Addivinola, Stopa, and Brownsberger re: Postgenderism

I hope it isn’t bad form to share the responses I got back from Frank Addivinola and Mike Stopa regarding Postgenderism. Will Brownsberger’s response to the same inquiry is on his campaign website, so it seems to me all the candidate’s responses should be out in the open for all to see. I think their responses were written carefully in the expectation that I might post them, and they didn’t ask me not to, so I’m posting them, because they are pretty interesting.

All three of them don’t really want to take a position on the central question I asked, but Frank Addivinola addressed the scientific concerns and pledged to prevent it from entering the marketplace, Will Brownsberger mentioned the expense and didn’t commit to supporting it, and Mike Stopa affirmed he’s opposed to same-sex marriage but didn’t want to address the science, so all three responses had something pretty compelling in them:

John Howard

Sep 19 (12 days ago)

to info, stopa

Dear Mr. Addivinola and Mr. Stopa,

I’m trying to decide who to support. Both of you are scientists in fields that will be super important and require federal legislation soon (and Mr. Addivinola is also a lawyer in the field too!) and both of you believe in traditional marriage and oppose same-sex marriage.

I think you could both win (and get tons of national donations) if you make the race about the need to regulate genetic engineering and the use of stem cell derived gametes for same-sex reproduction, and preserving natural reproduction rights and stopping a designer baby industry that will be very expensive to the tax payers and harm equality and human dignity and put children at risk.

You could also explain the essential meaning of marriage as legally approving and allowing the couple to make offspring together. You could explain genomic imprinting and sex-specific methylation patterns and describe how difficult it is proving to be and how expensive and unethical it would be. And you could show how irresponsible and ill-prepared the Democrats are for granting equal reproduction rights for same-sex couples.

Mr. Stopa told me on RedMassGroup that he supports Civil Unions, which could be a way to give the same benefits and protections without having the same right to have children together. As long as they are defined so be substantially different and lacking the legal approval to make offspring together, they would be Constitutional.

Please let me know your positions on this and how much you are willing to incorporate this issue into your campaigns, either by emailing me back or replying to my diary on RedMassGroup, or better yet, making your own diary or public statement that I can find as a member of the public. I don’t need to be involved, but I would certainly contribute to the campaign to bring this issue to Congress and end same-sex marriage and preserve natural reproduction rights.

First I heard back from Frank Addivinola, just a few hours later:


info@frankaddivinola.com

Sep 19 (12 days ago)

to me

Hello John,

Thank you for the question.  I am in agreement with your position on this issue and I agree that it is both unethical and biologically dangerous to genetically engineer children from same-sex couples.  There are a number of reasons for it and from your statements you seem to be well informed about it.  The issue of genomic imprinting could only be a part of potential adverse effects.

From my in-depth knowledge of molecular and developmental biology, I can only start to imagine the effects such application of biotechnology and assistive reproductive technology can have on children that would be product of same-sex artificial procreation.

With this in mind, my concern in this case is not denying same-sex couples any rights they might (or might not) have, but first and foremost, a deep concern for children.  Of course, if/when I am faced with this issue as a Congressman, I would do everything in my power not to let this happen.  If this technology makes significant advances and becomes a real possibility for the future, I would take actions to prevent its development and entry into the marketplace.

However, as a current candidate, I cannot make this a campaign issue for at least two reasons.  First of all, the majority of voters are not concerned with this issue at this time and not enough people will take sufficient interest in it to the point that it would affect the election results.  Second, from years of science experience, I must admit that general audience, for the most part, is not able to focus their attention when listening to scientific information even when it is presented in plain language.

Let me know if you have any further questions regarding my position on this or other issues.

Best regards,

Frank

That was encouraging, he agrees it would be unethical and dangerous and will work to stop it! But it’s discouraging that he wanted to avoid the rights question, because that might mean he thinks it is a right and so his efforts to prevent it from entering the marketplace will be futile. They will be futile if we don’t stop it from being claimed as a right. It isn’t a right. Everyone agrees it will be dangerous and expensive but some people think it is a right and some people don’t. Addivinola didn’t want to say.

Then a few minutes later I heard back from Mike Stopa:

Stopa, Michael

Sep 19 (12 days ago)

to me

Dear Mr. Howard,

As I say, I am opposed to gay marriage because I believe that marriage is between one man and one woman. I have no problem with civil unions because these are simply contracts that give certain rights (hospital visitation, inheritance etc) that married couples receive and that I see no reason why gay couples should not receive them.

I am opposed to stem cell research when the stem cells are derived from fetuses other than those for which there are existing stem cell lines.

