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CW long post (original content)

The Paradox of Altruistic Gamete Donation and Surrogacy

The various forms of artificial human reproduction are, all of them, problematic; not least because they present all sorts of complex moral and legal issues. And this blog touches on such issues but, before going into the complexity, let us first have a little simplicity.

Let us, therefore, consider what appears to many to be the least problematic forms of artificial human reproduction: altruistic gamete donation and altruistic surrogacy. They are called ‘altruistic’ because they are the freely given gifts of women who seek no profit; women who simply want to do good, and who are under no pressure to do so.

Such an altruistic woman is Anne, a healthy young woman who donates eggs so that an infertile couple can have children. Let's suppose that no monetary exchange is involved, not even in the form of compensation for expenses, which is still a subtle form of exchange. Anne, remember, expects nothing in return from the couple. This is altruism, not commerce. Some people would find her action morally acceptable, even laudable; and they would see no good reason why it should not be considered perfectly legal.

Another such altruistic woman is Marie. Like Anne, Marie is a healthy young woman and absolutely altruistic. Anne acts as a surrogate mother for a couple because the woman who wants to become a mother cannot carry a pregnancy. Again, let's suppose that no monetary exchange is involved, not even in the form of compensation for expenses. Marie allows the use of her womb for mere altruism and expects nothing in return from the couple. Some people would find her action, too, to be morally acceptable; even laudable. This, too, they believe, should be perfectly legal.

Certainly, appropriate forms of regulation would be necessary in the cases of both, Anne and Marie, to anticipate and avoid possible conflicts that just might arise between the parties involved. But, in general, there are not many people who would find the actions of either Anne or Marie to be, in any way, dreadfully, seriously, problematic.

Now, let us imagine another healthy, young, and exceptionally altruistic woman, whom we shall call, for obvious reasons, Annemarie. Annemarie, in this imaginary case, both donates her eggs to, and, acts as a surrogate mother for, a particular infertile couple, the woman of which cannot carry a pregnancy. Annemarie does the same, and is the same, as Anne and Marie. The same: but, different.

Yes, here is the paradox: while some people would approve of the actions of Anne, and of Marie, the actions of Annemarie seem to them to be very different. Because very few people would consider the practice of conceiving and gestating a child with the deliberate intention to give the child away to a commissioning couple, even for purely altruistic reasons, to be either morally or legally acceptable. So, with Anne and Marie: not problematic. Yet, with Annemarie: so problematic.

What is so wrong in the case of Annemarie that is not seemingly wrong in the cases of Anne or Marie? If two actions are individually good, why are they not good when combined together?

The paradox obviously does not arise for those who do not consider gamete donation – that is the donation of either eggs or sperm - or surrogacy, (or both,) to be in any way acceptable. For others, the paradox is there.

Ova are donated with a view to generating children; and if a surrogate mother is needed to complete the process why shouldn’t she be the very same woman who donates the eggs?

Similarly, if an altruistic surrogate mother is doing something good, isn’t she doing something even better if she is also the altruistic donor? Would it be different if Annemarie donates her ova to one couple and acts as a surrogate for a different couple?

We can easily imagine all sorts of permutations and combinations of roles, genders, relationships, number of people involved, etc., between the process of gamete donation and surrogacy. We can easily imagine just how complex and problematic the whole business can become.

In the reality of the world out there, cases are usually much more complicated that those presented here in such a simplified way. But, even as we discuss clear cut simplified cases, sooner or later some contradiction appears; and it points to something seriously wrong with splitting up the normal, and naturally composite, action of becoming the mother and the father of a child.

Those who would defend altruistic gamete donation and surrogacy should, if they are being logical, also defend the practice of generating children with the purpose of donating them to couples. For that is the logic of it all. Somehow, we feel that there is more to this than cold logic; this does not feel right and proper.

And those who have no problems with some form of compensation (be it a fee, or expenses, or whatever) for gamete donation and surrogacy, should have no problem with turning the bringing of a child into this world into a commercial business.

We demand to know: Since when has treating children as commodities to be given is progress?






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A few recommendations for life on Mastodon:

1) Follow anyone you think looks potentially interesting; you can always unfollow later, and they may lead you to new people via boosted posts.

2) Boost posts you think are worthy, so others can discover new content.

3) Don't obsess on replicating your Twitter follows on Mastodon; let it be its own experience, and grow it organically. Obvs follow anyone you miss from Twitter, but this isn't a 1:1 replacement; have fun, follow your instincts.

