Outrage of the Week: Background Checks Required for IVF

Oh darn! Just when  you thought you could  inject yourself with hormones every day for about 2 months, bloat like a beachball, have your eggs monitored and retrieved (after loads of blood tests) to then be fertilized in a test tube and plunged back into your womb at about $15,000 a pop so you could,  hopefully, get pregnant, give birth and gradually raise a little boy or girl who would be all yours to abuse in just five or ten years, it turns out it’s not that easy!

Alas, Australia is about to pass a law that will require couples undergoing in-vitro fertilization treatments to first pass a background check. Here’s the link, and here’s a bit of the story, sent in by a Free-Range reader:

WOULD-BE parents are outraged at new laws forcing them to prove they are not pedophiles or child abusers before they undergo fertility treatment.

Victorian IVF clinics have started asking patients to submit to police checks ensuring they are fit to be parents.

The new law will affect about 5000 couples each year.

Briony and Lew Sanelle, who completed police checks three weeks ago so they could start trying to have their second child through IVF, said they were insulted by the discrimination.

Me too — and not just because I’m an IVF mom myself. I’m insulted because it feels like the only reason the government is requiring this check of IVF parents is because it CAN. And if it could force every single post-pubescent citizen to undergo a background check, that would be its ultimate goal.

This requirement was apparently included as part of a bill passed last year that “paved the way for single women and lesbians to access IVF.” Because, of course, those groups really pose the biggest possible pedophile threat to children.

We live in a strange, obsessive era when everyone is suspected of perversion for showing the tiniest interest in chidlren. Even, apparently, before they’re born. — Lenore

61 Responses

  1. Wow.

    As a lesbian IVF mom (in the US), I am quite offended by this.

    If I’d been a lawmaker there, I would have voted for the law, even with this asinine amendment, to open IVF to lesbian and single women, but it just seems like it was added as an “f-you” by some conservative jerks who didn’t want us having kids.

  2. Not that it makes this right, but adoptive parents go thru this too. To adopt our little boy from Moscow, we had to endure local, state, & federal criminal checks, including old-style & digital fingerprinting. We were required to have HIV & communicable disease tests as well as thorough physicals. We have to have notarized reports divulging our complete financial history & current standing, including car & house ownership & credit. We even had to document the location of schools near our home!

    We also had to plan out & document our child-rearing philosophies & strategies – from intended modes of punishment to religion to how we’d continue to honor our son’s Russian heritage. We also had to read several books on everything from attachment to parenting skills, take a parenting class, attend a seminar, and take a series of online courses with tests.

    If ordinary “bio-parents” had to endure a fraction of this, they’d never procreate!

    So, I’m not saying I agree with people wanting to do IVF being required to have background checks, but I will say that this sort of pales in comparison to what EVERY (international) adoptive parent goes through. And due to the waiting process, most of us have to repeat many of those steps 2-3 times or more!

    By the way, lest you get the wrong impression – we’d do it all over again!!

  3. Sooo…. why don’t I have to get a background check to be a parent if I just go about it the normal route? What makes someone who has difficulty or inability to conceive without a treatment like this more susceptible to being unfit for parenting than any two consenting partners who can do it the old fashioned way? Oh, right, I totally forgot – being able to have regular old sex DEFINITELY means you’re fit to parent, no matter what!

  4. Lenore, I am on the fence on this one. You are right, the government is doing this because it can. Meanwhile, pedophiles, drug addicts and any number of dangerously violent and insane people who happen to be fertile get a chance to become parents and subject their children to all kinds of trauma.

    But, most governments require background checks and psychological evaluations of people who wish to adopt or foster children. Adoptive parents even have to meet income standards. Some animal shelters do background checks on prospective pet owners.

    Meanwhile, a teenager with no means to support a child or a known criminal can have a baby “naturally” and in most cases the government will not step in to prevent them from raising the child.

    No, it is not fair. And the idea of government deciding who gets to be a parent is scary. The practice of sterilizing people deemed unworthy to reproduce, so in vogue in this country only 40-50 years ago, is scary and should rightfully be condemned.

    But, there are people out there who should never under any circumstances be allowed to raise children, their own or someone else’s. Then there is the fact that a state has only so much money to spend on welfare and school lunches, juvenile crime and foster care for abused children.

    After seeing the Octomom paraded on TV ad nauseum, many people undoubtedly thought income standards and psych evaluations for IVF patients aren’t such a bad idea. And sometimes I think that if there was a completely safe, effective and reversible method of birth control, available as a childhood vaccination, and all you had to do once you were ready to be a parent was walk into a doctor’s office and say so – the world might be a better place. I think of how much life would change in the poorest regions of the world if women had complete control over how many children they had.

    But then I think of the history of governments trying to control reproduction, of all the bigoted laws still on the books, of those bloated sex offender registries, and realize that preventing pedophiles from having children (a good thing, in my opinion, and one that is bound to occur to someone once the entire population has been “vaccinated”) could in practice mean preventing anyone who had ever been caught peeing in public from having children.

    No, until our government keeps better registries, passes better laws and learns to enforce them better, we should absolutely resist any attempts to interfere with individuals’ reproductive rights. Yet can you really blame the government for trying to protect the children (and its budget), in the relatively small percentage of cases (IVF, adoption) where having a child involves a conscious decision and outside interference? Would you come out in favor of abandoning background checks on adoptive parents?

  5. I should probably mention that my only child was a happy accident in my early twenties. So I can’t possibly know what it is like for parents who have to go through IVF or adoption.

  6. Let’s get perspective on this one. Some of us have been fighting for years to get IVF extended to lesbian couples, in the face of conservative opposition. To get the votes to get it passed we accepted a crappy amendment that gave one or two cowards in parliament the cover they needed.

    Now, lesbians in Vic can get IVF. Before, they couldn’t. I’ll take some shitty paperwork to give (and have) that right.

    Oh, and it’s not an Australian law, it’s a Victorian state law. I would have expected an American to know the difference between state and federal levels of government :).

  7. Victorian- Thats a good point about steps forward and all that. Still, the requirement is blatently discriminitory (is that a word?) towards people with fertility issues (not to mention lesbians and single women etc.). Maybe if people make enough of a fuss, they can make another step forward?

    As for Americans knowing the difference between Victoria and Australia… clearly you’ve never seen “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” (I am an American. Also, I didn’t realize Australia had a Victoria. Or states. I’m really good at math though, honest!)

  8. The difference I see between the IVF case and the adoption/foster case is that in the latter case the authorities are making decisions about a person who already exists.

  9. From a free-range perspective this does have the familiar ring of hysteria. To try to stop pedophiles from having access to children by requiring every person undergoing IVF to have a background check does not seem like a good use of resources. I think a cost benefit analysis would likely show that the money would be better spent on other forms of prevention.

