Tuesday, April 10, 2007

What A Tosser...

...I'm talking about Howard Johnson of course. Now I'm not a big fan of IVF treatment, I think people unable to have children should be encouraged to consider adoption as a preference to invasive medical treatment. Inevitably however some people feel that they want to have their own biological children for whatever reasons and when they do so IVF is the first port of call.

Natalie Evans is up for her last appeal in court. Unless Mr Johnson consents to her having the embryos created with her eggs and his sperm - frozen when she went in for treatment for oarian cancer - implanted, she will never have children of her own. The legal side of the case is complicated and has been through several layers of the court now but wouldn't be an issue in the first place if he wasn't just being horrid. Surely it's obvious that this is a special case, exceptional circumstances and that the only decent thing to do is to offer consent for their use?

If the court doesn't accept exceptional circumstances and rule in Ms Evans' favour then her best hope is the Mr Johnson dies - several women in this country have been sucessful with appeals to have fertility treatment using sperm from dead men. Notable Diane Blood and Diana Scott.

24 comments:

Kenny said...

I could not agree more. As I said on my blog, it's like having a five year old kid and saying "ooh, I never wanted kids with you."

May the fleas of a thousand camels etc. Oh, and may his next movement be a hedgehog.

Paul said...

I find it surprising that you so easily disregard the right of an individual to withdraw their consent.



Perhaps you feel that some genders are more equal than others?

Cruella said...

Not at all, as you can see I am not contesting the legal situation - I am saying this is a special case - a woman who has lost the opportunity to have children any other way due to horrific and debilitating ilness and devastating treatment. I'm saying in the circumstances I think it takes someone really heartless and vindictive to refuse consent.

some_guy201 said...

I've been following this for a while now. I'm laughing at the hypocrisy of all those who side with Ms Evans. These same people would scream bloody murder if this woman was denied the ability to abort this mans child simply because he wanted to have it. This woman has no more right to these embryos than Mr Johnson. They both have to consent to having these embryos implanted so that they can develop into babies or it simply doesn't happen. That is the only way of giving equal weight to the rights of both parties. It's arrogantly self-centered for women to think that their 'human right' to have children should trump a mans right not to have them. This decision weighted the rights of both parties equally and said that this woman couldn't simply decide to do as she liked on her own. Men have reproductive rights too, and those rights aren't subordinate to those of women. This is a perfect example of equality between the sexes yet look how so many women are upset. Maybe some woman really want supremacy instead of equality.

P.S. - I love how you say that "her best hope is the Mr Johnson dies." It really shows how you have absolutely no concern for this man as a human being at all. He's just a thing with no feelings (and in an ideal world no rights) that should die off since he's become annoying and inconvenient. To you this man is nothing but a sperm donor who should shut the hell up and be more considerate of this poor womans feelings. The fact that he may have feelings and beliefs that lead him to not want to have children with this woman doesn't matter to you. Well, I know this will probably fall on deaf ears but:

Womens wants, rights and needs are *not* superior to the wants, rights and needs of men.

I don't think you understand that. I really don't. Everything you have said leads me to conclude the exact opposite about you. Feminists are always on about how men don't care enough about womens concerns. Honestly, what right do you have to expect men to care about you when it's so evident that you don't care about them?

Stan said...

All I see is a woman in indescribable emotional torment and it's this guy that's done it to her.

Some_guy's comment misses the point - Cru isn't advocating his immediate extermination in front of an all-woman firing-squad (I think!), rather she was stating it was her best chance - and it is.

I don't see this as a male/female battle. It's a human in pain, another human unwilling to help them and the Law being unable to make a difference. Happens all the time, and the genders are irrelevant.

Cruella said...

Indeed, I'm not advocating a change of law.

The reverse case I think would be if they had had embryos frozen, he had then had cancer treatment leaving him infertile and he and his new partner now wanted to have those embryos implanted through IVF. And in that scenario I think it would be very harsh of Ms Evans to refuse to allow that.

some_guy201 said...

You certainly seemed to me to be saying that you thought the court should have rendered a different decision than it did:

Surely it's obvious that this is a special case, exceptional circumstances and that the only decent thing to do is to offer consent for their use?

