Free Minds & Free Markets


January 2007

Ova for Sale

Kerry Howley is to be congratulated for her beautifully written firsthand examination of the egg donor experience (“Ova for Sale,” October), but her criticisms of the IVF industry struck me as a little ungenerous. She would prefer “unblinking honesty” about the exchange of money for human ova and finds it “degrading” to be both paid handsomely and considered altruistic. But her own article explains the precarious U.S. legal regime under which the sale of ova takes place, though she failed to note that politicians in Arizona and California just this year have proposed outlawing compensation to egg donors. Doctors and patients shouldn’t be chastised for obfuscating to protect their freedoms.

Howley’s actions belie her superficially hard-line position. She felt guilty after the initial egg harvest was a disappointment, but why? She had fulfilled her portion of the contract. When asked to ratchet up the drug dosage in violation of clinic policy, she obeyed. Why? Apparently she sympathized with the plight of the couple trying to get pregnant. Was that reaction altruistic? Humanitarian? Coldly capitalistic? Howley ought to check herself before lambasting an industry continually threatened by the long arms of the law and the shortsightedness of its critics.

Kevin B. O’Reilly
Chicago, IL

The State of War and Domestic Terrorism

John Mueller says his views on the risks posed by terrorists have provoked less disagreement than he expected (“The State of War and Domestic Terrorism,” October). Allow me to add my small voice to that disagreement.

Mueller argues that we should save our money and just treat terrorists as common criminals, in effect daring them to do their worst and then prosecuting those we can catch according to the laws of whatever country has jurisdiction. He fails to mention that’s exactly what we did throughout the 1980s and ’90s, and it didn’t work. There’s a straight line connecting all the dots between the Marine barracks bombing in Lebanon in the ’80s and the attack on the World Trade Center on 9/11. If we hadn’t responded to that one, what would they have tried next?

The trouble with Mueller’s approach is that there’s nowhere to draw the line. If it’s OK to kill 3,000 of us—only 0.001 percent of our population, after all—how about 30,000?

Once upon a time, our flag showed a rattlesnake with the motto “Don’t tread on me!” Maybe it’s time to haul it out and remind our detractors that it’s not safe to fool around with us just because we prefer peace and harmony to war.

Richard B. Crawford
Roy, WA

They Don’t Know Jack

There is no question that the incident involving Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.) helped the GOP tremendously, as David Weigel points out in “They Don’t Know Jack” (October). The graphic image of cash in the freezer was just perfect for Joe Six-Pack’s typically nonretentive memory, and a perfect antidote for the complicated Abramoff matter.

I do think House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) made the right move in joining House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to “defend the legislative branch” over Jefferson’s office search, however. They forced Bush and his attorney general to back down, as they should have. In the larger scheme of things, it is not very important whether Jefferson goes to the slammer. The guy who gave him the freezer cash got sentenced to seven years, after all.

Larry Hughes
Calhoun County, MI

America Gives a Shit

I agree with everything Jeff Jarvis says in “America Gives a Shit” (October). Therefore I was quite surprised to read the circumlocution “f-words.” Surely a magazine committed to free minds and free markets can print the word fuck.

A taboo, in a certain sense, is a form of respect. A word can be so feared that it can’t even be mentioned. But why should we be afraid of a term that, unlike “damnation,” does not refer to a great evil or to something we are warned to fear?

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.


Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online