Ruth Speaks Out

This blog is maintained by the Ruth Institute. It provides a place for our Circle of Experts to express themselves. This is where the scholars, experts, students and followers of the Ruth Institute engage in constructive dialogue about the issues surrounding the Sexual Revolution. We discuss public policy, social practices, legal doctrines and much more.


Amy Coney Barrett’s Fitness for the Supreme Court: In Vitro Fertilization and American Consumerism

by Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse

This article first posted at National Catholic Register on October 13, 2020.

COMMENTARY: I don’t know Judge Amy Coney Barrett. But I know something about infertility and artificial reproductive technologies.

Amy Coney Barrett is a danger to families who desperately want children. So says Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., based on an advertisement which Barrett signed back in 2006, which included the statement that “we defend the right to life from fertilization to natural death.” This, Duckworth suggests, disqualifies Barrett from the U.S. Supreme Court.


Duckworth, who has two daughters through IVF, told Fox News: “If a fertilized egg in a person is a person, then that really has significant negative consequences for a family like mine that desperately wanted to have children.”

I don’t know Judge Barrett from Adam. But I do know something about infertility and the IVF industry. The IVF industry appeals to the worst instincts of American consumerism. The Catholic critique of artificial reproductive technologies is morally defensible.

Get what you want, the way you want it, when you want it. Sounds like a fine idea. Pick the one you want. Pay for it. Ignore all the others. Or just throw away anything you are tired of or don’t want, or that doesn’t satisfy you. Or you could turn it in for a refund. Or maybe you could buy a few extras to keep on hand just in case you want more. You can always throw them away later. Or maybe donate them to a charity.

“Have it your way,” is a fine advertising slogan for hamburgers. Take advantage of quantity discounts and stock up just in case, is a fine strategy for buying paper towels. But the “object” in question when considering artificial reproductive technologies is not an object at all, but a person. I buy the sperm or egg of a stranger. I pay someone to mix their gametes with mine. I look at the embryos. With the help of an expert with exquisite taste, I choose the ones I want. I throw away the rest. Or, maybe, I put them in cold storage, just in case I decide I want them later.

This is the “assisted reproductive technology” industry, including IVF, surrogacy and related technologies. Consumers of this product are sometimes called “commissioning parents.” The fact that people want the product is supposed to be a sufficient moral justification to allow them to have what they want.

Two points for the record: First, we must never regret the existence of a particular child, no matter how that child was conceived. Disapproval of the circumstances of a person’s conception does not translate into a belief that the person so conceived is unworthy or defective. Presumably, everyone opposes rape as an immoral act. But a child conceived in rape is still a full member of the human race, fully deserving of respect, love and legal protection. Likewise, the child conceived through artificial means is fully human, fully deserving of respect, love and legal protection.

Second, do not try to dismiss my arguments with the assertion that I don’t know the pain of infertility. As a matter of fact, I do. My husband and I dealt with infertility for four painful years. We can attest that it is a miserable experience. What we deny is that the depth of our misery or the intensity of our desire for a child is relevant to the question at hand.

Duckworth herself raised one of the crucial questions. Without seeming to realize the significance of her statement, she told Fox News:

“In my case, with both of my girls, they looked at two or three fertilized eggs, not even embryos at this point, and said, you know, this one isn’t very viable,” Duckworth explained. “The third discarded could result in my doctor being criminalized.”

Duckworth added: “If a fertilized egg in a person is a person, then that really has significant negative consequences for a family like mine that desperately wanted to have children.”

What exactly is the third “discarded” thing? Duckworth says these zygotes are “not even embryos” at this point. Does she deny that the zygote is alive? How can a non-living thing be “viable” or “not very viable?” The terms “zygote,” “embryo,” and “fetus” describe stages of biological human development, not the development into a human person.

This is the first of the contradictions of this position. If the zygote is chosen, it is Duckworth’s precious child. If it is discarded, does that mean it never was anything or anyone of value?

Here is a related ethical dilemma. Suppose they don’t want to discard the embryo, but they don’t want to gestate her right away, either. So they freeze her. Later, they unfreeze her, gestate her, and then she becomes their precious child. What was this person during the time that she was frozen? An object? A nonperson?