If the court doesn't accept exceptional circumstances and rule in Ms Evans' favour then her best hope is the Mr Johnson dies...


And yet you say that you don't advocate any change in the law... OK, fine. We'll leave it at that. It's senseless to argue over such a thing at this point.

You surely can't deny that you have been extremely hard on Mr Johnson, soundly condemning him for his decision. Who here knows why he made the decision he did? Do any of us know him? I rather doubt it. It's just assumed that he must be a bastard to say no to this poor woman. I don't think that's a fair conclusion at all. Who are we to tell him that he's an arse for not consenting to allow this woman to bear these embryos? He broke up with this woman years ago. Why should anyone expect that he'd want to have children with her now? It doesn't matter that she was willing to 'let him off the hook' for child support and such.

There is a huge emotional component to fathering a child even if you're not going to be involved in their life. You would know that your child is out there somewhere, and that would always be a part of you. Or, maybe, he felt that he wanted to be a part of the life of any child of his but didn't think that would be possible with this woman. To ignore such components of this mans decision is to treat him as less than human. It's not fair to him at all. He's not just some random sperm fountain, he's a person. Who are we to judge why he made the choice he did?

You say that if the situation were reversed that you would be condemning Ms Evans just as harshly. Well, maybe you would and maybe you wouldn't. There's no way we can really know for sure because events didn't turn out that way. I believe that if the situation were reversed as you described, women everywhere would come out in support of Ms Evans right not to allow her ex-boyfriend and his girlfriend to implant these embryos. That's purely speculative on my part because, like I said, events didn't turn out that way. I really don't think it's much of a stretch, though.

Why is it that only the woman in this story is worthy of our sympathy? She tried her damnedest to force this man to have children with her against his will. That doesn't make her much of a heroine in my book. She ignored this mans wants and needs and drug him through years of court battles in an attempt to force her desires onto him. Yes, I know she's been the victim of a horrible disease. That doesn't give her some sort of moral carte blanche to do as she pleases with these embryos. Instead of condemning this man for his selfishness, why not take a step back and allow yourself to see just how selfish this woman was being herself.

As I said before, I think the courts decision in this case was a good one. It gave equal weight to the rights of both parties and came to a fair conclusion. Just because the loser in the case happened to be a woman, and an emotional woman who had suffered a terrible disease no less, it is just natural to assume that the winner - a man - is a heartless bastard. Well, I don't think that's a natural conclusion at all. This man was well within his rights and we have no room to judge his motives. The woman, despite her status as a survivor of cancer and the sympathy that engenders, is no victim. She, instead, attempted to victimize this man by forcing him to have children with her that he didn't want. Once you look past the surface in this case I think it's pretty clear that this Ms Evans is no more worthy of our sympathy than Mr Johnson is worthy of our condemnation. Justice was served in this case. If that makes anyone angry then it reflects shamefully on them.

Cruella said...

Sorry you're condemning Natalie Evans for taking Mr Johnson to court? If he didn't want to go to court he could just sign the consent waiver. She has every right to take him to court, that's the way our country works...

Then you say "There is a huge emotional component to fathering a child even if you're not going to be involved in their life." Yeah right! Think of the huge emotional burden on all those absent fathers, must be really tough for them. What about the emotional burden on Ms Evans? Did you see her press conference? The woman is clearly suffering enormous personal tourment.

And as to your claim that I wouldn't support Mr Johnson in the reverse scenario - by your own admission we will never know, so I'll thank you not to tell me what I would or wouldn't do.

You seem to be forgetting that five years ago Mr Johnson did consent to having children with Ms Evans, but that the process was delayed by her cancer treatment. It is he who has now changed his mind, and he has done so knowing that his decision will have a huge and devastating impact on Ms Evans' life.

Stan said...

The guy could have come to some arrangement with her whereby he was given as much access as he needed or shielded from having to pay bills in return for giving his consent.

Calling in the lawyers was mean and fighting it all the way was mean. If you strip away the technology, this guy got his wife pregnant, divorced her and then forced her to abort.

