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Joke Book

Show and Tell is below this post, but I thought I would trot out a sample from my new joke book tonight:

Stephanie Saul

Get it?

Get it?

I wasn’t going to comment on Stephanie Saul’s latest article about surrogacy because honestly, what more is there to say?  The author’s obvious contempt for the assisted reproduction is abundantly clear in not only the fact that she seems to have now made a career with her scintillating exposés–trotting to the ends of the earth to ignore the thousands of families utilizing fertility treatments to build their families in order to capture the one outlier situation–but also in her word choice.  Her latest piece opens with this ditty:

“Unable to have a baby of her own, Amy Kehoe became her own general contractor to manufacture one.”

Stephanie Saul 2

Saul comes up with such gasp-worthy observations as “Surrogacy is largely without regulation, with no authority deciding who may obtain babies through surrogacy or who may serve as a surrogate, according to interviews and court records.”

Wait.  Are you going to tell me that as Keanu Reeves so eloquently said in Parenthood that they’ll let any butt-reaming asshole be a father?  You mean the government isn’t stepping in and telling people whether or not they’re allowed to become a parent or assist someone else in becoming a parent?

Or do you only want those regulations in place for people unable to have children without assistance–you know, same-sex couples, single parents by choice, and infertile men and women?  As long as you can procreate behind closed doors, the government should just stay out until you’ve proven yourself to be an unfit parent–am I understanding correctly, Ms. Saul?

She states that the lax atmosphere makes it possible for people to “order up a baby” as if we all have $100,000+ lying around to create a child as well as the desire to utilize someone else’s gametes or womb.  I’m assuming that she isn’t counting the fact that most heterosexual couples who decide to procreate attempt to order up a baby by deciding who will be their mate and therefore which genes will be passed along.  I’m also assuming that she has forgotten by the second page the fact that she mentioned that only 750 children are born via surrogacy each year and most cases are not like the three freak situations she dug up for the article.  I can see how large an issue this might become, Ms. Saul.  You know…750 children out of several million.  It certainly warrants this alarmist coverage.

Is the Kehoe’s story a sad situation?  Of course.  And Kym states the surrogacy side much better than I can.  But what I see from this situation as well as Stephanie Saul’s coverage is simply the author’s gleeful hatred of assisted conception as well as the overwhelming bias we have in this country against mental illness.  As the article states, this all came about because “Mrs. Kehoe was being treated for mental illness.”

Treated, as in, she was addressing the health condition.  As in, she was being a responsible parent by treating her disease.  As in, she was mindful of the situation and being proactive.  For eight years.  You know, all things that should be applauded as well as non-eyebrow raising.  In this country, bodily illness trumps mental illness with the empathy card.  We have such contempt for people who were not born with perfect mental health.

And that’s what I find disgusting, Ms. Saul.  The fact that treating mental illness is what kicked off this situation.  Not surrogacy itself.

But I don’t have a joke for that.


1 Quiet Dreams { 12.16.09 at 5:38 pm }

I’ve stayed away from that article because I am afraid it would make my head explode. You said it so well. As usual.

2 Erica { 12.16.09 at 5:43 pm }

Mel, I love this. I have to ask. Does Ms. Saul read these posts you think? Maddening!!!

3 Elizabeth { 12.16.09 at 5:49 pm }

Freaking outrageous. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE KIRTSY THIS POST!!! stat!

4 Jo { 12.16.09 at 5:51 pm }

The quotes you mentioned were the ones that infuriated me when I read it, too. Trust me, I’d LOVE to be able to “manufacture” a baby. It’s as simple as ordering one up, is it? Then how come I’ve been on this quest for seven years — without anything to show for it?

What kills me is that Saul’s bias is not unpopular. The comments in support of her ignorance make me wish that there WERE regulations on procreating — I have a feeling most of the fertiles who commented on this piece wouldn’t pass examination.

5 calliope { 12.16.09 at 5:53 pm }

I read the article online and it just annoyed me more than anything. Once again an article that is all about the one tiny awful story. I also just don’t get why the children were taken away. Seriously Ann Coulter style of writing all hysterical and shit. grrrr

6 Miss Tori { 12.16.09 at 6:17 pm }

I hope that if any good can come out of the Kehoe’s story is that Michigan changes its laws to enforce a surrogacy contract. It’s a sad situation that a contract is not upheld. And shame on the GC for not upholding her end of the contract.

I do think that each state should have strong surrogacy laws that protect the intended parents from a gestational carrier’s whims.

It’s a sad day for the Kehoes.

7 Christa { 12.16.09 at 6:18 pm }

Ms. Kehoe was also treated for infertility (I’m assuming) before realizing she couldn’t have children of her own. Just because you have a disease that requires treatment doesn’t make you an unfit parent. If this woman had been able to conceive on her own then there would be no one to take her children from her just because she’s receiving treatment for a mental illness. Social Services simply doesn’t take children away “just in case” you forget to take your medication.

8 Kymberli { 12.16.09 at 6:56 pm }

I second the Kirtsy nod.