Now you may think that I am causing problems here, because I referred to the frozen embryo as a person. “You blurred the distinction between the zygote and the embryo and the ultimate person. If we would just all get on board with the proper terminology and proper thought process, then all these problems would go away.”

But honestly, it doesn’t have to be me who raises this question. What if one of the living children herself brings up these topics? “Hey Mom and Dad, what about all my frozen siblings? Did you guys really kill a couple of my siblings on the very day that you “chose” me to live? I could have been the one that got frozen or killed.” And so on.

Will you have answers for these questions? Will your answers be good enough for her? For that matter, will your answers be good enough for you and for your child’s other parent as the years go by?

I have known people who have been in agony for years over their frozen children. I know an adult man whose mother revealed that she had an abortion when he was a teenager. The “survivors guilt” and disorientation he experienced were surreal. These questions will not all go away, just because no one is asking them right now.

Questions of this kind flow directly from the initial proposition that children are best viewed as the objects of their parents’ will. If the parents want the child, the child has legally recognized rights. If the parents do not want the child, they can do anything they want, at least before birth, and possibly beyond.

The most coherent alternative moral position is each child is an unrepeatable gift from a loving God. God created this particular child to reflect his goodness in some unique way. Our participation in the procreative process is to love our child’s other parent and allow God to bless that love as he deems best for all of us. As parents, we accept the children God gives us and care for each of them to the best of our ability. If God does not give us children, we accept this fact with grace and move on with our lives.

As I say, I do not know Judge Amy Coney Barrett or what she believes. But I do know this: the IVF industry is indefensible. The Catholic alternative is both intellectually coherent and morally defensible. And I am not ashamed to say so.

Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D., is the founder and president of The Ruth Institute. Her latest book is The Sexual State: How Elite Ideologies are Destroying Lives (and how the Church was Right All Along).

 

 


Ruth Inst: Tragedy of Ukrainian Babies Should Make Us Seriously Question Surrogacy

“It’s heartrending to see pictures of babies stuck in a nursery in Ukraine,” said Ruth Institute President Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D. “These children were born to surrogate mothers. But due to a ban on foreign travel, caused by the coronavirus, foreign families aren’t able to claim the babies for which they contracted.”

Surrogacy is a thriving business in Ukraine. It’s estimated that each year between 2,000 and 2,500 surrogates produce babies for foreign families. For this, they receive between $15,000 and $17,000. The companies that act as go-betweens get twice that amount.

“What should be the result of love between two people becomes a commercial transaction, where money is paid and a product delivered,” said Morse. “The child will likely never know the identity of his birth mother. He’ll never know his heritage.”


“The surrogate mother is paid to rent her womb for nine months. In poor countries like Ukraine, $15,000 to $17,000 is hard to resist. The companies that facilitate the transaction are exploiting these women,” Morse said.

She continued: “The most important immediate problem is finding a way to get these children out. If they remain institutionalized in Ukraine, who can say what will become of them.”