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Don't know the source but holy shit is this real? lmao

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Triangular USB connectors were soon abandoned after some users complained of needing to rotate them up to six times before successful insertion.

Organ donation and consent

The Government plans to introduce an opt-out system for organ donation. (irishtimes.com/politics/2022/1)

This is a system whereby organs will be removed from patients’ bodies upon death, for transplant, if they have not expressly forbidden it. Otherwise, consent will be presumed.

The opt-out regime is based on the assumption that when inevitable death is approaching, the State or the hospitals own our bodies and can dispose of their parts, unless we or our family explicitly object.

This principle is not acceptable, even if it is motivated by the noble intent of addressing the problem of shortage of organs for transplant in Ireland.

Donation should arise from an informed and deliberate decision.

An opt-out system does not properly respect the principle of informed consent.

If the current opt-in regime is not adequate to satisfy the need for donors, it could be improved so that every patient, when visiting their GP or a hospital, should be explicitly asked to express their option on the matter.

An opt-out system is detrimental not only for those who are not aware of the details of the legislation, probably the majority of people, but particularly for vulnerable groups in society such as those who do not have adequate language skills, or cannot fully consent.

Donation must remain a choice freely made and taking without asking is not giving. Our organs are not at the State’s disposal.

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So it seems joinmastodon removed QOTO from their directory without cause, without contacting us, and without any discussion or due diligence.

Since this is the only way to actually find QOTO for new users if it isnt reversed soon it could mean the end for our wonderful community.

If you care about this place remaining fair, respectful, and inclusive environment I highly suggest everyone reach out to them annd voice your objecttion and your disapointment and having no procedure to keep this fair and inclusive.

If you want to see QOTO stick around you can email your objecttion here:

hello@joinmastodon.org

Feel free to CC me here: jeffrey.freeman@qoto.org

Please be respectful, we want to show them we are the good guys and not give them any reason to object.

@Gargron @trinsec @khird

CW Long post. (Original content)

The coming ‘depopulation bomb’

A moral transformation, rather than social policies, will stop the de-population bomb claims Dr Nicholas Eberstadt, an expert in demography, in a new interview called the ‘De-Population Bomb’.
(youtube.com/watch?v=uNdnlrkx-w)

For years we have been warned of the dangers of an increasing world population (the so-called ‘population bomb’), but what happens when it shrinks, instead? This is already happening in many Western countries, he points out. Ireland has a fast-ageing population. Only large-scale immigration will stop it shrinking in the years ahead.

The United States, for example, was at replacement level (2.1 children per couple) or slightly above up to 2008. This means that there were sufficient births to compensate deaths, without taking into consideration immigration. Since then, the number of births per woman has gone down, particularly during the Covid pandemic. Ireland fertility rate is now about 1.7.

“If current trends continue, the United States would be on a track to shrink 20 percent for each generation”, warns Eberstadt, who a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and author of several studies on demography.

The European Union, Russia and China are experiencing the same demographic decline. So is all of East Asia, lead by Japan.

In Ireland, as Budget 2023 was being unveiled last week, the Department of Finance said that to maintain the current levels of public service we need an additional €8 billion in public expenditure each year by 2030.

“An ageing population will involve significant fiscal costs simply to ‘stand-still’”, said a risk assessment document.

In simple words, we need more young people working for the rest, particularly for those who have retired. Ideally, the size of the younger generations should exceed older ones but our demographic trends are going in the opposite direction.

Dr Eberstadt claims that the US federal spending is becoming untenable. “Today’s consumption for seniors is being financed by the unborn”.

One solution is more immigration, he says, but, even without considering the morality of depriving poorer countries of their workforce, this population policy does not always succeed in its intended purposes. He comments on the European experience: “The work rates are lower for the foreign-born than for the native-born in most European countries, the educational qualifications of working-age Europeans are typically lower for the foreign-born, and “non-EU foreign-born” youth are far more likely to be neither employed nor in education or training. The EU’s assimilation problem also looks to be intergenerational: throughout Europe, children of non-EU immigrants are generally more likely than their parents — not less likely — to see themselves as victims of group discrimination.”

In other words, large sections of the immigrant populations of parts of Europe are experiencing alienation, which often drives crime rates, and then voter backlash, as we have seen recently in Sweden.

Assimilation works better in the United States, Eberstadt claims, but immigration cannot be the only population policy to maintain demographic sustainability.

Dr Eberstadt is sceptical about subsidies and tax relief for families. He claims that “incentives to boost birth rates are likely to be costly and to elicit only modest and perhaps fleeting demographic results”.

