We live in an increasingly atomised world, and Ireland is following in America’s footsteps in suffering from the consequences of this. In his book Bowling Alone, published in 2000, Harvard’s Robert Putnam brought the disintegration of community life to light by outlining how participation in group activities had declined significantly over several decades. Americans had become less likely to vote, less likely to attend meetings on local issues and less likely to join civic organisations. Parents were attending parent teacher association meetings more infrequently and families were eating meals together less often. People were still bowling, but Americans were now bowling alone. Professor Putnam has expanded upon his work significantly since then, and in his latest book titled The Upswing, he cites analysis which has been done on the use of personal pronouns in literature which showed that the use of the pronoun ‘I’ in American books doubled between 1965 and 2008. Social atomisation and narcissism in Ireland The growing social atomisation and narcissism - and the broader social dysfunction which naturally accompanies it - which can be seen in today’s America can be seen in Ireland and across the West. What is the evidence of the disintegration of community in Ireland? The first example is the most obvious: the collapse in religious practice. Ireland was until recently not just a Catholic society; it was a parochial society. The creation of that parish structure through the efforts of an impoverished people against the backdrop of a hostile Protestant colonial power represents the supreme organisational accomplishment of the Irish Church. For all of the cheering about the end of a “parochial” Ireland, very few people have stopped to consider the social implications of the former communal focal point of each community essentially becoming a disused museum. Politicians of an anti-clerical mindset have little to celebrate. In Ireland, the precise statistics about declining party membership can be hard to obtain, but it is clear that the established parties are far from what they were: in 2019, it was reported that Fine Gael had lost a fifth of its membership in just six years, for example. A similar trend can be seen when it comes to unions. Around 60 percent of Irish workers were union members in the early 1980s; this has fallen to a figure of around 25 percent today. Media consumption is also not the unifying practice it once was. Print readership is down, and the circulation of local newspapers has fallen sharply. Social alienation among Irish people can be measured in broader terms too. The European Commission’s study on “Loneliness prevalence in the EU” published last year showed that of all the 27 countries in the EU, the highest rate of recorded loneliness exists in Ireland, where more than 20 percent of people report feeling lonely. Make no mistakes about it: Ireland is vastly better off financially than it was several decades ago. The country has become an economic powerhouse in key areas like tech and pharmaceuticals. A rural populace has become an urban one, and many foreign workers are continuing to migrate here each year. In spite of all of these positive achievements, however, it is clear that Irish society is in real trouble and its people are arguably less united than ever before. A new conception of the individual It is difficult to understand these trends towards excessive individualism without considering the conception of the individual which is contained within the liberal political ideology which today’s Ireland subscribes to. A particularly insightful description of how modern Western liberals perceive their own creed comes from a Notre Dame professor, Patrick Deneen. Writing in his 2023 bestseller, Regime Change, Deneen stated that the architects of what we now know as liberalism “proposed a vision of freedom as liberation from limitations imposed by birthright.” As Deneen explains: “What had previously been considered as ‘guardrails’ came instead to be regarded as oppressions and unjust limitations upon individual liberty. As a result, the advance of liberal liberty had meant the gradual, and then accelerating, weakening, redefining, or overthrowing of many formative institutions and practices of human life, whether family, the community, a vast array of associations, schools and universities, architecture, the arts, and even the churches.” Anyone familiar with the tone of media and political discourse when it comes to Ireland’s secularisation will recognise Deneen’s description of the “heroic story of progress” and the leaving behind of “the unjust constraints of a dark age.” Conservative-minded Irishmen and women have become inured to this rhetoric. That is not even to mention the way in which the Deneen’s “wide-open spaces of liberal freedom” in Unholy Modern Ireland are ultimately used and what they lead people to in a country where more than 40 percent of Irish adults now have a mental health disorder, and where Irish people now rank fourth in the world when it comes to cocaine consumption. Small-mindedness does not on its own account for the inability of Irish liberals to take a nuanced view of what this country has gained and lost. The broader problem is that Western liberalism does not seek to pursue any shared good for the community. Alasdair MacIntyre put it best when he wrote in After Virtue that “[l]iberal political societies are characteristically committed to denying any place for a determinate conception of the human good in their public discourse, let alone allowing that their common life should be grounded in such a conception,” while further adding that this liberal model is “inimical to the construction and sustaining of the types of communal relationship required for the best kind of human life.” Meaningful, durable communities do not arise out of nothing. Instead, they come into existence and are kept alive by the shared commitment of their members to some ultimate goal. As the Spanish philosopher José Ortega y Gasset pointed out, “people do not come together to be together, they come together to do something.” For the longest period and across many different contexts, the work of many different types of community, both religious and secular, was “directed towards the shared achievement of those common goods without which the ultimate human good cannot be achieved.” If you strip away the common goods or deny their very existence, it is harder to find compelling reasons for people to work together aside from a vague desire for companionship, particularly nowadays when a more accessible type of companionship can be found online. Thus, it appears clear that a society imbued with moral relativism will likely be a society where the communal instinct is lacking.
