Wednesday, December 06, 2006

New Baby for the White House

The front page of the today's Washington Post online features this headline, "Mary Cheney expecting."

Here's the link:

Mary Cheney and her partner Heather Poe are having a baby -- and that's front page news. Now, I don't know about you, but I don't remember hearing about Dick Cheney's other five grandchildren being born.

One can just begin to imagine the conversation between Mr. Cheney and Mr. Bush this morning -- after of course, they deal with that pesky report that calls the Iraq War a disaster. I wonder if Mr. Bush congratulated Mr. Cheney or called Mary and Heather to offer best wishes. I wonder if even for a moment he paused at how his efforts to deny couples like them the rights to all of the protections and privileges of marriage might one day hurt this coming child.

I look forward to the day -- and I believe it is coming -- where this might not be front page news. But, for now, Ms. Cheney and Ms. Poe, congratulations. And as soon as I find an address for you, I'll be sending you a copy of my book, "From Diapers to Dating."


Sparki said...

To be accurate, Mary Cheney and a SPERM DONOR are having a baby.

She will likely raise the baby with Heather Poe, but Ms. Poe is not having a baby.

Rev. Debra W. Haffner said...

Sparki, when your straight friends use artificial insemination, do you call the husband the father or a sperm donor? I'm guessing the former. And yes, I believe that men have babies too...they don't carry the pregnancy, but they have babies. At least that's what I told my husband. In my mind, we were both had these babies.

Bill Baar said...

Wonder what John Kerry has to say about this.

I'll stick with Congrats to Ms Cheney and Ms Poe.

Pam said...

Heather Poe may very well have a strong and important relationship with this baby, but what ABOUT the status of the "sperm donor"? This baby will not receive genetic material from Ms. Poe - many of the baby's own characteristics will come from a man and a family that the child will never be allowed to know. Of course, this happens in adoption all the time, but more and more, we are realizing the grief and loss that adopted children experience - and also children conceived with throwaway dads called "sperm donors" - many of these children do desire to know their biological and genetic heritage. The desires to parent of the grown-ups involved are seen in our society as sufficient to trump a child's right to a biological heritage. While it may not be the intention of this particular lesbian couple to create a child to satisfy their own desires to parent, this practice can lead our society down the path to futher treating children as objects - things that are to be created in any way possible if a couple desires them, and things to be destroyed and thrown away through abortion if they are not desired.

Of course, this coming baby is a sacred life and the coming of any child is a joy. I think that Sparki is right however to point out that the joyous creation of this child for two mommies to raise together doesn't necessarily take into account the dignity of the "sperm donor" (who has a dignity of his own, as dispensable as he may seem to be - the same with women who carry children and are are referred to as "gestational surrogates,' i.e., wombs). It may not also take into account the loss the child may ultimately feel at having no connection with or knowledge of his or her other 50% of genetic heritage.

Rev. Debra W. Haffner said...

Do we know that they are using an anonymous sperm donor? Perhaps in fact there is a man involved...and if it is an anonymous sperm donor, then he has already made the decision not to be part of the person's life...

These posts make me wonder though -- do those of you oppose abortion also oppose assisted reproductive technologies? I would have thought you would have celebrated people who are choosing against all odds to bring new life into the world.

Pam said...

Rev. Haffner -

I noticed in the comments to the Fetal Pain bill post that you asked Sparki and Cassandra again why they read your blog since they disagree with many of your positions. I read your blog because of the principle of sympathetic engagement - explained well in an article on persuasion by a (liberal) University of Michigan Law School professor, Sherman Clark, who published a paper on it in the (conservative) Ave Maria Law Review. (I was formerly an attorney/ administrator at U-M Law School and I was impressed with Professor Clark's argument that in order to be able to persuade another person of one's own point of view, one must be able to see the "other" person's point of view as clearly as possible from the inside.

The title of his article is The Character of Persuasion and the link is

I want to emphasize that Prof. Clark is NOT a member of the "Religious Right." He is a liberal law professor of color (not one of those aggravating old "white males") at a liberal law school. But he makes a point to lecture at one of the most conservative Catholic law schools in the country from time to time, extending a great deal of respect to the students (who this year scored the highest on the Michigan bar exam of any law school in the state).