    But I think the real reason this is really bad is less to do with parenting philosophies and who is or isn’t fit to be a parent and more to do with the ethics of denying people access to medical care on the basis of the sort of person they are.

    To have a government require any kind of background check in order let people access medical care is a very slippery slope.

  10. It sounds dumb, but isn’t. When the traditional method of replicating is completed, only two people are responsible. With adoption and IVF, there are a whole bunch of people who could be sued for enabling whacko’s to procreate technologically. A background check covers the bases.

    Interesting blog; don’t much agree. I have three friends who have had children abducted, killed, or abused by strangers. Statistically you’ll hurt yourself 1 in 6 times playing Russian Roulette – from your reasoning, I could play five rounds and be safe. 1 in 10 Billion doesn’t mean it isn’t going to happen way up front of the queu.

    I was a free-range kid; mine are a bit more sheltered. They don’t need to go through what I did. Fortunately it’s a free country and your mileage may vary, do as you feel right and may God keep us all safe.

  11. FRK, for once, I disagree. There are more stringent requirements for operating a motor vehicle than having children. IMHO more people should have to demonstrate they have the capability of being good parents. If they aren’t good parents is it only the young and innocent who will suffer.

    What I propose is a global contraceptive added to the air, water and food supplies. Perspective parents would then be required to prove competency in order to obtain a temporary antidote.

  12. Dani – That’s my thought exactly Maybe “normal” bio-parents need to get background checks to have children too! Perhaps if couples were forced to be more mindful and less idealistic about having a baby, there’d be fewer problems. I’m more than a little miffed that, for many people, their price of entry into parenthood was the cover charge at a bar and a couple of Bud Lights.

    Rob – By “a background check covers the bases” I assume you mean, this covers their butts! It’s no different than the ludicrous warnings on the bottom of a hot cup of McDonald’s coffee. It’s more to safeguard the company against litigious jerks than to protect consumers.

    Helen – I agree! What’s next – will I need to be fingerprinted before I can take my child to the dentist? Requiring parents who opt to use IVF to submit to background checks is wrong.

  13. If you allowed the government to conduct mass sterilization, then required approval to get it reversed, I GUARANTEE you that every single one of us free-range parents would be denied the right to procreate based on the mores of the paranoid majority in power.

  14. Yeah, howbigspill’s solution is to chemically disable every person in the world and then let the government decide who gets the antidote. I’m no fan of background checks, but that’s a THOUSAND times more oppressive and invasive.

  15. pentamom, you didn’t refute my point about parenting having less hoops to jump through than a driver’s license. But I do understand the way you feel.

  16. Many times before, when I’ve heard about a terrible child abuse case, I have wished that there was a background check to become a parent. Now I see that this is not a very well-thought-out idea. It all comes down to the reality that we as a society can’t possibly prevent all tragedies from ever happening, any more than we as individual parents can protect our kids 100% of the time.

    By the way, hell yes they should ease up on the requirements for adoptive parents! Why do you have to have perfect credit? And why should you have to undergo government brainwashing on parenting techniques? I’m raising two very happy and well-adjusted kids, and I would probably never qualify to adopt.

  17. Wow. I can’t believe that so many people agree that this is a good idea.

    My husband and I are having difficulty starting a family. If I were required to do a background check, I don’t know if I’d be allowed to do IVF. I am a former drug addict, and spent time in the hospital because of an overdose. I’ve been clean for many, many years, but would a doctor look past this? I’m also an atheist. Would a religious doctor allow me to undergo IVF? What’s even more sad is that I would prefer to adopt before I spent thousands on the procedure, but I don’t think I’d ever be allowed to.

    I agree that it’s wrong that lesbians and single moms aren’t always allowed to do IVF, but I don’t think the compromise is treat everyone like a criminal. The government keeps pushing further and further into our lives, and we sit back and agree that it’s for the greater good.

  18. Bottom line: Background checks are a good idea and for that reason, they will stay. Perhaps we can’t implement my mass-contraception idea. People will do what they always do. But background checks on adoptions and IVF are a good start.

    That being said, I do believe that everyone deserves a second chance … if they have earned it. (That is a big if.) So a mistake when young shouldn’t count against you forever on a background check. There should be a statute of limitations.

    What is the original post talking about? Pedophiles and child abusers. To pass the background check presumably you just have to avoid being convicted of either activity for X number of years.

    Let’s not set the bar too high now! (roll)

  19. The somewhat bitter adoptive parent in me says it’s about time the bioparents have to go through even a quarter of the crap we had to go through to adopt our sons. To adopt internationally you need to prove to two different countries that you are Mary Poppins incarnate with a halo. And the anti birth control crowd will go on about how adoption is the best option for unwanted pregnancies, despite the fact that there are a lot more kids out there than there are parents willing/able to jump through all the hoops.

    But the person in me that wishes that it was easier to adopt wouldn’t wish extra hoops on anyone. I’ve been through the infertility ringer (although I was too chicken to go for IVF). I know how painful it is. To throw more roadblocks in the way of someone desperate to be a parent is cruel and unnecessary. In the end, all it will prove is that IVF parents haven’t done anything…yet.

  20. @howbigspill “Bottom line: Background checks are a good idea and for that reason, they will stay.”

    Background checks could only conceivably be a good idea if you explicately trust your government to remain (and define) neutral. Since a government is generally made up of PEOPLE doing everything in their power to push forward their particular biases, the government is inherently untrustworthy. A well functioning government succeeds because of opposition: everyone wants something different and the net movement is hopefully 0. In this case, even a well balanced government should NOT be free to interfere with personal choices (such as having a child) because in that case, people are subject to the whims of rulers as the balance wobbles back and forth.

    Even if, in an ideal world, we could somehow satisfy ourselves that background checks would be restricted to say- sex crimes, as Lenore often points out, this ropes in people who once peed in public right along with the pedophiles. There’s also the problem that this law was introduced in response to opening the IVF field to lesbians, which already indicates a bias on who is “likely” to be an unfit parent.

    The role of government in protecting future babies is to make sure it’s people are educated. As much as I would love to see reckless and abusive people not have children, the only ethical way to do this is to reduce the number of unfit people (through equal education not genocide or forced sterilization).

    Of course, none of us live a utopia, so equal education is as much a myth as unbiased government. All we can do is reach for both, and hope for “good enough.”

