Graphic images, not for children.
It reads like an article from The Onion.
But it’s not.
It’s a serious pseudo scholarly article published in the supposedly serious journal Medical Ethics, whose tagline reads “An international peer-reviewed journal for health professionals and researchers in medical ethics.”
I’ve long maintained that “ethics” as a scholarly pursuit is just the dressing up of the fine art of doing whatever you want to whomever you chose. Ethics, without God, is incapable of morality and shows no mercy or compassion. “Ethics,” as discussed in our learned journals and our various think tanks is an empathy-free zone; an elaborate mis-use of language to justify a world where the biggest and the meanest get to make all the rules.
After all, who makes these various judgements that “ethical thinkers” pass down but the biggest and the meanest? These ideas come from the royal jelly schools where a select few are groomed to take home all the prizes at the expense of everyone else. They are housed in enclosed, almost hermetically sealed environments where people never face the realities of the terrors they have wrought. They are sheltered and shielded, petted and pampered. And the “thinking” they produce is, far too often, an extension of the deep narcissism reflected in this kind of living.
“After-birth abortion: Why should the baby live?” is a product of this kind of thinking and tawdry ethical posing.
This scholarly paper, makes the case for killing children after they are born if “circumstances occur after birth such that they would have justified abortion … we claim that killing a newborn could be ethically permissible in all the cases where abortion would be.”
In other words, they are saying that we should be able to kill newborns because we want to kill them. That this is “ethical.”
The authors of this paper take the same tack used by a lot of people who argue for abortion on demand on this blog: the “fetus is not a person.” They argue that newborns aren’t “persons” either. They say,
The moral status of an infant is equivalent to that of a fetus, that is, neither can be considered a ‘person’ in a morally relevant sense.
It is not possible to damage a newborn by preventing her from developing the potentiality to become a ‘person’ in a morally relevant sense.
… Both a fetus and a newborn certainly are human beings and potential persons, but neither is a ‘person’ in the sense of ‘subject to a moral right to life.’ We take a ‘person’ to mean an individual who is capable of attributing to her own existence some (at least) basic value such that being deprived of this existence is a loss to her.
This means that many non-human animals and mentally retarded human individuals are persons, but that not all the individuals who are in the condition of attributing any value to their own existence are persons. Merely being human is not in itself a reason for ascribing someone a right to life.
… Although fetuses and newborns are not persons, they are potential persons … If a potential person, like a fetus or a newborn, does not become an actual person, like you and us, then … there is no harm at all … The alleged right of (fetuses and newborns) to develop their potentiality … is over-ridden by the interests of actual people (parents, family, society) to pursue their own well-being.
We take a ‘person’ to mean an individual who is capable of attributing to her own existence some (at least) basic value. In other words, you aren’t a ‘person’ as these scholars define it, and you don’t have a right to be alive, until you can speak up and fight for yourself. If you’re helpless, you aren’t a person, and anybody can kill you, anytime. The authors only apply this to newborns in this paper, but if you can’t see where this is heading, then you aren’t, as we say here in Oklahoma, “too swift.”
It’s interesting, but not surprising, that the authors also claim that “many non-human animals” have a right to life, which newborn babies do not. This same line of reasoning has been employed by other ethicists who have advanced killing babies after they are born, many of them until the child is up to a year old, but are vociferous in their fight for animal rights.
In fact, there is nothing new in this article. It references the deadly Groningen Protocol, concerning the practice in the Netherlands of murdering disabled newborns under the guise of euthanasia.
Here in the United States, this line of logic comes, as I said earlier, from the royal jelly portions of our society. It is the privileged set who keep pushing the boundaries on allowable murder, notably Peter Singer of Princeton University, Michael Tooley, who got his PhD from Princeton and now teaches at the University of Colorado. Dr Singer is famous for advocating for animal rights at the same time that he advocates killing children after they are born.
Despite the fact that these arguments read like they were written by a pro life comic who is making fun of pro abortionists, their authors are serious about them. We need to remember that most of the things we find abhorrent in our society today were sold to the general public in just this way. The demand for legal abortion did not begin in the women’s movement. It began in think tanks, composed almost entirely of men, many of whom were frank misogynists, who published scholarly articles.
Our society takes these royal jelly people far too seriously. We do not consider their remove from reality when we look at their ideas. The thinking in After-birth abortion: Why should the baby live? is just a hatched up bunch of nonsense designed to allow people who have the power to kill other people who can not defend themselves.
All this blather about “actual persons” belies the fact that the authors are creating a construct for killing people at will on the basis of the fact that the killer wants to kill them. It is a philosophy that justifies the biggest and the meanest, making all the rules, nothing more.
It is exactly what you get when we remove God and His Commandments from human decision-making. When we remove God from our considerations, we become what Dawkins et al claims we are: Beasts.
Life in this brave new world becomes, as Hobbes said, “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.” Make no mistake about it, the same royal jelly people who are telling you that you can kill your own babies when they inconvenience you, will eventually be telling someone who is bigger and meaner than you that they can do the same thing to you.
Can a Christian be a Democrat?
That’s a loaded question in today’s America. We have one political party directly targeting Christians to the point of having paid organizers who “work” the churches for them. Meanwhile the other political party has become the outpost for every Christian-bashing group going.
It would seem, based on that analysis, that the party providing the political home to the Christian bashers would be the one to avoid. That was the basic response of many of the commenters on my earlier post on this question.
The arguments went back and forth, up and down, all along the political spectrum, but the upshot was that the Democratic party is hostile territory for traditional Christians, while the Republican Party is more welcoming to them.
One commenter raised the question of what is a Christian. After all, there are some denominations who use the moniker Christian on their church bulletins and fit right in with the Democrats. Are they less Christian than the others?
