Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Insensitive bastard

Yes, I know men have the right to choose when they want to be parents too. But the title above really says how I feel about the one involved in this case.


kis said...

Yeah, I totally hear ya. A self-centered dickhead is what that guy is.

Linda said...

Personally, I think he made his choice on when to have children when he agreed that his sperm would fertilize those eggs. Wasn't that, like, the point? It's all very sad.

KingM said...

That's a sad story. I have a hard time arguing with the legality of the ruling, but I've got to think it would have been easy enough to draft some sort of document that would have allowed this woman to have a child and absolved the man from any parental responsibility.

resurrectedwarrior said...

No kidding. That is really, really rotten. His quote at the end just makes him look like more of a jerk.

Patrick McNamara said...

I think there's something you're overlooking; She has been treated for cancer. There's no guarantee she won't become ill later. What happens if she dies a few years after giving birth? And if she gives birth, is he legally obliged to support the child? There's no mention of his financial situation nor his current marital situation. His opposition may have some substancial basis. He did sympathize with her but he may not be able to take on the added responsibility.

There's also no mention of her ability to support a child. It sounds like having a child would make her a single mother.

There are certain realities that have to be faced and courts do tend to be fair. Courts have to make decisions based upon facts and laws. It's a process for grown-ups.

And one can't judge a story just by an article, espcially when article are often written to create emotional reactions. But grown-ups know better than to just do what they feel like. Courts tend to have more information than what gets reported, so I'm inclined to believe their decision was the right and responsible one.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing the link, Jenny, but I'd have to say I don't agree with you in this case. I certainly think that it is VERY sad that Ms. Evans won't be able to have a child, but I also think that it is ultimately Mr. Johnston's choice whether he will go along with this or not. And even though he agreed to it earlier, that was when they were going to be MARRIED, and now that they're apart, it doesn't seem that unreasonable for him not to want to have a child with her.

Anyway, love the blog! I'm glad I will be able to post again-- I was said that the Troll was keeping you from allowing anonymous posts.

~ Happy Anonymous Poster

Eileen said...

This is a situation that I suspect could be argued from either side. Twist it for a second- if the situationw were reversed would you support the court saying that even although this woman didn't want a child, she had to have it as he has cancer and it was his last shot? Or if a woman were pregnant and wanted to terminate and was told- no you can't- since the man has since had an accident and won't be able to have more children you must bring the baby to term.

I feel for her- but if having a child is important, she could pursue adoption.

Anonymous said...

Sorry - I side with the man in this case.
Besides, he must have his reasons.
She can still adopt or get an egg by donation and have a baby.
I'm with Patirck. There are too many unknown variables. My first instinct was to take the woman's side, but then I read the whole article and I think that there is a lot left unsaid, and the man's reasons have to be taken into account as well.

Laura Kramarsky said...

I'll bet she's glad she didn't marry him. You'd think if he loved her enough to get engaged and to plan to have a child with her, he'd be able to come up with a way to let her continue on the path they began together.

Nicole Kelly said...

The problem here for me is those were her only remaining eggs. I know that he has a right to determine whether he has a biological child in the world, but man, those were her only remaining eggs. I think he could have been a bit more sympathic.

As for the court, well, that's a whole different issue.

Childless said...

I am struggling with the fact that I can never have a child either, and not by choice. I would like to think it isn't the end of the world. I certainly would not want to have been a judge in this case!

Anonymous said...

I have to disagree, Jenny. While it is unfortunate that this woman will be unable to have children, there are a lot of people in the same boat. It's a simple fact of life that we can't always get what we want (as the Rolling Stones said so well).

I truly hope that she will find the strength to move beyond this and some day realize that just because she can't have her own biological children doesn't mean she can't be a mom, if that's her choice. There are lots of children out there looking for someone to love them.

kiwi said...

One can see the dilemma here; this is her only chance to bare a child(ren), yet her ex is reluctant to have a child to a woman he no longer loves-for whatever reason.

What I find interesting in the comments here, is the general lack of consideration for the child who might have come of this tragic situation. Is this a good environment for a child to be born into—I don’t know? I do know form hard experience, though, that the ability to have children doesn’t make you a good parent. And too often, it seems to me, we have children for all the wrong reasons, and it’s the children who end up the victims. And just in case some construe this as an attack on solo-parents, and a vote for middle America, it’s not. Poor parenting cuts across social strata, just as good parenting does. The over indulgence of white middle class parents is as detrimental to a child and society as the parental neglect often associated--at least hegemonically--with the poor, the black, and the single.

Demon Hunter said...