Argentines witnessed something amazing last week: the government’s first budget surplus in nearly a dozen years. The Economy Ministry announced the figures Friday, and the government was $589 million in the black. Argentina’s surplus comes on the heels of ambitious cuts in federal spending pushed by newly-elected President Javier Milei that included slashing bureaucracy, eliminating government publicity campaigns, reducing transportation subsidies, pausing all monetary transfers to local governments, and devaluing the peso. Javier Milei's minister of economy just announced an "emergency package" of measures to completely balance the budget in 2024 equivalent to over 5% of GDP.This would be equivalent to a $1.4 trillion austerity package in a single year in the U.S. economy.The measures include:…— Daniel Di Martino 🇺🇸🇻🇪 (@DanielDiMartino) December 13, 2023 Milei’s policies, which he has himself described as a kind of “shock therapy,” come as Argentina faces a historic economic crisis fueled by decades of government spending, money printing, and Peronism (a blend of national socialism and fascism). These policies have pushed the inflation rate in Argentina, once one of the most prosperous countries in Latin America, above 200 percent. Today nearly 58 percent of the Argentine population lives in poverty, according to a recent study. And Milei rightfully blames Argentina’s backward economic policies for its plight—policies that, he points out, are spreading across the world. “The main leaders of the Western world have abandoned the model of freedom for different versions of what we call collectivism,” Milei said in a recent speech in Davos. “We’re here to tell you that collectivist experiments are never the solution to the problems that afflict the citizens of the world—rather they are the root cause.” The revelation that Argentina has done something the US government hasn’t done in more than two decades—run a budget surplus—seems like a newsworthy event. Yet to my surprise, I couldn’t find a word about it in major US media—not in the New York Times, the Associated Press, the Washington Post, or Reuters. (The New York Sun seems to be the only exception.) I had to find the story in Australian media! (To be fair, the Agence France Presse also reported the story.) One could argue that these outlets just aren’t very interested in Argentina’s politics and economics, but that’s not exactly true. The Associated Press has covered Argentinian politics and Milei extensively, including a recent piece that reported how the new president’s policies were inducing “anxiety and resignation” in the populace. The same goes for Reuters and the other newspapers. A cynic might suspect these media outlets simply don’t wish to report good news out of Argentina, now that Milei is president. Indeed, in the wake of the news that Milei’s reforms had already resulted in a budget surplus, both Reuters and the AP ran articles highlighting a new study under the headline “Poverty in Argentina Hits 20-year High.” Why US media would choose to ignore Milei’s budgetary accomplishments and highlight Argentina’s soaring poverty, which is decades in the making, is a difficult question to answer. The decision could stem from the fact that these outlets have described Milei as a “far-right libertarian,” and a “Trump-like” figure (even though Trump, unlike Milei, is not a libertarian or classical liberal). Another possibility is that these media institutions are suffering from something known as “media capture.” Media capture can come in various forms and has numerous definitions, but the Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA) defines it as “a form of governance failure that occurs when the news media advance the commercial or political concerns of state and/or non-state special interest groups controlling the media industry instead of holding those groups accountable and reporting in the public interest.” The most obvious examples of media capture would be outlets refusing to cover stories due to explicit threats of retaliation from powerful actors.