In my opinion, all this begs the central question. Let me reframe it to be more specific. Can a traditional Christian who accepts, believes and tries to follow the 2,000 year old Christian teachings about human conduct and morality be a Democrat?
The converse question also bears a look: Can that same Christian be a Republican?
I think the answer to both these questions is yes … and no.
You can certainly register as either a Democrat or a Republican. But you may not, on peril of your soul, budge one inch on the 2,000-year consistent teachings of traditional Christianity.
Can’t do it or support it.
Stealing from the poor to give to the rich?
Unjust discrimination against other people?
Following Ayn Rand?
Are you kidding?
The truth is that Christians can and should go just about everywhere in our society. We need to engage the culture at every level. But we cannot compromise the Gospels of Jesus Christ while we are doing it.
If you follow that simple rule, believe me, you’re going to catch flak from whichever political party you join. Both parties torture the Gospels to make the Gospels fit themselves. Both parties have their toady churches who enable them to do this by providing theological cover.
I’ve heard preachers quote take Bible verses out of context to justify everything from gay marriage to doing away with safety standards on food. The right wing does it for the corporations. The left wing does it for the gays and the abortion industry.
This has reached the absurd point that people — intelligent people — will argue about which party is closer to Jesus.
Repeat after me: Political parties are not churches. They are about getting power and keeping power. Everything else they say is a lie.
The Republicans formed their pro life position as a strategy, not as a morality. They realized that it was an issue that could be used as a wedge to divide the Democratic party from their core constituencies of labor and working class people. This has been largely successful for the Republican Party.
It has not benefitted the sanctity of life or Christianity in this country. In fact, it has marginalized the whole concept of the sanctity of human life and turned it into a power issue in power politics. This over-zealous support by many religious leaders of the Republican Party and all its positions, including some that are quite evil, has tarnished the moral and prophetic voice of Christianity and weakened the leadership of Christian clergy.
People are sick of the Jesus-is-a-Republican heresy. Unfortunately, they tend to over-simplify and blame all Christianity for the sins of some of its more politically motivated leaders.
On the other side of the spectrum, good Christians are sick of hearing from the anything goes religious leaders who have searched the scriptures and come up with a namby-pamby version of Jesus that basically oks anything anyone wants to do except be against government hand outs.
Let me be clear about this. You can not say that killing unborn children is ok and speak for Christ at the same time. Conversely, you can not slight the needs of women or ignore the disgusting exploitation of and violence against women that is drowning our culture and be speaking for Jesus.
You can not put your political party ahead of your fealty to Christ and be a faithful Christian. You can not do it. It makes no difference if you are a Republican or a Democrat, if you do not look at your party and see that it is doing things that are anathema to Christian teaching and following Christ, you need to get on your knees and pray for forgiveness and guidance. You have put the wrong god to the forefront of your life.
Can a Christian be a Democrat?
Can a Christian be a Republican?
Can a Christian follow their political party instead of Jesus?
We are called to convert the world, not let the world convert us. That includes our political parties.
I wrote this post over a year ago. In light of questions raised by a reader concerning this post, I’ve decided to republish it today.
She could have been me.
I didn’t get to that thought at first. My first reaction when I saw the Live Action undercover video The War on Baby Girls was anger. I’ve known this was happening, that women were aborting baby girls because they were baby girls, for quite a while.
My sources were nurses and chaplains who work in Oklahoma hospitals. I helped pass a bill which tried, within the straight jacket of Supreme Court rulings on the subject of abortion, to do something about it. The supporters of legal abortion claimed that the bill was unnecessary, that sex-selected abortions don’t happen.
It gets wearying, dealing with the constant barrage of lies that attend politics these days. No one tells the truth; not about their intentions, the legislation, or the objective facts of medical practice. Nothing — and I mean NOTHING — brings out the facile lying more than the fine art and practice of medical misogyny.
So, when I watched that video, my first reaction was anger. It took a few hours for the other reaction to come around. I kept remembering that counselor. She was careful with her words. She never said “abortion,” or “abort.” The word “kill” didn’t cross her lips. She talked about “terminate.”
“If you decide to terminate,” she said.
I replayed her face as she told the girl to avoid telling people that she was planning to abort her baby if the baby was a girl.
Some people might “place judgement,” she said.
Nothing about the counselor shouted Monster! But what she was doing, what she was saying, what she was aiding, abetting and helping to happen WAS monstrous. How did she, how does anyone, get to this place? The grim logic of abortion and its illogical conclusions doubtless played a part in her actions. If a five month old baby (and that’s what a 20-week fetus is) is not human enough to have a right to life, then what does it matter why we kill her?
But the counselor’s words resonate: “Place judgement” she said. That’s the paralyzing ethos of our times at work. Judging, judgmentalism, are the evils in this upside down world, not the murder of an innocent baby girl.
I would guess that a lot of people look at that counselor with disgust and rage. But I feel sorry for her. I hate having to admit this, but the truth is, she could have been me. There was a time when I wasn’t just pro-choice, I was a stinking fanatic about it. I had seen and experienced first hand the violence, degradation and destruction that is misogyny and, like so many young women of my time, I saw abortion as a way out.
But when you go down that path of using one evil to justify another evil you end up committing even greater evils yourself. If you really aren’t a monster who has no conscience or concern for other people, you look for ways to hide what you are doing from yourself. The greatest lies of our times are the lies we tell ourselves to justify doing things that we know are wrong. What makes it work is that the whole culture conspires with us in the doing of it.
The culture, not just of Planned Parenthood, but of our whole American world, says that you can not, you should not, you must not “judge.”
As with most lies that are effective, this one has truth mixed into it. The desire to play God runs strong in all of us. I think that if we had the power to enact our judgements on one another, none of us would go to heaven. We would all condemn one another to hell.
