Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Lesbian against gay men as parents

Julie Bindel writes in the (conservative) Weekly Standard:
The huge rise in the incidence of gay men becoming fathers via surrogacy is largely seen as positive by those fighting inequality. ...

But there is a dark side to surrogacy. Its accelerating use by gay couples is no victory for freedom or emancipation. ...

As a lesbian feminist, I campaigned for years for gays and lesbians to be allowed to adopt children, not only because of our human right to have families but also because of the need to give secure, loving homes to vulnerable children. Now the rise of IVF surrogate parenthood is in danger of making the acceptance of gay adoption look like a hollow success.
Her complaints are a little strange. She does not appear to have any concerns about kids being reared without a mom, or the cultural implications of gay men with their own babies. Instead she focuses on some side issues.
Baby farming has become a significant international business. There is no law against surrogacy in Britain, but it is illegal for surrogates personally to advertise their services, as they do in the United States and elsewhere. Nor are private surrogacy agreements enforceable in British courts, which means, for example, that a surrogate mother cannot be forced to hand over the baby if she changes her mind. But legal niceties pose fewer barriers in less developed countries.
This is contradictory. Yes, there are laws against surrogacy in Britain, as the above paragraph mentions a couple: the parties cannot advertise, and the contracts cannot be enforced. Those are enuf to drive parents overseas.

Most less developed countries have laws against it also.
In the United States, IVF plus surrogacy usually carries a price tag of around $100,000; in India it can cost as little as $24,000, and regulation is far lighter.
The same could be said of other medical services, or just about any other monetary expenditure. India is cheaper than the USA.
Sometimes there is criminality. In February 2011, police in Thailand disrupted a Taiwanese-run ring that forced Vietnamese women to have babies for sale. Though illegal, this baby farm, Baby 101, advertised its services. Evidence gathered by police and Thai officials showed that some of the pregnant women had been tricked or forced into service and raped.
Sometimes there is criminality is just about anything. It is almost impossible to spend money without some risk that some of it might be going to help illegally exploit someone.
Enthusiasts of surrogacy like its efficiency. “Truth is, surrogacy is usually quicker than adoption and means you avoid going through the hoops with social workers, having to persuade them that you would be suitable parents,” says one dad who used a surrogate. They also value it because, as this father said, it “enables you to be a genetic parent.” ...

Indeed, it is difficult to understand why couples would strive to create babies using such harmful, expensive, and morally dubious methods when foster and adoptive parents are desperately needed. In the United Kingdom, there is a shortage of 60,000 foster homes and at least 4,000 children are waiting for adoption; a staggering 100,000 children in the United States are eligible for adoption. Where are the parents who will choose these children and give them a chance at a decent life?
She answers her own question. Couples use Assisted reproductive technology (ART) because it is superior to foster and adoption alternatives.

First of all, there are not many kids available for adoption in the USA. When you hear of a couple adopting a kid from Russia, China, or Guatemala, it is usually because they could not find a child in the USA.

Second, adoption is much more morally dubious. Often these kids are adopted against the wishes of a good dad, such as recently authorized by a new California law, or even against the wishes of both parents. The federal government pays local Child Protective Service (CPS) agencies about $10k per child for forcibly taking him from his parents and putting him up for adoption within a year. ART is based on the voluntary informed consent of all parties.

Also, there are many more stories of criminal and unethical behavior involved kids to be adopted. And of course marriage and baby-making the old-fashioned way is also subject to stories of fraud, deception, abuse, exploitation, and other problems.

Third, the argument that creating babies is harmful is based on the notion that pregnancy is harmful. Yes, pregnancy has its risks, but it is also an essential part of humanity. Most women regard pregnancy as a good and worthwhile thing. Yes, pregnant women are told not to take dangerous drugs, but again, most women agree with such advice.

Fourth, the number of people using these technologies is small and insignificant, and not enuf to be a public concern even if it were harmful.

So why is a neo-conservative magazine hiring a lesbian feminist to make these silly arguments? My guess is that there is an unspoken agenda here. Maybe the neo-conservatives believe that ART for gay men is anti-family, and the lesbian feminists are annoyed that gay men do not need them.

The WSJ newspaper (archived here) and NPR Radio have put some ethical, economic, and legal ART issues back in the news:
How much is a human egg worth? The question is at the heart of a federal lawsuit brought by two women who provided eggs to couples struggling with infertility.

The women claim the price guidelines adopted by fertility clinics nationwide have artificially suppressed the amount they can get for their eggs, in violation of federal antitrust laws.

The industry groups behind the price guidance—which discourages payments above $10,000 per egg-donation cycle—say caps are needed to prevent coercion and exploitation in the egg-donation process.

But the plaintiffs say the guidelines amount to an illegal conspiracy to set prices in violation of antitrust laws. The conspiracy, they argue in court papers, has deprived women nationwide a free market in which to sell their eggs, and enabled fertility clinics to “reap anticompetitive profits for themselves.”

“It’s naked, illegal price-fixing,” said Michael McLellan, a lawyer for the women.

The lawsuit, filed in the Northern District of California, could go to trial next year. In February, Chief Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero allowed the suit, first filed in 2011, to move forward on behalf of women who have donated eggs in recent years. Later this summer, Judge Spero will consider whether to broaden the case to include women who plan to donate eggs in the future and want to eliminate the caps entirely. If successful, it could upend the industry of egg donation, which has increasingly become an important option for women who have trouble conceiving because of advanced age or other problems.
This does appear to be illegal price-fixing to me, but not a significant one. There is an open market for the eggs, and the price is usually a lot less than $10k. I do not think that it is hard for a woman to charge more than $10k if she can find a buyer.

Even if the clinic advertises that it follows the price-capping guidelines, a couple can pay extra money to a donor privately.
The price caps might also guard against worries that women might pay more for eggs from mothers of certain ethnic or racial backgrounds, or with such traits as physical beauty or high intelligence. Such a market exists, largely through a small number of agencies that cater to couples willing to pay a premium.

“It’s a concern about eugenics, that women will pay more for eggs from an Ivy League grad,” said John Robertson, a professor of law and bioethics at the University of Texas.
Professors of law and bioethics say the most foolish things. Any time there is a market for goods or services, some people will pay more for what is in greater demand. Yes, women usually want eggs from women similar to themselves, and hence prefer their own ethnic and racial groups. They usually do not seek Ivy League grads unless they are Ivy League grads themselves. If they do want to pay more, why is it the business of anyone else?

Meanwhile, compare this to the adoption business. It is illegal to pay anything for a baby to be adopted. Except that it is commonplace to pay around $30k. They circumvent the law by going thru lawyers who launder the money and disguise it as expenses, as it is legal to pay lawyer fees and mothering expenses.

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