Dog whistling

We haven’t had a good mindless partisan political stoush on Troppo for ages now. A couple of days at least. So I thought I’d draw readers’ attention to this NT News story and see if it elicits the expected polarised Pavlovian reaction:

A lesbian is pregnant with twins after having to spend $16,000 on fertility treatment interstate because she is barred from getting help in the Territory. Michelle Turner, 32, who is six months pregnant, made four trips to a fertility clinic in Sydney.

She and her partner Helen Turner, 29, could not use Repromed at Darwin Private Hospital because it is Territory Government policy not to allow same-sex couples access to fertility treatment. Michelle yesterday accused the Government of “hypocrisy” over its anti-gay policy. “I’ve seen Clare Martin at so many gay events and I think it’s really hypocritical for her to say ‘vote for me because I like you’ but then not change policies that are blatantly discriminatory,” she said.

Fertility treatment in the Territory is open only to heterosexual couples who have been unable to conceive for 12 months. …

The Turners had to make four trips to Sydney, costing about $4000 each time including accommodation and flights, before the donor insemination worked.

The same treatment at Repromed in Darwin costs about $920 per cycle.

What do readers reckon? Should fertility treatment be available only to the unable or the unwilling as well?

Personally, I don’t have a problem with Michelle and Helen accessing fertility programs if they’re paying full tote odds for the service. After all they could always resort to self-help remedies, with the aid of an obliging bloke, an empty vegemite jar and a turkey-basting brush. Or even, God forbid, make the supreme sacrifice after a liberal application of Bailey’s Irish Cream to stifle the revulsion. So what’s the problem with taking the iccy bits out of the whole process and conceiving with a semblance of dignity?

I wonder why Michelle and Helen didn’t challenge the legal validity of the NT’s policy? On the authority of the Federal Court’s McBain decision in 2000, it would seem fairly clearly to contravene the Sex Discrimination Act (Cth). The Catholic Church failed to overturn McBain in the High Court in 2002 (the Justices do actually get it right occasionally), and the Howard government failed to get amending legislation through the Senate that would have allowed State and Territory governments to discriminate in IVF/fertility programs. So there probably isn’t very much doubt that the NT’s policy is unlawfully discriminatory. Did no-one tell Michelle and Helen? Or did they figure it would be cheaper and less hassle to jump on a plane and go south?

Whatever the explanation, it’s a pity. I strongly suspect that the Martin government would be sympathetic to their position, and would have “run dead” in defending any litigation (although the same probably couldn’t be said for the Catholic Church). One suspects that Clare Martin has simply taken the pragmatic view that doing nothing and leaving the existing policies of the previous CLP government in place is the politically safer option, while quietly hoping that someone does the government’s job for it and launches a successful challenge so the Supreme or Federal Court can incur the odium of the Catholic Church and other religious conservatives for reforming the law. There has to be a real prospect that the Howard government will revive its SDA amendments once it gets control of the Senate come July, but it’s unlikely they’d do so retrospectively, so a successful challenge before the SDA is amended would probably secure equality for prospective gay parents in the long term.

In fact, whether Howard revives the anti-gay (and single) IVF amendments to the SDA once he controls the Senate will be an interesting test of whether he really DOES intend to adopt an American-style neocon approach and pander to the religious right, or was just trying to wedge the ALP when he introduced the amendments in the wake of the original McBain decision.

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
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Niall
Niall
2022 years ago

Not everyone’s a rich solicitor or barrister able or willing to take on the system. On the subject of same-sex invitro treatment, I have no qualms whatsoever. It’s expensive, it’s soul-destroying and it strips away whatever dignity you go into it with. If a couple of lesbians want to undergo all that and pay for the privilege, then good on ’em I say.

C.L.
2022 years ago

Disgraceful abuse of the human rights of the unborn children and an act of anti-male bastardry of the first order.

We’re trying to persuade Macquarie Fields louts and their ilk to be good fathers while this fertility clinic orphans two innocent unborns on the say-so of a couple of hairy-legged, irresponsible women who are themselves adolescents, morally.

Words of Prime Minister Keating on gay ‘marriage’ come to mind: “Two jokers and a cocker spaniel isn’t a family.” Nor is two birds and a syringe full of some stranger’s spunk.