I think I will remain angry even though some_guy thinks my anger shameful.

Cruella said...

Yeah I can live with the shame.

some_guy201 said...

Ah, didn't take you long to get down to expressing just how you really feel. Yes, this damned *man* should have just given into this womans demands if he didn't want to be drug through court for years defending his right not to be a parent - a right the court has justly upheld. After all, we know that men have no emotions with regard to their offspring as you have so pertinently reminded us. And even if they did (what an unbelievable thought!) such concerns would still pale in comparison to the needs of a woman to have a child of her very own. It's the womans pain that counts, after all. Her emotional needs are paramount. We can tell that because she cried so much on the telly. That a mans needs would even enter into the equation is tantamount to blasphemy. I'll bet he didn't even cry at all, the bastard!

By the way, there is a distinct difference between expressing skepticism for a claim and making a claim of ones own. Doubting what someone says is not the same as telling them what they think. Maybe you should think about that.

I haven't forgotten at all that Mr Johnson originally planned to have children with Ms Evans. Yes, he changed his mind. So what? She has *no* right to children by him or any other man. He's not a bastard for *denying* her the ability to have children. He doesn't *owe* her any to begin with. I've already given examples of why a man could very reasonably not want to simply give away embryos that his sperm has fertilized, but your insistence that men are detached, emotionless sperm banks makes the content of those explanations intellectually unavailable to you. If you had the same regard for men that you seem to have for women I don't think that the meaning of my words would prove nearly so elusive to you.

Cruella you are a beautiful example of what a feminist really is. Feminists put women first and they do so unapologetically. The thing is, for women to come first it is necessary for everyone else to come last. Your comments clearly illustrate this same kind of thinking. Ms Evans needs are important and valid, whereas the needs of Mr Johnson are trivial and irrelevant. This takes me back to what I said originally - why should men concern themselves with the wants and needs of feminists when feminists have no concern for the wants and needs of men? There is a simple answer to that question - we shouldn't.

Cruella said...

This is all getting rather personal:

"Ah, didn't take you long to get down to expressing just how you really feel."

My original post expresses how I really feel. There is no hidden message. I think Mr Johnson is a tosser.

"your insistence that men are detached, emotionless sperm banks"

I haven't said that, nor would I. Those are your words.

"Doubting what someone says is not the same as telling them what they think. Maybe you should think about that."

Thanks. Maybe you should think about the word patronising and what that means. Try not to strain that pretty little head of yours in the process though...

And your final paragraph

"Cruella you are a beautiful example of what a feminist really is. Feminists put women first and they do so unapologetically. The thing is, for women to come first it is necessary for everyone else to come last ... why should men concern themselves with the wants and needs of feminists when feminists have no concern for the wants and needs of men? There is a simple answer to that question - we shouldn't."

A feminist "really" is someone who believes that women should have the same rights and opportunities that men have. That is the definition of a feminist. What you describe is a womanist. And when you say that for women to come first everyone else must come last you clearly forget that MOST PEOPLE are women. And then you suggest that feminists should proritise the wants and needs of men. That's not feminists, that's doormats... Feminists are concerned with achieving equality for women, not more advantages for men.

some_guy201 said...

Yes, indeed. I think part of your post got left out by the blogging software. I've taken the liberty of restoring the missing pieces.

-----

This is all getting rather personal, and I do so hate getting called out on my prejudices:

"Ah, didn't take you long to get down to expressing just how you really feel."

My original post expresses how I really feel. There is no hidden message. Not just one anyway. There are over 9000 hidden messages if you look carefully. I think Mr Johnson is a tosser because he dared to consider his wants and needs as being equal to a womans.

"your insistence that men are detached, emotionless sperm banks"

I haven't said that, nor would I - at least not out loud. Those are your words and I agree with them completely.

"Doubting what someone says is not the same as telling them what they think. Maybe you should think about that."

Thanks. Maybe you should think about the word patronising that I just found in my thesaurus and what that means. Try not to strain that pretty little head of yours in the process though...How dare you point out my mistakes!

