New IVF rules: Demise of the Traditional Family?


by SajiniW
25th November, 2007 at 10:02 am    

It’s rare to find I agree with Minette Marrin. Whilst I admire the way she writes without fear, I find the ‘doom-mongering’ can get a little heavy sometimes.

Alas, she has made some interesting points regarding the new proposals for fertility treatment.

The most contentious of the proposals is to remove the requirement to consider the “need for a father” when deciding whether to offer IVF. This is part of ministerial efforts to make it easier for homosexual couples to have test-tube babies.

This has (unsurprisingly) caused outrage amongst religious and conservative circles, with Iain Duncan Smith saying it would “drive the last nail in the coffin of the traditional family”.

Marrin has also considered the necessity of men in today’s society.

There’s the “widespread use of the word testosterone as a term of blame and abuse”, in addition to women increasingly blaming their difficulties on men. She proposes the argument for a serious revaluation of men thanks to the numbers of women living capably without them, in addition to reprising traditional roles.

She also argues the benefits to offering fertility treatment to lesbian couples.

There is no reason for seeing lesbian couples and their children as the beginning of the end of family life. Nor is it a rejection of men. Anyone who knows any lesbian parents knows they are usually keen on family life, keen to be accepted into the normal world of parenthood and to welcome men into it, too. They just don’t welcome men into their beds.

Lesbian women who go through the misery of IVF treatment to have a baby, and who make the commitment of marriage as well, are people who by definition want to start a family. They support family life and they want to be part of the ordinary family-friendly world. It may not be traditional family life, but it is closer to it than the behaviour of an irresponsible straight girl who gets pregnant the quick and easy way without thought of providing a companion to help her bring up her child and then relies on state handouts. It is those girls who are aggressively banging nails into the coffin of family life, not the tiny number of thoughtful lesbians.


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Filed in: Current affairs,Moral police,Sex equality






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  1. SKye-Vee — on 25th November, 2007 at 11:07 am  

    The demise of the traditional family happened along time ago with high divorce rates, broken homes, cheating spouses and stressed out work/life balance. This combined with society’s lackadaisical view of discipline leads to messed up children who continue the messed up cycle, spiralling it lower and lower.

    Not that non-traditional families are all bad though. Some have bucked the trend and are a shining example to us all. To be honest most families are messed up in some way.

  2. Leon — on 25th November, 2007 at 1:55 pm  

    Heh some good points Skye-Vee…

  3. Bert Preast — on 25th November, 2007 at 2:47 pm  

    Can’t see any problem with lesbian parents. After both world wars in many places widows moved in with each other as companions and bought their children up very well, and I’ve no doubt that in many of those cases the companionship extended to licking jam off each other and imaginative use of certain vegetables. All for it, frankly.

    Not so sure about gay parents, however. Very few kids have been bought up without a mother, and even fewer with two fathers. All the studies on gay parenting, when you look closely at them are actually referring to lesbian parenting. Nobody’s taken a scientific shufti at gay parenting yet, and I think someone should before assuming having 2 mothers is the same as having 2 fathers.

  4. Don — on 25th November, 2007 at 6:59 pm  

    Nail in the coffin of traditional family?

    ‘Dammit, Janet, the gays at number 37 have married and are raising a child. This leaves us with no choice but to abandon our traditional family structure and embrace polymorphous perversity. Get the gimp.’

    ‘…broken homes, cheating spouses and stressed out work/life balance’ That isn’t new, except the work/life balance thing which a contemporary luxury concept.

    Broken homes and cheating spouses don’t cause the collapse of traditional family structures, they cause country music.

  5. Chris Baldwin — on 25th November, 2007 at 8:37 pm  

    Anyone foolish enough to fight for or against the ‘traditional family’ is wasting his or her time. What happens will happen and politics won’t be the determining factor.

  6. Rumbold — on 25th November, 2007 at 8:47 pm  

    People should stop attacking gay and lesbian couples who want to raise children. A good family is one in which the children are raised with love and affection, and taught the difference between right and wrong.

    The real danger to families is not homosexuals, or IVF, but the state. For decades the state has attempted to destroy the family, a process grossly accelerated by the Labour government since 1997. Parenthood is being institutionalised; children are being forced into nurseries/creches, sometimes snatched and put into care homes if their parents disobey government dictats. Foster parents are turned down if their values do not match those of bigoted officials. State officials are authorised to snoop into every aspect of a child’s life; play, diet, education.