Jason Soon
Jason Soon
2022 years ago

If the State is going to be in the business of providing fertility treatments, ostensibly for the purpose of helping people who have problems conceiving without those treatments, then it should be available to all who apply for such treatment and meet that criteria for whatever reason.

Francis Xavier Holden
2022 years ago

I’ve never understod why IVF should be paid for by the Medicare system for anyone. After all being childless is not a life threatening disease or even a life disabling disease.

If people pay the full cost for it I have no issue as to their sexual or dancing preferences.

Jason Soon
Jason Soon
2022 years ago

CL
where do you get off making the presumption that these two women are ‘hairy-legged, irresponsible women who are themselves adolescents’ just because they’re lesbians? These women have gone to a lot of trouble to get a child and are obviously not wanting in dedication in resources. if anything it’s rather appropriate that you bring in the ‘Macquarie Fields louts’ as hypothetically some of the children of these untermenschen might be better off raised by some of these lesbian couples.

Jason Soon
Jason Soon
2022 years ago

CL obviously does not know many lesbian couples. The fact is that I think if you were to look up sonme surveys, lesbian partnerships are as long lived as if not longer lived then hetero partnerships, certainly longer than the couplings of some of these juvenile delinquents in Macquarie Fields. The *average* gay as in male homosexual partnerships are another thing altogether because this is in an atmosphere where males are out looking for males and in general males are more loutish in copulation, thus reinforcing each other in their promiscuity, though of course one would still have to distinguish this statistical average from the average gay male couple who are self-selected to actually go to the trouble of getting a child to adopt.

Zoe
Zoe
2022 years ago

Got what you were after, Ken?

Very provocative, CL. My first thought also occurred to Jason – do you know any lesbian families?

wbb
wbb
2022 years ago

Ken may be dog whistling, but CL is yelling “here boy” at the top of his lungs.

wbb
wbb
2022 years ago

Snap, Zoe

wbb
wbb
2022 years ago

God’s truth, we had a lesbian mother in our ante-natal class. Unfortunately, I don’t recall now whether she had hairy legs. I do know that my wife does, but. Oh, well.

Kim
Kim
2022 years ago

a bit of dog whistling Troppo style here, methinks. what’s the need for this? –

“After all they could always resort to self-help remedies, with the aid of an obliging bloke, an empty vegemite jar and a turkey-basting brush. Or even, God forbid, make the supreme sacrifice after a liberal application of Bailey’s Irish Cream to stifle the revulsion”

the rest of the post is a reasonable statement of opinion supported by some analysis.

but the opening and the bit I’ve quoted suggests that the post is just designed to provoke a rerun of the last Troppo culture wars.

I could write the script for the comments thread in advance. observa comes along with his down home style offensive analogies, Rob says the Left hasn’t owned up to its terrible crimes and we must all beat our breasts about Stalinism, Rafe talks about Popper, “lefties” make some reasoned arguments, a few homophobic comments get tossed in, everyone gets upset, rationality returns, Rob and Sophie, who are unable to sustain their arguments under reasonable criticism start ranting about burning witches.

is this the new standard of Troppo centrism? Don writes an interesting post below which attracts no comments but I bet this one gets flooded by the usual RWDB suspects after midnight. deliberate provocation eclipses reasoned debate?

Jason said all that needs to be said:

“If the State is going to be in the business of providing fertility treatments, ostensibly for the purpose of helping people who have problems conceiving without those treatments, then it should be available to all who apply for such treatment and meet that criteria for whatever reason.”

I wonder how many non-RWDB readers Troppo has left. have a read of some of the posts on other blogs that have commented on this blog recently. I suspect soon that all you’re going to get, Ken, is an RWDB echo chamber. that’s sad, I think, because this used to be a rather good humoured place where people actually talked to each other.

Jason Soon
Jason Soon
2022 years ago

incidentally before I get reprimanded I should preemptively clarify that ‘untermenschen’ probably wasn’t the wisest term for me to use given its unfortunate connotations – I’ve been reading too much Nietzsche and his vocab has a way of seeping into your own. CL pissed me off big time and when I lose my temper, up comes the Nietzschesque vitriol. I was obviously speaking of untermenschen in a cultural/sociological sense, not genetically, or else I wouldn’t even have bothered talking about adoption (and I did say ‘hypothetically’ rather than actually advocating such massive social engineering).