Queensland’s “no jab, no job” health order during Covid was a violation of fundamental rights, says court
The recent ruling of the Supreme Court of Queensland to declare vaccine coercion unlawful is a decision in the right direction. Last week the Court delivered its long-expected judgment in three lawsuits brought by 86 parties against the Queensland Police Service and Queensland Ambulance Service for their directions to workers issued in 2021 and 2022. These directions required emergency service workers to receive Covid-19 vaccines and booster shots or face serious disciplinary action, including termination of employment. Justice Glenn Martin of the Supreme Court of Queensland found that such directions breached a section of the state Human Rights Act. As a consequence, Covid-19 vaccines mandates for Queensland police and ambulance service were made unlawfully because such directions limited the human rights of workers who were required to undergo a medical procedure without full consent. Justice Martin stated that non-compliance had “life changing consequences” for the applicants, and ordered the police commissioner and the director-general of Queensland Health be restrained to take steps to enforce the directions or continue any disciplinary proceedings against them. However, the judgement did not make a ruling or attempt to make a decision about the health risks or efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines. Indeed, the workers only won because both the commissioner and the health director-general did not appropriately consider the human rights advice they received. Besides, the Court also (quite ominously) found that: Although each of the directions limited the rights under s17 of the Human Rights Act because each had the effect of requiring an employee to undergo medical treatment (a vaccination) without the employee’s full consent ... The limit was reasonable in all the circumstances. So, if they could prove that the advice received was properly considered, apparently these public officials would have given it the green light. Hence, the Queensland Health Minister, Shannon Fentiman, says the government is now even considering appealing from the court’s decision. She argues that the court’s decision was merely technical as it did not explicitly mention that Covid-19 vaccines were contrary to the state Human Rights Act, since the ruling was in relation to how the directives were made, not the directives themselves. “His Honour did find the limit on people’s human rights to have healthcare imposed on them without consent was justified because of the pandemic”, Fentiman told reporters. An appeal from this decision may eventually lead to a final and authoritative decision by the High Court of Australia, which, under special leave, would then have the ability to decide on the constitutionality of vaccine mandates. This matter, of course, has been carefully considered in my book entitled Emergency Powers, Covid-19 Restrictions & Mandatory Vaccination: A Rule-of-Law Perspective (Connor Court Publishing, 2022), which I have co-authored with Emeritus Professor Gabriel A. Moens AM, one of our leading constitutional law academics in Australia. As stated in our book, the implementation of mandatory COVID-19 vaccination sits uncomfortably with the High Court’s jurisprudence. An historical view In 1946 the Australian Constitution was amended in a referendum to include section 51 (xxiiiA), which explicitly says that no law with respect to the provision of pharmaceutical or medical treatment can be imposed on the citizen as a form of civil conscription. This provision allows for the granting of various public services but not to the extent of authorising any form of civil conscription. Thus, nobody can be compelled by the government to be subject to mandatory medical or pharmaceutical services such as vaccinations. The concept of “civil conscription” was first considered by the High Court in 1949 in British Medical Association v Commonwealth. The Court ruled that requiring doctors to comply with professional standards to receive Medicare payments did not amount to civil conscription. But the Court also relevantly decided that legislation which required that medical practitioners use a particular Commonwealth prescription form as part of a scheme to provide pharmaceutical benefits was invalid as a form of civil conscription. In the opinion of Chief Justice Latham, civil conscription included not only legal compulsion to engage in specific conduct, but also the imposition of a duty to perform work in a particular way. Justice Williams, in his judgment, stated that: the expression invalidates all legislation which compels medical practitioners or dentists to provide any form of medical service” (emphasis added). The idea of all legislation which compels medical service is constitutionally invalid results in the prohibition of both federal and state governments to impose mandatory vaccination. Hence, if any person is directed to mandatorily be vaccinated, such a direction comprises a constitutionally invalid form of civil conscription. Such direction would interfere with the relationship between the doctor and the patient – a relationship which is based on contract and trust. Of course, medical doctors who freely perform their medical service do not create conscription. However, as Justice Webb explicitly mentioned: When Parliament comes between patient and doctor and makes the lawful continuance of their relationship as such depend upon a condition, enforceable by fine, that the doctor shall render the patient a special service, unless that service is waived by the patient, it creates a situation that amounts to a form of civil conscription. Justice Webb’s statement also indicates that, even if the doctor were compelled to provide a service, the patient would have the right to waive that service. In other words, no citizen shall be in any way coerced into any medical treatment whatsoever, including vaccination. A medical treatment which is imposed upon a person without his or her informed consent is a trespass upon that person. In Bowater