    Parents, whatever their sexuality or marital status, need to unite to face this threat.

  7. sonia — on 25th November, 2007 at 9:03 pm  

    interesting post sajini.

    very good points raised. personally i cant see what was so great about the ‘traditional’ family unit anyway, it was pretty messed up, having two “remote” parents, one mentally absent, the other stressed out, is hardly salubrious. ( skyrocketing divorce rates just show people are most honest about the miserable state of many such relationships)

    in any case, the two-parent thing is hardly “traditional”, its fairly ‘modern’ actually – when i think “traditional” i think more communal village style parenting, you know, father might be off in the fields/away for long time, women effectively bringing up the kids, getting support from the other women etc.

    so lesbian parents to me, doesn’t sound all that different to how it really was back in the day.

    and i dont think it even matters having two parents, the whole 2 parent model seems to be more about solving the economics, than about the child really. how much of a good role model is it – the ‘remote father’ thing. “i put the food on the table so i cant be expected to spend time with the kid as well!

  8. sonia — on 25th November, 2007 at 9:08 pm  

    anyway, i dont think society has got the whole ‘kids’ thing right, to go down to a more fundamental level – (which not many people usually go down to)

    why should we want to have children at all? isn’t this a rather bizarre decision to make? ( just because its common we seem to overlook this) why would any sane human being want to have children? this is someone’s life we’re talking about, too many of us seem to want to have kids for us because we want to. But should it be about us? given the not so wonderful state of the world, why would we want ( assuming we thought about it, and had the choice) to bring a life into it? is it ethical? should i feel a sense of responsibility?

    that’s more the line of thinking i cant quite get my head around.

  9. Siddharth — on 26th November, 2007 at 12:01 am  

    2 Asian mums = 1 very smothered child

  10. alan — on 26th November, 2007 at 1:03 am  

    Stable families are a recent invention.

    War, death in childbirth, high infant mortality, and high birthrates made families unstable and relations between parents and children inevitably distant.

    This was all before ‘choice’ entered the equation.

    The attack on fatherhood is mostly led by the state, especially by its conspiracy against fathers via the family court.

    If you google ‘surprising paternity’, or ‘paternity fraud’ or ‘extra-pair paternity’ you will find that the most conservative estimates suggest that 4% of us don’t have the Fathers that we believe we have. Other estimates put it much higher.

    I have no problem with IVF, the people undergoing it are the thoughtful and sexually honest ones – a definite character recommendation for parenthood.

  11. Clairwil — on 26th November, 2007 at 2:02 am  

    ‘It may not be traditional family life, but it is closer to it than the behaviour of an irresponsible straight girl who gets pregnant the quick and easy way without thought of providing a companion to help her bring up her child and then relies on state handouts. It is those girls who are aggressively banging nails into the coffin of family life, not the tiny number of thoughtful lesbians.’

    Ah yes those irresponsible slags. Those wicked straight girls getting themselves pregnant without any male input. Perhaps if men weren’t so averse to taking responsibility for the children they fathered the mothers would at least be less reliant on the state for help. This is quite the most misogynist and offensive thing I’ve ever read. That a woman is the author makes it doubly depressing. So much for sisterhood. Perhaps someone should take the stuck up middle class bitch aside and give her a harsh lesson in reality. There is no phrase more likely to send a man running to the hills than ‘I’m pregnant’. It takes more than woman to make a traditional family.

    It is perfectly possible to write a defence of lesbian mothers without running down straight mothers who get pregnant the ‘quick and easy way’ (funny how nature has provided the quickest and easiest method isn’t it?). Then again that would require having at least two braincells to rub together.

  12. Letters From A Tory — on 26th November, 2007 at 8:44 am  

    Thank you Iain Duncan Smith for saying what nobody else has the courage to say – we should be doing everything we can to support the traditional family, not break it up.

    http://lettersfromatory.wordpress.com

  13. Random Guy — on 26th November, 2007 at 11:51 am  

    What I want to know is, have there been any in-depth studies on the effect of not having a mother or a father for a child being parented by a gay couple? What is the effect on a girl beng raised by two women, and that of a boy being raised by two women? And vice-versa? At the very least, I think the kid who has 2 gay parents will have one hell of a bad time in school – throughout their young lives.