  21. A background check? Are you kidding me?? I was offended enough as a single woman having to do the fertility clinic’s interview with the social worker. (BTW– octomom’s doctor violated more than one dictate of the association of fertility specialists’ code of ethics. At the clinic I went to, her requests would never have been aceded to)

    And still, a requirement such as this is no guarantee. Sadly, there are cases of Russian orphans whose adoptive ‘parents’ passed all the background checks, jumped through the hoops, and yet turned out to be unfit parents. So the process is made more difficult for everyone else– again its the assumed you’re guilty mindset. So in Austrailia, the price of guaranteed access to IVF for all women is even MORE of an invasion of privacy than the medical screenings and testing present.

    And here in the US, thousands of children are not released for adoption to good homes because the system “wants to keep the family together.” I looked, did research. There are SO many children who are so damaged by the time birth parental rights are terminated that there are warnings: “no other small children in the home,” “no pets in the home,” “no other children in the home.” I have the utmost admiration for people who foster or adopt these children. But I know I can’t– for various reasons.

    Sorry, to long-winded again. My point is that these laws and systems treat parents after the fact much differently than people wanting to become parents. So I don’t agree with Austrailian law here. (Is there any case anywhere of a *woman* become pregnant to have a child to abuse?? Seems very very far-fetched to me…)

  22. Meagan, YES! to every single thing in your comment.

    When we started planning to have our daughter (the old fashioned way), we went through rigorous background checks, psychological workups and physicals, neighbors/friends/family/clergy were interviewed about our worthiness to become parents, our home was inspected and babyproofed… Oh, wait a minute. None of that happened. Huh. Is it fair to subject adoptive parents to that? IMO, kind of. Like someone already pointed out, there are many people involved who need to CYA and sometimes other countries/cultures, etc. But IVF? No. And no, and no, and no. Ridiculous and discriminatory.

    And Rob, further upthread…my daughter doesn’t need to go through what I did, either – emotional and sexual abuse – so I have chosen to give her freedom and arm her with INFORMATION, and very, VERY open lines of communication. So there is no fear in either of us, and I’m firmly Free Range. But as with everything, YMMV.

  23. I would not support background checks based on religious beliefs or sexual preference. In fact, I would *strongly* oppose them.

    I’m not advocating free reign for government. Far from it. But a limited check for pedophile or abuse convictions against children during the last X number of years seems a quite reasonable precaution, at least to me.

    This topic has moved me and I plan a future blog post about it when time permits.

  24. I work with children who are abused and neglected on a daily basis and here’s the flaw in the thinking…

    Almost no one has abused or neglected a child BEFORE they have gotten pregnant. Also, very few pedophiles have been arrested – much less convicted – for their crimes.

    If you want more restriction on “who can have children” – consider who might be making up the standards. Would you like to be denied because you won’t force your children to eat brussel sprouts or because you think that spanking is acceptable?

    Dispite seeing the worst cases of abuse/neglect, I would never support restrictions on who can become a parent because the definition of a “good parent” changes like the wind.

    If you want to prevent child abuse and neglect then become more active in your communities, talk to your neighbors, and be involved in helping each other during times of need.

  25. Not wishing to turn this into a debate, but…

    In other words, you are saying that a pedophile or child abuse conviction shouldn’t be grounds for prohibiting adoption or IVF?

    Just want to be clear on what you actually mean. Of course background checks sound ominous, but just because you’ll only catch some of the fish is no reason to bring in your nets and give up.


  26. @ howbigspill:

    Let’s focus on IVF, adoption is different in many ways.

    And one point at a time:

    First, the liklihood of a pedophile trying to get IVF is mind blowingly small. For one thing, it’s just an incredibly long and painful process if the en goal is to get a victim. For another the VAST vast majority of sex offenders are male, and therefor not physically able to recurve IVF. In terms of prbable percentages, this isn’t even lightning strike likely. No even winning the lottery. The most likely way a pedophile would try to get IVF is if GOD were a pedophile and used divine intervention to make it so.

    So I’m exaggerating. Still, pedophilia among IVF patients really shouldn’t be a huge concern.

    Abuse: This one’s a more legitimate concern since there’s no reason IVF populations would be less likely to abuse their kids. Still as a previous poster pointed out, since people seeking IVF are in someway unable to procreate, most of them could not have child abuse convictions. The major exception of course is people going for a second (or third) child, so yes, it’s possible.

    The point is these people are certainly not more likely than the fertile population to be abusers, and to treat them with extra restrictions is absolutely discriminatory.

    You say you’re against screening for religion or sexuality, presumably also for financial history or youthful stupidity. My concrn is that once things like background checks are in place, we don’t necessarily control what is checked or what is considered.

    I think we can ALL agree that we don’t want pedophiles or child beaters having children. That’s really not the question.

    This is about whether a government or institution should be able to decide who should have children. Nix the pedophiles, sure, and abusers. But how about date rapers? People recently convicted of assault? Of shoplifting? What about people who are racist, or communist sympathisers or people who’ve been seen smoking in cars with children? I’m not trying to overreact. Everyone will draw the line in a different place.

    Background checks are a terribly inefficiant way to weed out potential abusers. They are however a great way to select for other things.

  27. What’s wrong with being screened if you haven’t done anything wrong? Quite frankly, there are some horrific stories of child abuse out there–and while I completely agree that IVF users are unlikely to be among them (for a start, it’s expensive and demands a lot of care during the pregnancy), I think this could be a step towards universal screening of mothers when they go for prenatal checks. This kind of thing could help victims of abuse and incest, and it does have to start somewhere.

    I don’t think the checks should be focused on economic considerations or social considerations, but should rather be done like any DCFS screen here in the U.S., which is required when working or volunteering with children.

  28. Oh. My. God.

  29. Meagan, you make some good points and I salute you for the way you share them.

    Part of your argument is, in essence: The system won’t be perfect, therefore do nothing. I disagree.

    You raise a *very* good point about other factors being considered and who really knows what went into a denial. Any background system should include an appeal process and the burden of proof for the pedophile or abuse conviction should be on the checking agency. Like a false positive on a drug test, the results can be disputed.

    In other words, if the agency issues a denial based on something extraneous, like shoplifting or sexual orientation, the decision won’t be allowed to stand unless there is a pedophile or abuse conviction. That is the way a proper background check system *should* work IMHO. Those other factors you mention aren’t valid criteria under the system and will eventually have to give way to the facts.

  30. I don’t think we should do nothing, I just disagree about what should be done.

    First, abuse because it’s somewhat easier. If we’re throwing around words like “manditory,” how about manditory parenting classes? Say for pregnant women and their partners, or within the first 6 months of a baby’s birth? So long as the work scedules etc are taken into consideration, there’s no reason everyone couldn’t do this… It would be enforced the same way school for children. Ideally classes would continue on for the first couple years with a support system into preschool. It doesn’t even have to be manditory, there’s a nonprofit program in Harlem having a good deal of success with free classes right now.