I agreed with the woman at first, but I understand the man's side too. Did the eggs have to be fertilized in order for them to be preserved? She knew that she didn't marry the guy, and that some men are buttholes. I just think that it was a bad idea to begin with, especially when they weren't married, not that there was a guarantee even if they were. It's sad, but it is his decision as well. But destroy all of the eggs. If I was her, I'd ask the judge, can't you just rinse his sperm off the damned things? LOL.

Angelle Trieste said...

I don't understand why it's the guy's fault. He simply chose not to be a father of a child of his ex-girlfriend. I would think it was insensitive if they were married or dating seriously (like engaged).

Besides, women have the right to terminate the pregnancy and most of times they don't even have to consult with the men. So I don't think it's unfair that men get to choose who they have children with.

Brandi said...

Sorry, but with all of the children out there that need people to adopt them, I don't see the need for the embryos to have been fertilized in the first place.

I sympathize with her, but she can become a mother, just not biologically.

Everyone gets up in arms about a woman's right to choose, but when a man exercises the same right, everyone acts like he's a monster.


anaea said...

Cases like these, where the legally just ruling doesn't match the socially desired one, tend to point to larger issues with the legal framework.

Given that this is a world where an anonymous sperm donor got slapped with child support (in the States, not the EU) I can understand his point of view. The only real way for a fair decision to come out of this case would have been if she could have used the eggs but the father would never have any kind of obligatory tie to the child. His right to the sperm donated in the case was signed away when he donated it to the embryo. And on the flip side, if he married somebody else but had one of the afore reference "accidents" and those embryos were his last chance at biological offspring, he should have a right to them just as much as the woman.

Maya Reynolds said...

Equality is a double-edged sword. If women are going to insist that the decision to terminate a pregnancy is ours alone, we cannot then throw rocks at a man who demands the same consideration.

Motherhood is so much more than mere biology. I'll readily acknowledge I'm uncomfortable with a woman who has celebrated the five-year-anniversary of a cancer diagnosis investing this much effort to have a child of her loins. Children should enhance your life, not bear the responsibility for your happiness. That's a huge burden for a baby to shoulder.

There are thousands of children who need homes. I hope Natalie will rediscover her joy in surviving and find it in her heart to reach out to one of those kids.

quietly writing said...


We're not talking about "eggs;" we're talking about embryos. They are already fertilized, already children with complete genetic codes in place. Already male or female.

This man has already "become a father." He's already "given his sperm." He hasn't won a case for withholding his sperm; he has won a case to destroy his own progeny.

--E said...

I wonder why the embryos have to be destroyed?

I can accept that she cannot use them without his permission--suppose he came to her and asked if he could use the embryos, perhaps with a new-but-infertile wife?

But why are they being destroyed? He might change his mind later. Or he might get run over by a bus tomorrow. If he has 50% claim to say "you can't use them," she should have 50% claim to say "you can't destroy them."

BernardL said...

I agree with Patrick’s reasoning completely. The real human tragedy is the lady has incurable ovarian cancer. Why would she want to compound the tragedy by giving birth to a child who will most likely grow up without her? This is most definitely a no win situation for the ex-fiancĂ©. If I were him, I would allow her to do it only if she signed an iron clad agreement to allow him to be part of the child’s life from birth to her unfortunately inevitable death; and then the child would come to live with him.

Anonymous said...

I have to say that, while I sympathize with the woman in this case, I cannot fault the man for not wanting to have a child with a woman he is no longer in love with.

First, having a child is a large responsibility, so one has to wonder what his legal pobligations would be in this case. would he be financially responsible? Would he be socially responsible?

Now, before anyone says that he's already fathered the baby, I remind you that women exercise their right to terminate embryos all the time. Sure, they have their reasons: they are't ready, they don't want children, they are afraid of the responsibility, etc etc. I won't argue those, I'll bow to the Supreme Court's decision.

Why is it any different when the man, for whatever reasons he might have, decides not to become a parent? Jumping on the "the guy is the villain" bandwagon in this scenario just seems a bit hypocritical to me.

Jenny Rappaport said...

So wait, let me get this right, patrick mcnamara and bernardL.... you think that this woman's cancer is incurable? Where does it say that in the article I linked to? And on top of that, you think because her cancer *might* reoccur, that she has no right to bear her own children? Or raise a child? Or be allowed to participate as any other normal member of human society is allowed to do so, if they choose to have or adopt children?

Talk about prejudiced, guys...

And for the record, I still stand by my original opinion, as stated, although I welcome the discussion that has occurred in the comments. What really gets me is that they're destroying the embryos; that's just wrong, since they're her last surviving genetic material. She may not be allowed to use them, but it's her damn fertilized eggs, and they shouldn't be arbitrarily destroyed at the court's whim.

Anonymous said...

She can always clone herself, if it's just the genetics that are worrying you. Destroying the embryos is destroying genetic material that is only 50% hers, if you want to be picky. Her own genetic material is her own body, period. And no matter what anyone says, you will never convince me that fertilized eggs are living creatures. I eat too many sunflower seeds to go along with that.