    Rather than saying that it will definitely work, and as far as I am aware, all the evidence points to the contrary, should there not be some sort of psychological/sociological evaluation on this before everyone jumps on the bandwagon?

  14. sonia — on 26th November, 2007 at 2:14 pm  

    random guy – how do we quantify the effect of not having had a particular set of parents, and having had that set of parents/ and then ‘compare’ it – to what? a standard “idea” of what we think of as the ‘impact’ of having a ‘normal’ mother and father? (how many assumptions have we already made there)

    and the sounds a silly question maybe but how do we compare individuals ? how am i supposed to know how my life would have been like if i had no father? I dont. i cant compare my life with a fatherless person because the other factors are significant. like the quality of relationship with the person who was your parent. and who i am. how can we tell “what the effect is” compared to what the effect “could have been”.

    who is the perfect set of parents and do they exist in reality? given the no. of weirdos in this world who all came out of seemingly normal 2 parent families, what is our yardstick?

    parenting is hardly a standardized procedure. its not some sort of ‘control’ thingie you can do easily is it, oh all the kids brought up by ‘gay’ parents were crap. well it would depend on the gay parents wouldn’t it. otherwise we could just say, all parents in the last so many years/centuries were clearly crap cos look how their kids turned out – bloody warmongers most of them. we could couldn’t we – if we wanted to.

    id be curious to hear what kind of experiment design- in-depth or not – you have in mind that you think might yield up some information. i hear you say ‘evaluation’ and i think – what the hell are we evaluating? ask the kid, hey kid, would you have rather had parents like everybody else? you ask any kid t hat and chances are they’ll say yes.

    also the thing about gay parents and being teased – so i hear you saying that society is not welcoming towards gay parents, so there might be that problem. why should a kid with gay parents be any more teased than a kid with indian parents say? or for whatever other random reasons like how your surname is spelt. and should we then say well we shouldnt let kids who are different in some way ( e.g. with ‘foreign’ looking parents, odd surnames) exist/because they might get teased? so no sending kids with foreign parents to british schools then either. surely we should be looking at wider societal attitudes that cause the prejudicial problems in the first place, not be like “well there’s a prejudice’ so we can’t then do something.

  15. Random Guy — on 26th November, 2007 at 4:59 pm  

    Sonia, there is a massive body of research and study into child psychology, the effects of parents and roles that they play in the upbringing of a child. I daresay there is a dearth of research for children of gay parents. I think that saying there are definitely no auxiliary effects of a child growing up in a single-sex parent household is as ignorant and short sighted as saying that there definitely are auxiliary problems with it. I think that anyone who supports it should be aware of what exactly they are supporting, rather than supporting a cause because it sounds ‘right’. We are talking about the lives of children here – which is maybe the most major responsibility a person can ever have placed upon them.

    Other answers will follow at some point.

  16. Random Guy — on 28th November, 2007 at 1:06 pm  

    Also, asking me to tell you about a scientific methodology when I am not a scientist is pointless. I would leave that to more qualified people.

    As to your comments about societal acceptance and prejudice, you are right of course. Now I wonder if everyone else would see it your way…

  17. sonia — on 28th November, 2007 at 1:24 pm  

    it isn’t pointless, its not even about the details about the methodology – its something as basic and simple as ‘what are you going to ask, and what are you going to compare it to, and how are you going to understand the results?’

  18. sonia — on 28th November, 2007 at 1:26 pm  

    you don’t need to be a scientist to have a basic concept of what to research, if you think you do, well clearly there’s not much point engaging with you. It’s like saying people shouldn’t hang out on discussion boards discussing life if they haven’t got academic degrees in psychology, sociology, economics etc. or have done a masters in discourse analysis.

  19. Random Guy — on 28th November, 2007 at 2:05 pm  

    If you do not want to engage with someone who gives you a striaght answer based on their knowledge, then have it your way (i.e. unwilling to accept the fact that not every discussion can be settled in a number of posts on a website). My initial question was regarding research into this area, rather than making some sort of social commentary. I have already made my own enquiries into it, and have been surprised by what I found. Thanks anyway.

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