“After that, the public – in both the United States and Europe, where the market exists -- must begin to face the hard questions about surrogacy, which is now a $30-billion global business. Surrogacy should be banned, though the Ukrainian company is in full compliance with its government’s regulations. The buying and selling of babies is so egregious, however, you can’t put enough regulatory band-aids on it. This business does not belong in a humane society,” Morse said.

~~~

See the Ruth Institute’s May 6 release on Anderson Cooper and surrogacy.

The Ruth Institute is a global non-profit organization leading an international interfaith coalition to defend the family and build a civilization of love.

Jennifer Roback Morse is the author of The Sexual State: How Elite Ideologies Are Destroying Lives.

See The Ruth Institute pamphlet, “Children and Donor Conception and Assisted Reproduction.”

To schedule an interview with Dr. Morse, contact media@ruthinstitute.org.


What’s Love Got to Do With It — Surrogacy for the Rich and Famous

by Jennifer Roback Morse

COMMENTARY: Anderson Cooper’s recent acquisition of a child through surrogacy underscores that surrogacy is inherently unfair.

This article was first posted May 14, 2020, at NCRegister.com.

Just before Mother’s Day, CNN newscaster Anderson Cooper, who is openly gay and super-rich, announced that he “became a father.” Named Wyatt, Cooper’s son will probably never celebrate Mother’s Day.

The irony was not lost on celebrated novelist Joyce Carol Oates, who tweeted:


“You’d think that dear Anderson was both father and mother (how strange for the mother who’d been pregnant for 9 months, delivered a baby, presented Anderson with the baby and is now gone”).

This unleashed a torrent of abuse on Twitter. Oates was called “homophobic,” “vile” and “loony tunes.” Challenge a sacred cow of the Sexual Revolution and its unthinking acolytes get hysterical. But Joyce Carol Oates is more correct than her critics. This surrogacy arrangement erases both the gestational mother and the genetic mother.

The son of heiress Gloria Vanderbilt had baby Wyatt with an unnamed surrogate. While Cooper expressed eternal gratitude to her, she has no right to the child she carried for nine months and will probably never see again. Yes, he says he is happy to have her and her whole family as part of his family. But when push comes to shove (as it often does in these cases) she has no legal rights whatsoever.

That’s just the gestational mother. Meanwhile, the genetic mother, most likely a completely different person, has also been completely erased. The woman who sold her eggs so that Cooper could “become a father” is a legal stranger to Wyatt. He may have her eyes or her dimples or her freckles. But this woman, too, is out of the picture.

Cooper had a partner, Benjamin Maisani, but they parted company in 2018. Cooper told People magazine, “Benjamin is going to be a co-parent to Wyatt, even though we’re not together anymore, but, you know, he's my family and I want him to be Wyatt's family, as well.”

Will this be in Cooper’s home, Maisani’s home or neutral territory? I have to wonder, as well, what Maisani’s legal status will be. Is he on little Wyatt’s birth certificate? Will the family court recognize Maisani as “family,” in the event of a dispute over Wyatt’s care? These blissful “alternative families” have a way of breaking down under the daily stress of parenting.

But maybe there won’t be too much stress. The CNN anchor announced that he will not take parental leave. He’s just too busy covering the coronavirus pandemic. Presumably, there is a nanny in the picture who will handle all that daily stress and experience the daily joys of parenthood.

Let's tally up the scorecard. Cooper paid to have “his baby” grown in the body of a stranger. Despite the co-parenting announcement, for all intents and purposes, Wyatt will grow up in a single-parent family. In fact, he will grow up in a pre-divorced family. The one and only genetic parent in Wyatt’s life, his father, is too busy to take time out of his hectic schedule to be with him as a newborn. And in all likelihood, there will never be a person the child can call a mother in his life.

Meanwhile, my fellow Catholics, we can take pride in our Church’s foresight and wisdom. The Church asks us to consider, “What is owed to the child?” The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, headed by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, issued an “Instruction on respect for human life,” called by its Latin title, Donum Vitae. In it, he makes these still pertinent observations:

Spouses mutually express their personal love in the ‘language of the body’ which clearly involves both ‘spousal meanings’ and parental ones. The conjugal act is an act that is inseparably corporal and spiritual. It is in their bodies and through their bodies that the spouses consummate their marriage and are able to become father and mother. In order to respect the language of their bodies and their natural generosity, the procreation of a person must be the fruit and the result of married love.