    Some people abuse their children because they are just awful people I suppose, but a lot of it comes from poor anger management, lack of education, and lack of recources. Tackling those issues would not eliminate child abuse, but I think it would be movement in the right direction. The other upside to focusing on education is there’s no asumption of guilt. Everyone would benifit by spending some time studying how a child develops, and strategies to keep your sanity in the face of frustration.

    As for pedophilia, that’s a lot trickier. It’s not a matter of education, it’s not a crime of passion, and it can’t be cured. The best thing we could probably do to prevent pedophiles from becoming parents is, as Lenore has suggested, scimming down that sex offender list to actual child molestaters. Or at least have a seperately list fornpolice to focus on. Then it doesn’t really matter whether there’s a backgroung check. Children are removed from their homes if there is a clear and immediate danger. A known pedophile is absolutely that.

    I’m not universally opposed to backgroung checks, I just think it’s hugely problimatic in this case for the reasons I’ve already stated.

    As for the “if you’re innocent you have nothing to fear” line, I’m sorry, I don’t buy it. it’s the same argument used to justify wiretapping. Just because I don’t have any skeletons in my closet doesn’t mean I want someone snooping around in there. I am extremely distrustful of any institution with unclear motives, whether it’s a government or an insurance company. You don’t have to be guilty of anything to have things in your life that someone could use against you.

  31. The program I mentioned btw is http://www.hcz.org/ The goal of the program is not related to abuse, it’s all about giving a leg up education wise to kids in poverty, but if I remember right, a lot of the early parenting stuff focuses on non-violent parenting.

  32. The argument really amounts to the potential good such a system could do compared to the potential bad. Considering we have no real way of knowing if any of these ‘concerns’ will actually come to be, we can really on weight the potential.

    On one hand, we have laws that (at least on the outside) are designed to keep pedophiles and abusive/bad parents from having children. Can anyone really say keeping children out of the hands of pedophiles and abusers is a bad thing? That is like saying keeping explosives out of the hands of homicidal zealots is a bad thing.

    @ Meagan: You say the likelihood of a IVF parent being a pedophile is astronomically large. So… say… they only catch 1 out of a 10 year period. So… 5000 couples each year… 50000 children… 1 out of those 50000 were saved from the abuse of a pedophile. While 49999 had to go through the “horrors” of a background check to make sure they are not pedophiles themselves. Truly… this is an atrocity. That one child’s well-being is nothing compared to all those parent’s “inconvenience”. For those who have a hard time detecting sarcasm in posts, just about everything I said was loaded with it.

    Would I willingly submit to a background check, if I knew it meant just one child would be saved from abuse? A resounded YES. If any of you are shaking your head and saying “NO” you would not, then you have already proven (at least to me) you are unworthy to be a parent yourself.

    That is the potential good. Even one child, in my opinion, makes it worth it.

    The potential bad, as many have said, is for the government to go over-board and limit the IVF process by even more stringent rules. Everyone is envisioning denials for everything from religious ideals to stances on punishment. Could the government abuse the authority we have given it? Of course. It has only happened countless times throughout history. It still happens now every day, even in countries like America. It is the exact reason things like the “right to bear arms” is actually important. Not so we can hunt or go to the rifle range, but so we have that “ace” just in case our government takes its abuse of authority a bit too far.

    The problem with limiting the authority of government simply on the fear that it will abuse that authority is that… where do WE draw the line? Where do we stop abusing our authority to limit the government’s? There is a chance the government will abuse every single bit of authority we have given it. It could, tomorrow, say no one gets a driver’s license unless you adhere to our policies on foreign politics. Does that mean we should then say “Everyone should have the right to drive, even drunk drivers who have killed people before!” Of course not.

    I think we, as a people, have lost sight of our roles in government and even society. We fear our government a bit too much, and turn it into the source of all evil. We forget our government IS us. It is comprised OF us.

    The way it should work is government is given the authority over certain things in order to insure a certain standard is kept. The base-line for that standard is set by the current state of society itself. Societies role is to insure government does not suddenly decide to “narrow” that base-line according to a minorities own priorities.

    Is a background check to insure pedophiles and abusive parents do not get IVF a bad thing? Of course not. Is there anything inherently wrong with our government checking to make sure pedophiles and abusers do not have children through IVF? Of course not. No more than them checking to make sure drunk drivers do not continue to drive and kill people. Ultimately, by our government checking for this, it is really us checking for this. Should we insure the government keeps to the base-line we set for them? Naturally. That is our job, after all, as citizens of that government. We give them the authority to insure the base-lines we set as a society are followed… and we monitor them to insure they do not modify that base-line. It is the way government is meant to work.

    Grabbing your pitch forks and demanding government do absolutely NOTHING about an issue is about as helpful as burying your head in the sand and telling the government to do whatever it wants. What you are supposed to do, is tell it that it can do this… but ONLY this.

  33. @Louis

    I am not advocating doing nothing. See above.

    My problem, aside from the potential abuse, is the discriminatory nature of these particular screening.

    If you believe these background checks are fine and dandy, the only just thing WOULD be for every single parent to go through one. A pregnant mother and her husband or boyfriend would have a background check to see if they will be allowed to KEEP the baby once it’s born. This actually makes more sense than screening IVF parents since both the pool and percentage of abusers is much much higher. This is not reactionary, it’s just the natural next step.

    If you don’t think that’s too much government involvement, I won’t even try to convince you otherwise.

  34. Don’t mean to sound condescending, and I’m not a Law / CJ person myself so I could very well be wrong, but IMO:

    Part of the problem is that our legal and criminal justice system has different core philosophies than most of the rest of the world. One of the principles our country was founded on is that you’re free to do absolutely anything, until your actions break the law or hurt someone, at which point (afterward) you are arrested and punished. In other places the cops seem more interested in _preventing_ crime, even if it means violating some essential liberties.

    It’s hard to tell the difference these days, though, since we’ve started becoming more like those other countries and less like the original image of the USA. Lots of our police departments have campaigns to “prevent” crime, when the courts have routinely shown that prevention isn’t really a core mandate for them. I can’t hold the police department responsible for failing to protect me from bad guys!

    For a country like ours, we have to pay very, very careful attention to “preventing” crime, since the very nature of prevention places restrictions on otherwise law abiding folks. Restrictions like that should make us feel a little ill, and only be used in the most extreme situations. Instead we’re seeing restrictive crime-prevention measures used as the go-to tool for change, and I’m not sure that’s a good thing.

  35. Do I believe that a system where we check and insure children are not born to parents who have a history of sexual or physical abuse is a bad idea? Do you? Do you, really?

