A Celebration of Devastation

by Matthew Eppinette, Director of Programs on January 16, 2015

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The Hollywood Reporter has a story out with the provocative (clickbait?) title, “23 HOLLYWOOD MOMS WITH SAME SPERM DONOR AND ONE CRAZY VACATION.” I call it clickbait because that’s not what the article is about at all.

Instead, the article is a celebration of all the uses to which reproductive technologies can be put, and indeed the uses to which they are being put in Los Angeles area fertility clinics.

There is so much wrong here. It’s difficult to know where to begin.

  • Pick the eye color!
  • “It’s like online dating, only you don’t have to have a relationship with the person.”
  • “Bloating was the biggest downside,” says an egg donor named Sara.
  • It’s common for couples to seek out a donor who resembles them to “pass” — letting family, friends and the kids themselves believe they are the genetic parents. Several Westside fertility doctors say that about half their patients plan to keep their offspring’s origins under wraps; Steinberg estimates 70 percent of his patients do.
  • Oddly perhaps, hiring a stranger to carry a child for you has become less taboo than buying an egg.

This may be the most egregious single paragraph in the entire thing, although the competition is stiff:

Genetically testing the embryos, known as preimplantation genetic diagnosis, or PGD, is one way to stack the odds in favor of a pregnancy. Nearly every embryo that Steinberg transfers has been tested to confirm that it has the correct number of chromosomes; other tests confirm the lack of certain inheritable-disease genes such as BRCA, the breast cancer gene that Angelina Jolie carries. Steinberg says PGD reduces miscarriages: “What that’s done is eliminate Down syndrome. We can’t guarantee a perfect baby, but we can guarantee that anything you’re concerned about isn’t there.” (Including the wrong eye color: In 2009, after admonishment from the Vatican and the medical community, Steinberg stopped allowing parents to choose their babies’ blues — the most popular color — but quietly started up again with 15 infants last year: “There’s a huge interest. Even when we retracted, the emails just kept coming in.”)

Beyond the “admonishment from the Vatican and the medical community,” which, notably, has had no lasting effect, the only hint in the article that any of this raises ethical questions is in a passive parenthetical statement: “(it is considered unethical for embryos to be bought or sold).”

The view the article puts forward, then, is that outright buying and selling of embryos may or may not actually be unethical. It is simply considered unethical. All the rest of it is to be celebrated.

Our trilogy of films addresses nearly every single item this article celebrates, demonstrating how so much of what is celebrated is in reality devastating, both physically and emotionally.

This is why we continue to so loudly proclaim: children are not products to be designed and simply discarded when found to be less than perfect or other than desired. Children are precious gifts to be lovingly received. Adult desires should never trump the needs of children. Secrets about origins are land mines, constantly threatening to tear families apart. Women should not be used for their eggs or wombs, paid off as if they are nothing more than members of a breeding class.

Stop Eggsploitation. Stop Surrogacy Now. Tell The Truth. Children Are Not Commodities. Women Are Not Breeders.

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