The child is the embodiment of the parents’ love for each other. Every person has the right to come into existence as the result of the physical and spiritual union of his or her natural parents. The body matters. The identity of the parents matters. The love of the parents for each other matters.

In 1987, when Cardinal Ratzinger wrote this document, “gay parenting” was not even on the horizon. Yet the principles laid down in this document take on an added urgency in today’s world.

The child of a surrogacy arrangement is certainly not the embodiment of his or her parents’ love. Even in the best of circumstances, surrogacy is in inherently unfair and dangerous. A woman is paid for her eggs. Another woman is paid to carry a child to term. After birth, the gestational mother is contractually obligated to surrender the child to the “commissioning parents.” In other words, the rich and powerful exploit women who are neither.

Other problems abound.

If the doctor implants multiple embryos, hoping some of them will survive, the surrogate is sometimes contractually obligated to do “selective abortion” on some of the babies. What happens to the extra embryos who are created but not implanted? Some of them are frozen indefinitely, destroyed immediately or donated for research.

There are also medical risks involved for the children. As I documented a few years ago, babies conceived through in vitro fertilization are at elevated risk of premature birth, low birth weight, cerebral palsy and other conditions. When I did the research for this pamphlet, I asked myself, “do the fertility clinics customarily tell their patients about these risks?” I still don’t know the answer to that.

Cooper paid for an egg. He paid for womb rental. He is paying for the bulk of the hands-on care for the child. Children have become commodities, bought and sold on the open market.

What’s love got to do with it? Apparently, not much.


Ruth Institute Urges Public to Seriously Question Surrogacy

Commenting on the recently announced birth of a child to CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Ruth Institute President Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D., called for a serious discussion of the dangers of surrogacy.

Cooper had his son by an unnamed surrogate. In his announcement of the birth, the son of heiress Gloria Vanderbilt said he was “eternally grateful to a remarkable surrogate who carried Wyatt, watched over him lovingly, tenderly and gave birth to him.”

Morse responded, “It’s likely this woman who ‘lovingly’ carried Wyatt will have no future contact with him. That’s the way surrogacy works. A woman, often one who’s disadvantaged, is paid to carry a child to term. After birth, she is contractually obligated to surrender the child to the individual or couple who paid for him. Often the rich and powerful use the process to exploit women who are neither.”


Author Joyce Carol Oates faced backlash from an angry Twitter mob for saying, “Coverage of this good news focuses so exclusively on Anderson Cooper, you'd think that somehow dear Anderson was both father & mother. (how strange for the mother who'd been pregnant for 9 months, delivered a baby, presented Anderson w/ the baby & is now--gone.)”

Morse stated in no uncertain terms, “I agree with Joyce Carol Oates. This is female erasure. Where is the Feminist Establishment?”

Among the many problems connected with surrogacy, Morse noted, “If the doctor implants multiple eggs, hoping some of them will survive, the surrogate is sometimes contractually required to do ‘selective abortion’ on some of the babies. And what happens to the extra embryos that are created but not implanted? Some are frozen indefinitely, destroyed immediately or donated for research. There are no good alternatives here.”

Morse went on to say that the procedure objectifies women. “The gestational mother’s womb is in effect rented. Following birth, she is legally deprived of the child she carried for as long as nine months. If she changes her mind at the end of the process – well, too bad. The use of her body was paid for. She has no rights to the child, even if she becomes emotionally attached to him or her.”

There are also medical risks involved, Morse explained. “Babies conceived through in-vitro fertilization are at increased risk of premature birth, low birth weight, cerebral palsy and other problems. In some cases, those who contracted for the child, abandon him, leaving him with the surrogate, when he didn’t meet their expectations.”

These are just a few of the problems involved with surrogacy. “Introducing the profit motive into baby-making – which should be about love – has created a $30-billion business worldwide that’s largely unregulated,” Morse said.