But using the word “judgement” itself as a condemnation is not only idiotic, it’s destructive. The human brain is designed by Our Maker to observe, compare, think and conclude. These conclusions are just another word for “judgement.” When our culture labels this power to discern and decide an evil; when it shears our thinking brains away from us, we become a culture of co-dependence and mental decay.
It’s as if we’ve all suffered a cultural stroke and the words “this is wrong” have been erased from our minds. Instead of saying the plain facts of things, we go into mental gymnastics, trying to “understand” the most hideous behavior. We create fantasy motives for crimes against humanity which are tissues of lies we tell ourselves. These fantasy interpretations of the plain reality in front of us help us silence the thinking, analyzing parts of our brains. They allow us to avoid the social anathema of being labeled “judgmental.”We find ourselves unable to set standards for behavior for anyone, including ourselves.
That is how a basically kind-hearted person can become a monster.
The great irony is that the flip side of this is no better. If we take the untrammeled power to judge others onto ourselves, we unleash the monsters of condemnation, discrimination and, inevitably, killing of innocents. That’s where the gulags, pogroms, lynchings, rapes and murders come from. On the other hand, if we flee from this into a refusal to “judge,” we unleash the monsters of condemnation, discrimination and, inevitably, killing of innocents. That’s where the attacks on Christians, abortions, euthanasia, and starvation of millions for corporate greed come from.
We can whipsaw our human nature from pole to pole; from legalistic judging to fear of judging that becomes another kind of legalistic judging, and we always end up right back where we started from. We are caught forever in the morass and mess of original sin and we cannot think, moralize or fight our way out of it.
The only thing that can save us is the cross. The only One who can save us is Jesus.
I know. Because He saved me. My first reaction to that video was anger. Then, I indulged in a few minutes of self-righteousness by remembering what I went through trying to help pass a bill to lessen the practice of sex-selected abortion. Finally, I came around to the truth: That counselor could have been me, was me, is me, without Christ.
Human beings become monsters when we take the deciding of right and wrong, good and bad, on ourselves without reference to the One who made us. Nothing we can do, and I mean NOTHING we can do, can save us from this. You can go to church, sing in the choir, read the Bible, but if you do these things on your own power and by your own lights, you can and you will become a monster to somebody. You may not have an abortion. But you’ll do something.
We are not saved by ourselves, of ourselves, or even for ourselves. Our salvation comes through the humiliation of the cross and the only honest way we can approach that cross is with humility.
The only salvation we have is at the foot of the cross.
The counselor in that video could have been me.
When you look around at the sins of the world, which of them could be you?
In honor of the Fortnight for Freedom, I am going to limit today’s quick picks on Christian persecution to the United States.
The list below comes from the website of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. None of these examples involves burning down churches or mass murders of Christians. They do, however, show a huge change in the way that religious liberty is viewed by the government from just a few years ago.
I believe that this change has come about primarily through the almost non-stop Christian bashing that takes place in our media, academia and on websites. Christian bashing has become so popular that those who practice it as a profession, such as certain authors, speakers and bloggers, are not only able to continue their practice of Christian bashing without facing objections, they make an excellent living at it.
The rise of professional Christian bashers and the aggressive way that they ply their trade has certainly contributed to a cultural situation in which Christians must constantly be on the defensive. I think it has also fueled the attitudes which have led to the discriminatory practices listed below.
I’ve said a number of times that discrimination is a continuum. People do not move to violent persecution in one step. They work themselves into it by moving along a progression of prejudice and hatred. I believe that America is, as a nation, moving rather rapidly along that progression where Christians are concerned.
From the USCCB:
Current Threats To Religious Liberty
I knew when I posted The New Prostitution: Surrogate Pregnancy that I would get a flurry of indignant responses and lies from people who buy and sell women’s bodies in this new, medical form of prostitution.
I’ve been to this particular rodeo before. What I encountered then and now is what people who stand up for the human rights of women always encounter: Lying attacks from their exploiters, self-destructive defenses of their own dehumanization by self-hating women, and stories of the “benefits” of the prostitution from their purchasers.
Just for the record, I don’t put pimps’ testimony on this blog. That includes pimp husbands who take money from their wives selling their bodies to medical science and doctors who buy and sell women’s bodies. I also don’t put johns’ excuses for their behavior on this blog. You’re wasting your time, trying to comment here.
My experience with this began when I went through infertility treatment to have my first child. I know a lot of about these drugs they give people. I know about their side effects and how they make you feel. I do not have first-hand knowledge of the irresponsible medical practice of egg harvesting.
My doctor was treating me for a diagnosed medical condition. The dangers and miseries I endured were part of a legitimate treatment for a bodily disfunction. She never over-stimulated my ovaries to try to make as many eggs as she could. She also never lied to me about the risks. She told me everything before we ever started, including the fact that the treatment could kill me.
The doctors who perform egg harvesting in Oklahoma lie about the risks. I know they lie because when I introduced a bill to stop them from paying women to undergo egg harvesting, they lied to other legislators and to the press. One of them said that egg harvesting was no more dangerous than riding in a car, among other flat-out lies.
They also claimed that they had not ever had a single complication. Another lie. One of these docs was part of the infertility clinic I went to. He wasn’t my doctor, but I knew him. While I was undergoing treatment, one of his patients lost an ovary. Call me crazy, but I think that qualifies as a complication.
These doctors are misrepresenting the risks and exploiting young women, endangering their lives, future health and fertility. They are reducing women and children to things to be bought and sold on the marketplace. They are also turning medical practice into an exploitative and dangerous profession that people cannot trust.
If doctors can subject people to dangerous treatments that the patients have no medical need of in order to make money, if they can lie about the risks and use their professional associations’ political clout to create an environment that allows them to do this with impunity, then how can anyone ever trust their doctor?