Referring to the Scandinavian experience, where birth rates are mostly high relative to the European average (but still below replacement level), he talks about the “Swedish roller coaster”, i.e. the birth rate goes up just after a new subsidy is introduced, but then it goes back further below where it was before. What has to be changed instead, he maintains, is the people’s desire about the size of their families. This has been previously pointed out in this Iona Institute blog: ionainstitute.ie/only-a-social

The best indicator for fertility rates is how many children women want, but this does not depend on economic conditions. Richer people do not have more children. The most affluent and productive society that humanity has ever seen has also the lowest fertility rates.

“Children are not convenient. We have moved into a world in which convenience is prized and in which constraints on personal autonomy are increasingly viewed as onerous”.

What is needed instead is a change in values. The desire for larger families depends on the appreciation of family values.

Dr Eberstadt believes that an ageing and declining population will experience the opposite: pessimism, hesitance, dependence, self-indulgence, resentment, and division.

We can change the head count with immigration, but it will work only temporarily if immigrants embrace the same mentality that causes depopulation, he says. We need instead a moral transformation so that people are confident and brave enough to maintain a natural rate of replacement for society.

CW Long post. Original content.

How Covid curbs on church-going harmed public health

During the Covid-19 pandemic, people were barred in many countries from attending religious worship for long periods, and nowhere more so than in Ireland. When they were not barred, severe restrictions were put on the numbers who could attend. But strictly from a public health perspective, was it worth it? An important new study (sciencedirect.com/science/arti) suggest it was not, and the restrictions may have done more public health harm than good.

The research, just published in the European Economic Review is based on a nationally representative sample of over 100,000 responses from 52,459 individuals in the United States. It was carried out during the period from March 2020 to May 2021, when most American States limited the number who could attend a house of worship.

A crucial finding of the study is that the severe restrictions on religious worship do not seem to have slowed the spread of the virus.

It says: “there is no statistically or economically significant association between restrictions on houses of worship and either COVID-19 infections or deaths regardless of how restrictions are measured”. (p. 12)

The article concludes that “there is almost no evidence that the restrictions had a positive effect on public health, consistent with a growing body of evidence that has evaluated the launch of State quarantine policies.” (p. 12)

But the restrictions or ban on public worship did harm the mental health of some worshippers.

The author focuses on two variables: current life satisfaction and self-isolation.

The study confirmed that religious people have higher level of current life satisfaction overall, compared to the rest of the population. This is partly achieved by being part of a religious community. Therefore, it is no surprise that is also found a “strong negative association between state restrictions and current life satisfaction, particularly for religious adherents.” (p. 6).

If one of the main sources of their wellbeing was removed, how could it be otherwise?

The author notes that going to a church, or attending any other religious venue, offers people the opportunity to forge relationships and grow stronger in their faith. The survey established that the restrictions had “a disproportionate impact on self-isolation among religious adherents.” (p. 7)

Self-isolation among religious people increased by more than among their non-religious counterparts. This is one of the reasons why their well-being suffered more as a result of the pandemic.

The decline in well-being was stronger in Catholic than in Protestant congregations, and non-existent among Mormons, who are concentrated in Utah where no significant restrictions were put into place.

The main result of the study is that “religious adherents experienced systematically lower levels of well-being and isolation following the adoption of such restrictions.” (p. 11)

The study focuses on the United States only. It would be interesting to see such research extended to other countries, particularly to Ireland that had the longest period of worship restrictions in Europe.

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#WorldPhilosophyDay event organised by Irish Young Philosopher Awards: viewing and discussion of the Irish documentary "Love Plato" in UCD Dublin, Thursday 17th Nov at 4pm

See this tweet for Eventbrite link: twitter.com/IYPA_2021/status/1

#YoungPlato #IYPA #UCD #WorldPhilosophyDay2022

If "The amendment has no specific wording about when abortion would be legal." then it permits abortions up to birth, which was exactly my point.

qoto.org/@dyedgrey/10933994618

CW Long post (original content)

The US midterm elections took place on Tuesday. What has attracted little attention on this side of the Atlantic is the fact that voters in three US states backed extreme, pro-choice amendments to their constitutions. Pro-life proposals went before two other states, and they were rejected. Perhaps part of the reason is that the Democrats spent half a billion dollars on pro-abortion ads, a truly stunning amount.

The US Supreme Court overturned Roe vs Wade last summer in a ruling called Dobbs vs Jackson. The Roe vs Wade ruling in 1973 imposed a liberal abortion-law nationwide. The Dobbs decision handed the power to decide abortion laws back to the individual states, through legislation, court rulings, or ballots initiatives.

