This Week in Bioethics #112

by Matthew Eppinette, Director of Programs on May 18, 2018

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1. David vs. Goliath

We are very close to finishing our latest film! We have the story nailed down and edited, we’re working on adding in all the b-roll, then we’ll be recording Jennifer’s narration, finalizing the edits, cutting the trailers, developing the full slate of marketing materials, and more. In this film we are David taking on the #BigFertility Goliath, the multi-billion dollar per year global fertility industry.

To finish the film, we need to raise $10,000 to push everything across the finish line. If you are able to make a donation of $1,000 you will be given an associate producer credit. But any amount is most needed. Please help us tell this important story. Help us take on #BigFertility.

2. Surrogacy Coming to New Jersey?

We’re still waiting to see what New Jersey Governor Murphy is going to do with the surrogacy-enabling legislation sitting on his desk. As one letter to the editor pointed out this week, the current law, which has been in place for three decades, is still good law.

For information on the current situation in New Jersey and how this law will change things, see “Why and How to Ask NJ Governor Murphy to Veto S482” over at #StopSurrogacyNow.  

3. #BigFertility Big Marketing

Our #StopSurrogacyNow friends posted a Washington Post item on a press conference that was held this week asking the U.S. Supreme Court to step in and address the patchwork of laws on surrogacy in our nation. What’s most interesting to me is the conversation that took place in the comments on the #StopSurrogacyNow Facebook page. On the whole, the discussion misses one large piece of the surrogate recruitment game.

There is a powerful marketing machine at work recruiting women to be surrogates, working to convince them (almost always young mothers with “proven fertility”) that surrogacy is an easy way to a big payday. The truth is that surrogacy is a risky process for both the women and children involved (on multiple levels). And that truth simply doesn’t get the same airplay. (See, for example, Kim Kardashian telling Ellen that her use of a surrogate was all “just such a breeze” in a YouTube clip that now has more than 3.8 million views.) Women are enticed to sign up to be surrogates with not only incomplete, but arguably inaccurate and misleading information.

This is why it’s so important to do the work that we’re doing — telling the stories of those who have been harmed. Building a mountain of evidence that the practices of third-party reproduction are harmful to both women and children. Spreading the counter narrative. Telling the truth.

4. Surrogacy and the Modern World

Professor Nick Hopkins, Law Commissioner for England and Wales, recently called for the rewriting of the United Kingdom’s laws on surrogacy, implementing regulations to ‘protect all involved.’ He argues that it’s time for the country to “make [surrogacy] law fit for the modern world.” Under current UK law, the woman who gives birth to a baby is the mother of that baby. Lying about origins and parenthood should not be part of the modern world! Legislation and regulations will never be adequate to protect women and children. If we simply #StopSurrogacyNow, however, that will protect them.

5. Donor Conception Health Risks

The authors of an important 2017 study on health-outcomes of children born via sperm donation recently provided a brief update to the study that incorporates information from additional research. They find that “in comparison to naturally conceived neonates, donor sperm neonates were at increased risk of being born of low birth weight and with increased incidences of birth defects” Ultimately, more studies are needed in order to fully understand “the effects of using donor sperm in assisted reproduction.” This is an important addition to what we already know about the risks of donor conception and surrogacy.

BTW, one of the co-authors is Damian Adams, who appears briefly in our Anonymous Father’s Day — have you watched it yet? It’s available Free for Amazon Prime members, and only $1.99 for non Prime members.

Lagniappe

If you haven’t seen our films, or you haven’t seen them in a while, they are all available online.
Compassion and Choice DENIED: available free of charge on Facebook and YouTube
Maggie’s Story — available on Amazon, free with Prime
Breeders: A Subclass of Women? — available on Amazon, free with Prime
Anonymous Father’s Day — available on Amazon, free with Prime
Eggsploitation — available on Amazon, iTunes, and Google Play
Lines That Divide —  available on Vimeo

The Center for Bioethics and Culture is a non-profit 501(c)(3) public benefit educational organization.
All gifts are tax-deductible.

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