CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Whose Interests are Being Served?

May 17, 2005

A new government paper on assisted reproductive technologies (ART) is a great example of how taxpayers are being fleeced while activist agendas are being pursued. The position paper, just released by the Victorian Law Reform Commission (VLRC), says a lot more about how minority agendas are being championed than how the best interests of the community, and our children, are being served.

The paper, Assisted Reproductive Technology and Adoption: Position Paper One, is meant to be an objective look at options for law reform concerning such things as ART, IVF, and who gets access to these expensive, and taxpayer subsidised, technologies. It is the result of research undertaken by the commission, and, in theory, public input. Its recommendations have been “informed by extensive public consultation, roundtables and the 243 submissions received” in response to an earlier consultation paper.

In other words, the public comment requested last year was meant to feature largely in this, the first of three position papers. Yet, as many of us feared, this paper merely confirms the prejudices of the VLRC and the predetermined agenda that has always been behind this process.

Stated simply, these taxpayer funded commissioners want to radically overhaul our legislation, and especially want to implement an agenda based primarily on progressive/leftist, feminist and pro-homosexual sentiment. The views of the ordinary Victorian  are clearly not reflected here, despite their input to the public inquiry.

The commission’s chair is Professor Marcia Neave, not exactly noted for her mainstream views. And the agenda of the Commission, primarily to open IVF access to singles and lesbians, has been pushed from day one. The Commission actively promoted this whole reform process within the homosexual community over the past several years, seeking their input and action.

Yet ordinary Victorians would barely have been aware that this process has been going on. Not only were the activities of the Commission heavily promoted in the homosexual community in the past, but this position paper is also getting rave reviews now, with one recent front page headline from the homosexual press proudly proclaiming, “IVF support for lesbians”.

Now, if both the community at large and those making submissions to the VLRC overwhelmingly favour support of IVF treatment for the “socially infertile” – those who for lifestyle reasons demand these services, not because of actual medical infertility – then fine; end of discussion.

But surveys of community views on this matter have continually shown opposition to such proposals, and one suspects that the majority of those making submissions were also alarmed at such prospects. Indeed, as one article in the homosexual press admits, “submissions in favour of change were vastly outnumbered by homophobes claiming that it is immoral for same-sex couples to become parents.”

But this Commission and this position paper are certainly not about reflecting the majority viewpoint. They are all about pushing a radical minority agenda, and ignoring the rest.

This becomes clear in many ways. The Paper admits that the “Commission received a significant number of submissions from people opposed to the use of ART by anyone other than married couples” (which was the way the Victorian law first approached this issue in the mid-‘80s).

Yet the Commission effectively says, ‘Too bad. We are not interested in your opinions. We have other ideas’. It argues that marriage does not matter, that any family structure is as good as another, and we should not restrict ART and IVF access to heterosexual married couples. It says, “The commission has concluded that the marital status requirement is not only inconsistent with the principle of non-discrimination, but it also bears no relationship to the health and wellbeing of children.”

There you have it: ‘Butt out, Victoria. We are not interested in what you have to say on the matter’. Which raises the obvious question, why bother with an inquiry if you are simply going to ignore the majority view anyway? Why waste all these tax-dollars in the first place?

But the plot thickens. Who says that marriage doesn’t matter? Who says that all family structures are equal? None other than the main consultant to this commission, Dr Ruth McNair. And who is she? A lesbian activist who has been fighting for these causes for years. The commission admits that their beliefs are largely based on her work. Indeed, the commission had Dr McNair write an occasional paper on this issue, and then constantly refers to the paper as the authoritative document in the debate.

One might as well say that there will be a government review of smoking, and the main resource that the committee will rely on is a position paper put out by the tobacco industry. Most people would say that is totally useless, unreliable, and simply pushing a pre-determined outcome.

That of course is exactly what we have here. The commission has long ago made up its mind on where it wants to go with this issue. It goes through the charade of having a public inquiry, all at tax payer expense, to feign neutrality. Then it simply ignores all the feedback which is out of sync with its radical agenda, and keeps on its merry way.

Not only does the VLRC ignore the concerns of most Victorians, but it totally ignores the weight of social science research. Consider this remark: “it is not family structure that determines emotional, social and psychological outcomes for children, but rather the quality of family processes and relationships.” The findings of Dr McNair are then immediately cited. Chairperson Neave echoed these thoughts in a recent TV interview, saying that love is all that matters, not family structure.

The fact is, however, based on the social science evidence, there is probably no more demonstrably false statement that can be made than that. Over 10,000 international social science studies from the past 35 years have made one point crystal clear: family structure does matter, and matters more than anything else in terms of the well-being of the child.

Generally speaking, children raised in biological two-parent families, cemented by marriage, do overwhelmingly better by every social indicator. The research is in, and the debate is largely over, at least overseas. This is probably the most consistent social science finding of the past half century. Clearly the VLRC is more interested in pushing an agenda than dealing with this vast body of evidence.

Yet the position paper keeps talking about how the best interests of the child should be paramount. It even admits that the wellbeing of children was the “predominant concern expressed by people in public forums, in submissions and at the roundtables conducted by the commission”. I would guess that most of these concerns for the well-being of children were premised on the belief that it is the right of every child to have his or her own biological mother and father.

Yet this commission thinks otherwise. But it is not just trendy lefties who are pushing an agenda here. Another major factor in the equation deserves attention. Financial interests are also clouding the debate. That is, there are clear vested interests from those whose livelihoods come from IVF and ART. The biotech industry is driven by monetary concerns as much as Big Oil or Big Tobacco. Thus in their submissions they would have been quite happy to open the door to IVF access as wide as possible.

Single and uninterested in finding a partner? No problem. We can fix you up – for a hefty fee of course. Prefer a same-sex partner to the more traditional variety? No worries! We can fix you up as well. Most Victorians can understand the grief of genuine biological infertility. But to subsidise the lifestyle choices of those who are “socially infertile” is another matter altogether, especially if some people are getting rich out of such circumstances.

In sum, the VLRC is simply going through the motions of seeking public opinion when it already has its mind made up on its favoured outcome. It is quite happy to go through this charade, well aware that it will push for the objectives it wants. It does not mind wasting our tax dollars in the process.

And if the opinion of most Victorians happens to be opposed to their agenda and its implementation, tough luck. This whole exercise is a scandalous waste of tax payers’ money and an example of a trendy activist organisation seeking to push a minority agenda at the expense of the rest of the community.

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