers are listening to them. Sperm banks now offer more financial compensation to donors who are willing to be identified when a child turns eighteen. According to Rene Almeling, one sperm facility now pays 55 percent more to donors willing to be identified ($100 per donation) than it pays to anonymous donors ($65 per donation). At three cups per week, four weeks per month, $100 per sample creates a monthly income of $1200.

This money is the primary incentive for identification, not a sense of responsibility or a desire to know one’s children. To increase sales, men sometimes are prompted by facility staff members to beef up their stated motives for donating. One staff member explained to Almeling that if a profile is negative, the man may be further queried:

“Do you really mean that money is the only thing for you?” And if it is, we are honest enough to just leave it that way. But a lot of times [donors] say, “Well, it’s not just the money, it’s also. . . .” [So the staff will say,] “Why don’t you rewrite this little portion to reflect that also?”

The facilities do not invest money in these men without expecting a substantial profit from the sale of their sperm. So they have every reason to make donor profiles as appealing as possible. Altruism is an appealing motive to sperm buyers. Avarice is not.

If men were not paid $50 to $100 per donation, how many would show up at the clinic each week? The commonsense answer is very few, if any. In contrast, millions of men go out of their way to donate blood every year for no fee. They are willing to undergo discomfort and inconvenience without reimbursement.

Like sperm donors, blood donors don’t know where or how their blood will be used, but blood does not create children. The reality is that selling sperm is nearly always a selfish act done for money with no regard for the wellbeing of the children produced. When men sell their sperm knowing it will be used to create children but don’t know where, when, by whom, or under what circumstances their children will be born, it is hard to make a case for altruism.

While some men (e.g., Ben in Almeling’s book) claim to sell their sperm because they think the world will be a better place with more of their genes in circulation, most sellers acknowledge the money factor. Consider this passage from a recent article in The Guardian on Simon, age 24, who is an anonymous donor in Denmark.

“I moved to Aarhus four years ago and I couldn't find a job. I didn't have any money, but I had an apartment I couldn't afford and that was how I came to be a donor.” Simon would sometimes visit Cryos five days a week, but he has now cut it down to twice-weekly. “It's such a weird experience,” he says. “You go in and everyone knows exactly what you are doing.” Simon earns around 2000 kroner a month and he uses the money to buy treats such as an Xbox.

The same article reports that Simon probably has more than 100 children and quotes him saying, “My parents don't know I do this. My mother would find it hard to know she had grandchildren she would never meet—that would upset her.”

Where is Dad?

When Almeling asked a past president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, “What happens to the donors? Do they forget it, or is it part of their life for the rest of their lives?” the physician answered: “The sperm donors probably couldn’t give a hoot about what happened to those kids. They did it for the money. It was easy to collect the sperm and [then] good-bye.”

Betsy Cairo, a University of Northern Colorado professor who founded the CryoGam Colorado sperm bank in Greeley, Colorado, has observed to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that “sometimes these donors are 19 or 20. They don't think that far down the road. Some might even forget they were a donor in college.”

Ultimately, these men are creating children with strangers around the world about whom they know nothing. Is the recipient capable? Will the children be safe, fed, loved? What country are the children in? They have no idea. There are no background checks, no criminal record checks, and no home studies. There are no testimonials in support of the sperm buyers, who often arrange through a doctor for the sperm to be shipped directly to their homes.

Moreover, no one knows how many children are born through sperm donation. There are more than 150 commercial sperm facilities in the United States. One facility cited in Almeling’s book ships approximately 2,500 vials of sperm around the world each month. There is no requirement that the purchasers report a successful birth back to the facility. It is estimated that only 20 percent to 40 percent of births are reported back. So there is no way to measure how many children are conceived each year with purchased sperm or how most of these children are doing.

Suggestions for Action

What can be done? Here are some suggestions.