It reminds me of the interview by Jon Stewart of the journalist who spent several weeks visiting and getting to know students at the Patrick Henry College, a college for evangelical Christian homeschool graduates. The journalist was prepared to hate them, but low and behold, she found much to like and appreciate about "them", even though she disagreed with much of their politics. My point is that sometimes just actually getting to know those whom we regard as holding repugnant views can enlighten us, and can also help us understand how to persuade them to our point of view more effectively.

I must say that it surprised me that someone whose career is so steeped in the connection between sexuality and religion would not have even been aware of the existence of natural-family-planning-only physicians operating in this country prior to the Washington Post article on them. (This was the post that brought your blog to my attention in the first place.)

Also, I sometimes wonder if you have read the original series of 1981 lectures (not the New York Times short version) of Pope John Paul II's "Theology of the Body." It is the philosophical and theological underpinning for all of the Catholic Church's teaching on sex, abortion, contraception, artificial reproductive technologies and marriage. And it is grounded in the same philosophy that underpinned the late Pope's opposition to the war in Iraq, his opposition to the death penalty, and his opposition to totalitarianism, both Nazism (right-wing) and Communism (left wing).

Forgive me if you do have a real understanding of these texts, but if you don't, I recommend them to you. They are classics in the field of sexuality and religion - a scholarly and academic opportunity to understand how modern Catholic thinkers are approaching these matters.

Your question about whether those of "us" who oppose abortion also oppose assisted reproductive technologies, it depends on which part of "us" you mean. And which technologies.

Catholics (which I am) oppose any technology as offensive to the dignity of human life which commodifies the human being (renders what should be a subjective being a mere object). Some forms of ART do this. Also Catholic teaching opposes forms of technology that replace the marriage act with a technological intervention. There is more to this, and I will try send you a link that explains it better than I can hope to do (being a non-theologian myself).

Still, it surprises me to think that you were not aware that Catholics oppose abortion, artificial contraception, and forms of artificial reproductive technology that result in the objectification and commodification of the human being?

Are you also unaware that Catholics - having a consistent life ethic - oppose abortion, war, euthanasia, the death penalty, poverty and racism, all on the same grounds?

I don't mean to sound snippy here - I really don't. It's just that I read your blog so that I can understand your point of view, and I generally keep believing that you are truly open to the points of view of others. But then there are points of basic Catholic teaching on sexuality (which is the subject of so much speculation and derision in the media) that you don't know. As a scholar on sexuality and religion, I just assumed you would have immersed yourself in Catholic teaching, to understand it truly from the inside out - so that you could make a more persuasive argument against it to those of us whose stubborn oppostion to both contraception AND abortion you apparently don't fully grasp.

I appreciate the privilege of having my comments posted here and I have enjoyed many of the posts in it on which I can agree - I enjoyed your Advent and Thanksgiving posts (I joined you in prayer on those occasions) and joined with your prayers for the Pope in Turkey.

I do mean to respect you. I just think that there is quite a bit of misunderstanding between many "reproductive rights" proponents and traditional Catholics that could be cleared up if the late Pope's actual documents were studied seriously by those who believe in advance they disagree with them sight unseen. Again, if you have studied them, I apologize for suggesting that you read them, and if you have read them, I would love to know the bases for your objection to their principles.

Thanks for providing a stimulating forum here. I'm sorry that it is uncomfortable for you to think that that those who disagree with you nevertheless enjoy reading and commenting at your blog.

Cassandra said...

Many reproductive treatments, such as IVF, destroy life in the process of creating one. In my mind, the end does not justify the means.

Regarding the anonymous sperm donor, don't you think it's disturbing that "life" is being sold as a commodity? I'm not sure how I'd feel if I knew that my genetic make-up came from a college student who needed spending money for beer. Granted, not all sperm donors donate for this reason, but companies find college campuses great places for sperm harvesting.