v Rowley Regis Corp (1944), Lord Justice Scott explained that consent to treatment, including vaccination, is needed to proceed with the treatment: … a man cannot be said to be truly “willing” unless he is in a position to choose freely, and freedom of choice predicates, not only full knowledge of the circumstances on which the exercise of choice is conditioned, so that he may be able to choose wisely, but in the absence from his mind of any feeling of restraint so that nothing shall interfere with the freedom of his will. In 2009, in Wong v Commonwealth; Selim v Professional Services Review Committee, Chief Justice French and Justice Gummow held that civil conscription is a “compulsion or coercion in the legal and practical sense, to carry out work or provide [medical] services”. In summary, the “no conscription” requirement to be found in that constitutional provision amounts to an explicit limitation on mandating the provision of medical services, for example compulsory vaccination, which remains governed by the contractual relationship between patients and doctors. 'An egregious violation' Naturally, the “no jab, no job” health order of the government in Queensland constituted an egregious violation of a fundamental right of the citizen. In this context, Article 6 (1) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which entered into force on 3 January 1976, stipulates that, “The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right to work, which includes the right of everyone to the opportunity to gain his living by work which he freely chooses or accepts, and will take appropriate steps to safeguard this right.” Importantly, the jurisprudence of the High Court indicates that the prohibition of civil conscription must be construed widely to invalidate any law requiring such conscription expressly or by practical implication. This point is particularly addressed in a comment of Justice Webb in British Medical Association v Commonwealth: If Parliament cannot lawfully do this directly by legal means it cannot lawfully do it indirectly by creating a situation, as distinct from merely taking advantage of one, in which the individual is left no real choice but compliance” (emphasis added). In other words, no law in Australia can impose limitations on the rights of citizens that directly or indirectly amount to a form of civil conscription. If governments cannot constitutionally force everyone to be vaccinated, they certainly cannot indirectly create a situation whereby everybody would be forced to take the vaccine. Therefore, from a constitutional point of view, the jurisprudence of the High Court indicates that what cannot be done directly, cannot be achieved indirectly without violating section 51 of the Constitution. Furthermore, compulsory vaccination adversely affects the democratic principle of equality before the law. If unvaccinated Australians were to face serious restrictions of rights and these restrictions would violate the democratic principle of equality before the law. The deliberate exclusion of unvaccinated Australians from participation in certain activities discriminates against them on the ground of vaccine status. Accordingly, in Leeth v Commonwealth (1992), Justice Deane and Justice Toohey referred to the Preamble to the Constitution to support their view that the principle of equality is embedded impliedly in the Constitution. They argued that “the essential or underlying theoretical equality of all persons under the law and before the courts is and has been a fundamental and generally beneficial doctrine of the common law and a basic prescript of the administration of justice under our system of government.” Self-determination It is also worth approaching the matter from the perspective of the self-determination of individuals. This was highlighted in Airdale National Health Service Trust v Bland (1993), when Lord Justice Mustill expounded on this danger with the following clarity: If the patient is capable of making a decision on whether to permit treatment and decides not to permit it his choice must be obeyed, even if on any objective view it is contrary to his best interests. A doctor has no right to proceed in the face of objection, even it if is plain to all, including the patient, that adverse consequences and even death will or may ensue. Similarly, in that same case Lord Judge Goff remarked at 866: [I]t is established that the principle of self-determination requires that respect must be given to the wishes of the patient, so that, if an adult patient of sound mind refuses, however unreasonably, to consent to treatment or care by which his life would or might be prolonged, the doctors responsible for his care must give effect to his wishes, even though they do not consider it to be in his best interests to do so: To this extent, the principle of sanctity of human life must yield to the principle of self-determination. This goes without saying that the right to refuse vaccination is explicitly supported by the Nuremberg Code – an ethics code – relied upon during the Nazi doctors’ trials in Nuremberg. This Code has as its first principle the willingness and informed consent by the individual to receive medical treatment or to participate in an experiment. It is precisely the experimental nature of the Covid-19 vaccines and the widespread disagreement about the capacity of vaccines to provide protection against a virus that is responsible for the lack of confidence in their effectiveness. The unvaccinated, in relying on health implications for the purpose of refusing the vaccine, may thus ironically invoke the same argument used by proponents of vaccinations, who also rely on health grounds to promote the vaccine. Indeed, in a climate of uncertainty, characterised by a demonstrable lack of confidence, as is amply demonstrated by the vaccine hesitancy in Australia, a programme of mandatory vaccination cannot be regarded as consensual. Hence, the refusal to be vaccinated may be based on the ground that these vaccines are still experimental and their long-term effects and safety on its recipients are unknown.