    I understand what you are saying. It is the same thing most people say, every time they see the government enacting a policy to limit the use/abuse of something. They worry the government will take it too far.

    The idea where the government, through some means, insures no children are born to homes where they will just be abused is a good one. It would be better for there to just not be any abusive homes for them to be born too… but baring that, taking them out of those homes before they can be abused is the next best thing.

    Once again, it comes down to possible good weighed against possible bad. Good: no more abused children. A VERY good thing, in my opinion. Most socially draining (or socially defective) individuals are a direct product of their early child-hood environment. Insuring everyone’s childhood environ is one that is, if not perfect, at least not abusive would improve society as a whole.

    Bad: possibility government will use this authority in an abusive way of their own; i.e. allowing only parents who share similar ideologies of those in power to actually have children. Could this happen? Only if we let it.

    Once again, my point is limiting government to doing absolutely nothing is tantamount to not having a government at all. Giving it full control is tantamount to being slaves. The correct path is giving it that base-line set by society, and monitoring it to insure it actually follows that base-line.

    Would I be for giving the government the authority to insure couples with an abusive past towards children are not permitted to keep children? In case you missed it, most countries already allow their government to have this authority. Children in abusive homes are taken from those homes once it is proven to be abusive. If a person is convicted of sexually abusing a child, he does not get to keep that child. All this law in Australia is doing is insuring that same person does not then get a chance to have a second child through IVF. To say that law is wrong is about the same as saying the law that took the first child from the home is wrong. Is that truly how you see it?

  36. I’m an IVF mum and AirborneVet’s comment sums up my thoughts on this.

  37. Louis: You seem very confrontational and I don’t want to provoke you… but most of your rhetorical questions I’d answer with yes, except for that last one which is pretty much a straw man argument.

    I know we’re talking about different countries here, but as others have said above these restrictions are popping up in all sorts of child adoption / birth / education situations. And quite frankly if you think you’re going to make me, as a US citizen, less secure in my person and papers in the name of child welfare you’d better have some dang convincing evidence. I’d like to see the hordes of abused IVF children, by means of population statistics, that show a significant portion of them being bred for illicit means.

    You and I both know that it simply isn’t the case.

    This, however, I wholeheartedly support: “Children in abusive homes are taken from those homes once it is proven to be abusive.” This is a beautifully constructed statement, IMO. Once it is proven to be abusive. We already have laws regarding child abuse, and abusers should have their children taken away from them… But to have everyone “prove” their worthiness to be a parent is so far over the line it’s ridiculous.

    Some very abusive parents could look very good on paper when they first have a child. And visa versa.

  38. This is true… both me being confrontational and the fact that most abusive parents look good on paper before they become abusive. I concede both facts.

    The point I am making, though, is the back-ground check is meant to see if these people have already proven themselves NOT worthy by having a history of being abusive.

    This is not a law where they ask you questions about your political stances… and then GUESS whether or not you are going to be abusive. This is a law where they look into your past criminal record for any CONVICTIONS of being a sexual predator or physical abuser. If you have these past convictions, there is a large chance you are likely to have them again in the future. If you want statistics, then look up the statistics for people who have previously been convicted of a crime later on committing the same crime again.

    The only people this law, in its current form, keeps from having IVF are those convicted of previous abuse to children. What everyone is up in arms about is the “Oh, my god! They could perhaps abuse this law and make it so other people with contrary political/social/religious views could not!” factor. If not that, then it is the “well, natural parents are not subjected to these type of regulations!” factor. Both are moot arguments when trying to use them as a way of proving this law is a bad idea.

    The government is NOT, as of right now, abusing this authority. When/if they do, then we take it away from them. That is how it has to work. It is either give the government the authority it needs to do what it was meant to do… or have no government at all. You regulate it, you watch it, and you definitely oppose it when it abuses that authority; but you do not simply make it ineffective out of the fear that it MIGHT abuse it.

    Also, people in many third-world countries are also not submitted to the same type of trial and punishment we would be for murder. Does this mean the law against murder in our own countries is unfair? Does it mean it should be revoked, simply on the grounds that it is not universally applied to everyone? That strikes, to me, too much of the mentality of “If everyone cannot be safe/happy, then everyone should be abused and in danger. At least then we are all equally miserable.”

    Also, on a completely different note; to those who are offended by my confrontational stance; I offer my true apology. I do mean to be confrontational, but not hurtful. I can disagree with what you say or believe, and disagree strongly without either wanting to hurt you or feeling as if you are my enemy. Neither of those are my intention. We all care deeply about the condition and welfare of our societies and the people in it; we most certainly would not feel the need to post on a blog if we felt any other way. That fact, alone, means you are more akin to an ally than an adversary. We both want the world to be a better place. We just… well… disagree on the way to make the world a better place.

    Truth through adversity, as they say.

  39. Completely agree with Louis. It seems a little information is very dangerous.

    The screening process isn’t about those that have “tendencies”, it is convicted persons.

    Frankly, if we could screen all would be parents we probably should. And the reason this is being passed is more to do with the best use of tax payer money – IVF is heavily subsidised in Australia and I would like to know that my tax dollars are not being spent on helping people have children who ARE PROVEN THROUGH CONVICTION to have a SIGNIFICANTLY HIGHER risk of abuse to those children.

    If they can have them naturally or want to pay full price then good luck to them and society – we will have to deal with the consequences.

    But I don’t believe subsidising this is the best use of my tax money. It is the same reason we screen childcare workers and teachers – to as best as possible prevent harm to children. Are you going to be happy if this didn’t happen and your beautiful IVF child (all children are beautiful before they get given to society and parents) is abused at school because the teacher wasn’t screened and is a convicted paedophile? Didn’t think so.

    Bottom line – if you are not convicted of VERY SPECIFIC CRIMINAL BEHAVIOUR TO CHILDREN then you have nothing to worry about.

  40. Wow.

    I’d like to say I’m stunned at the number of responses that agree that background checks for potential parents undergoing IVF is a good idea.

    But – as an adoptive mom who has also undergone IVF & has sat on the sidelines of such discussions before – I have to say I’m not surprised.

  41. @louis: Would it not be better to put that time and manpower into monitoring people on parole who are forbidden (for whatever reason) to be around children? One of the many problems I have with laws like this is that they’re inefficient.

    Here, those people are already monitored, although that effort is severely hampered by plans like this one. Jaycee Dugard can attest to that; her captor was a monitored sex offender and it didn’t do her one bit of good for almost 2 decades. Why? Because precious resources were wasted on trying to keep an eye on one-time situational sex offenders, public urinators, and prom-night sexcapades.