~~~~~~~

See the Ruth Institute pamphlet, “Children and Donor Conception and Assisted Reproduction.”

The Ruth Institute is a global non-profit organization, leading an international interfaith coalition to defend the family and build a civilization of love.

Jennifer Roback Morse is the author of The Sexual State: How Elite Ideologies Are Destroying Lives.

To schedule an interview with Dr. Morse, contact media@ruthinstitute.org.

 


8000-strong petition asking Trump to ‘make family great again’ delivered to US State Department

The petition urges the Commission to make the family its focus, by acknowledging that human rights start with the family.

Featured Image
Jennifer Roback Morse delivers 'Make The Family Great Again' petition to Mary Ann Glendon, chairman of the US State Department’s Commission on Unalienable Rights, in Washington D.C., Feb. 21, 2020. Ruth Institute
By LifeSiteNews staff and By Ruth Institute

 

February 26, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – A petition signed by 8,000 people asking President Trump to “make the family great again” by making life, marriage, and the family guiding principles in U.S. foreign policy was delivered on Friday to the US State Department’s Commission on Unalienable Rights in Washington D.C.

The Ruth Institute along with LifePetitions presented its “Make The Family Great Again” petition along with its signers to the Commission’s Chairman, former Ambassador to the Holy See Mary Ann Glendon.

“We are concerned about the rights of the family and the rights of children,” said Ruth Institute Founder and President Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse prior to hand-delivering the petition. The Ruth Institute is a global non-profit organization equipping Christians to defend the family and build a civilization of love. Also present at the petition delivery was Gualberto Garcia Jones, Director of Advocacy at LifePetitions.

Image
Jennifer Roback Morse and Gualberto Garcia Jones outside the US State Department’s Commission on Unalienable Rights to deliver 'Make The Family Great Again' petition, Washington D.C., Feb. 21, 2020. SOURCE: LifeSiteNews.com

After delivering the petition, Morse spoke at a meeting of the Commission. She outlined in a video prior to delivering the petition what she was going to speak to the committee about.

“I'm going to tell them that we hold these truths to be self-evident: that every person comes into the world as a helpless baby, that every person has a mother and a father, that every society needs some structured institutions for getting children from helpless infancy to responsible adulthood, and that the needs of children place limitations on the behavior of adults, including adult sexual behavior,” she said prior to delivering the petition.

Morse told LifeSiteNews that after delivering the petition, Ambassador Glendon told her that she was “grateful for our interest in the Commission’s work and promised that our petition would be permanently stored in the State Department’s archives.”

It’s been a long road from when the Ruth Institute launched its petition last September, in partnership with LifePetitions, to the meeting at the State Department on Friday.

In July, the Commission on Unalienable Rights was appointed by Secretary of State Michael Pompeo to advise his department on how to incorporate an understanding of authentic human rights into its dealings with international bodies and foreign governments.

Morse said that the petition “urges the Commission to make the family its focus, by acknowledging that human rights start with the family.”

It declares that the Commission should work for an understanding of the rights which undergird the family, including:

  • The right of every child to a relationship with their natural mother and father except for an unavoidable tragedy
  • The right of every person to know the identity of his or her biological parents
  • The right to life from conception to natural death
  • The right of parents to educate their own children in their faith tradition and values without being undermined by the state.

Besides 8,000 online signers at LifePetitions.com, the petition was also signed by an illustrious array of leaders in the United States and from around the world.

Leadership signers included:

  • Gary Bauer (President, American Values)
  • Brent Bozell (Founder and President, Media Research Center)
  • Fr. Shenan Boquet (President, Human Life International)
  • Janice Shaw Crouse (Author, Columnist and Speaker)
  • Pat Fagan (Director, Marriage and Religion Research Institute)
  • Jor-El Godsey (President, Heartbeat International)
  • Governor Mike Huckabee (commentator and former Governor of Arkansas)
  • Alveda King (Author and Activist)
  • Michael Pakaluk (Professor, Busch School of Business, Catholic University of America)
  • Tom Morrison (State Representative, Ill. District 54)
  • Steven W, Mosher (President and Founder, Population Research Institute)
  • C. Preston Noell (President, American Society for Tradition, Family and Property)
  • Sharon Slater (President, Family Watch International)
  • Steven Smoot (President, Family First Foundation)
  • Mathew D. Staver, Esq. (Founder and Chairman, Liberty Counsel)
  • Michael Voris (Founder and President, St. Michael’s Media)

Signers from outside the United States included:

  • Rebekah Ali-Gouveia (Pro-Family Leader, Trinidad)
  • Bishop Emmanuel Badejo (Bishop of Oyo, Nigeria)
  • Moira Chimombo (Former Executive Director, Sub-Sahara Family Enrichment, Malawi)
  • Silvio Dalla Valle (Executive Director, Association for the Defense of Christian Values, Italy)
  • Ann Kioko (President, African Organization for Families, Kenya)
  • Lech Kowalewski (Board Member, Polish Federation of Pro-Life Movements)
  • Christa Leonhard (Foundation for Family Values, Germany and the Swiss Foundation for the Family)
  • Gwen Landolt (First Vice President, REAL Women of Canada)
  • Warwick and Allison Marsh (Founders, Dads4Kids, Australia)
  • Dr. Theresa Okafor (Director, Foundation for African Cultural Heritage, FACH, Nigeria)
  • Fr. Boniface Ssenteza, (Youth Chaplain for the Kasana-Luweero Diocese, and National Scouting Chaplain, Uganda)
  • Christine Vollmer (Founder and President, Latin American Alliance for the Family, Venezuela)
  • Andrea Williams (Chief Executive, Christian Concern, United Kingdom)
  • Levan Vasadez (Pro-Life Activist, Republic of Georgia).