C.L.
2022 years ago

That was easy.

Three points: 1) I’m seriously opposed to IVF in such situations and make no apology for that; 2) the provocation in my comment was intentional theatre offered in response to Ken’s invitation; 3) the po-mo and literary experts which abound here abouts should recognise a non-orthodox send-up of this blog’s much touted ‘deep civility’ when they see it.

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

“For those who have eyes to see”, C.L.

darkie
darkie
2022 years ago

speaking as a lesbian [with non-hairy legs]who has undergone IVF (unsuccessfully) and who is now one of the two damn good and proud mothers of a spectacularly beautiful boy, i say fuck you all. no apologies, no arguments. our lives are our lives and if we want to have babies, we will.
by the way, turkey basters are so american 70s – a 5ml syringe is the thing.

Georg
2022 years ago

Ok, Ken, you’ve whistled and we’ve all rolled up. My partner and I are sitting here on the lounge, laptops on our knees, ready to bang out a comment. As one of the resident lesbian mothers of the blogosphere I guess I better put my two cents in. I managed to stay out of the gay/school stuff but I guess my time has come.

Firstly, and of course you’ll all find it rather predictable, but I think anyone who wants to have access to IVF should be allowed to have such access. You all knew I would say that though didn’t you?

I find these stories rear their heads every couple of months and we get the usual banging on about fatherless children, hairy-legged lesbians and turkey basters. (By the way, have you seen a turkey baster? No one uses those things, I think they are a figment of straight men’s imagination). The bottom line is that women like me are going to have kids no matter what people think or say or whether we have access to IVF. (For the record I did not use IVF). It has got well past the stage where women are going to say, well, if it’s against the law, then I better not do it. It’s about much more than simply wanting to procreate. It’s about families and love. The focus for people like me is making sure our children grow up in a loving environment. I am past worrying about what other people think of me as a mother. I really can not be bothered anymore and I said so many months ago on Psephite.

Access to IVF is about rights and as has already been pointed out on this thread, a decision for lesbian access to IVF has already been made. The test will be whether Howard et al decide to push their anti-gay agenda further or whether the wedge of the election will remain so.

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

More power to you, Georg. I couldn’t agree more.

Kim
Kim
2022 years ago

“speaking as a lesbian [with non-hairy legs]who has undergone IVF (unsuccessfully) and who is now one of the two damn good and proud mothers of a spectacularly beautiful boy, i say fuck you all. no apologies, no arguments. our lives are our lives and if we want to have babies, we will.”

took the words right out of my mouth, darkie. as a lesbian who’d like to have kids, I’ll repeat what I said on the earlier thread “we’re here, we’re queer, get over it”.

what’s the go, Ken? is Troppo aiming to eclipse Tim Blair or just settle in as the home of grumpy white middle class straight folks.

you knew this thread would probably provoke homophobia and that’s why you put it up – “deep civility” = provocation these days.

I await with baited breath yr next homily on civility and centrism and their virtues.

Scott Wickstein
2022 years ago

Having just dodged a cyclone, I suspect Ken’s appetite for hot air at high velocity is behind this post.

What I find hilarious is the way that people who will defend the right of people to run their own sexuality and family as they see fit will adapt exactly opposite positions when it comes to people’s money (and vice versa)

As a genuine Liberal, as opposed to those crusty old Tories in Canberra, I have absolutely no problem with IVF being available to whoever wants to use it. Straight families, hairy-legged lesbians, or (God forbid) even clean-shaven lesbians that are willing to pay for it should have access to medical technology.

I just find it funny that the people that scream the most about ‘freedom’ on this issue usually have radically opposed views on economic matters.

Tax Cuts and IVF for all!

Georg
2022 years ago

I guess that what’s so wonderful about being human Scott: our many contradictions. We all have them though we may not want to admit it. I mean, I agree with the Queer Penguin, what’s with right-wing gay men?

(Sorry, I would give you a link to that but I am not sure it will work in the comments).

C.L.
2022 years ago

More hilarious is a lesbian rights advocate who – when the cape goes on – becomes a superman apostle who loathes “sub humans.”

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

I think it’s interesting that people respond and debate even when a post is so nakedly manipulative/provocative. I half thought this one would be completely ignored (as it probably deserved to be – although my main theme, if not the tone, is a completely sincere expression of my views).