Sorry - Kurt Vonnegut died, and everything else just seems silly. He saw everything in perspective, and now he's gone.

The woman's alive - she has her health after vanquishing a killer disease. What's so freaking important about a bunch of frozen fertilized eggs? Aren't there other kids out there who are already born and who need families? She can go to Africa and adopt a whole village if she wants.

BernardL said...

I'm sorry for the woman, Jenny, but the survival rate for ovarian cancer even with early detection is low. In the best of circumstances, her chances of being around after the child's fifth birthday are very slim. Here's a UK survival rate study:

Anonymous said...

But Jenny,

If the situation were reversed, and the man had testicular cancer, and this was his last chance to have a child of his own, would you support a decision by the court to force the woman to allow the use of the frozen embryos if she didn't want to?

Anonymous said...

"What really gets me is that they're destroying the embryos; that's just wrong, since they're her last surviving genetic material. She may not be allowed to use them, but it's her damn fertilized eggs, and they shouldn't be arbitrarily destroyed at the court's whim."

Ok, let's say a man gets a woman pregnant the old fashioned way, and then has an accident shortly afterward and is no longer able to father children as a result. Let's say the woman does not want to have the baby and decides on an abortion. Her choice, but also his genetice material and his last and only chance to father a child of his own.

Would the courts be able to block the abortion for the father's sake? Doubtful. The woman would have her way, and the embryo would be destroyed, along with any chance the father had to have a child of his own.

I don't see how this is any different.

Jenny Rappaport said...

bernardl, the statistical data you're using is over fourteen years out-of-date, completely ignoring modern medical advances which have taken place. Not to mention that she's already past the six year survival rate, since she was diagnosed at the age of 29 and is now 35.

But, if you do want to use those statistics, I will raise you the ones for cervical cancer:

And on top of that, offer the anecdotal evidence that my mother was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 1990, at the age of 39. She had a radical hysterectomy, which is stll one of the most common treatments for the disease. She is alive and well at the age of 55 (56 in July!), and has never, ever had a problem with cervical cancer since. Be very careful how you interpret statistics.

Jenny Rappaport said...

anonymous said, "If the situation were reversed, and the man had testicular cancer, and this was his last chance to have a child of his own, would you support a decision by the court to force the woman to allow the use of the frozen embryos if she didn't want to?"

Yes, I would support a decision by the court to do that. I wouldn't support one where the woman was *forced* to be the one to carry that embryo to term, but I can completely understand the rationale for the use of the genetic material with a surrogate mother.

anonymous #2 said, "Ok, let's say a man gets a woman pregnant the old fashioned way, and then has an accident shortly afterward and is no longer able to father children as a result. Let's say the woman does not want to have the baby and decides on an abortion. Her choice, but also his genetice material and his last and only chance to father a child of his own.

Would the courts be able to block the abortion for the father's sake? Doubtful. The woman would have her way, and the embryo would be destroyed, along with any chance the father had to have a child of his own."

I agree, it's doubtful that the courts would be able to block the abortion in the scenario you've outlined. However, we're not talking about getting pregnant the old-fashioned way, which may or may not have been intentional. We're talking about a pre-meditated decision that two consenting adults made, six years ago, to preserve the genetic material of one of the adults, with the *full awareness* that that this would be the last time that the woman's genetic material would be in existence (for pete's sake, she was getting her ovaries removed--there's no ambiguity about the fact that they wouldn't be there anymore).

The decision to have any potential child was made at the moment that both partners preserved their genetic material together, for posterity and future in vitro fertilization. I don't think that it's something that can be retracted, since it was done in a pre-mediated manner, no matter what their romantic relationship is like nowadays.

DementedM said...

Actually, the fault lies with the docs who did the retrieval and fertilization. Before my husband and I did IVF, we had to sign legal documents awarding custody of our embryos to one or the other (since I have the uterus I 'win'). Ergo, there will never be a court case such as the one you linked to. This seems to be SOP in the US.

But I think this incident was in the UK, no? Perhaps traditions/laws are different there, in which case I think they should consider signing embryo 'pre-nups' before the fact.


BernardL said...

Success rates are much better for cervical cancer, although I'm not sure why you bring that up. The article you listed said the woman had ovarian cancer. I gave you the latest UK study I could find, because that's where she's from. If she was 29 when first treated, and is now 35, her survival chances are even less for seeing her child's fifth birthday. As Anon. has stated, it is a shame they're destroying the embryos.

Heather said...

He has the right to say no. It sucks. It's insensitive, he's an asshole, and it wouldn't be that hard to obtain a court ruling that she could not pursue him for any support of any kind that could stick (hopefully). but the fact of the matter remains, he's within his rights.