I do not like the idea of human engineering experiments that you seem to be talking about. But, for example, I have no problem with artificial insemination.

Correct me if I am wrong, but are you concerned about a human egg being created with the DNA of a man so as to fertilize it with a sperm of the other man? Is that the issue?

Best,

Mike Stopa

From: John Howard

Sent: Thursday, September 19, 2013 1:32 PM

To: info@frankaddivinola.com; stopa@seas.harvard.edu

Subject: Going to Congress

John Howard

Sep 19 (12 days ago)

to Michael

Right, that’s the kind of thing I’m talking about: attempting to reproduce as the other sex somehow, it’d probably involve using stem cells but by any method it would be inherently costly and risky and confuse children and harm natural reproductive rights which are the basis of equality and rights…So I think it is super important to say that all people have a right to reproduce as the sex they were born, and we do not even have a right to reproduce as other sex, with artificial eggs derived from stem cells or some other method. It’s important to recognize that there’s no right to do it, and that a marriage does have a right to do it. I have no problem with civil unions either but they must not be said to have the same rights as marriage.

Stopa, Michael

Sep 20 (11 days ago)

to me

John,

My belief is that the science is nowhere near sophisticated enough for us to start worrying about this. Stem cell research is real, of course. But this kind of process is still far away and so I don’t want to take a position in it now.

Best,

Mike Stopa

And here was my thread at Will Brownsberger’s site, where he has a similar position to the Republicans (“I don’t want to take a position on it now”) but it’s notable because he’s a Democrat, publicly saying he’s not ready to take a position on whether same-sex couples have an equal right to reproduce genetic offspring together.

September 10, 2013 at 12:28 pm #1436

John Howard

Participant

From the wikipedia:

Postgenderism is a diverse social, political and cultural movement whose adherents affirm the voluntary elimination of gender in the human species through the application of advanced biotechnology and assistive reproductive technologies.

Advocates of postgenderism argue that the presence of gender roles, social stratification, and cogno-physical disparities and differences are generally to the detriment of individuals and society. Given the radical potential for advanced assistive reproductive options, postgenderists believe that sex for reproductive purposes will either become obsolete, or that all post-gendered humans will have the ability, if they so choose, to both carry a pregnancy to term and ‘father’ a child, which, postgenderists believe, would have the effect of eliminating the need for definite genders in such a society.

Do you believe people have a right to do that? To actually genetically reproduce offspring as or with either sex? I contend that people only have a right to reproduce as the sex they were born most likely able to reproduce as, only with someone of the other sex, and do not have a right to reproduce with either sex or as either sex. I also believe that Congress should prohibit creating a human being by any method except joining unmodified egg and sperm of an actual living man and woman, and should also “prescribe the effect” (as per the FF&C clause) of marriage as “approving and allowing the couple to reproduce offspring together using their own genes.”

I’m not asking about the state of the science or whether you think it will be possible or popular or anything, just about your beliefs as to there being an abstract right to try it, if it were to become possible in the future, and about your beliefs about reproduction rights of a marriage to use their own genes.

September 16, 2013 at 1:32 pm #1493

Will Brownsberger

Keymaster

I think that this prospect is far enough away from being common (it sounds expensive) that I’m not really ready to define a position on it. I don’t think that I would be inclined to pass laws about it at this stage. I can say that I would not support laws that narrowly defined the situations that constitute acceptable family structure.

September 16, 2013 at 4:16 pm #1500

John Howard

Participant

Thanks for replying. But I specifically said I’m not asking you about the science or whether you think it will be common (not even an expert could tell me that, let alone a politician), but about your views about whether there is an abstract right to reproduce as either sex or with either sex, and your beliefs about reproduction rights in marriage. See, I am trying to choose who to vote for to go to Congress, and I want to make sure that my Congressman agrees with me in principle that there is no right to reproduce with someone of the same sex or as the other sex and that attempting to create human beings by any means other than joining unmodified gametes of a living man and living woman should be prohibited, and that marriages should always mean the right to reproduce offspring using the couple’s own genes.

And what do you mean by “I would not support laws that narrowly defined the situations that constitute acceptable family structure?” My desired law is a broad law that prohibits all genetically engineered babies and cloning and preserve equality by preserving natural reproduction, and doesn’t affect or comment on acceptable family structure.

September 30, 2013 at 9:51 am #1721

Will Brownsberger

Keymaster

OK. Sorry if I missed your question.

I’m guess not quite ready to take a position on the specific legal proposition that you raise.

I understand and respect the legitimate concerns that any technically novel form of reproduction creates, but I’m not willing to take a position in advance that would exclude new options. They might have important benefits, including medical or humanitarian benefits.

About John Howard