We rely on these medical people to tell us the truth. We rely on them to give us treatments that we need because we are sick and need those treatments to get well. We rely on them not to inflict unnecessary medical treatments on us to make money.
These doctors are preying on women. They are buying and selling babies. All the lies in the world won’t change that.
There is one simple solution. Take the money out of the equation. If a woman wants to undergo a surrogate pregnancy for someone out of the goodness of her heart and she knows the risks and freely undertakes them, ok. But do not allow anyone to pay her to do this. The same should go for egg harvesting.
There is a reason we have laws that do not allow people to sell their bodily organs. The same laws should to apply to egg donation and surrogate pregnancies.
What I want to do is,
OUT OF THE EQUATION.
Give women and children their human dignity under the law.
Otherwise, stop lying and call it what it is: The new prostitution.
The story below comes from a young doctor. She gave me permission to use her testimony when I was working to pass a bill to make it illegal to pay for egg harvesting in Oklahoma. I never used it, even though she gave me permission. She was still a student and afraid of what public use might do to her medical career. I didn’t think she understood how vicious and slandering these people really are, and I did not want to harm her in any way. I left her out of that fight.
However, she is in a different place in her career now. She has offered her story as testimony to the Kansas State Senate and it is published at the Eggsploitation web site.
I reprint it here with permission. From Eggsploitation:
Testimony by Sindy, M.D., Ph.D. to Kansas State Senate on Senate Bill 509, “Women’s Health and Embryo Monitoring Program Act,” March 2010
My name is Sindy. I have an M.D. and a Ph.D. in Biology with specialization in the field of real-time live imaging of the early immune response. With my strong background in basic science research and publications in top scientific journals such as Nature and Science, I have always been an avid supporter of biological research using live subjects and donated tissue, both animal and human. However, my experiences have taught me that at times, even a scrupulous medical scientist may be tempted to make erroneous assumptions, cut corners, or risk safety in order to save time or achieve success. In my medical and research training I have learned the importance of certain principles whenever attempting a procedure or study. These include: 1) ethics, 2) subject safety, 3) informed consent, and 4) patient autonomy. I am testifying today as a former egg donor on the dangers posed to women by the egg harvesting industry. I believe that all four of the above key principles had been violated in my case. Even though I suffered immediate life-threatening complications from the process, it wasn’t until many more years of medical training that I was able to understand the full scope of how I had been taken advantage of, mislead, and abandoned by the egg harvesting industry. As a medical professional it is still difficult to accept that such abuses are allowed to exist in my profession. Meanwhile, players “behind the scenes” such as the egg donation agency and the egg brokers have left the issues of ethics, health, and safety to the doctors, so that they can concentrate on profit. It is my assessment that the egg donation industry cannot be allowed to continue without regulations aimed at preventing unethical recruitment, substandard practices, and inadequate monitoring of women for the purpose of egg harvesting.
The goal of my testimony is to illuminate the importance of placing regulations on the way that the egg harvesting industry is run — from ethical, legal, and medical standpoints. 1) The health and safety of women must be protected first and foremost in any procedure related to ovum production, and should never be superseded by concerns of profit, costs of screening and monitoring the subject, quantity of eggs produced, quantity of eggs retrieved, or completion of the cycle. 2) Furthermore, like any other industry, the egg harvesting industry must be held accountable for reporting adverse effects and for tracking the long-term health of donors. 3) Ethically, informed consent must be properly obtained, with an admission that more research is needed to illuminate the long-term risks to donors. It is also an ethical responsibility for those who profit from egg harvesting to track the health of donors, including conducting large scale research in order to study risks.
I will now relate my experience. In 2001, while still in the combined MD/PhD program, I signed up for egg donation after seeing a university newspaper advertisement for egg donors. The monetary compensation of $6,500 seemed like a lot to me at the time, as I made barely enough to live on. Though I had a desire to help an infertile couple, money was definitely a major driving factor in my decision. Before I started, I searched the medical literature with a fine-tooth comb to verify that this procedure was indeed as harmless as advertised by the egg donation agency. I did not find any hard evidence in the literature of future infertility and cancers, and it seemed that the risks of other complications were extremely low. However, I was not told that the egg donors were rarely followed after the donation, and that doctors were under no obligation to report adverse events.1 Like many other women egg donors, I was bound by legal contracts to remain anonymous and therefore even if late complications occurred, they would be difficult to report.
At this point I had a normal gynecologic history, including normal age at first menses, regular menstrual cycles, and nothing significant on pelvic ultrasounds. It was assumed that I was healthy enough to undergo the egg harvesting protocol. Then I submitted my photographs, passed my genetic screening as a “quality assurance” for the tissue purchaser, and submitted myself to a psychological screen and IQ test administered by a psychiatrist. Based on these results I was chosen as the egg donor, from whom a “designer offspring” would be created.
The legal contract stated that the creation of these eggs were for the purpose of in vitro fertilization. The recipients of my eggs would retain all rights to my eggs and any subsequent embryos created from my eggs, “including but not limited to the ability to make all decisions regarding disposition of embryos.” The literature given by the egg donation agency outlined the possible risks of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), as well as some other theoretical risks that they assured me were rare. What I did not realize at this time was that there were other hidden players in the egg industry who could potentially make money off my eggs, and that there were no laws in place to discourage hyperstimulation of many more eggs than reasonably needed for the goal of helping the infertile couple. My contract did not guarantee that third parties would not be involved in the trading or selling of these eggs, though it specifically forbade donations to other infertile couples without the donor’s consent. My eggs could have been a high-value commodity for profiteers who had nothing to do with the infertile couple, and I was not made aware of this possibility in a forthcoming and direct manner.
The below was part of the information provided to the public by the egg donation agency:
Q: How many eggs are removed during the retrieval? A: The average is 10-15 eggs aspirated per cycle, but donors can produce 16 or more eggs.