Donors: If you have already donated sperm, but have second thoughts, regrets, or simply don’t want more children conceived through the use of your sperm, consider sending a letter (return receipt requested) to the sperm facility, unequivocally withdrawing your consent to the use of your sperm and demanding that it be destroyed. A strong argument can be made that a person cannot contract away the right to decide that no (more) children be conceived with his sperm. This is not about the sale of widgets. This is about creating human life. In responding to your request, the sperm facility may have to consider the emotional, psychological, and financial damage that may be caused by choosing to ignore an unequivocal demand from you that your sperm not be used.

Charitable Institutions, Non-Profits, and Foundations: Consider funding a professionally designed website that promotes the case against sperm donation. The site could post articles, stories from adult-donor-conceived children, and appropriate links to other sites such as Anonymous Us. It could serve as a referral resource for parents, professors, university staff, and friends of potential donors. These men could be encouraged or asked to review the site before making their decision.

Colleges and Universities: Proponents of sperm donation can promote it by showing thousands of young smiling children with their mothers but as I’ve stated already, it’s unclear how many children have been conceived through donation (60 percent to 80 percent do not have their births reported to the facility), and how well they are faring. It’s likely that many of them, especially those who are adults, are bothered by their birth circumstances. Professors, administrators, coaches, and campus ministry staff could counter the billion-dollar gamete industry, Hollywood, and pro-donation colleagues with newspaper articles, op-eds, letters to the editor, forums on fatherhood, mentoring services, and possibly, small counter-ads: “Thinking about sperm donation? Think again! Contact A, or go to website B, or send an email to C address.”

Politicians: Since last year, Washington state now allows children conceived through sperm purchased from in-state facilities to access donor medical histories and, unless a donor specifically opts out, donor identification when the children turn eighteen. If Britain, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and parts of New Zealand and Australia have been able to ban anonymous sperm “donation” on humanitarian grounds, then such progress on a state-by-state basis in the United States is certainly possible.

Truth Be Not Drowned

G.K. Chesterton wrote that Aldous Huxley “lit up the whole loathsome landscape of . . . synthetic humanity and manufactured men and women” by naming his satirical utopia Brave New World. He said it would take a “certain amount of bravery, as well as brutality” and “some courage, and even self-sacrifice, to establish anything so utterly disgusting . . . in the world of fact.”Yet here we are.

John M. Smoot served as a trial court judge of Boston’s Probate and Family Court from 1990 to 2012. Reprinted with permission from The Public Discourse.

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Kirsten Andersen Kirsten Andersen Follow Kirsten

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Federal judge strikes down Nebraska’s marriage law

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By Kirsten Anderson

LINCOLN, NE, March 4, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Homosexual activists celebrated another victory Monday as U.S. District Judge Joseph Bataillon once again ordered the state of Nebraska to stop enforcing its marriage protection amendment, which defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

Bataillon, who was appointed by former president Bill Clinton, struck down the amendment when it was first challenged by gay activists ten years ago, but his decision was overturned by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.  Now that gay activists have challenged the law again, the judge has issued a new ruling barring its enforcement, citing the recent string of federal court victories by supporters of same-sex “marriage.”

Bataillon said laws limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples unfairly discriminate based on “archaic” and “outdated” gender stereotypes.  

“[Nebraska’s Marriage] Amendment explicitly creates a classification based on gender because a person's eligibility to marry, or to have his or her marriage recognized, is based on the gender of the individuals seeking to marry,” Bataillon wrote.  “[It] is an unabashedly gender-specific infringement of the equal rights of its citizens.”

The judge rejected the state’s assertion that the citizens of Nebraska, who approved the marriage amendment in 2000 with 70 percent of the vote, should be the ones to make any changes to the societally accepted definition of marriage.

“The Amendment is not somehow insulated from review because it was enacted by a significant majority,” Bataillon wrote.  “Minorities trampled on by the democratic process have recourse to the courts; the recourse is called constitutional law.”