After the Alabama Supreme Court’s recent ruling that frozen embryos deserve the same protections as children, politicians have been falling over themselves to find ways to defend the US IVF industry. Even Donald Trump, reputedly a pro-life stalwart, declared that: “The Republican Party should always be on the side of the Miracle of Life — and the side of Mothers, Fathers, and their Beautiful Babies. IVF is an important part of that.” Not for the first time, Trump doesn’t know what he is talking about. I’d like to convince you that IVF is a morally complex issue, so complex and tangled that it needs to be regulated. This is the case whether or not you believe that frozen embryos are “extrauterine children” living in a “cryogenic nursery”, in the words of the Court. Of course, the moral stakes rise if they are “extrauterine children”. That notion may not be popular, but it has the advantage of complete consistency. Otherwise, you are forced into the contradiction of arguing that frozen embryos are not children because they are outside the womb and also that foetuses are not children because they are inside the womb.* But I accept that the argument for banning it is ultimately philosophical and hard for most people to appreciate. The argument for close scrutiny and tight regulation, however, is based squarely on its capacity for harm. IVF is an industry with a dark past, a chaotic present, and an ominous future. You wouldn’t know from the media or politicians that IVF has been responsible for any harm. Journalists have failed to do their homework. But I have been tracking the industry for 20 years or so and I can assure you that there are dark corners and dusty cupboards everywhere. That’s also the picture you get from speaking with lawyers. "I've represented thousands of would-be parents whose eggs and embryos were lost, destroyed, or even mixed up by their fertility clinics,” says leading fertility lawyer Adam Wolf, of Peiffer Wolf, a California law firm. He says that “Hopefully, the chaos and confusion for fertility patients in Alabama will help motivate federal lawmakers to finally create a system of regulation for this industry, like they already have in the UK and virtually every other developed country." Of course, IVF clinics have produced bundles of joy for thousands of people – roughly 100,000 IVF babies are born in the US every year, accounting for 2 percent of all births. Michelle and Barack Obama’s two daughters are IVF children. Robert Edwards, the British physiologist who developed IVF, won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2010. No wonder most Americans, even pro-life Republicans, support IVF. A poll for a consultancy run by Kellyanne Conway, a former senior advisor to President Trump, found that “Even within staunchly conservative circles”, 78 percent of “pro-life advocates” and 83 percent of Evangelicals display “significant and unwavering support” for IVF. This support is based on ignorance of how the fertility industrial complex works. IVF in the United States is “Wild West” medicine – it’s barely regulated. Authorities probably take more care supervising the cosmetics industry. It is quickly becoming corporatised, commercialised, and industrialised. In fact, the Alabama decision might end up being the best thing that ever happened to it, because state and federal politicians are rushing to protect it. That would be a mistake. IVF is an acronym which encompasses a whole range of fertility products in addition to in vitro fertilisation. As an example, take Boston IVF, one of the leading IVF centres in the United States. Its treatments include IVF, donor eggs, donor sperm, surrogacy, egg freezing, genetic screening, sex selection, family building for gay men, transgender services, and multi-foetal pregnancy reduction (aborting foetuses which are surplus to requirements). Do Americans really want to protect all of these practices? So the ruckus about the Alabama Supreme Court’s decision is an opportunity to reassess an industry whose aims, business practices and technology have never been seriously questioned. Here are 13 reasons why voters and politicians should think twice before giving the IVF industry more protection. Human rights. The fundamental problem with IVF is that it “outsources” sexual intimacy. In a sense, technologists and accountants become as much a part of the process of creating a baby as the parents. But every human being has a right to begin life as an act of love by a mother and a father. That's the position of a well-known religious body of which President Biden is a dissenting member. But it's also the opinion of Dolce and Gabbana, the Italian gay fashion icons. In an interview with the Italian magazine Panorama, they set out the case against IVF. “No chemical offspring and rented uterus: life has a natural flow, there are things that should not be changed … You are born to a mother and a father – or at least that’s how it should be. I call them children of chemistry, synthetic children. Rented uterus, semen chosen from a catalog.” More and more and more frozen embryos. No one keeps tabs on the total number of human embryos frozen in US fertility clinics. But there may be as many as 1.5 million of them. This number is only going to grow as the IVF industry expands. Why are there so many? Partly because the parents cannot decide what do to with them. Even if they don’t think that they are “children”, they are still precious and hard to discard. More access to IVF will NOT increase the birth rate. The IVF industry is beginning to push the notion that IVF is a weapon for fighting declining birth rates. And around