And I also think it’s sad that some are so rigid that they can’t tolerate an opinion that they actually agree with unless it treats the subject with duly approved party-line politically-correct humourless solemnity. Sex, whatever your persuasion, should never be taken too seriously.

I’d rather have free expression of conflicting opinions, however heated (within reason), than the sort of groupthink that one finds on both RWDB blogs and, although to a lesser extent, those of a more purist left persuasion. It certainly gets repetitive and predictable on occasion, but at least you get to realise that there’s more than one way to look at an issue. And however much you may disagree with them, people like CL and Rob are eloquent, powerful proponents of their respective points of view. Even EP’s mad, self-conscious obsessions are frequently amusing if you can manage to engage the humour button momentarily.

You’re entirely welcome to read and comment at Troppo, Kim, or not as you see fit. But I do find it strange that you don’t seem to recognise that quite a few of Don’s posts, and even some of Mark’s, are calculatedly provocative in their own rather gentler way. And Chris Sheil is/was one of the most aggressively provocative bloggers I’ve ever read. It’s just that their views are probably a closer fit for your own, so you naturally see them as just “interesting”, moderate and self-evidently correct.

Finally, I sometimes deliberately play around with blog personas, including cultivating a crass, larrikin persona (although some would say I don’t have to try too hard). Again, no-one’s requiring you to like the style. Feel free to click elsewhere. That’s the good thing about a group blog with several different authorial voices. You can read the ones you like and ignore those that give you the shits.

Scott Wickstein
2022 years ago

Ken, they can’t click elsewhere. They are hooked. Troppo is like the Hotel California.

Rob
Rob
2022 years ago

Well, I think your post certainly elicited ‘the expected polarised Pavlovian reaction’, Ken.

For what it’s worth, which is probably nothing, and without having any strong views on the subject, I agree with Francis Xavier Holden on this one.

Tiny Tyrant
2022 years ago

CL,

point 1: your reason?

Evil Pundit
2022 years ago

As far as I’m concerned, lesbians can have IVF rights when men get abortion rights.

What’s next? Government-funded surrogate mothers for gay men who want a child?

jen
jen
2022 years ago

Well you have done all your chores and served me with a good humour all day so I guess you entitled to gratuitous play in a public place. I guess I learned that Australia is a pretty fair place to live if you want to make a baby. The NT has it’s head in the sand, but then we didn’t even want to be a state, and amoebas are made fairly welcome. I feel like eyeore and am desperate for Desperate Housewives.

C.L.
2022 years ago

Tiny Tyrant: See point 2. Concentrate.

darkie
darkie
2022 years ago

whatever CL is, ken, he sure ain’t eloquent. i do thank him, however, for reminding me of that keating line. now keating is [both foul-mouthed and]eloquent…

darkie
darkie
2022 years ago

just one more thing. what’s all this hairy legged lesbian stuff? i share an office with a hairy-legged straight woman. you blokes are so 70s. you don’t have a clue what goes on in the real world.

jen
jen
2022 years ago

It’s the ad I I just remembered what I was wanting to tell y’all. Ken Parish will come out tonight. The man is a raving lunar lesbian with hairy legs, really furry pits, 6 babies to 4 different sperm donors. He’s currently facing 2 charges of sperm theft and one count of unlawful posession (alleges he found the sperm on a toilet seat). And in this post is hoping to shore up support. Good luck mate.

Evil Pundit
2022 years ago

Sperm theft. I knew it!

James Farrell
James Farrell
2022 years ago

A hypothetical, Ken.

Suppose you were going deaf but the process could be reversed if you had sex with a man four times. An alternative would be surgery at a cost of $3,920. Should Medicare pay for the surgery?

Georg
2022 years ago

Sperm theft? Well, they shouldn’t have left it lying around unsecured should they Ken?

darkie
darkie
2022 years ago

james farrell, you’re wonderful. i want some of your sperm.

C.L.
2022 years ago

Darkie, stop being so bloody hysterical and read what’s being written. Sense of humour and all that. I introduced the “hairy-legged” bit – as I said, for the purposes of theatrical mischief-making. Comprende?

Ken makes a valid point. We shop around a bit for our provocations don’t we?