Bataillon also rejected the state’s argument that traditional male-female marriages deserve special protection because they are the natural, ideal environment in which children are conceived and raised.

“With the advent of modern science and modern adoption laws, same sex couples can and do responsibly raise children,” the judge wrote. “Unfortunately, this law inhibits their commendable efforts.”

Bataillon condemned the state’s prohibition of adoption by same-sex couples as “particularly harmful” and “constitutionally repugnant.”

“The State's supposed purpose in channeling children into stable relationships is not served by a same-sex marriage ban,” Bataillon wrote.  “It is both underinclusive in that it allows heterosexual people to have and rear children in unstable or abusive situations and at the same time prevents committed and stable same-sex couples from adopting and providing loving homes to children.”

“The policy has no rational connection to the State's purported purpose of strengthening families and, in fact, it thwarts that purpose by denying deserving children a stable home.”

In conclusion, the judge ordered state officials to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples and granting full marital benefits to same-sex couples who “married” outside the state, writing: “All relevant state officials are ordered to treat same-sex couples the same as different sex couples in the context of processing a marriage license or determining the rights, protections, obligations or benefits of marriage.”

Homosexual activists praised Bataillon’s ruling Monday, with the Nebraska ACLU calling it “a day for celebration.”

One of the homosexual plaintiffs in the case, Tracey Weitz, said she and her lesbian lover were taking the ACLU’s words to heart. “I think we'll have a bigger party than we did when we were married,” she told KETV.

But others were not as pleased with the decision, including state officials and some religious leaders.

“Marriage is between a man and a woman, and has as one of its principal purposes the procreation and rearing of children,” Roman Catholic Archbishop George Lucas and Bishops James Conley and William Dendinger said in a joint statement. "Marriage was established by God before the state and before the Church, and the vitality of both depends on the fruitful union of husband and wife."

“Because [Bataillon's] decision undermines the fundamental human right of every child to know, and as far as possible, be united with his or her mother and father, we pray for a just resolution in higher courts."

Bataillon made his order effective March 9, to give state officials a week to appeal.  Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts, a Republican, and Attorney General Doug Peterson immediately sought to overturn the ruling, filing a request for an emergency injunction with the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.

“The definition of marriage is an issue for the people of Nebraska, and an activist judge should not substitute his personal political preferences for the will of the people,” Ricketts said.  He said he and Peterson intend to keep up the fight to “uphold Nebraska's Constitution and the will of the people of our great state.”

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San Diego’s new bishop champions ‘seamless garment’ theory: poverty on same moral level as abortion

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By Hilary White

ROME, March 4, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Pope Francis’ latest episcopal appointment in the United States, to the Diocese of San Diego, is a bishop known as a champion of leftwing political causes under the rubric of the “seamless garment” theory, placing abortion and euthanasia on the same moral level as immigration and poverty.

The Vatican announced Tuesday that Bishop Robert McElroy, currently an auxiliary bishop in San Francisco, will replace Bishop Cirilo Flores, who died of cancer last year.

The liberal Jesuit magazine America, with whom McElroy has a long and friendly relationship, was effusive at the appointment, calling McElroy an “advocate for the poor” and the appointment by Pope Francis “highly significant.” America’s Gerard O’Connell called McElroy “one of the intellectual heavyweights in the American hierarchy” who has “wholeheartedly embraced the vision and pastoral approach of Pope Francis.” He replaces Bishop Cirilo Flores, who died of cancer last year.

In a 2013 interview with O’Connell for La Stampa’s Inside the Vatican magazine, McElroy called poverty the “preeminent” issue for the Catholic Church, and complained, “In recent years, the conference of bishops has labeled abortion and euthanasia as the preeminent issues in the political order, but not poverty. This has had the effect of downgrading the perceived importance of poverty as a central focus for the Church’s witness.”