Q: Can a donor not produce enough eggs in a stimulated cycle? A: Yes, if the doctor cancels the cycle for poor response the donor will be compensated between $650.00 — $750.00.
According to my agency, failure to produce more than 4 eggs qualifies as “not enough eggs”. Four is typically higher than the target for women who are receiving fertility treatment using oral medications. However, note that there is no upper limit for the number of eggs a donor may safely “produce”, indicating that safety of ovum overproduction is being ignored. This illustrates that the drive to produce a higher number of eggs is extremely high, and failure to produce “adequate” eggs is linked with reduced financial compensation for the donor. Needless to say, this concept of “more is better” brings up ethical questions concerning the use of financial compensation for the recruitment of egg donors. This is especially alarming when no standards are in place to prevent an agency from overproducing eggs. The agency also told me that if I had a successful donation and become a proven donor, I may receive more compensation for future cycles, upwards of $8,000 (on paper) to $20,000 (verbally) – more than I would make in a year of intensive lab work. When “successful” production cycles are linked to increased financial compensation and “failures” are linked to a decrease in financial compensation, women will become more likely to tolerate untoward side effects, including those of OHSS, for fear of losing this compensation. This payment structure poses an obvious ethical conflict.
After signing my legal contract I began to administer all the medications as directed by the egg donation agency. These medications arrived by mail. I already knew how to mix and administer the medications but I don’t recall being instructed by medical personnel. At no point did they adjust my dosage. I remember receiving follow-up early on with a local doctor, and more exams after I travelled by plane to Northern California for the harvesting. Imagine my surprise when they told me that I was producing approximately 60 egg follicles! A mature follicle measures ~2 cm in diameter. The normal ovary measures approximately 4 x 2.5 x 1 cm, and is analogous to the testes. Therefore, you can imagine how 30 mature follicles of 2 cm diameter clustered within each gonad must look like and feel. I was concerned, but the doctors and nurses assured me that this was within the reasonable range for a fertile young woman.
A couple of days before the retrieval the nurse emailed me that my blood estrogen (estradiol) levels came back much higher than they had anticipated (~10,000 pg/ml). A woman in her 20s has an average estrogen level of ~150 pg/ml, with a peak of ~400 pg/ml prior to ovulation. In late pregnancy, the levels may rise 100-fold, but this rise normally occurs over a 6 month period. I asked the fertility specialist to consider altering the timing and course of this process. I was concerned because the drugs I received were probably tested on Caucasian women of average weight. I am a thin non-Caucasian woman. Studies have shown genetic differences in liver drug metabolism for ethnic populations; the examples are too many to reference and are beyond the scope of this topic. Despite my concerns, the doctor told me that even though my hormone levels were extremely high, they would not make any adjustments to the protocol because they did not want to risk failure. I continued to follow all their directions, as it stipulated in my legal contract that I “[understood] it [was] imperative” that I “not deviate from [the protocol] unless instructed to do so by the IVF physician.” Therefore, I proceeded to finish my ovarian stimulation, finishing off with a shot of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) to help release the eggs for the harvesting. The next morning, I underwent transvaginal needle retrieval of the eggs.
What was unknown after the surgery was that the doctor had punctured an artery during the harvesting. When I woke from the anesthesia I became weak, nauseous, and dizzy. I was scheduled to catch a plane that afternoon, to return home. They told me that I looked good and was ready to go home, even though I had problems maintaining my blood pressure. At this point I refused to leave, because I could not stand without getting dizzy – orthostatic hypotension after an invasive procedure typically raises the suspicion of blood loss. A few hours later they started giving me intravenous fluids because they thought that the anesthesia was causing my low blood pressure. Then I developed pain and difficulty breathing. An ultrasound showed that everything was fine except for fluid in my pelvis, which they said was normal (later, this was documented as “fluid pocket near the right kidney”. During this entire time the doctor and nurse persisted in trying to get me to leave, which would mean hours of traveling by car and plane. The pain in my belly became unbearable and I became convinced that I was bleeding internally; something was irritating and pushing on my diaphragm. When I asked if I could be bleeding internally, they told me that it was unlikely. My blood pressure was even lower at this time, so they gave me medication to raise it. Unfortunately giving pressors in a bleeding patient increases the bleeding rate. At 6pm, after 8 hours of slowly and painfully bleeding out, they FINALLY admitted me to the hospital. To me it seemed like they had done just about everything to get rid of me up until that point. The fertility doctor ordered me to eat something. As soon as I sat up in bed to eat, I developed sudden distress and difficulty breathing. They took my blood pressure and called out “40/20″. At that moment I feared that I was going to die. In my medical records the blood pressure reported was 61/29. At this point they finally began to realize that something was terribly wrong, that I was going into shock from blood loss, so I was taken into the operating room for an emergency exploratory laparotomy to find the source of bleeding. The surgeons flipped through my bowels three times to ensure that no other organs were punctured.
During the harvesting of ~60 eggs, which I assume required 60 passes of the needle through my ovaries, the fertility doctor had punctured a high pressure artery in my right ovary. This tiny bleeder was easily fixed with a touch of electrocautery. I had an emergency blood transfusion to replace the 1.5 liters of blood lost. There is absolutely no reason why they should have waited so long to properly diagnose me, thus turning this into an emergency surgical situation when they could have done a small laparoscopic procedure to diagnose and fix a small bleeding artery. Had I followed their directions and gone home, I would have died. Unfortunately their disregard of the signs of OHSS, low index of clinical suspicion for post surgical complications, and their extremely slow response resulted in a horrific clinical outcome.