    For that reason I hold serious doubts about this “once a sex offender, always likely to reoffend” argument of yours. I’ve posted here before a California Dept of Corrections and Rehabilitation study, one of the largest of its kind ever conducted that found sex offenders had about a 3% recidivism rate (for another sex crime) over 10 years. An older Department of Justice funded study found a 5% rate in the late 90s. Claiming that registered sex offenders are always a danger is simply not true, by any stretch of the imagination.

    We all (benefit of the doubt) want to protect children. There is always a trade-off between the cost (not just money) of a program like this, and the actual benefit it provides. In this case, I see it as not being very useful but consuming a lot of resources… a situation often ignored by those who will go to any length, no matter how destructive, to protect “just one child.” It’s a painful truth to know that we (all of us) can’t stop all child abuse, We can at least fight it in the most sensible and efficient ways, though, with educational campaigns (for the one-timers) and long prison sentences (for the ultra-bad).

  42. Yes, the study did show that… but it was limited by the same flaws as the sex offender registry that you, yourself pointed out. Checking to see if the person who urinated in public did another sex offense crime in a 10 year period has no real baring on whether or not a pedophile will commit the same crime in that same 10 year period.

    It is arguable and still under study as to whether pedophilia and child abuse, in general, are more mental illness than crime; but the naive idea that someone who once sexually abused a child is likely to just turn a new leaf without any type of help or treatment is a dangerous one. Should we give those people the treatment they need? Yes. Should we let them have children after they have already proven themselves capable of such abuse? No.

    As to the wasted use of manpower and resources for the law in question, I think we would all need more clarification on the issue. 5000 background checks a year, depending on how thorough, would equate out to “about” 250,000 a year. Most basic background checks run about 50.00 US. Something like pedophilia and child abuse would show up on even the least thorough of checks. 250,000 a year… to insure not even one child is abused… is paltry when compared to what we spend on things like welfare, political agenda, and the fixtures in most public buildings.

    We are also all taking educated guesses at just how many sex offenders attempt IVF… or how many of those same previous sex offenders go on to do the same again. Do I see anything wrong with a law whose spirit is meant to protect children from abuse? No. I do not think anyone here feels that way. It does anger me a bit to hear people using the argument that “it is an inconvenience, and not worth bothering me over to protect a child”, or “it is unfair that I have to do it and not everyone else, so not worth sparing even one child if I am treated unfairly”.

    Putting my own emotionally-prompted bias aside, though, I can also admit if the law sticks for a few years and catches NO sex offenders attempting IVF (which, yes, it is unlikely it will… unlikely, though, unfortunately does not mean impossible. The unlikely has come back to bite mankind before) then repealing such law should be looked at.

    Also… an unbiased study based on the number of IVF children previously born to abusive homes would be helpful. We are all kind of going in the dark on this one. If it turns out that even one child would be spared by this law, then by all means inconvenience the other 4999. If it turns out that, as many of us suspect, few people who go for the already pain-staking process of IVF are actually abusers then the law is superfluous.

    Arguing that it should be repelled because it is an inconvenience is not a good enough reason to risk the abuse of children. The same for the argue that the government MIGHT abuse the authority, if we let them. Nor the concept that not everyone is forced to do what is right, so why should we.

    The only valid argument is if the law is put in place to restrict an action that never really happens. That is something we are all guessing at, at the moment.

  43. Helen makes an interesting point. It is a slippery slope. What next? We decide that criminals don’t deserve medical attention, disabled children (they’re doomed anyway right?), old people (why waste our resources?) I am not trying to sound like a conspiracy theorist here but really. If they can get this passed then what is next?
    As a woman who got pregnant at 18 with NO plans to do so, I would think the people going through the expense and uncertainty of IVF probably have good intentions. Child molestors, IMO, are more likely to find a vulnerable child and exploit them rather than go through the time and expense of IVF. I would like to see a study done showing abusive parents as natural, adoptive, IVF, foster, etc. so we can make an informed decision.

  44. I agree that a study showing the percentages of abusers in each of the categories would be useful. I disagree with the mentality of the presumed “slippery slope” which tends to be more myth than fact.

    The concept that if we give our government a bit, it will take a mile is only true in-so-far as we allow it to be. Every bit of authority our government has is given to it by us. That mile it took when we gave it an inch… well… we gave it that mile as well. It did not just automatically inherit that mile because we gave it the inch. We had to willingly give it both.

    Worrying about what the government may do to abuse a bit of authority, like I said, can be applied to EVERYTHING. Imagine what it can do with universal health care, driver’s license, social security, infrastructure repair, education, etc. A few of those most governments have tried to abuse at least once… in countries like Australia and America. What stopped them? We did. We simply said “no”. Government is an interesting beast. It is all-powerful… for as long as we say it can be. The moment we say it cannot, it no longer has any power at all.

    This law, as it is now, does not limit people from getting IVF by any criteria other than past convictions of child abuse. To argue that this law is wrong is about the same as arguing keeping children from those convicted of child abuse is wrong. That is all the law hopes to achieve. Is it possibly a wasted effort? Perhaps. Right now, we are really only guessing at that. Is it a “big brother” conspiracy by the government to take control over our rights to offspring? I doubt it.

  45. Louis, I’m nodding my head in agreement with your flag-waving “We the People…” philosophy – except that it’s far easier (and safer) to have never given the inch than it is to get back that mile.

    We the People are far easier coerced into surrendering liberties than we are convinced to fight the good fight to get what we need. And even when we do fight the good fight, We the People still often lose. Consider how many people were completely opposed to what Pres. Bush did during his reign. And note how many are totally against Pres. Obama’s initiatives. Yet we’re essentially powerless to affect any real change in the course that these leaders choose to take.

    This is the inverse of parenting in that it’s much easier for you to start off strict and gradually become more lenient than it is to start out lax and then realize you need to become more strict. One way, you’re a hero; the other, a dictator.

  46. The slippery slope argument isn’t simply that this is one little thing and it can only get bigger if the voters agree (though I will bring up Neimoller, an obligatory reminder for such a topic) – it’s that this is a fundamental change to the idea that medical treatment should not be illegal because the patient does not meet non-medical criteria.

    I would also point out that the situation before this law was passed was at least as appalling – denying medical care on the basis of marital status or sexual orientation is at least as horrendous. But I would not want to endorse any law that required medical care to be denied for non-medical reasons.

    It’s not clear exactly what will result in a denial of treatment but the linked article states:
    “the Victorian Law Reform Commission recommends people should be barred from IVF if they have convictions for serious sexual or violent offences, have had children taken from their care, or are assessed as a potential risk to children.”