He added that the US bishops’ focus on issues of “intrinsic evil” like abortion, has distracted them from the fight against “structural sin” that is normally cited by the Church’s far-left as the cause of poverty. “I think that both issues should be intertwined in the Church’s approach to advancing the common good in the political order because I believe that it is compassion which morally unites these two issues – compassion for the suffering of the poor and compassion for the unborn.”

“I still am a believer in the underlying logic of Cardinal Bernardin’s seamless garment approach that saw all life issues as part of a continuum linked by the Catholic notions of compassion and justice.”

He made explicit his belief that the life issues are on an equal par with prudential matters like just war theory and immigration reform in a column for America the same year. Pope Francis’ “teachings demand a transformation of the existing Catholic political conversation in our nation, a transformation reflecting three themes: prioritizing the issue of poverty, focusing not only on intrinsic evils but also on structural sin, and acting with prudence when applying Catholic moral principles to specific legal enactments,” he wrote.

To truly be a “church for the poor,” the Catholic Church “must elevate the issue of poverty to the very top of its political agenda, establishing poverty alongside abortion as the pre-eminent moral issues.”

McElroy has also joined the left-leaning majority of US Catholic bishops in refusing to deny Communion to pro-abortion Catholic politicians. In a 2005 column for America, he called the proposal “partisan,” “Republican,” and “coercive.”

McElroy conceded that the existence of “pro-choice” Catholic politicians represents a “major failure in Church life,” but added that the suggestion that such people have excommunicated themselves “casts aside all the limitations and admonitions to pastoral solicitude that the church has traditionally demanded.” Repeating a favourite phrase of many US bishops, McElroy said that Americans “recoil from the use of the Eucharist as a political weapon.” 

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David F. Prentis

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Contraception gave us divorce and gay ‘marriage’ and will destroy us: here’s how

David F. Prentis
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March 4, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Although there has always been contraception, its acceptance and practice by society as a whole is a relatively new phenomenon. In the first part of the 20th century barrier methods became through mass production increasingly used. However, with the advent of the hormonal contraceptive pill in the 1960s the contraceptive era, ushering in the sexual revolution, really took off.

The term “revolution” is by no means exaggerated, for the result was a fundamental change in the understanding of human sexuality in society. With the pill, people thought, nothing can happen, i.e. no child could be conceived. Inhibitions broke down, so that there was an increase in adultery, living together before marriage and living together with no thought of marriage. Amoral sex education with the message, “You can do anything you like so long as your partner agrees and you use contraception. If there is an accident, have an abortion,” promoted sexual promiscuity from puberty onwards. Sexual activity has been degraded into a form of entertainment.

The immediate consequences of promiscuity starting in adolescence are obvious: the rampant increase of sexually transmitted diseases, infertility and the incapability of forming long-term relationships through frequent changes of partners and repeated disappointments.

The assumption that “nothing can happen” is erroneous, because contraceptives are by no means 100% effective. Children are conceived, and such “errors” must be corrected – the child is aborted.[1] The result has been devastating: the number of babies killed by abortion every year is about the same as the total number of deaths in the whole of World War II.

Apart from the carnage, enormous havoc is created in the relationship of the parents, whether married or not, very often leading to its breakdown. It would also be naive to imagine that Catholic women never resort to abortion.

The situation of couples practising NFP however is quite different. They are aware every day of the state of their fertility, asking themselves whether the marriage act on that day would result in conception; they do not lose sight of the child who could be conceived. They do not forget the fundamental purpose of the act. An unplanned child is therefore usually accepted.

The widespread practice of abortion leads to euthanasia. If it is acceptable to kill one category of people, then it is logically acceptable to kill others, specifically the ill, the handicapped and the old, for human life is no longer sacred. A chilling example of this kind of development can be seen in the National Socialist regime in Germany.

The pill “culture” leads to the rejection of children, small families, and a demographic winter. In the long-term it will be impossible to pay pensions. For couples practising NFP however, the child is neither an error nor a threat. Their natural love of children is not destroyed. They have larger families. The 15 teaching couples in our organisation, for example, have 62 children so far, an average of 4.1 per family.

