Surrogacy is not selling babies, Embryos are not people – Right wing politics could affect our reproductive righs

The Minnesota Family Council apparently hates infertile couples who seek help in starting families.  In North Dakota, they’re trying to abolish fertility procedures AND to outlaw some of the most popular forms of contraception.

I’m struck by how the right, despite their abuse of the word Freedom, are consistently the ones who try to trample the rights of other people. They believe, apparently, that they are superior to the rest of us, that their imaginary moral superiority entitles them to force their religious beliefs on everyone else. The reality is that they have NO moral superiority, and that they have no justification either in belief or in science for coercing anyone else to conform to their ugly ideals. The right doesn’t even conform to their own ideals. The party that asserts they are against big government, intrusive government, are the hypocrites who are expanding government, and expanding that intrusion.

This is not only the action of a party that trusts people to make their own decisions, to act according to their own moral compass; this is the party of prudes who hate and fear sex, and fail to show any factual understanding of it. This is the party that distrusts people to think for themselves, that punishes anyone who defies their efforts to coerce conformity. The right is not in any way shape or form the party of liberty, patriotism or personal freedom.  It tries to remove freedom to control our own bodies, make our own decisions, or to respect REAL religious freedom of conscience. The right is the party of superstition that attributes hurricanes to human sexuality.

No intelligent person should vote for people who make such badly informed decisions that have such destructive and unsuccessful outcomes.The Minnesota Family Council uses the motto “strengthening families, advancing truth” but does neither. In a mass email mailing earlier this week on surrogacy. Surrogacy allows infertile couples to have children, either their own children through in vitro fertilization of the mother’s ova and the father’s spermatozoa, or through the use of one parent’s contribution with donor material, either egg or sperm, using a host mother.  Ive known women who have been host mothers to other people’s embryos from IVF.  I’ve known families with IVF kids. It is NOTHING like their fear mongering in this email:

Please, contact members of the Minnesota Senate Judiciary Committee and ask them to oppose SF 370 which gives legal effect to surrogacy agreements, “baby selling” in Minnesota.  A hearing on this bill will happen Thursday or Friday of this week, so there is no time to waste.What is surrogacy? Surrogacy agreements are between person(s) who hire a woman to use her uterus to carry and deliver a child for another couple or persons.What’s the problem with surrogacy?

  • Children are treated as commodities to be bought and sold.
  • Surrogacy agreements exploit women for reproductive purposes.  Surrogates are usually poor, low income women who sell their reproductive abilities for cash.
  • This bill includes no regulation of the surrogate process, e.g. background checks on intended parents under the contract, criminal checks, health considerations, all done in the adoption process to ensure the best interests off child are protected. 

What would this bill do?

  • This bill would allow the party to an agreement to take the birth mother to court for custody of the children she carried in her womb and has bonded with for nine months.

  • Currently, state law views the birth mother as the mother of the child.  This bill would treat children as commodities for sale under a contract.

  • The bill gives legal effect to surrogacy agreements which haven’t been recognized by Minnesota courts. 

Do we do any kind of bacground checks before parents conceive NOW? No. Do you want to see every pregnancy have that kind of intrusion? No.  What is this REALLY about? In part it is about preventing single parents and  same sex couples from having children, just as the bigoted homophobes on the right try to obstruct same sex oriented individuals and couples from adopting. No state law, no change in the proposed legislation treats human beings as a commodity; we DO need legal recognition of surrogate agreements to protect all parties concerned including the children.  But the notion that low income women are being exploited for this process is unsupported by any evidence, as is the notion that this turns reproduction into a commodity.  This isn’t about protecting anyone; this is about an attempt to use the legal process to try to harass a group of people the conservatives hate and malign.

In the same time period, in NoDak next door, we have the attempt to pass a fetal personhood law which would do the same thing – eliminate fertility clinic service. Consistently,  the majority of Americans support the right to an abortion and to easily accessible, affordable contraception. The actions of groups like those in North Dakota and in Minnesota to oppose that right succeeds not because they are the majority but because they are a rabid, fanatical extremist minority.

According to the STrib earlier this week:

Dr. Stephanie Dahl, a Fargo infertility specialist, said Monday that the personhood measures could ban in vitro fertilization and force doctors to leave the state rather than face health care restrictions or possible criminal penalties. In vitro fertilization, or IVF, involves mixing egg and sperm in a laboratory dish and transferring resulting embryos into the womb.

“This is something that would affect the patient and doctor relationship,” Dahl said at a news conference with a group of doctors who oppose the measures. “That’s somewhere we want to keep the government out of.”   Legislators claim that they don’t wish to end IVF, but clearly many on the right do want to end this reproductive option. As the Strib further noted, the reproductive medical community rejects these assurances because of the efforts to criminalize aspects of the process, “But Dr. Steffen Christensen, who founded an in vitro fertilization clinic in Fargo 19 years ago, said he can’t put himself or his workers at risk of legal action.  The concern is that this is criminal negligence if anything should happen to an embryo,” he said.”

The Strib went on to note:

Opponents also noted that the North Dakota Medical Association is against the bill and a group of 26 students from the University of North Dakota medical school signed a letter to the state Senate against it.

Dr. Ted Kleiman, a Fargo pediatrician, said the law would set North Dakota back to “the stone age” of medicine.

“This is abhorrent in the highest degree,” he said.

Banning abortions and the end of fertility services in North Dakota would mean more women, more couples, coming to Minnesota for those services.  Ending such services here or restricting them would affect not only Minnesota but our larger region.

Other legislation passed in North Dakota restricts abortion to six weeks, well before some women even know they are pregnant – women athletes for example often have irregular or missed menstrual cycles – and forces women to carry to term regardless of rape, incest, or the life or health of the mother. North Dakota is also one of the 31 states that give rapists parental rights to their children conceived through rape, allowing the rapist to prevent the mother from seeking an abortion from rape, and forcing her to share custody throughout the child’s life. What kind of a father do you think a rapist would be? Other states have tried formally to strip rapists of any parental rights, but not those states which see it as a way to obstruct the right to an abortion.

Here’s a hint to those who want to see families protected – value women. Don’t force women to give birth, don’t give rapists parental rights, don’t complicate or criminalize abortion or surrogacy. Respect ALL families, because same sex parents are good parents single parents can be great parents.  Those who do not make good families are people who are forced or coerced into parenthood. There  are plenty of heterosexual couples who are terrible parents; sexual orientation is not a goo predictor of parenting or family success. While two parent households, either same sex or heterosexual, tend to be better for kids, there are other factors that are more critical than number of gender or sexual orientation of parents to successful parenting and healthy happy families.

The right needs to be told to butt the hell out of people’s lives, their medical decisions, their relationships with doctors, clergy and family members. THAT is not the appropriate role of government.  That is the worst kind of BIG government, intrusive government. They are the worst kind of intrusion of fear, intolerance,  ignorance, superstition, and the rejection of science. Respect ALL people, all families, and especially respect women if you want healthy children, healthy relationships, healthy well-adjusted adults. The right wing way is the way of oppression, hatred, and it is  just plain wrong in every respect.

We must oppose the tyranny of conservative prejudice and ignorance and superstition.  Most of all we need to end the tyranny of conservatives over women and our bodies.