Morse testified at the Commission meeting that day: “Pro-family leaders from around the world have signed our petition, which we undertook in partnership with LifePetitions. The pro-family leaders from Latin America and Africa are especially aware of the harm international agencies can do when they ignore the rights of the family mentioned in our petition. All too often, the United States government has collaborated in the promotion of destructive policies which undermine the rights of children to their parents, and parents’ rights and responsibilities toward their children.” Read complete testimony here.

The Ruth Institute intends to continue pressing the Commission on Unalienable Rights and the State Department to make the family the basis of its human rights policy.


Student Pro-life Activists NOT Single-Issue Voters!

Students Care About a Broad Range of Issues Related to the Sexual Revolution

Despite common stereotypes, most pro-life activists are NOT single-mindedly focused on abortion. The Ruth Institute conducted what may be the first survey of pro-life student opinion on other social issues at the Students for Life Pro-Life Summit on January 25 in Washington D.C. This Summit followed the annual National March for Life and was attended by more than 3,000.

Ruth Institute Founder and President Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D., explained: “With almost 10% of those attending the Summit taking the survey, we believe we have a representative sampling of the attendees. Since they are the future of the pro-life movement, we wanted to learn what other issues concern them.”

Of the 252 who took the survey at the Ruth Institute booth:


  • 83% said they were concerned about euthanasia
  • 83% said they were troubled by the decline of marriage
  • 66% mentioned contraception as an area of concern
  • 59% said they were troubled by what’s called comprehensive sexuality education
  • 50% said they were concerned about surrogacy and
  • 47% named the worldwide decline of fertility

The ages of those who took the survey ranged from 12 through 76, with an average age of 28. The respondents were 71% women and 77% Catholic.

Dr. Morse observed: “Despite a general belief to the contrary, pro-lifers aren’t single-issue activists. They care about a broad range of issues which, like abortion, are related to the Sexual Revolution.”

Other questions on the Ruth Institute survey included:

  • 1.What brought you to the pro-life position?
  • 2.What do you think is the best argument to advance the pro-life cause?
  • 3.What is the best practical solution to abortion?

Morse said, “We were honored to be able to participate in the Summit. It was an exciting event that brought together student activists and leaders from across the country to learn and network. It also gave us the opportunity to conduct this important survey, perhaps the first of its kind.”


Head of Ruth Institute Appalled by Gene-Manipulation Announcement

November 29, 2018

For Immediate Release

For More Information, contact: media@ruthinstitute.org

The announcement by a Chinese researcher that he has successfully used a “gene-editing” tool to modify two embryos drew a sharp rebuke from Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Founder and President of the Ruth Institute.

“This is appalling,” Morse said. “Supposedly, the gene editing will make these twin girls resistant to the AIDS virus. Whether or not that’s true, it opens the door to all sorts of manipulation. Will gene-editing eventually be used to create a class of genetically-enhanced super humans?”

What about the long-range consequences? “Obviously, the changes are made without the consent of the subjects. The altered genes will be passed on to any offspring,” Morse noted.


Although most in the scientific community are cautious about the announcement of Chinese genetic scientist He Jiankui, Harvard Medical School Dean George Q. Daley says full-speed ahead, as long as the research is done by “responsible” clinics. Dr. Morse asks: “How can you ‘responsibly’ alter the genetic makeup of humans?”

Morse has fought other forms of manipulation on unborn children, including surrogacy, where eggs are fertilized outside the mother’s body and then implanted in the surrogate. That unwanted embryos are then destroyed makes the procedure even more objectionable.