Yes, the Kehoes did have failed IVFs prior to pursuing surrogacy.

I’m glad that you wrote about the article and angled it from the mental health perspective. There are so many implications in this case that it would take a whole book to explore all of them.

9 Kristin { 12.16.09 at 7:50 pm }

OMFreakingGawd…talk about a vitriolic, hate filled article masquerading as concern. Well written post. Please kirtsy it.

10 Jendeis { 12.16.09 at 7:58 pm }

Thoughtful and well-reasoned as always, sweetie. Gorgeous post.

11 nixy { 12.16.09 at 8:05 pm }

Calliope, I also thought of Ann Coulter when I read this. Actually, I couldn’t even bring myself to finish the article, or spend any more time on the NYTimes website. It’s just gross.

What made me angry is that Ms Saul is supposed to be an unbiased source of information. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but those of the press aren’t supposed to give it in their articles! It’s so frustrating that people are reading this and being influenced by it.

Mel, GREAT post. Love it.

12 loribeth { 12.16.09 at 8:39 pm }

I wondered whether you would have something to say about that story. Truly cringeworthy. If fertile people were subject to the same parenting standards they seem to want to impose on us, the human race would die out very quickly.

13 Meghan { 12.16.09 at 9:06 pm }

Dear god, does she ever stop? There are so many things to comment on, I don’t even know where to start. I just wish there were more neutral, informative articles out there

14 Sunny { 12.16.09 at 11:08 pm }

As an infertile and a mental health counselor, this article made me want to barf.

Thank you for saying it better than I can.

15 Lavender Luz { 12.16.09 at 11:19 pm }

You are amazing, Mel.

Off to do some bedtime reading. Probably not a good time to get riled up, but oh well…

16 Half of a Duo, Raising a Duo { 12.17.09 at 2:59 am }

Read this article after being alerted by my friend Kym (I’m a smart one). Want. to. Vomit.

I can’t even comment on this.

My sons are via surrogacy and this article, would have scared us terribly.

We went into surrogacy after years of research. Let’s just say this. If you go into it, you had better have a pitbull attorney by your side. And hire one for your surro, as well.

Oh and don’t do surrogacy arrangements in a non-IP friendly state.

That is what we learned after tons of research, and took heed.

Everyone is human with frailties. Only God has the right to judge. Most IPs via surrogacy ALREADY have valid homestudies to adopt. Because we tried that route, terrified of surrogacy, for the EXACT reason of WHY this article was written.

17 Circus Princess { 12.17.09 at 3:54 am }

You said it. I was too busy fuming, cursing, huffing and puffing after reading the article to do anything productive. Thank you Mel!!

18 Bea { 12.17.09 at 4:29 am }

In the real world, you tend to come across sensible people on all sides of the equation (including the onlookers). Hard to remember sometimes, isn’t it?


19 LJ { 12.17.09 at 9:44 am }

I have also stayed away from the article itself, but girl, when you are on, you are ON.

Knock Knock
Who’s there
Ms. Saul
Ms. Saul Who?
Ms. Saul should learn not to throw stones from her glass house.

20 Ann { 12.17.09 at 10:25 am }

Well said! Ever since Saul’s latest bundle of manufactured hysteria and misrepresentation was published I’ve been hoping you would comment on it, as you can cut through the crap as no one else can.

I understand that very few who haven’t struggled with infertility “get it.” I certainly didn’t…until I was facing it. I will never forgive myself for some of my preconceived notions about infertility treatments and those who use them. That being said, there is no excuse for Saul’s biased reporting. She perpetuates stereotypes and prejudices rather than helping people outside the IF community truly understand the challenges and decisions that we must face.

For all you do that is the exact opposite of Saul–thanks, Mel.

21 KLTTX { 12.17.09 at 11:31 am }

This is awesome. I definitely think a Kirtsy is in order for this one.

22 The Steadfast Warrior { 12.17.09 at 11:47 am }

I saw the headline on the NYTimes and thought, “Oh boy, here we go”…

Good on ya Mel. 🙂

23 Kate (Busted Plumbing) { 12.17.09 at 12:15 pm }

Letting any butt-reaming asshole be a father, pretty much says it all! Thanks for posting this, I hadn’t heard of this woman but know that I know, if I see her I’ll know to kidney punch her.

24 mrs spock { 12.17.09 at 12:54 pm }

I don’t think I’ve ever read a single, valid piece of journalism about infertility in the NYT.

25 loribeth { 12.17.09 at 1:42 pm }


Letters to the editor in today’s Times on the story.

26 Julia { 12.17.09 at 2:01 pm }

I’ve stayed away from reading that. Mostly because I expected I would have to throw up a few times in order to get through it. So thanks for the cliff notes. And I am adding Stephanie “Hatemonger” Saul to my “do not read” list.

27 Manapan { 12.17.09 at 2:45 pm }

You know, that last bit was what really hit home for me when I read Saul’s article too:

“And that’s what I find disgusting, Ms. Saul. The fact that treating mental illness is what kicked off this situation. Not surrogacy itself.”