The separation of sexual activity from child-bearing leads to the acceptance of the production of children through assisted reproduction without recourse to the marital act in the case of infertility. Through IVF society is being led, inspired by Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, to the acceptance of controlled reproduction. Human beings are reduced to products. They are mass produced, selected, rejected, frozen or used in experiments. They are treated as material goods, in short, as slaves.

Slavery has been formally reintroduced into society. A doctor, whether mixing sperm and eggs in a Petri dish or injecting a sperm into an egg, is playing God. The arrogance of it! Surely this modern sin should be listed amongst those which cry to heaven.

When the practice of sterilised sexual intercourse is accepted, it leads logically to the acceptance of all practices leading to orgasm: oral, anal, homosexual acts, etc. The whole homosexual movement has become possible only through the general acceptance of contraceptive practice and the reduction of sexuality to a source of entertainment.

The practice of contraception within marriage contains within itself the mutual rejection of the spouses. It leads to the destruction of love. It belongs to the nature of love to give oneself, even to the point of sacrifice, seen eminently in the self-sacrifice of Christ on the cross. Even in our ordinary life a mother’s sacrifice of herself for her child is by no means exceptional. A mother will naturally go to great lengths to help her child, exceptionally even giving up her own life. The marriage act is meant to be an act of mutual love. The natural fruit of that love is the child. The spouses give and receive each other mutually completely. Even during the naturally infertile days of the cycle they give each other all they have at that time – their mutual love.

But if they use contraception they say to each other subconsciously, “I do give myself to you, but without my fertility, and I don’t want your fertility either.” Is that love? The act which in its nature expresses the total self-giving and receiving of the spouses contains an element of rejection, and therefore becomes a lie. When this act of rejection is systematically and continually repeated, love dies. The marriage is at least burdened. Many marriages break down.

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Couples who use NFP do not practise this subconscious, systematic rejection. From personal experience and observation of our clients we see that such marriages are more stable. This is also shown in studies. Greater stability is evident even in those without religious practice. [2]

Contraception, which leads logically to other evils as described above, is destroying society. There are too few children and nations are dying out. It leads to abortion, as those who promote it concede. The combination of promoting promiscuity through Godless sex education, the long-term use of hormonal contraception with back-up abortions and the postponement of child-bearing leads to increased infertility.

The solution offered is not a true therapy of infertility, but assisted reproduction which bypasses the normal process of transmission of life through the marriage act. The long-term purpose of this policy could well be the desire to subject reproduction to state control, which would allow only those children to be born who pass quality control. At present this is illusory, but the tendency can be seen. It would appear that an elite group wishes to create a society of virtual slaves obedient to their desires. A new totalitarianism is being formed.

To this end it is necessary to destroy or at least weaken marriage and the family. For this purpose contraception, especially the convenient hormonal forms, is eminently suitable. And those who pour their millions into the homosexual movement and the gender ideology are not concerned with helping homosexuals and those with problems of sexual identity. Rather they are using these people to extend the concept of marriage and ultimately to widen its meaning so much as to make it meaningless.

 


[1] Baklinski, P, Two-thirds of women seeking abortions were using contraception: Britain’s largest abortion provider, http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/two-thirds-of-women-seeking-abortions-were-using-contraception-britains-lar

[2] Wilson, M.A.: The Practice of Natural Family Planning versu the Use of Artificial Birth Control: Family, Sexual and Moral Issues, Catholic Social Sceince Review, Volume VII, November 2002.

Rhomberg, W., Rhomberg, M, Weißenbach, H.: Natural Family Planning (NFP): The Symptothermal Method (Rötzer) as a Familiy Binding Tool. Results of a Survey among Members of INER, 2008, http://www.iner.org/files/02_anwenden/Download/NER%20Survey%202008%20Cathol%20Soc%20Sci%20Rev.pdf

 

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