the world, governments are subsidising IVF to stave off a demographic winter. What evidence is there that such schemes will work? None. The best counter-example is Japan, which has one of the highest proportion of IVF babies in the world (5 percent) and one of the lowest birthrates (1.37 children per woman). In fact, IVF may even contribute to decreasing the birth-rate. Women who believe that IVF will solve possible infertility may put off having children until their late 30s, when it may be too late. Redefining the family. The American IVF industry has been very forthright about its plan to redefine "family". A policy statement issued last year by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), the peak body for the IVF industry, said that “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and unpartnered individuals” also have a right to have families. Children do not need to be raised in stable, mum-and-dad families. Expanding the idea of family also increases the size of their market. Eugenics. Professor Robert Edwards, the British medical scientist who won the Nobel Prize for pioneering IVF, was a member of Britain’s Eugenics Society for most of his career. His ideas about IVF were steeped in eugenics. The temptation for his successors to engage in consumer-driven eugenics is almost irresistible. Such services are not available at the moment, although clinics will screen embryos for diseases. The next step will be tinkering with genes to make potential offspring athletic, smart, blue-eyed, healthier or taller. The secret sauce. Parents scrutinize every food label to see if it has trace elements of nuts or gluten. How about the culture media in which their embryos live for the first few days of their life? Incredibly, their doctors don’t know what is in it. Would it surprise you to learn that CooperSurgical, a major medical supplies company, is currently facing several lawsuits after its proprietary embryo culture solution destroyed embryos? “How is it possible that physicians treating patients would not know the composition of a particular treatment that is being administered?” asked one doctor in F&S Reports, a publication of the ASRM. “We must insist that continuing the use of culture media whose composition is not known is outside of the standard of care.” How can governments support an industry which creates children, but which is no more transparent than Coca-Cola about its secret sauce? Greed. The IVF industry is portrayed in the media as a kindly fairy-godmother who grants desperate parents their fondest wish. But IVF is a business and doctors are human beings driven by profit maximization. According to Adam Wolf, “The US IVF industry is an enormous business. While fertility clinics can do great things, make no mistake: this is a huge industry with lots of money. Hedge funds are investing heavily in the space, and some now even own large networks of fertility clinics.” One of the pioneers of IVF in the UK, Lord Robert Winston, has been a critic of the IVF business. He has said that the private sector is on a “gravy train” and that the combination of "desperation" from couples and "avarice" from private practices as a "dangerous combination". “More and more infertile couples are being exploited by an increasingly grasping industry that frequently ignores ethical standards,” he said. Trophy toddlers. The technology of IVF enables people to treat children as emotional supports. There are women having IVF children in their 60s and 70s around the world, even in countries as poor as India or Uganda. Gay couples like Elton John and David Furnish commission children when they are well into middle age. And, believe it or not, there appears to be a steady trickle of virgins who have never had sexual intercourse who ask for IVF treatment. IVF is not necessarily a family-friendly medical treatment. The grubby side. Why hasn’t the #MeToo movement protested the close connection between the pornography industry and IVF clinics? Most clinics provide pornography so that men can quickly provide a sperm sample. The Daily Mail Australia reported that “A computer will play a range of pornographic videos and what men choose is monitored to keep the list up to date. 'Midget porn is strangely one of the most popular styles, along with secretaries,' [a] staff member said.” A UK thinktank even produced a report about this which complained: "That no-one allowed the demeaning impact on female staff to override any spurious claim that this material was necessary is an indictment of the managers of those fertility clinics.” Genghis Khan wannabees. The number of doctors in the United States who have used their own sperm to inseminate infertile patients is appalling. One of them, Donald Cline, featured in a Netflix series, “Our Father”. He sired more than 90 children. In the 1980s, wherever there was IVF, there may have been fertility fraud. Ellen Trachman, a Denver lawyer specialising in reproductive technology, estimates that more than 80 American doctors have been caught, mostly after their offspring happened to check their parentage with do-it-yourself DNA testing kids. This may still be happening. A doctor in Washington state recently surrendered his licence after it was discovered that he had used his sperm as recently as 2009. But doctors are not the worst offenders. Sperm banks are poorly regulated. A California woman recently discovered that she was one of possibly 200 half-siblings, the offspring of an anonymous sperm donor. Nearly all of them have serious health problems, probably due to his genetic contribution.
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