    This is not the same as “No convicted pedophiles”. This would include someone with a youthfull conviction for serious bodily harm or rape of an adult. Not necessarily nice people but not necessarily at risk of harming their own children. And even more worrying – it includes people with no convictions at all (“assessed as a potential risk”). *If* these recommendations are what the law enshrines it appears to be a significant way down that slippery slope already.

    Jeff’s point about IVF being subsidized by the tax payer in Victoria is a good one – I agree that tax payers have a right to set standards for how their money is spent. If this law applies only to tax payer funded IVF and people are free to pursue IVF in Victoria at their own expense without the checks I don’t think the slippery slope argument is so relevant. But I *still* think it’s a bad idea – mainly because it seems like a huge waste of money and I would not want my government to be requiring these sorts of checks without a clear cost benefit analysis.

    To use Louis’ example of 50 dollars a check resulting in an expenditure of 250000/year. Louis posits that if this saved one child a year from abuse it would be worth it. But that’s the wrong way to look at this. The real question is – how can 250000 be spent to best protect children from abuse. That money could probably hire 2 social workers who would (I hope!) provide significantly more protection than that. There’s also the question of how such checks impact the people undergoing them – does it change the way people feel about their treatment? Their relationship with their doctors? The success rate of the treatment (increased stress is generally not good for fertility)? Does it increase the time it takes to get treatment? I.e. what are the external costs of such checks?

    Mandating spending should be evidence based – were I a Victoria citizen I would be mightily annoyed at my government requiring spending in legislation (this isn’t just a budget item that can be easily axed when it’s realized it’s not effective) without doing the research about its effectiveness beforehand.

    On a tangent I also wonder – why just IVF? What about viagra? Vasectomy reversal? Blocked fallopian tubes? Are these treatments next? Or is this partially about people’s discomfort with (relatively) new fertility technology? It seems to me that proactive fertility treatment like IVF does not have such wide public support as most medical treatment.

  47. parents are outraged – Agree

  48. It would seem to me that politicians and wanna be politicians should undergo the same rigorous and more so, back ground check, belief examination, cheat on your spouse test, lie detector, leadership test, ego mania test, suitability to lead, selfishness test, ability to screw the system test, whats in it for me test, ability to abide by the 10 commandments.

    World wide we see numerous examples where politicians cheat, murder, destroy families and stuff their pockets and secret bank accounts and destroy the heart and soul of a people.

    Politicians and their systems they create seem to become experts at creating inequality.

    I have four healthy adult children created via natural breeding techniques. I feel sorry for couples who have to use these other methods to have children in their life.

    PS Your web site is very informative.

  49. I’m sitting here stunned! The issue of a background check for IVF has *already* led to a slippery slope right here in these comments where someone is advocating world wide sterilization with permission required for a temporary antidote to allow for conception upon approval. Ummm.

    I am going to start by addressing the rather astonishing concept that government mandated mass vaccination against conception would be in the best interest of society or children. On a scientific level, this proposed vaccination would have side effects which could include birth defects, permanent infertility, cancer, or any other number of undesirable side effects. These side effects would be costly to the government on a number of levels. I cannot see how any of that would benefit the children. It is also a rather expansive fantasy to believe we could come up with a temporary antidote that would be effective. The number of parents who would have to resort to IVF for conception would dramatically increase. But hey, that would be okay because they would have already passed their background check (?!?!).

    None of that even touches the religious firestorm such a policy would create given the number of world religions that teach against artificial birth control or vaccinations. And exactly what approval process would a person have to go through to be allowed access to the antidote/what would the antidote cost? We already know that adoptive parents have to jump through incredibly complex hoops for adoption (particularly foreign adoption). I’m sure convincing arguments could be made for how reasonable each of those criteria would be. We wouldn’t be talking about designer babies anymore, but instead it would be about designer parents! I shudder to think of the criteria required.

    As far as having to pass a background check for IVF, I would submit that such a policy only gives a false sense of security. Plenty of abusers have not been caught nor registered. And for those who have, who decides which cases will be allowed or not? A teen mom who abused her child while she was high on drugs may have cleaned up her act and be ready to be a responsible parent 5 years later.

    I do see this as a slippery slope. Our parental rights ARE being eroded right now. Hasn’t anyone noticed this? Isn’t that the point of this very site? No longer can a parent decide when a child is responsible enough to be outside without the parent … that is a decision the state (and all your neighbors) must endorse. CPS can show up at our doorstep anytime from an anonymous call and potentially take our children away for no real reason (yes, I do appreciate the good CPS does, but I also know some bad situations that have resulted from human error in CPS involvement).

    Every single year, dozens of bills are placed before state and federal governments that have potential to erode parental and therefore family rights even more. The government takes inches on a regular basis and most people don’t notice or don’t care or are happy about it because the loss of rights seems reasonable to them for the potential gain. The problem is, when a government takes away rights inch by inch, the population may not notice until it is already a mile. And by then, it is really hard to bring it back.

    I have been involved in legislative battles. It is easy to say the government cannot do something unless we let them. However, being an active, effective citizen is not something that many adults are prepared for. Powerful lobbyists often have more impact on legislation than the average citizen. Grassroots movements who feel passionately about a specific law can definitely make a significant impact, but first someone has to be paying attention to what laws are being proposed in the first place because a lot of stuff gets sneaked through as riders to other bills or because someone who cared wasn’t reading the list of laws introduced that week.

    I would encourage people to get more involved in government, no matter what their political and issues based views are. We need to learn to ask a lot of questions about why things are being required. Requiring more doesn’t mean a better situation will result. Sometimes it just means there is simply more red tape and more opportunity for abuse of whatever system is put in place and more opportunity for discrimination.

  50. The whole concept of mass sterilization…

    Those sorts of controlling ideas are why I want to take my family off the grid. Off the electric grid, off the gas grid, off the water grid.

    Then you can’t sterilize me. Or my children.

    Because we don’t need the government’s permission to exist. That’s my right, and my children’s right. LIFE, liberty, pursuit of happiness.

    I hope to hell I can achieve my goals before you can achieve yours.

  51. In all fairness, I don’t THINK the commenter who brought up sterilization was seriously advocating for it. I think that was more a frustrated reaction to bad or stupid parents, not an actual suggestion.

    That said there probably are wackos out there who consider the idea as more than just an angry daydream. I’m with you solinox about working toward independence.