After the surgery, I had to be kept on a breathing machine in the intensive care unit (ICU) and treated for acidosis throughout the next day. After I was stabilized enough to move to the regular medical wards, the fertility doctor came to see me. She told me that the bleeding was probably due to a genetic bleeding disorder (i.e. my own fault) and that this has never happened before. Then she proceeded to check me for rare genetic bleeding disorders – nothing. I found the doctor’s reluctance to accept that a simple, clear-cut complication had occurred to be highly disturbing. A few days after I was admitted, the 9/11 attack occurred and all planes were grounded for a week. Despite not being able to walk or tolerate a 10 hour car ride home, the doctor told me I needed to free up medical resources and go home now. She tried to get me to leave by stating that when she had her C-section it only took her 3 days to start walking again. However, she neglected the fact that I had gone into prolonged shock caused by her own negligence, spent time in the ICU, underwent a massive surgical procedure, and had emergency blood transfusions. There were no apologies from beginning to end. I was shocked by this dismissive attitude from a top doctor of a top fertility treatment center, a medical expert who has published many articles on safety evaluation and recommendations for egg harvesting. At the same time, I was afraid to launch any complaints because I was a student in the same hospital system with plans to pursue the same field – Ob/Gyn; years later I decided on another medical specialty for unrelated reasons.
I am thankful to be alive, but I know that it was not because the doctor caught the post surgical complication. It was because I finally took a stand, and refused to go home when I knew that something was wrong. If I had died I would not be here to tell my story. I fear that cases like mine are buried deep by the fertility centers who do not want to lower their reputation. While I was in the hospital the fertility doctor told me that she would write a case report on the complication I had. When I searched the medical literature for all of her publications some years later, I wasn’t surprised to find that there was no such report. I have no way of knowing if this incident even made it into a statistical analysis somewhere in the medical literature. It makes sense that an industry thriving on profits and reputation has little incentive to report adverse events, for fear of driving away potential IVF clients and egg donors.
The $6,500 I was given has long since evaporated into medical treatments for multiple late complications caused by this incident. I developed an infection inside my incision site and required multiple steroid injections into the scar to stop it from growing out of control. I suffered from post traumatic stress for months because of my near-death incident, and was unable to work for two months due to both physical and mental deterioration. When I came off birth control a few years later I discovered that my previously normal menstrual cycles and hormone levels had become irregular. My previously normal ovaries took on a polycystic appearance, with more than 25 small follicles in each ovary. I developed occasional incontinence and pelvic pain likely as a consequence of the emergency surgery causing adhesions (fibrotic bands, analogous to scarring) around my organs.
The worst part of this is my current struggle with infertility, requiring continued exposure to the very same types of fertility drugs that I had already been overexposed to in the past – exposure whose link to cancer has not been adequately studied and may take decades to emerge.1 I may need more surgeries in the future to determine if the emergency surgery that was done had damaged my reproductive organs. I fear that the procedure may have harmed the quality of my eggs, even if the fertility experts are certain (at least theoretically) that quantity of eggs remains unaffected. Because of the high hormonal exposure during my egg donation cycle and multiple anecdotes from other egg donors, the development of early cancer is always in the back of my mind. Though a large study has found no evidence linking IVF to ovarian cancer, there is a generalized, undeniable causal relationship between transient exposure to female hormones and transient risk of rapid-growth gynecologic cancer.2 I believe that is absolutely necessary for egg donors to be followed and studied, especially if they had experienced hyperstimulation during the process. No follow up has ever been offered to me. Nobody from the egg donation agency, fertility clinics, or hospital has contacted me since, except to obtain my insurance information so that they could pass my hospital bill to my own health insurance company.
Summary and Conclusion:
1) Ethical considerations:
Financial compensation for eggs disproportionately targets college women with financial hardships. These women usually have long academic careers ahead of them and have not considered childbearing yet, so any infertility caused by the procedure would cause more psychological and physical damage to these women. Docked pay for failure to produce a target number of eggs and escalating pay scales for subsequent cycles are factors that may encourage underreporting of adverse side effects by the egg donor.
2) Subject safety:
Subject safety is variable, being highly dependent on the individual clinician’s practice. This is why there needs to be standardized safety practices and mandatory reporting of complications. In the article “Assessing the Medical Risks of Human Oocyte Donation for Stem Cell Research: Workshop Report (2007)”, one fertility expert advocated the following:3
By working from such information as a patient’s age, weight, and follicle count… a doctor can begin with an FSH dose based on those factors and then modify it as necessary. We monitor during the course of the stimulation to further decrease the dose if too many follicles are developing or the estradiol levels are too high.
To reduce risk of hyperstimulation, these actions were also recommended:
- •Modify stimulation protocol
- ◦Decrease gonadotropin dosage
- ◦OCP/Lupron/Low dose gonadotropins
- •Reduce the ovulatory dose of hCG
- •Delay administration of hCG: “Coast”
- •Cancellation of cycle eliminates the risk of OHSS
- •Withhold hCG administration
Basically the safety recommendations for egg donors include determining the initial dosing of these powerful drugs on the weight and age of the patient. If there is any evidence of producing more eggs or hormones than expected during routine monitoring, then the drug dosage should be reduced, the administration of stimulating medications delayed, or the cycle cancelled. None of these recommendations were followed in my case. In fact, it was one of my own egg donation doctors who was consulted and quoted in the above article.
Regarding the risk during surgical retrieval of the eggs, the perceived negligible risk of complications is likely due to incomplete data:2
It is difficult to know, however, exactly how often such complications occur . . . Although excellent statistics are kept on such things as how many viable eggs each procedure produces, the statistics are not so complete on the complications that ensue during and after.
As my case illustrates, this perceived near-zero risk is inherently dangerous because it will not raise red flags when complications do occur, resulting in delayed intervention and a poorer-than-expected outcome. When a complication does occur, the denial of medical responsibility based on statistical rarity is a faulty and circular argument. This denial of responsibility would also prevent egg donors from obtaining monetary compensation for treatment of complications and appropriate follow-up. As my case illustrates, poor management of retrieval complications can be a problem even in the hands of the most experienced clinician.
