Newsweek on the ‘Infertility Wars’

09.16.2010, 11:41 PM

Apparently they now let freshmen college newspaper reporters write for Newsweek. Or at least, that’s how this piece reads.

The reporter, Doree Shafrir, interviewed me by phone back in early June for a story she said then would be for New York magazine.

Let’s see… to respond… our report, My Daddy’s Name is Donor, says nothing about gay marriage or about abortion.

The Institute for American Values has not, as she claims, been working to “defend heterosexual marriage from homosexuality” for 23 years. In fact, we didn’t start talking about gay marriage until after the Goodridge decision in Massachusetts in November 2003, and we have no organizational position on the matter. Different leaders among us take different positions (as do different bloggers at this blog).

The Institute has never done any work on the issue of abortion.

She’s right that I do think we should treat donor conception like adoption, and I do think donor conception is a problem no matter who’s using it — gay, straight, married or not.

Mainly, I do support the right of donor offspring to know who their fathers are. She’s right about that too.

Take a look and see if you can follow her logic that takes these simple observations and tries (through what must have been exhausting calisthenics) to turn them into a fire-breathing conspiracy. I can’t.

6 Responses to “Newsweek on the ‘Infertility Wars’”

  1. Hernan says:

    I can. Take the first letter from each of the sentences in your post: AOTLTIDTSMSTI. They are an anagram for ADMITS TO TILTS. Can’t fool me.

    I need henchmen to check my math. 8-)

  2. Peter Hoh says:

    My biggest problem with the article is that it does not include the perspective of adults who were conceived by the practices mentioned in the piece.

    It’s not as though such people are impossible to find.


    The article hinges on the “fact” that the IAV has a stance against gay marriage.

    The name of the Institute for American Values makes some people leap to the conclusion that it is a right-wing think tank. Perhaps you need to make it clear that the institute does not have a position on same-sex marriage, for instance. You should also mention your personal support for civil unions and same-sex adoption to counter the perception that your positions are the same as one would expect from Focus on the Family or the Family Research Council.


    The article is plagued by clumsy, slanted segues.

    “The single-mom-by-choice offspring, based on our data, are hurting the most” gets twisted into “IAV looks most askance on unmarried mothers”
    which then gets turned into a slight against lesbian couples.

    Never mind that lesbian couples, by definition, couldn’t be single mothers.

    And never mind that the IAV’s singular public policy recommendation, ending donor anonymity, would apply to everyone.

    It’s an attitude that’s becoming increasingly at odds with public opinion; a recent study by Indiana University sociologist Brian Powell found that 68 percent of his survey’s respondents view same-sex couples with children as a family, up from 54 percent in 2003.

    The author creates the impression that you do not view same-sex couples with children as a family. And yet, how hard would it be for the author to send a quick follow up email to ask if, indeed, you hold that view?

    The same goes for this part.

    It also makes it possible for laws to exist that would prevent gay couples from having access to the procedure, just as they are banned from adopting in some states, including Florida and Utah.

    Again, was it too much to ask you your opinion about same-sex couples adopting? Or would such a question have disrupted the narrative the writer was so intent on crafting?


    The jump from adoption to abortion seems like quite a stretch.

  3. Peter Hoh — you pretty much nailed it in my view.

    Note to readers who may be new: Peter Hoh has no issue with being my critic and often is.

    Thanks PH

  4. Elizabeth Marquardt says:

    Hernan: nice. Or maybe if we play it backwards? : – )

  5. Alana S. says:

    What I think is so hilarious is how McCarthy-ist this all is.
    What an insult to be a “right-winger” and yet if you don’t leap with joy when a child is deliberately denied one or more of its natural parents that’s exactly what you’re called. No matter your stance on a million other issues and how progressive you’re deemed in general.

    Oh, she doesn’t celebrate every whim, desire and self-asserted right of the infallible gay community, she must be a member of the right-wing conspiracy.

    You can be a pro-abortion, veggie-fuel driving vegan from san francisco, but if you disagree that lesbians maybe shouldn’t be allowed to use anonymous sperm donation (along with straight couples and single moms) than you’re a neo-con.

  6. Ralph says:

    I think it’s probably true that there’s a disconnect between the public face of IAV and the disparate positions represented on this blog, which I think it is so important for us to share with each other. Peter’s right that the subtle distinctions between various viewpoints about donation, surrogacy, couplehood/marriage get completely lost in the drive to create a “piece” about ardent foes. This is an article that was already written before it was researched.

    To Alana’s point, I think both gay activists and sharply conservative activists each try to gain a toe-hold in each other’s sphere of influence and maintain it. It’s one of the reasons why you so rarely see nuanced articles about topics like this. (Which is why I found the essay by the woman whose sperm donor had died so moving – it didn’t attempt to fit neatly into some political packaging.)

    Even as I criticize this article, I know that I do this too – in the face of perceived attack, I might leave out very debatable points in the interests of rhetoric. Even my feeling that anonymous donation should be banned is unfortunately tempered by the fear of the effect of success for some of the people who might be a part of that charge. Maggie Gallagher? Robert George? I see their names on this site, I don’t know them personally, and perhaps we could be friends as people. But, in their public persona, I don’t want them to succeed in their endeavors, because politically, they are my enemy. I may be a little paranoid, and maybe it’s my age, but because there is a segment of our culture that wants vehemently to stop the slow growing acceptance of same-sex couples and families, I keep a careful watch over my shoulder and judge many (maybe too many) subjects in that light.

    I think that’s part of what’s happening in articles like this. The problem is that it doesn’t tell you it’s an opinion piece, but tries to pass itself as pure journalism.