  52. Just to clarify… I mean personal independence… I have no desire to form a new state or something.

  53. Meagan, thank you for your comment. I was the one that brought it up first, although more extreme versions of the idea were brought up by others later. KW, please notice that, in my fantasy, the vaccination is entirely voluntary, safe and reversible, and all that is required to reverse it is asking a doctor, not a government official. And that I noted even this opens up too much potential for government abuse. Besides, if this program were in effect eight years ago, my own child would never have been born. So don’t quote me on it 🙂

  54. Randy: I want to amplify one point that you’re getting at. The rarer a danger, the more effort and expense it takes to reduce it. At some point, the steps taken to reduce or elminate a particular hazard have negative effects that are worse than the hazard, or actually wind up exacerbating it. For example, a 1984-style system of viewscreens could only reduce child molestation so much. Beyond that point, you’d run into the problem of Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?—who watches the watchers?; there would be pedophiles within the system who would use it to select victims. You can completely eliminate the risk of dying in a plane crash by driving all your trips, yet you’re substantially increasing the much-greater-to-begin-with risk of dying in a car crash (most people who drive a trip that would normally be flown don’t allow anywhere near enough time to make the trip safely). Right now we’re at the point where the number of serious adverse reactions to certain vaccines exceeds the number of serious adverse events associated with the diseases themselves. But if we stopped vaccinating, the disease would come back and the picture would be completely reversed.

  55. Has anyone ever heard of a case of a pedophile having IVF then abusing the kid? Post a link or something, cause I’d bet there are NO documented cases.

    @ Louis

    Staying someone should not be a parent because they object to background checks for IVR is cruel. And exactly why idea is scary. Another party deciding who can have babies is inherently wrong.

    As for the if-it-saves-one-child argument, the cost involved in administrating the program could be better spent funding more social workers or better training for childcare workers to identify victims of abuse.

  56. I’m really sorry that so many folks have had such an invasive experience with adoption. We went through it twice — the first time amounted to a load of paperwork (second parent adoption for a baby one of us gave birth to) and the second time was several loads of paperwork, a whole lot of time, and wads of money (we were both adopting the second time). The second one required much more information, and I really appreciated that the agency wanted to make sure we knew what we were getting ourselves into. Adoption can be significantly trickier to navigate than other forms of expanding one’s family, and there are a lot of people who are naive about that. Having a family with an added component of being multi-racial or having a child who might be affected by in utero substance exposure, for example, is significant, and my experience of the interviews with the social worker was that she wanted to be sure we had the resources we would need, and that we weren’t trying to take on a type of adoption we weren’t ready to handle.

    Btw, I find it very strange that this recommendation is just for IVF. If you’re fertile enough to conceive through IUI you don’t need a background check, but if you need IVF you need a background check. Hmm.

  57. Another IVF mom here who agrees that this policy is nutty and a bad use of resources, though I am willing to accept Jeff’s basic point about taxpayer money. Still, if that’s the concern, why limit this to IVF and not other fertility treatments?

    @Louis and others who have raised questions about families created or expanded through IVF, though none to my knowledge address abuse per se, plenty of studies compare IVF offspring to kids conceived without medical treatment. If you go to Pubmed (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez) and search on the phrase “IVF psychosocial,” plenty of them will pop up. Generally the differences if any are small, and not consistently “in favor” of either IVF versus unassisted conception, or vice versa.

    For those who advocate screening as part of prenatal care, prenatal care is already under-used. Making it more difficult (or risky) to attain hardly seems useful.

  58. Most Victorians, the writer included, would support initiatives to protect at risk Children and therefore some suggestions may be helpful. Basic Internet research identified that Australian Politicians and Beauracrats may pose considerably more risk to their children than IVF couples. To support this proposition the following are listed:

    Milton Orkopoulos , 2008 NSW Labour 13 years detention, 28 Child Sex Offences
    Keith Wright, 1993 Qld Labour, 11 years, Child Sex Offences
    Bill D’arcy, 2000, Qld Labour, 11 years, Child Sex Offences
    Terry Martin, 2009, Tasmania, Court hearing in progress, Child Porn
    Willian Stuart Brown, 2000, Ausaid/Australian Embassy Jakarta Child sex offences
    Peter Hollingworth allowed a known Paedophile priest to continue working, whilst Archbishop of Brisbane – latter resigned as Governor General as a result of the scandal.

    In view of this, it is fair for the population to demand that:

    1) The Police Clearance and working with children requirements for IVF patients be removed, or that this requirement be introduced for all Victorians of reproductive age.

    2) Politicians should subject themselves to special scrutiny and police clearances before being allowed to have children on the basis that there appears to be considerable more risk of children being abused by politicians than IVF parents.

  59. Questions that need to be answered as a result of this dumb law.

    1) What stops couples going Interstate for IVF if they have a bad history?

    2) What happens to frozen embryo’s of couples that refuse to do the checks? Are they owned by the state, automatically disposed o, forcibly donated to another couple? Stored forever? Donated to Stem Cell research or some other option. What role do the parents have in the decision making or will it be an enforcable state action? Are any of the above moral? They are alla result of and yet to be addressed by the new legislation.

  60. I disagree vehemently with the idea of requiring background checks for parenting, period. Sure, I’d love it if completely idiotic people (perhaps like those who passed this provision into law) could not procreate and produce another generation of idiots. Or if abusers were prevented from having children to abuse. But there is absolutely NOTHING that can be put in place as a test or background check or standard that can prevent that. Nothing. Even if the intention of these law-makers was to try to prevent IVF child-abusers from having children or IVF children from becoming welfare recipients, the law so clearly and obviously does not accomplish that goal and is abusive itself by being wildly over-broad in what it checks, while being wildly under-broad in whom in checks. There just are some things we can’t handle by means of a law, and preventing child abuse is one of those.

    However, I can also see quite a difference in the situations of IVF and adoption. If you are doing the type of IVF described above — with your own ‘raw material’ — you are parenting your own child, ultimately. Just as anyone who has a child by standard conception. But, if you are adopting, you are getting someone else’s child. It makes a kind of fiduciary responsibility sense for the officials who are handing over a child in their care to someone else, for the rest of child’s life and changing that child’s life from that moment on, to exercise some care in vetting the parents. That’s good, from all sorts of directions, and it doesn’t involve determining who can have children, but rather, who can have someone else’s children. I agree, from some close friends who’ve gone through international adoption (which as described always seems to be significantly more invasive than within-country adoption), that many of the requirements asked of adoptive parents are too much, go too far, and are way more than needed to achieve the end. But I do think there is a different, and more appropriate, goal for adoption screening than for IVF screening. Screening to be a parent through IVF should be no different from screening to be a standard-conception parents, except the addition of ensuring the IVF parents are aware of whatever IVF-specific complications or risks are involved. This rule should most definitely be rescinded with public outcry.

  61. talkingtostones: To amplify on your point, an adoption decision involves a child who’s already living and breathing and whose rights must be upheld. An IVF decision, on the other hand, doesn’t involve an actual child at the time it’s made, only a hypothetical potential future child.

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