The Democrats are now pushing for laws which go even further than Roe vs Wade.

In California they put a constitutional amendment before voters that allows abortion up to birth, without exceptions, even for minors. Sixty-five percent voted in favour. The current law already allowed abortion for any reason before viability but now access to terminations is explicitly protected in the state constitution.

Seventy-seven percent of voters in Vermont approved a constitutional change that recognises a “right to personal reproductive autonomy”. Among other things, this will exclude parental involvement when minors seek an abortion.

While the results in ultra-liberal California and Vermont were not surprising, the vote in more middle-of-the-road Michigan was a particular disappointment for the pro-life side.

Fifty-seven percent of Michigan voters opted to recognise an unlimited right to abortion, including for minors. The amendment has wide consequences, such as repealing the state’s ban on tax-funded abortions and removing parental consent not only for abortion but also for contraception and sterilisation. This radical change goes beyond the Roe v Wade abortion rights regime.

Kentucky rejected by a small margin (52pc vs 48pc) a pro-life amendment that would have declared: “nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion.”

The consequences of this vote are not as radical as the referendums in California or Michigan, because there is still no positive right to abortion in the Kentucky constitution and its regulation is a matter for the state General Assembly. The current law is quite restrictive as it allows abortion only when necessary to prevent possible death or risk or permanent injury to the mother. If passed, the amendment would have put an end to legal challenges to overturn the law in courts.

Montana rejected a law requiring health care providers to make reasonable efforts to save the life of a baby born alive after an abortion. A total of 52.6pc voted against the proposal. Unlike the other ballot initiatives, this law did not set limits to abortion and, in theory, could have been supported even by people with pro-choice views. Still, it was rejected.

AdImpact, an ad-tracking firm, has estimated that the Democrats have spent nearly half a billion dollars on ads mentioning abortion. Adimpact also found that abortion was mentioned in 654 ads of 3,295 total commercials run in races for governor, Senate and House. Inflation was mentioned in 575 of those total ads.

Not everything went badly on Tuesday from a pro-life point of view. In spite of the gigantic sums spent, abortion activists did poorly at state level.

In states that have enforced abortion limits since Roe vs Wade was overturned, no pro-choice governor or attorney general was elected.

Pro-life Governors were re-elected in four states with early gestational prohibitions (Georgia, Iowa, Ohio and Tennessee).

Governors that have signed moderately pro-life laws have been re-elected with significant margins also in Florida and Texas, where they were running against well-funded candidates.

In Nebraska, the pro-life side now has a strong majority in the state legislature, and they can easily pass legislation to protect unborn children.

In Ohio, pro-lifers have won three Supreme Court seats, giving them a majority in the court which bodes well for pro-life laws there.

Throwback on FAFCE conference on the protection of children from online pornography familysolidarity.org/972-2/

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Why leading doctors oppose assisted suicide

A Private Members’ Bill seeking to permit assisted suicide will be debated in the Dáil next week. It is proposed by Solidarity-People Before Profit TD Gino Kenny. The last time when this issue was discussed in Leinster House, three years ago, some of the strongest opposition came from the members of the medical profession and […] familysolidarity.org/why-leadi

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Getting the facts right about reversing effects of abortion pills

This week an article attacked Irish doctors who offer medical assistance to women who have taken abortion pills and then changed their minds before the effects were final. The article contains a number of claims that need to be challenged. A chemical abortion consists of two separate pills: the first, called mifepristone, blocks the effects […] ionainstitute.ie/getting-the-f

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Expect some of the following to happen in the coming weeks:

- celebrities with huge follower counts pushing tiny community-run servers to their knees

- instance admin burnout; shutting down of servers

- big new servers that don't "vibe" with common rules or culture being widely defederated

- some notable account violating an instance code of conduct and throwing a fit

- lots of people ragequitting Mastodon for one reason or another

- etc.

It'll be a rough ride. Patience and strength, all.

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The collapse of Twitter is a system breakdown. Mastodon and the fediverse represent something different: _system change_. From for-profit "Big Tech" to nonprofit, open source, community-owned public spaces.

System change is always harder than you think. It always incurs short-term costs, with hoped for long-term benefits.

The next few weeks will be really tough for the fediverse. Stick around, vibe with it, and you just might help us put a huge part of the web back in community hands. <3

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@freemo
Italian, I teach in Dublin (Ireland) and do research for the Iona Institute, a Christian think-tank/advocacy group.
I am interested in ,
, , .
I waste too much of my time online.

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