And your final hurtful paragraph

"Cruella you are a beautiful example of what a feminist really is. Feminists put women first and they do so unapologetically. The thing is, for women to come first it is necessary for everyone else to come last ... why should men concern themselves with the wants and needs of feminists when feminists have no concern for the wants and needs of men? There is a simple answer to that question - we shouldn't."


A feminist "really" is someone who believes that women should have the same rights and opportunities that feminists imagine that men have. That is the definition of a feminist. What you describe is a womanist and they don't go far enough. And when you say that for women to come first everyone else must come last you clearly forget that MOST PEOPLE are women - which means women should come first, last and always! To hell with men!. And then you suggest that feminists should proritise or even give any consideration to the wants and needs of that most worthless of species men. That's not feminists, that's equality which is just the same as being doormats... Feminists are concerned with achieving a superior level of equality for women, not equal treatment - which we like to call more advantages for men.

-----

Yes, I think that version is much closer what you were intending to post. Don't bother to thank me. I'm happy to help.

DESU++

Cruella said...

I am so happy to respond to comments on here but I'm really sorry, I can only respond to questions and points relating to what I actually wrote. I can't spend my time dealing with your opinions about things that I didn't write and you made up.

some_guy201 said...

Whether you explicitly wrote the above or not is immaterial. It is perfectly representative of what you've said. I don't blame you for wanting to back away from the hypocrisy of your beliefs when they are exposed so openly, but nothing will change the fact that feminism is what it is. It is about putting womens needs first. You've admitted to as much yourself. You don't want to consider the needs of men, you simply want to advocate your positions and lobby for policies that support them. If that hurts men then that's just to bad. That is the feminist position and no amount of political spin will ever change that.

I guess I can respect your position in a cynical sort of way. Why shouldn't you take whatever you can get? What I like best, though, is the self-righteous way feminists attack men when they employ the same selfish strategy. We've seen a perfect example of this in feminists reaction to this story about Mr Johnson and Ms Evans. It's not enough for women to put women first - men must put women first too. And there is no tactic to low to manipulate or cajole them into doing so. I guess I can respect that too, in a Machiavellian sort of way. Feminism - women taking whatever they can get by whatever means become available and damn anyone who gets in their way.

Well, I guess if you think that's a good strategy then you should continue to pursue it. There should be no reason, according to feminist theory, that women can't establish themselves as the dominant sex in society and reap the rewards attendant to that position,right? I wonder why that has *never* happened before in history. Don't bother lecturing me on theoretical amazonian societies or tribal people. There has never been a matriarchal society in the true sense of the word on this planet and there never will be. The reason for that is simple. Women cannot dominate men by force. The reverse is not true.

Feminism exists because men - at least to an extent - sympathize with the women who preach it. If women fail to sympathize with men then men will eventually lose their sympathy for women. When that happens there will be no more feminism. There will be a real patriarchy - and not the boogyman kind that the radfems bring out of the closet every so often to scare the faithful. You had better concern yourself with more than mere feminism. You had better concern yourself with equality. That, by definition, means concerning yourself with mens issues as well as womens. You had better learn to see beyond the feminist viewpoint or one day there simply won't be a feminist viewpoint at all.

If you want equality, start acting like - start concerning yourself with all points of view and not just those which are advantageous to women. If you're just out to take as much as you can get by whatever means are available then you will lose big as soon as men start playing by those same rules. To preempt an objection I can already see coming - no, men are not playing by that set of rules right now. If they were there would be no feminism - you would be living like slaves. You don't have to look to far in the world to see societies just like that. I think you know that, too. I've said enough. Go ahead and write another post explaining to me how what you really want is equality, but in the same breath demonstrate how you really don't give a damn about mens views when they conflict with womens. Show me what you're really about. I want to see it.

Cruella said...

I leave these comments up only because it is of interest to other readers to see the sort of insane misogyny that exists out there.

Also those with a sense of irony will appreciate that this guy has published these comments freely and willingly under the heading "What a tosser..." Hahaha.

LC said...

I think you're being a bit harsh. Both parties knew when they entered into the process of creating an embryo for storage that both would need to consent to that embryo being used to create a child.

