A few weeks ago, progressive talk show host Melissa Harris Perry announced the birth of her daughter, an announcement that floored many who didn’t know she was pregnant. She wasn’t, actually, and, as the MSNBC personality explained in a very frank and gripping article, “It took two families, three states, four doctors, and five attorneys to get this little girl here.”
Harris Perry is now the parent, with her husband, to a biological child carried by a gestational surrogate. As she said in her own story, more than 1 in every 100 pregnancies is now conceived with some sort of advanced reproductive technology such as in vitro fertilization or artificial insemination. What is shocking is that as the population using these treatments and technologies grow, our laws surrounding them are either frozen in time, or even worse, are moving backwards. As more people are seeking alternate ways to create biological children, more lawmakers and policy advocates are trying to stop them.
Here are 4 things you won’t believe people think about artificial reproductive technology:
1) Artificial insemination without a doctor is a felony in Georgia. Want to have a child via intrauterine insemination (IUI)? There had better be a doctor or surgeon involved, or you could spend a few years in jail. That’s often a shock to couples, especially same sex couples, who have no idea they were breaking the law when growing their family. “Atlanta-based family law attorney Kathleen Womack strongly advises her LGBT clients to steer clear of at-home artificial insemination,” reports an article in Creative Loafing Atlanta. “While she doesn’t know of any such cases that have ever been prosecuted in the state, most people considering it don’t know it’s illegal, she says. When she informs clients that it’s a felony, she either doesn’t hear back from them or ‘they rethink their strategy and decide to do it through a clinic.’”
2) Surrogacy will lead to “black market babies.“ When Kansas tried to propose a ban on allowing surrogates to carry children for families, the bill was quickly tabled. But before it was, a number of people spoke out in favor of a ban, including Kathleen Sloan of the Council for Responsible Genetics. “Surrogacy is the stark manifestation of the commodification of women and their bodies,” said Sloan. ”The commercialism of surrogacy raises the specter of a black market and baby selling, of the establishment of a breeder class of factory farmed women. Surrogacy degrades a pregnancy to a service for sale and a baby to a product for purchase.”
3) Children born of a surrogate are “psychologically at risk.“ A new movie is apparently demanding the world address what they believe is the “harm” of surrogacy, and among the many issues they claim is that a child, despite potentially having a biological connection to a parent, will never be fully “theirs” because it is damaged by the lack of being inside its biological mother during the gestation period. That lack of connection could make it damaged goods. “[A] major study released in June 2013 in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry that examined 30 surrogacy families evidences that surrogate children, while not suffering from psychological disorders, show elevated levels of adjustment difficulties. Moreover, the lack of a ‘gestational connection’ to their biological mother or father may place children at increased psychological risk,” writes Christopher White. “This, too, should be unsurprising, as we know from science that there’s an undeniable bonding between mother and child during that takes place during every pregnancy.” How surrogacy can be a bad thing that harms children while adoption is a good thing that helps them is befuddling.
4) Gay men are taking over and will make women into breeder stock. So where do all these issues with assisted reproductive technology stem from, especially considering so many of the people opposed to it are the same people who are supposed to be “pro-life?” The problem, of course, is the idea of allowing “non-traditional” non two parent male/female families. ART allows procreation to be separated from sex, which then subsequently allows sex to be something that can be allowed for purposes other than procreation, an idea many biblical traditionalists abhor. The thoughts are best exemplified by ex-gay Robert Oscar Lopez, who wrote a scathing blog post decrying how gay men will take over America and force women to be pregnant and breed children for them.
“Gestational surrogacy is a dream come true for woman-hating chauvinists who are bound to congregate under such an umbrella,” he said, according to Raw Story. “Men enjoy all the ‘phallic’ privilege that the bourgeois patriarchy can provide” under this system, he said, “and women are put in their place. Not even in the kitchen, no – in a barracks somewhere, patrolled by goons who will snatch away their babies whenever the men demand it.”
Hopefully at some point, Lopez, and others like him, will understand that no one is coming to attack “traditional” families by using ART. All they want is the same chance to create families of their own.
Photo credit: thinkstock
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