When Feminists Say That Women Can't Be Trusted to Make Up Their Own Minds

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The Dallas Morning News reports that a bill in California that would essentially ban the sale of human eggs in that state is on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's desk. It is supported by the extremely leftwing Center for Genetics and Society and its associated front group, the Pro-Choice Alliance for Responsible Research. The Center supports the bill because it believes paying women for eggs exploits them and because it generally thinks that most biotech is icky. (The Center is afraid that people will make the wrong choices if companies are allowed to market cheap biogenetic technologies to the public.)

However, the Morning News points out that other more sensible feminists oppose the ban:

"I consider myself a feminist," said Pamela Madsen, founder and executive director of the New York-based American Fertility Association. "I get concerned when some women's groups say, 'Oh no, we have to make these decisions for women.'"

For a further exploration of the issues surrounding the market for human eggs, I strongly recommend reading the absolutely superb article "Ova for Sale" by my Reason colleague Kerry Howley, from the October issue on newsstands now.

Whole Dallas Morning News story here.

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  1. Are they cheaper by the dozen?

  2. Women only get to choose what they do with their ovum after conception. That makes sense…

  3. Bailey’s post here is a good example of a common problem here at Reason. It seems that nobody can have a legitimate objection to libertarian dogma and thus ad homenem attacks (“Feminists Say That Women Can’t Be Trusted to Make Up Their Own Minds”) and straw man arguments (“The Center…generally thinks that most biotech is icky”) become the order of the day.

    I would think it’s obvious that in matters of public policy, the debate centers around how the personal decisions of individuals affect the public as a whole. These topics are rarely black and white.

  4. I would think it’s obvious that in matters of public policy, the debate centers around how the personal decisions of individuals affect the public as a whole. These topics are rarely black and white.

    Perhaps you should get us started with the broader public policy debate. I’m interested to hear any non-paternalistic arguments. With respect to paternalistic arguments, the title “Feminists Say That Women Can’t Be Trusted to Make Up Their Own Minds” is quite appropriate.

  5. I suppose you could say that any law prohibiting anything is an indication that society doesn’t always trust individuals to make up their own minds.

    As for the sale of human egg cells, I don’t have a strong opinion either way nor am I all that familiar with the arguments for or against.

    I’m just weary of the “there is no argument against” school of thought, and frankly I’m skeptical that large groups of smart people spend a lot of time, money, and energy on figuring out ways to prevent individuals from making their own choices about things.

  6. Dan T.,

    Yeah, saying that the Center for Genetics and Society finds biotech “icky” is some pretty nasty and gratuitous shit there. How can anyone possibly have a rational debate on the issues at hand with vicious ad hominen attacks like that poisoning the well?

  7. I suppose you could say that any law prohibiting anything is an indication that society doesn’t always trust individuals to make up their own minds.

    That’s almost a tautology. The question is whether the mistrust is warranted, and whether these bad decisions have significant repercussions (i.e. repercussions worthy of going to the trouble of setting up a public policy) for people who aren’t willing participants in the decision.

    Can you make a good argument that those conditions are met here?


  8. Yeah, saying that the Center for Genetics and Society finds biotech “icky” is some pretty nasty and gratuitous shit there. How can anyone possibly have a rational debate on the issues at hand with vicious ad hominen attacks like that poisoning the well?

    It’s definitely poisoning the well – instead of addressing the Center’s actual objections to selling human eggs, Bailey offers us a grade-school put down.

  9. Can we please, please, please not feed the trolls?

    Dan, it’s become obvious to me that you come on here to argue for argument’s sake. It’s clear you need attention, and for that, you have Objectivist pity (you should take it, it’s a rare commodity).

  10. That’s almost a tautology. The question is whether the mistrust is warranted, and whether these bad decisions have significant repercussions (i.e. repercussions worthy of going to the trouble of setting up a public policy) for people who aren’t willing participants in the decision.


    Can you make a good argument that those conditions are met here?

    Frankly, I’m not sure that I could (like I said, it’s not a subject I’ve considered much), but that doesn’t mean that nobody could.

    If anything, I don’t find it unreasonable to say that we should proceed with the sale of potiential humans with caution.

  11. As long as we have a country that supports minimum wage laws, it’s to be expected that the populace will frown on paying people to do things. Minimum wage laws aren’t the cause of the problem; they’re a highly visible symptom. Their existence makes it clear that the general problem predates in-vitro by a few generations.

    Our “donor”-egg twins will be two soon. If Kerry’s article piques people’s curiosity, I’ll be happy to answer most questions about the other side of the process.

  12. I suppose you could say that any law prohibiting anything is an indication that society doesn’t always trust individuals to make up their own minds.

    Just to be clear: Laws that prohibit certain behavior for the benefit of third parties are not paternalistic. Laws that prohibit certain behavior for the benefit of the actors in question are paternalistic. As I understood it, the “Feminists can’t be trusted…” line was an attack on paternalism, not an attack on legal prohibitions of autonomy as a whole.

    I think it’s quite sensible to call alleged feminists out when they argue against female bodily autonomy, particularly when one of the proponents of this bill calls itself “The Pro-Choice Alliance for Responsible Research.” Pro-Choice = Anti-Choice?!?