Lastly, I received no follow up after my procedure. It is the ethical duty of the fertility industry to conduct timely follow-up and research studies in order to promote safety. This is true of any other industry especially pharmaceutical – so why make fertility an exception?
3) Informed consent:
Many are improperly informed about the risks of the egg harvesting process. Verbally I was told that risk was virtually non-existent and that studies have not linked the procedure to cancer and infertility. I should have been told that there were not enough studies or long-term follow up to determine risk.
It should be made abundantly clear if embryos or stem cells may potentially be secondarily sold, traded, or gifted. The amount of profit potentially generated from each transaction and the purpose of each transaction should be transparent to everyone involved, especially the donor. Without this information, the egg donor cannot possibly make an informed decision.
4) Patient autonomy:
I was hyperstimulated with approximately 60 eggs retrieved. During the procedure I expressed concerns about not using weight-based dosing of fertility medication, the excessive number of follicles produced, and skyrocketing estradiol levels. Nothing was done to personalize my procedure based on clinical findings, which is clearly incongruent with the standard of care. After the procedure my concerns about internal bleeding were not adequately acknowledged until I went into shock and had to undergo an emergency laparotomy. In my experience, the pressure to complete a successful cycle became stronger as I became more invested in the process, and thus I progressively lost my right to make decisions regarding my own body.
Even the tiniest risk of complication needs to be taken seriously especially when dealing with perfectly healthy young women, who have no need to undergo a potentially life-threatening procedure. Procedures with risk are performed on sick patients with the understanding is that the benefits of the procedure outweigh the risks or the consequences of doing nothing. In egg donation there is no medical benefit, only risk. It represents a conflict of interest when the physician does not perceive the egg donor as a patient for whom they have the responsibility to minimize risk. This aspect must be considered when treating healthy young women with everything to lose.
1. Nature. 2006 Sep 7;443(7107):26. Health effects of egg donation may take decades to emerge.
2. American Journal of Epidemiology Vol. 153, No. 11 : 1079-1084.
3. Assessing the Medical Risks of Human Oocyte Donation for Stem Cell Research: Workshop Report (2007).
Do women need Planned Parenthood?
Every time anyone raises the question of cutting government funding for Planned Parenthood, the organization’s supporters — who range from the President of the United States, through many people in Congress to much of the media and a large number of the wealthiest and most powerful people sitting on boards, and heading up corporations and organizations throughout this nation — raise a clamor about “women’s health.”
You would think that Planned Parenthood was the only organization in this country that offered pap smears and birth control. You would also think that pap smears and birth control were all there was to women’s health care.
It has amazed me for a long time that no one calls them on this propagandistic approach to the question. Many times, the people ringing this alarm bell about Planned Parenthood and “women’s health” are the same ones who want to legalize prostitution and not only support but avail themselves of the services of women who they can pay to undergo surrogate pregnancies and submit to egg harvesting. In the entertainment world, they are also the people who put out the various forms of entertainment that depict women as sex things and promote rape and violence against women as entertainment.
They are, in short, misogynists. I include the “feminists” who support pornography, prostitution, egg harvesting and renting women for surrogate pregnancies among them.
It’s mind boggling, when you think of it like that, that these are the people we have accepted as the guardians of “women’s health.” Is it any wonder that they will go to the wall to defend Planned Parenthood. I can’t speak for the whole country, but here in Oklahoma, the interlocking boards between Planned Parenthood and organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce, ACLU, the State Medical Association and most other high-powered boards is striking.
All of this raises the question: Do women really need Planned Parenthood? Can they get the same pap smears elsewhere? Will it cost them more to go elsewhere? After all, Planned Parenthood is not free. It gets money from the government to provide these services, rakes in money from private donations and also charges the women when the come in for care.
This Live Action video answers that question. Have a look and see.
I’m going to be writing about the “new” prostitution a lot in the months ahead. One of these new ways to objectify and exploit women is commercial surrogate pregnancy.
Jennifer Lahl, president of the Center for Bioethics and Culture, is a stalwart battler for women’s human rights in the face of the new forms of dehumanization and exploitation that medical technology has placed in the hands of doctors. She has fought a hard and often futile battle against a money-hungry medical establishment which supports doctors in exploiting and harming their patients for monetary gain.
This technology is marketed as a solution for desperate families who can’t have children. In truth, what we have is the buying and selling of women and babies over the internet in what can only be described as a mass market for a new and virulent form of prostitution. The purchasers are wealthy people, including many powerful celebrities, who don’t want to be bothered with having children themselves, and homosexuals, especially gay men.
In my opinion, one reason this misogynist abuse of women has been allowed to flourish is that the churches are, even now, tone deaf about women’s human rights. They focus on the lives of the embryos that are mass produced by harvested eggs without considering that the women whose bodies are being farmed, and whose health and dignity as human being is being comprised, are also human beings whose human rights as well as their health and well-being are compromised by this practice.
In truth, egg harvesting and surrogacy is a one-two punch of human rights violations. It reduces both the babies and the women to the level of commodities to be bought and sold with no regard for their well-being.
It comes as no surprise to me that a lawmaker in Washington DC wants to swing the doors wide open on the abuse of women and children with this egregious practice. The lawmaker is Councilman David Catania and he says he does not expect any serious opposition since all he’s doing is “remedying … an imperfection in the law.”
Oklahoma City Ads for Buying Women’s Bodies to Use as Surrogates.
I just love the casual way people who are tone deaf to human rights, especially as they apply to women, decide that buying and selling women, using their bodies like appliances, and farming them like they were animals is not only an A-OK thing to do, it’s all for the greater good. Misogyny is truly a wonderment, isn’t it?
