Letters

Bush's midnight regulations, who's your daddy?, bongs away!...

Bush’s Midnight Regulations

Veronique de Rugy scolds the outgoing president for what she projected he would do (“Bush’s Midnight Regulations,” February), but her projections turned out to be wildly wrong. She forecast that President George W. Bush would issue a record-setting 70 economically significant regulations (defined as regulations costing more than $100 million to implement) in the midnight period, which starts at the beginning of his final November in office and ends on the day the new president is inaugurated. In fact he issued 42, the fewest since Ronald Reagan.

By using the past tense—“Yet in his waning hours, President George W. Bush managed to rush through an unprecedented number of late-breaking regulations”—and publishing a quantitative graph, reason unfairly tars Bush with speculation masquerading as fact.

Susan Dudley
Former Administrator, Office of
Information and Regulatory Affairs
Washington, DC

Veronique de Rugy replies: Susan Dudley, who has fought hard against midnight regulations in the last 18 months, is correct that the figure was a projection, a fact I noted in the text and the chart. Bush did better than anticipated, with 42 rules.

Dudley glosses over the rest of his record. In May 2008, a White House chief of staff memo urged agencies to issue their last-minute regulations before November 1. This led to a large and earlier spike in the number of regulations between June and November. While not technically midnight regulations, they are problematic for the samereasons: They are pushed through just before an administration surrenders power, which weakens oversight by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. There were a lot of regulations at the end of Bush’s presidency, and we should all agree that’s bad.

Who’s Your Daddy?

Cheryl Miller’s “Who’s Your Daddy?” (February) suggests that infertile couples are being denied the chance to procure a child through a financial transaction because of the demands of offspring already created in this manner. But the assertion that eliminating anonymous donations and creating registers in Europe and Australia have resulted in donated gamete shortages is a scaremongering propaganda campaign to garner sympathy and attract more donors.

Donor numbers around the world had been dropping for many years prior to these changes. South Australia, which guarantees anonymity through legislation, has seen a reduction in donations since enactment. The state of Victoria had an increase in donors the year after banning anonymous donations and implementing a centralized register. U.K. clinics that undertook active recruitment campaigns shortened their waiting period drastically while those not recruiting complained of shortages. Donor numbers in New Zealand increased after anonymousdonations were ended. The U.K. DonorLink register has been operational only since 2004, not 1995 as reported, making the link between registers and shortages in this period rather tenuous. Donor shortages can equally be explained by the attitudes of men as opposed to any imposed restrictions.

Research to be published in Sterility and Fertility shows that 87 percent of adult donor offspring wish to know their biological father’s identity, 62 percent want to at least meet him once, and 26 percent want to establish a relationship with him. Paternal kinship is a vital component of the lives of donor-conceived offspring, and it should not be subverted to cater for the whims and desires of the infertile.

Damian Adams
Adelaide, Australia

Cheryl Miller replies: I agree with Damian Adams that the reasons for gamete donor shortages in Europe and Australia are complex. While bans on anonymity have played a role, so have laws limiting or prohibiting compensation to gamete donors (which many donor-conceived activists support) and donors’ growing fears that clinics cannot guarantee their anonymity. (Many donors were spooked when New Scientist reported in 2005 that a 15-year-old boy had found his anonymous sperm donor through a genealogy website.) Nonetheless, countries that permit donor anonymity—such as the U.S. and Spain—have not experienced shortages and are major destinations for fertility patients seeking a donor.

These would-be parents’ desire for children is hardly a “whim.” Donor offspring are right to fight for greater openness, but openness should not be their only goal. Indeed, as I noted in my article, the right to information does not necessarily lead to greater openness. A mandated registry might win offspring the right to know their donor’s identity, but if it means future parents are less willing to disclose their children’s status, it won’t be much of a victory.

Bongs Away!

Reading about the law’s attack on marijuana paraphernalia (“Bongs Away!”, February) reminded me of my college days 20 years ago, when we used to smoke out of a Coke can. One of my friends used to rattle the empty can as a call to arms to meet in the parking lot after class.

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