  13. Dan T: Please read the Center’s website to which I helpfully linked and you will see that they do indeed find a lot of biotech “icky.” In any case, you can find some of my arguments with Center types at URLS
    https://www.reason.com/rb/rb070302.shtml

    https://www.reason.com/rb/rb081806.shtml

    One of their chief objections to biotech is that they fear that the “rich” will get it first and use it to maintain their power and position. They essentially oppose biotech because as Center fellow Darnovsky says, It will inscribe inequality in the human genome.

    You could also buy and read my book, Liberation Biology in which I address at length the arguments made by the Center and other anti-biotech groups.

  14. the idea that so called feminists (hoff-summers refers to the current set of academic statist ninnies as “gender feminists” vs. true equality lovers (equity feminists)) are for women’s CHOICE or freedom is laughable.

    they seem to abide by simone de beauvoir’s (not so famous) statement that (im quoting from memory) – “if women are allowed to stay at home and raise kids, too many women will make that choice. thus, they should not be given the choice”

    feminists are also among the most anti-science people EVER (see: summers at harvard, etc.) when it comes to any studies that upset their gender utopia.

    they are worse than the anti-evolutionists, and that is saying a lot

  15. Dan,

    I think you’re splitting hairs here and inventing problems with the post based simply on the fact that you require more explanation than is reasonably necessary.

    In other words, it’s not “all choice” that is being championed here, it’s the narrowly-tailored “choice that affects only the involved parties”. A reasonably intelligent/cognizant person would not need this explanained/clarified for them, as the similarities between human egg sales and abortion are self-evident to them. However, you exploited this lack of explanation in an attempt to make some thinly-veiled “libertarians think everything should be legal” argument. Please don’t project your own intellectual inadequacy onto others, especially when it’s so obvious.

    It’s not as if, when Ron says “When Feminists Say That Women Can’t Be Trusted to Make Up Their Own Minds”, he’s implicitely making the argument that we should be able to make up our minds as to whether murder or theft is okay.

  16. Women only get to choose what they do with their ovum after conception. That makes sense…

    With sex you get eggcontroll…

  17. “and frankly I’m skeptical that large groups of smart people spend a lot of time, money, and energy on figuring out ways to prevent individuals from making their own choices about things.”

    Really.

    Go tell that to all the members of the assorted gun control groups and their rich financial backers like George Soros.

  18. Frankly, I’m not sure that I could (like I said, it’s not a subject I’ve considered much), but that doesn’t mean that nobody could.

    Translation: I can’t be bothered to do any research before I open up my cakehole.

  19. “Go tell that to all the members of the assorted gun control groups and their rich financial backers like George Soros.”

    OMG!

    George Soros!

    He put flouride in our tap water, ’cause he’s George Soros!

    He boiled my kitten, ’cause he’s George Soros!

    He’s going to force grade school kids to wear assless chaps to school, ’cause he’s George Soros!

    OMG!

    George Soros!

  20. “‘How much money is enough to coerce a poor woman? And do we up the ante until they bite?’ said Susan Fogel of the Pro-Choice Alliance for Responsible Research.”

    According to this reasoning, is paying wages determined by the marketplace to those willing to work in dangerous occupations (e.g., coal mining or police work) coercion?

  21. Duh, the radical left thinks that anything that entices folks to do something it finds undesirable or unpleasant coercion. It assumes a child-like “we don’t know what we’re doing” sense of life, all the better to control your choices, my dear.

  22. I wonder how these same anti-choice feminists would feel if a MAN were placed in a similar “exploitative” position of making a pretty penny for the sale of a sexual organ.
    Would they stand up and defend the sanctity of MY left nut?

  23. Ah! I repent! Save me!

  24. I had a dream that George Soros was chasing me, and when I tried to run away, my legs moved reeeaaaalllllyyyy ssssslllloowwwwwwwllllllyyyyy.

  25. selling your eggs is a form of prostitution because you’re selling a part of your body. Now why is prostitution illegal, and selling your eggs legal?

  26. “He put flouride in our tap water, ’cause he’s George Soros!”

    I don’t know what his position on tap water is, but he definitely IS funding efforts to disarm the American public.

    You may think that’s amusing but I don’t.

  27. The American public probably needs to be disarmed.

  28. The American public needs to be disarmed.

  29. I would think it’s obvious that in matters of public policy, the debate centers around how the personal decisions of individuals affect the public as a whole.

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

    I would think it’s obvious that in matters of public policy, the debate should center around protecting the right of individuals to make personal decisions.

    One of their chief objections to biotech is that they fear that the “rich” will get it first and use it to maintain their power and position. They essentially oppose biotech because as Center fellow Darnovsky says, It will inscribe inequality in the human genome.

    So in order to keep the rich from getting biotech we have to keep the poor from getting paid. This insures equality how?

  30. “I don’t know what his position on tap water is, but he definitely IS funding efforts to disarm the American public.

    You may think that’s amusing but I don’t.”

    Yeah, and I’m the effin Queen Mother.

    And yes, I do find that amusing.

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