It is that time of year again, when I look back over the past 12 months with an eye toward identifying those whose lives and contributions actively promoted and affirmed our shared human future (winners), and those who did not (losers). You can review last year’s picks here.
2020 has been deemed the “year of the nurse and the midwife”, so our first winner is, MaryLou Singleton, a practicing nurse midwife for over 20 years in Albuquerque, NM. Marylou provides womb-to-tomb primary care for her families. She staunchly opposes surrogacy and egg “donation” recognizing the beauty and depth of the sacred mother/child bond and that new novel high-tech pregnancies come with many negatives.
Dr. Naomi Whittaker, a board certified OB-GYN and fertility surgeon focused on women’s restorative reproductive medicine, compassionate healthcare, and education. Dr. Whittaker helps women improve their gynecologic health and avoid/achieve pregnancy in accordance with their natural fertility using the latest research, medicine, and surgery. Hear! Hear!
Alison Motluk, is a Toronto based journalist who writes on a broad category of topics and issues, around fertility/infertility, third-party reproduction and the law in Canada. While I do not always agree with Alison’s conclusions, I always learn something from her newsletter, HeyReprotech. You can sign up for her newsletter here.
Susan Hawthorn and Renate Klein are the brains behind the publishing house, Spinifex Press. Last year, I named Spinifex one of my winners because of the many great books they publish on issues near and dear to our heart at CBC. But, without Susan and Renate’s commitment to women, we’d be without books like, “Surrogacy: A Human Rights Violation” and “Broken Bonds: Surrogacy Mothers Speak Out.”
Gary Powell joined CBC last year as our European Special Consultant. He studied Philosophy under the tutorship of Baroness Mary Warnock, who chaired the UK Committee of Inquiry into Human Fertilisation and Embryology that led to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990. Whether he’s speaking for CBC online or in Washington, D.C., or providing valuable commentary on matters of our concern or legal analysis on cases, he’s a valuable asset to our work around the world.
Mykola Kuleba, the Ukranian Presidential Commissioner for Children’s Rights, wins for his strong comments around the surrogacy scandal Ukraine. Babies born of surrogacy are still being cared for in makeshift nurseries in hotels, because the international intended parents were banned from travel due to Covid19. Kuleba said surrogacy is the exploitation of women and it violates the rights of children.
Governor Cuomo is the biggest loser of 2020 when he signed into law a commercial surrogacy bill. New York becomes the next, “Babies for Sale” state in the US. What really stinks is that he passed this legislation in the wee hours of the morning, buried in his budget bill, and during the height of the Covid pandemic.
Big Fertility claims another surrogate mother’s life in California. This makes the third US surrogate mother’s death we have reported on. Michelle Reeves died at the beginning of the year doing her second surrogacy for the same couple. I wonder how these parents make it through the day knowing that Michelle’s husband and children must live without out her, knowing their desire for children, came at such a heavy price.
Ghosts of the Republique, a full-length documentary that chronicles a French gay couple’s international surrogacy journey. While I was a critical voice in the film, any film that celebrates surrogacy and diminishes women and children is a loser in our book.
Jeff Lewis and his ex-partner, Gage Edward, both of Bravo TV’s show “Flipping Out,” are big losers for exploiting women for their eggs and wombs in order to become parents. Now that they have split, they’re involved in a nasty custody battle, which means more children suffer the casualties of such pregnancy contract arrangements.
First it was men having babies, as a movement and now we have “trans men” having babies. Make no mistake, men do not have babies. Trans men are biologically female; they are not men. Women have babies. Biological women, mothers, are having babies. Seems in the 21st century we need to revisit human biology 101.
Ukraine is called out as a loser by their Presidential Commission on Children’s Rights (Mykola Kuleba – one of my winners), for becoming “an international online baby store”. Ukraine has received much well-deserved bad publicity as 100 plus babies are stranded. The pictures of these babies lined up in cribs is heartbreaking. Sadly, the US is a loser here too as US surrogates have given birth during Covid to international couples unable to come to the states and get their baby. Shame on both countries!
- Jennifer Lahl, MA, BSN, RN, is founder and president of The Center for Bioethics and Culture Network. Lahl couples her 25 years of experience as a pediatric critical care nurse, a hospital administrator, and a senior-level nursing manager with a deep passion to speak for those who have no voice. Lahl’s writings have appeared in various publications including Cambridge University Press, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Dallas Morning News, and the American Journal of Bioethics. As a field expert, she is routinely interviewed on radio and television including ABC, CBS, PBS, and NPR. She is also called upon to speak alongside lawmakers and members of the scientific community, even being invited to speak to members of the European Parliament in Brussels to address issues of egg trafficking; she has three times addressed the United Nations during the Commission on the Status of Women on egg and womb trafficking.