This guy never agreed to have children with the woman, he simply agreed to help ensure that they would have the option to raise a family in future if they chose to do so.

The relationship failed, he doesn't want to father this woman's child. He's simply excercised a human being's right to choose whether or not to start a family. He's done nothing wrong.

Regardless of any kind of agreement they could reach, he would be legally, financially and morally responsible for the child - so of course he has a right to say no if he doesn't feel able to shoulder that responsiblity.

It's sad that nature has robbed this woman of the opportunity to start a family with somebody else, but that's not his fault. He has no obligation to her.

some_guy201 said...

I win.

Cruella said...

LC - well if you read the reports - they were actively trying to have children for several months up to the point where she was diagnosed. So it is only chance that she didn't actually get pregnant at that time. Freezing eggs is a much more difficult and risky process than freezing embryos but still possible - she could also have chosen to have embryos created with donor sperm and frozen. That she didn't pursue either of those options suggests that she trusted Mr Johnson.

And some_very_messed_up_guy201 congratulations, you did win. Your prize is the right to go away and not bother us all again.

LC said...

The IVF specialist interviewed by the BBC said that although freezing eggs is possible now, at the time the technology wasn't up to scratch and freezing an embryo would have been a considerably safer option than trying to store eggs.

In any case, that doesn't change my fundamental point, which is that they both knew and understood at the time that they would both have to provide consent in the future if the embryo was to be used. He is perfectly within his right to deny consent for his own reasons.

I can't guess at his motivations, but it's not as if he's just denying her something which would cost him nothing, which I would find harder to justify. If he agreed, then she would have a legal right to demand tens of thousands of pounds in child maintenance from him over the course of the child's development.

Then there are the emotional implications - the child would rightfully expect some interaction with its father, so he'd then have a moral obligation to invest time and emotional energy in a child that he was forced against his will to father.

It all starts to get very prickly if you look at it in that light.

Cruella said...

I disagree, she has offered to put together a legal document absolving him of all financial and practical obligations. Effectively if he took that route he would become a glorified sperm donor. Hundreds of students and young guys do exactly that every year to help women they do not even know with fertility problems. And yes the kids have the right to look them up but they don't have to meet the kids if they don't want to. My own experience of friends of mine who were raised by people other than their biological parents is that many of them do not want to meet their biological parents (arguing that it is the people who raised them that they consider their parents) or are intersted in meeting them only for a brief chat, to find out what they're like and in particular if they have any genetic health problems. Doesn't seem like much to ask.

LC said...

That's a fallacy on her part - the document would be meaningless. A couple of legal commentators in the press have said as much, and in any case it should be self-evident that you can't simply sign away your legal and financial obligations to a child, under any circumstances.

No matter what she promises now, if she falls into poverty in five years time she'd be legally entitled to demand money from the father.

I simply don't see how anybody can accept that it's OK to initiate a pregnancy and bring a human life into the world in the full knowledge that one of the parents is being forced against their will to participate in that process.

BunsenBurner said...

A lot of people, particularly women seem to be under the impression that having a child is a right rather than a privilege. Whilst feeling terribly for Ms Evans the decision is right and just. If she had this child Mr Johnson would be liable for maintenance and a child would grow up in the world knowing it was not wanted by one of its parents. Both parties have to be treated equally- what would have happened if Ms Evans decided that she did not want the embryos implanted, but Mr Johnson did? Could you imagine the uproar if he'd been through the Courts to force her to have his baby? We cannot have one rule for men and one for women-that is not justice.

Cruella said...

Yup and I'm not saying it is anybody's right to have a child, never have. Nor am I saying that there is something wrong with the law. I am saying given the special circumstances of the case it is very mean and unpleasant of Mr Johnson to refuse consent.

I find it very strange that people think the reverse scenario of him preventing her having a child is him forcing her to have a child. For me, as I have explained, the reverse scenario would be if he had had the cancer treatment and he now wanted to use the frozen embryos to have a child with his new partner.

Seems also as though people are blythly equating donating genetic material with carrying a child around for nine months.