Surrogate Pregnancy Bill in D.C. Draws Criticism
Women and children are exploited through this popular ‘rent-a-womb’ practice, Jennifer Lahl charges.
When does life begin? Back when I was pro choice, I used to field that question in debates all the time.
I knew that the people asking the question meant human life. When does human life begin?
The answer is no use to us in the besetting questions of our age. Life, human life, doesn’t begin. We pass it from one to another like a baton in a relay race.
The reason for this largely useless answer is that the question itself is poorly worded. We don’t really mean When does life begin? What the questioners were trying to ask was, When does human life that we owe legal protection begin?
Unfortunately, even that question begs the underlying issue. Individual human life, with all its complexities, begins at conception. This is not theology. It is simple and obvious science. A human conceptus is a unique, perfect human being. So is a human embryo.
I was a human embryo. I do not mean that I was the makings of something that would become me. I, myself, was a human embryo. I was just as much me then as I was me when I was a six month unborn baby and when I was a 5-year-old kindergartner and now that I am a rambling, writing, mom, state legislator and all-around trouble maker.
I was always me at each one of these stages of my life. Life is something we pass from one another like a baton in a relay race. But our lives, our individual existences as persons, begins at conception.
You were an embryo, too, you know. In fact, you still are that embryo, only in another stage of life. Your life began at conception. Your earthly life will end at your death. But you will go on after that, and then, as now, you will always be you.
A reader who seems intransigent in his advocacy for killing little humans ranging from unborn late-term abortion victims back to the earliest conceptus, commented “I just can’t get worked up about microscopic embryos.”
Is that the reason so many people are willing to denude human beings of their humanity early on in their lives? Is it a matter of size?
It is important to remember that calling someone an “embryo” is an entirely arbitrary designation that people created for convenience. As it is used in practice the designation of this stage of a person’s life lasts from shortly after conception up to about 8 weeks. The person is, admittedly, tiny during this whole time, but they aren’t always microscopic. The question still remains: Would their lives matter more if they were the size of dinner plates?
I’m being a bit facetious here to make a point. Size shouldn’t be a death sentence. But when we begin to deny the obvious fact that these are human lives we are taking, we find ourselves in the conundrum of defining what makes the rest of us safe from the long knives of science.
The same science that gives you central heat and air can snuff you out like the flame on a match. The only thing holding it back is law.
The legal barriers we erect around human life are our only protection from the rapacious disregard for human beings that sits at the base of every godless philosophy. Science itself is neutral on the issues of God and morality. It is not inherently moral or immoral. It is, rather, amoral.
Our safety and security rests, not in the self-defined great minds of scientists, but in the little minds of politicians. It is politicians who have kept us from destroying every bit of life on this planet with the scientist’s great gift of nuclear weapons. It is politicians who erect the walls of legal safety behind which we hide against the darker impulses of those who have no regard for us at all. Politicians and the laws they write are the method we have for keeping the monsters beside us at bay.
Make no mistake about it, science has acquired the power to be a death-dealing monster that can destroy us all.
Are human embryos human beings? Of course they are. There isn’t any question about that. The question is, do we think we are capable of creating, exploiting and killing whole classes of human beings and not letting this death-dealing disregard for human life spread to the rest of us? The answer for any thinking person who has the least knowledge of human history is, no.
Once the law allows one group of people to kill other groups of people for any reason they chose, the gun is loaded, cocked and pointing at the rest of us, as well.
We already kill human beings throughout their pre-born life. We kill them because they are disabled. We kill them because they are “unwanted.” We kill them because they — unlike us, we seem to say — are going to die soon anyway.
Is that the new value on human life? To have a right to life, do you have to be “wanted,” or physically perfect, or not be going to die?
By that logic, there is no person on this planet who has a right to life.
Do you realize that? By the logic we apply to embryos, who are killed because they are too small to have a right to life, and for all unborn babies, who are killed because they are unwanted-disabled-going-to-die-anyway there is no person on this planet who has a right to life.
Is that exaggeration? I think not. The agitation for euthanasia is growing. Already several nations and a few of our states have taken down the wall to killing people who are a burden to others, in pain, mentally ill, depressed, etc. They pass these laws under the guise of — you guessed it — they will be dead soon, anyway. We’ll just kill the terminally ill, they claim. Nobody will die except those who volunteer for death, they tell us.
Why? Because if any group of people may be legally killed for reasons of their murderer’s devising, then all our lives are forfeit.
The selling of death by those who want to kill has become slightly more subtle than it times past, but the underlying message is the same.
It’s only a small over-simplification to say that all these people at the vulnerable stages of life are dying because of money. Those who kill human embryos to harvest their body parts promise us miracles in a test tube that will give us cures for every dread disease. But what they are really about is massive amounts of government funding. Unborn children die because abortion is marketed by those who make money off it. They die because we would rather become murderers of our own children than write laws that protect women’s ability to have children and hold jobs, get educations and walk the streets without fear of rape. We kill the infirm, the depressed and the elderly, so they won’t be a “burden” on our health care industry.
We kill for money. We lie and twist the facts to claim that we are killing them for kindness’ sake. But in truth we have done away with the legal protections of the basic right to life of whole classes of people largely for money.
Does size matter? In the case of human embryos, size is a death sentence. But for other people we kill, it is just a matter of getting rid of what bothers us.
I haven’t mentioned theology or even morality as a reason for not killing whole classes of people with impunity. I don’t need to. There is an entirely secular reason for granting a universal right to life to all human beings at every stage of our earthly existence. That reason is self-preservation.
Unless you are one of the gods of our little earthly universe — one of the powerful, the wealthy, the “decision makers” who live in shadowy enclaves inside super zip codes and pull the strings on the rest of us — unless you are one of them, you need this wall of law to protect you.