“Gene editing is another step on this perilous course,” Morse noted. “Once a particular gene, or genes, are modified, the child is then placed in the mother’s body, with unknown long-term effects on future generations. The Managerial Technocratic Class is assigning itself the right to play God.”

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse introduced the concept of The Managerial Class in her recent book: The Sexual State: How Elite Ideologies Are Destroying Lives and How the Church was Right All Along.She holds them largely responsible for the devastation of the Sexual Revolution. “Not the ‘March of History’ or some impersonal forces: but the well-educated, well-connected technologically sophisticated Elites created and imposed the Sexual Revolution. They are going even further, with their plans to make the manipulation of human embryos sound humane. Enough is enough,” Dr. Morse declared.

For More information, contact: media@ruthinstitute.org


Pro-Family Political Leaders and legislators: low-hanging fruit

 

Pro-Family Political Leaders and legislators: here is some low-hanging legislative fruit. Propose that your state standardize the reporting for all IVF clinics in your state. The measure you want is Live Birth per Cycle Initiated. This proposal allow you to educate the public, including women who are being misled by the industry. This proposal also allows you to take the moral high ground as a consumer protection advocate, in opposition to the fertility industry, which really does take advantage of very vulnerable people.   

You don't want the number of pregnancies because not all pregnancies make it all the way to the birth of a live child. This is especially true with IVF because the rates of miscarriages and still birth are higher than for naturally conceived children. 

You also don't want the number of "embryo transfers" as your baseline number. Not all women make it to the point of doing a successful embryo transfer into the woman's uterus. The woman may have difficulty at the stage of egg retrieval or fertilization for instance. Yet she has been through a cycle. Her body and soul have taken some abuse. It is not fair for the clinics to exclude these women from their "success rates." 

 


 

This story quote a couple of IVF experts from Australia, but the point is the same everywhere. Women contemplating assisted reproduction have a right to know the actual probability of success, for the amount of money and physical trauma she will experience per cycle. 

Fertility clinic websites have a number of different ways of reporting success rates. For instance, clinics may report success rates in terms of pregnancy, or they may report it in terms of live birth rate per embryo transfer.

IVF pioneer Alan Trounson said pregnancy rates were not helpful to the consumer, because some pregnancies were lost.

"What you need to know is the probability of having a baby, because you didn't come in to get pregnant, you came in to have a baby," he said.

On top of that, Professor Norman said clinics defined "pregnancy" differently in their website claims.

If you count a pregnancy at an earlier stage, or a later stage, the statistics change — and that also meant consumers could not make proper comparisons between websites.

"There's [a] big inconsistency," Professor Norman said.

"You'll find some clinics define pregnancy on the basis of an ultrasound.

"Others are included from 12 weeks onwards, so it's a bit of a mess all over the place."

Some clinics also present success rates in terms of live birth rate per embryo transfer.

But this does not reflect all those women who could not make it to the embryo transfer stage. If your eggs could not be retrieved, or fertilised, you are not included in this statistic.

Also, see Dr. Norman's "5 things to ask your fertility doctor."

 


The Powerful vs. The Impregnable—How Louisiana Politicians Get What They Want

Politicians want power and to pass on their genes at any cost.

by Alana Newman, from her newsletter Coalition Against Reproductive Trafficking, sent May 15, 2016.

Let me tell you about my Senate committee hearing experience.

In the last several weeks, I have had my first legislative experience. For a decade now, I have focused my energy on story-telling, speaking, and publishing articles. I tell the truth—mine and others'—when and where I am invited. My skills don't naturally synch with political strategy, but regarding Louisiana's current surrogacy bill, HB 1102—I feel a great responsibility to share what I've learned and rescue my beloved state before the legislature makes a huge mistake.

 


 

I am greatly disappointed by the behavior of the proponents of this bill. They claimed that the provisions in their updated bill would not allow sophisticated people to exploit surrogate mothers (for example, not "allowing" commissioning parents to pay a surrogate to abort)—yet every move they've made thus far proves that sophisticated and powerful people will do whatever it takes to get what they want.