My husband and I both have a diagnosed and well-treated mental illness. And we know we’ll likely never be approved to adopt because of that. But to imply that, if we can’t manage to have a child without interventions, all options are off the table just because of a difference in neurochemistry? That’s low, Ms. Saul.

I second the calling for a Kirtsy, both for your post and Kym’s, btw. 🙂

28 Duck { 12.17.09 at 3:49 pm }

As an expecting intended parent I was so upset by her article that I did nothing, I did not blog about it or comment on it because I knew nothing I could have said would have been right, the stories are awful, those intended parents got screwed and she has the nerve to make it look like it was their fault for even bothering to try and have a family…
you on the other hand have said it all so much better that I can.

29 stephanie { 12.17.09 at 4:40 pm }

I smell regret on the part of the surrogate carrier and a knowledge of this: “But a statute in Michigan, where Ethan and Bridget were born, holds that surrogacy is contrary to public policy and that surrogacy agreements are unenforceable, giving the woman who gives birth a strong case if she decides to keep the babies.”

And I am not even going to touch the mental health comment because it will make me spit fire.

30 Kitty { 12.17.09 at 6:08 pm }

“In this country, bodily illness trumps mental illness with the empathy card.” Except, of course, when it comes to infertility. That one’s tied with mental illness. Hell, lots of people would say they are one in the same!

Well said, Mel.

31 Lisa { 12.17.09 at 6:59 pm }

So upsetting.

32 once a mother { 12.17.09 at 7:43 pm }

It’s a wonder that this woman who knows so little, is viewed by some as an authority on this subject. As the commenter above me stated… so upsetting.

33 Traci { 12.17.09 at 8:43 pm }

OK. I’ll agree that the article goes out of its way to find some pretty bizarre cases for surrogacy gone wrong and doesn’t even both to mention the amazing and giving nature of many surrogates who help infertile families have a child, and that is frankly disgusting. The one thing I’d like to add is this, how is it that these brokers are allowed to make tons of money on these arrangements and not let their client’s know that their babies can be taken away without merit. I feel the IVF Michigan clinic and any broker in this quagmire was very irresponsible to receive money and sanction this without legal protection for the couple who paid their bill.

34 Frau { 12.18.09 at 1:46 am }

I saw this article and came over here just to watch you ream her. You hit my points exactly. What? They just let people reproduce in this country? Surely you jest. What? Someone on MEDICATION parents in this country? Well lets ramp up CPS on all the post-partum mommies!

The funny thing is, I get the feeling that Ms. Saul fancies herself very modern and liberal. Unfortunately, her articles (and the lovely comments) read like Dan Quayle’s famous speech: “OMG! It’s not a NORMAL family! Ewwwww! Squish it! Squish it! Squish it!”

The annoying this is that my husband and I are trying to adopt from the foster care system. We are doing what so many people say we are “supposed” to be doing. We are going to the mythical wellspring of babies where all infertile couples are supposedly destined by the universe to drink. Did we suddenly morph into saintly, responsible people when we decided to quit fertility treatments? Pah! We’re still the same old selfish people pursuing what WE WANT: We want to experience parenthood. The “we want this” part of it was there when we tossed the birth control, it was there when we did all the injections, and it’s still there while they approve our mental health. (P.S. The government is paying for part of it. Get your smelling salts.)

Ms. Saul and her angry mob have no clue. You’d think they’d get at least one between the lot of them.

35 BeyondInfertility { 12.18.09 at 6:23 am }


Thanks for putting this into appropriate language Mel!

36 Shinejil { 12.18.09 at 8:02 am }

Brava, Mel! Well said!

37 Sarah { 12.19.09 at 2:23 pm }

Our own doctor said “Designer baby” when we talked about moving to donor eggs and donor sperm (husband has a balanced translocation). I was pretty shocked that SHE said it, but also, c’mon, it isn’t as if we really get to design the baby. We set the ‘match’ in motion, but the baby that results is not under our control. We don’t get to choose Egg donor’s nose, sperm donors hair. Oy.

38 Kami { 12.21.09 at 3:37 pm }

Well said. I came across the article late, but I am equally disgusted. Just the tone alone. I am all for more regulation regarding assisted reproduction – as long as we can force sterilization on unfit parents. Oh, and I get to decide who is unfit.

39 Jamie { 12.22.09 at 3:49 pm }

Thanks for so eloquently posting what we were all thinking. All I could do was shake my head.

40 Battynurse { 12.27.09 at 4:00 pm }

I am to the point where I can’t even hardly read that woman’s articles. She is so biased and will only ever show the down side of ART and of course there will be so many of those who view ART as bad and awful to follow along with the piper. I managed the first page where she made Mrs. Kehoe sound like some horrible person who “built” her baby. How horrible she was. What she doesn’t focus on is the heart break they must have felt to have those babies removed from them and my anger or irritation with the surrogate who took on a situation with that much emotional baggage to it without fulling investigating the circumstances and deciding if it was a situation she was ok with. How fucked up is that.

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