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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.
Posted on: Tuesday, May 19, 2020
“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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted on: Monday, May 18, 2020
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.
Posted on: Wednesday, May 06, 2020
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 email@example.com.
Posted on: Wednesday, February 26, 2020
The petition urges the Commission to make the family its focus, by acknowledging that human rights start with the family.
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.
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:
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:
Signers from outside the United States included:
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.
Posted on: Tuesday, February 04, 2020
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:
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:
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.”
Posted on: Thursday, November 29, 2018
November 29, 2018
For Immediate Release
For More Information, contact: firstname.lastname@example.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: email@example.com
Posted on: Monday, May 30, 2016
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."
Posted on: Wednesday, May 18, 2016
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.
Posted on: Monday, May 09, 2016
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
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.
Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse
Founder and President, The Ruth Institute
Posted on: Friday, May 06, 2016
Watch Representative Joe Lopinto assume the very thing that needs to be proven: he asserts that the genetic parents should not have to adopt their "own" child. But according to Louisiana law, and indeed the law of every civilized country until the day before yesterday, the woman who gives birth to the child is the child's mother.
When a husband and wife make love, the man "donates" his sperm to his wife. The woman "donates" her eggs to her husband. Actually, each of them donates their entire selves to the other. This unlimited gift of self may result in the creation of a new life. In a lifelong, sexually exclusive union of one man and one woman, the identity of the mother and father is certain. There is no ambiguity. The business of the law of the state is simply to record what the law of love has created.
All this changes when we remove our sperm or eggs from the body. Now, the law is involved. Contracts and commerce are involved.
The woman who removes her eggs from her body and gives them to another woman to gestate, is the person who has created the ambiguity about the identity of the child's mother. It is right and just that the obligation to clarify the situation should rest with her, and not with the woman who gives birth to the child.