May 4th was the House Floor vote. It passed. The next step— the Senate Committee vote—appeared on the schedule for May 17th, which would have allowed for opposition voices to prepare, organize, and make childcare and travel arrangements to come to the capitol. However, on Monday May 9th at 4 pm, the schedule was changed and the committee hearing was rescheduled for Tuesday, May 10th at 9:30 am.

This was a shady move that gave opposition less than 18 hours (including sleep) to get it together and have their voice heard. I knew of at least four experts who were willing and wanting to testify, who could not because of the impossible logistics. This included former Yale professor, President of The Ruth Institute and author of Smart Sex, and Love & Economics, Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse as well as Staci Gulino—a psychiatric mental health expert and former labor and delivery nurse specializing in attachment and maternal-infant health. Also wanting to attend and testify were two LA family life experts, David Dawson and Rickard Newman.

I heard about the schedule changes at 7:30 pm, and at 8 months pregnant, and even though my family is in the middle of moving, I woke up at 5 am to drive to Baton Rouge and testify. I was mocked and literally laughed at during my testimony shockingly by Senator Gary Smith—who is the original author of this bill and used two surrogates in order to have his two children with his wife, a long time state lobbyist.

The truth is that the authors of this bill felt that oh-so-intense need to pass on their genes, and were willing to spend tens of thousands of dollars to use a stranger as a surrogate to do it. They are now using their power and political skills to change state law to appease their consciences.

The bill's authors claim to be pro-life, but they do not seem at all concerned about the sanctity and humanity of the many embryos that will be destroyed with this bill. They claim to be Catholic, but they have completely disregarded Pope Francis's condemnation of surrogacy along with clear statements from the LA conference of Catholic Bishops. They claim to be conservative, but they are at ease venturing into this massive social experiment on children whereby mothers are dehumanized as "gestational carriers" and the maternal-infant bonds are nowhere given consideration.

I tremble for the future of Louisiana. The law teaches—and this law teaches that birthmothers are unimportant and disposable.

People will go to great lengths to pass on their genes—that desire is what it is. But while families are good and every child a worthy human being worth infinite dignity—not every form of conception should be celebrated. Surrogacy involves serious health risks, human trafficking, eugenics, systematic abortion, and broken maternal-infant bonds. Therefore, we don't need it in Louisiana.

Please reach out to your state senator.
reproductivetrafficking.org/action

 

 



Surrogacy experts can't testify on LA HB1102: Coincidence?

Update: Alana Newman got up the next day at 5 AM, drove all the way to Baton Rouge by herself. She testified. Alana told me that when she showed up to testify, Katherine Smith, the wife of Senator Gary Smith, shot her a very dirty look. The plan to keep Alana away failed!

I am incredibly proud of Alana!

I just sent a version of this letter to several Louisiana newspapers. It speaks for itself. Yes, I'm annoyed. 

To the editor: 

HB 1102 proposes to legalize surrogacy contracts in Louisiana for the first time. I am concerned about the unprofessional manner in which this bill is being handled.

Two nationally-known experts on surrogacy live in Lake Charles: Alana Newman, founder of the Anonymous Us project, and me, Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Founder and President of the Ruth Institute.

Neither of us has been able to testify on HB1102. We were told the night before the house hearing that it had been postponed, and we shouldn’t drive from Lake Charles. The very morning of the hearing, the committee decided to consider the bill. We were of course, not present.

We came for a second house hearing. Mrs. Newman (who is 8 months pregnant) came with her husband and two pre-school children. Halfway down I-10, we learned that we could only testify regarding the public records consequences of the bill. We both scrambled to adapt our testimony. We were interrupted and not permitted to complete our testimony.

Tonight, May 9, after close of business, we learn that the bill will be considered in the Senate Judiciary Committee B, tomorrow at 9:30 AM.

I do not believe the whole sequence of events preventing our testimony is a coincidence.

The chairman of Senate Judiciary Committee B is Senator Gary Smith. He and his wife have been very public about their use of surrogacy for the birth of their two children. Senator Smith should recuse himself from this topic.

Sincerely,

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse

Founder and President, The Ruth Institute

 

 

 

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