He's still a selfish asshole, though.

Anonymous said...

It's sad, but you know, she *can* still parent--she can adopt. There are so many children out there who need parents now. It all comes down to: do you want to be pregnant, or do you want to be a parent? If she really wants a child, she should adopt.

And as hard as this is on her, the fact remains: he has a right not to have a biological child, though he should have thought about things ahead of time and just had her eggs frozen. Fertilized eggs are not the same thing as a fully developed and already-born child.

Anonymous said...

You know, he might be a perfectly nice, fine human being, and she might be the selfish asshole, as Heather put it.
If I knew my ex wife was a selfish asshole, I would probably not want my genes associated with hers.

I also think we're quick to judge things from our own perspectives.
As much as I sympathise with another human being's sorrow at not being able to carry her own biological child, I also sympathise with the man who has decided not to continue his life's path with this woman, and who does not want his biological child outside of his sphere of influence. (There was an article in much greater detail in the Guardian UK, if anyone is still interested.)

Anonymous said...

An implied legal agreement--not much different from a handshake deal--was made when they decided to freeze those embryos. In essence, the pregnancy started the moment the eggs were fertilized. Destroying them now seems to me not much better than if she had already been carrying their baby, and he forced her to have an abortion.

What is his rationale? Why is he so determined to prevent her from having his child? Is it spite? If he has no legal obligation to the child, what's the big deal? Sperm donors do stuff like this all the time.

She ought to sue him for breach of promise. Not to mention that, in some circles, destroying those embryos is just one step removed from putting a baby in a trash bag. The whole notion of freezing multiple embryos that may never be allowed to develop into babies just kind of squicks me out.

LorMar said...

This is so sad!!! Of course some will say that this woman could adopt. But it is easy for fertile people to say that to others. Let's not pretend that biological connections don't matter. After all, adoptees search for their birth parents all the time. Hopefully this man will have a change of heart or a loophole will be discovered.

DementedM said...

I would just like to add, the only way anyone is allowed to suggest that this woman or anyone else for that matter 'just adopt' is if they themselves have adopted.

If you haven't walked the walk, you don't get to talk to the talk.

The 'just adopt' refrain is incredibly offensive.


kiwi said...

DementedM, I have to disagree with this. The attempt to reduce all legitimate knowledge to the level of subjective experience is just plain nonsense. A subjectivist ontology by its very nature obscures the different ways people interpret reality. Yet, there is not a singular experience of any life event. Subjectivism privileges prejudice over rationality when it is used in this way.

If you have to walk the walk before you can talk the talk, then why do we have male gynaecologists? Or any science based professional for that matter. And what are we to make of writers of fiction?

Food for thought.

DementedM said...


Your interpretation is too broad. I am speaking specifically about adoption and I know what I'm talking about.

It is offensive to tell infertile people to 'just adopt'. Trite platitudes and superficial advice that ignores complex realities are useless and always offensive. Particularly when the people spouting it aren't adopting themselves. They have no idea of what they speak. None.

If you haven't been there, you truly don't know what you are talking about. Adoption is incredibly complex. The fact that you want to debate whether or not you are qualified to have an opinion simply marks you as unqualified in this case.


kiwi said...


Do you know how many of my children are adopted?

Oh, then that marks you as unqualified to have an opinion vis a vis whether I'm qualified to have an opinion. Have you heard of tautology?

DementedM said...


If you had a blog I would take this discussion elsewhere as I have no interest in engaging you any longer here.

However, do you also taunt handicapped people? Tell people with cancer to just think themsevles happy and well?

What I am telling you is I am the demographic that hears this just adopt crap all the time. I work as an advocate for infertile couples and with Resolve a national non-profit on the issue of infertility. Just adopt is incredibly offensive particularly when the advice is targeted at people simply because of a medical condition.

I don't care about tautology, this isn't an academic debate, it's offensive. What I am trying to do is instill awareness and empathy in a public that thinks infertiles should all just adopt when they themselves will never consider the same option and have no clue as to what infertility or adoption actually entails.

So, no I am not interested in anyone's opinion unless they have adopted or faced infertility. They have no experience or frame of reference that is useful to me or to this poor woman who can't utilize her embryos.

You may read and comment further here if you wish.


kiwi said...


I think I'll just agree to disagree. Whatever your circumstances, I wish you the best. For in the end, in my view, only kindness matters.


Anonymous said...

As for the adoption thing, my dh and i dealt with infertility for many years and finally apopted 14 months ago and I'll tell you right now that our daughter is a part of our hearts, and souls and spirits every bit as much as a biological child could ever be. She is our life. Period. I am so grateful every day that we never got pregnant because if we have, we wouldn't have our daughter, and that would be the biggest tragedy at all.