Great and tolerant analogy James: childlessness as defect. Very medieval.

Robert
2022 years ago

Evil Pundit, as soon as men are physically capable of falling pregnant, I will support their right to an abortion.

Warbo
Warbo
2022 years ago

“Evil Pundit, as soon as men are physically capable of falling pregnant, I will support their right to an abortion.”

Knowing Evil, he’s probably trying, just to piss off the feminists.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

BTW the “turkey basting” passage actually has a (slightly) serious point as well. As with abortion, it isn’t possible for the law to stop people impregnating themselves by a variety of methods. With abortion, of course, the potential effects of a backyard job are much more serious and even fatal. The worst likely outcome of DIY artificial insemination is a certain loss of dignity (and in private, who cares?).

So this is an area where the law simply has no place, even if you believe that abortion and artificial insemination are both morally wrong. IVF and donor insemination programs should therefore be equally available to all on utilitarian grounds. The same rationale applies to euthanasia and homosexuality.

Indeed, and coming full circle, way back in the late 1950s, the Wolfenden Committee in the UK recommended legalisation of homosexuality on precisely this rationale:

“The rationale for the committee’s recommendation to decriminalize homosexuality was more philosophical than compassionate, though it did note the suffering that the current law brought upon homosexuals, and it included a number of heart-wrenching case histories culled from police reports and court cases. The committee condemned homosexuality as immoral and destructive to individuals, but concluded that outlawing homosexuality impinged on civil liberties and that private morality or immorality should not be “the law’s business.”

Without condoning homosexual acts, the committee found that, when committed in private among consenting adults, they did not fall within the law’s purview. The function of the law, the committee wrote, “is to preserve public order and decency, to protect the citizen from what is offensive or injurious, and to provide sufficient safeguards against exploitation and corruption of others, particularly those who are specially vulnerable. . . . It is not, in our view, the function of the law to intervene in the private life of citizens, or to seek to enforce any particular pattern of behaviour, further than is necessary to carry out the purposes we have outlined.” “

darkie
darkie
2022 years ago

CL, you’re not thinking things through. in these modern times, things like corneal transplants can make a blind man or a hairy-legged lesbian see again, and cochlear implants can make deaf people hear. if you were deaf or blind, and could be easily treated, you might well decide to. there was no choice in medieval times. these days, smooth-legged lesbians and hairy-legged straight women can have their reproductive systems fine-tuned if needed.

jen
jen
2022 years ago

er … hem that previous post. From Ken Parish the legal academic…. As opposed to Ken Parish the randy middle aged homophobe, or Ken Parish the hirsute lesbian, or Ken Parish the put upon dear little armadillo that everyone keeps running over. Are there any more?

darkie
darkie
2022 years ago

definitely a rather thinly disguised randy middle-aged homophobe, jen. there’s a lot of it about.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Actually, I have a phobia against people who are stupid, narrow-minded, humourless and rigid, irrespective of their sexuality. There’s quite a lot of that about on this thread too. That’s not even shallowly civil, and it isn’t meant to be.

Evil Pundit
2022 years ago

“Evil Pundit, as soon as men are physically capable of falling pregnant, I will support their right to an abortion.”

I hope you’ll also support their right to be impregnated by IVF.

Robert
2022 years ago

Sure, why not. Bend over while I prepare the turkey baster.

Kim
Kim
2022 years ago

I take yr point, Ken, but I hope in turn you’ll think about mine. Yr the person who celebrates “deep civility” and centrism, not Chris Sheil, who in fact criticised the coherence of that position a number of times.

oh, and I agree that EP’s funny. I think I’m close to perfecting my Swedish-loving, femonazi, leftist, and generally nefarious plan to steal his sperm. I want to have his babies. soooo much. anyway, I’ll let you in on the secret just after I’ve finished burning a witch or two. hang, on some of my best friends are… etc etc

Kim
Kim
2022 years ago

“That’s the good thing about a group blog with several different authorial voices. You can read the ones you like and ignore those that give you the shits.”

one less to read after tonight.

you don’t give me the shits, Ken, well you do when you write stuff like this just to have a go. yr much better than that, is my view.

and I wish Wendy, Geoff, Stephen and Woodsy would post more (and I was looking forward to reading the continuation of jen’s adventures in postmodern rigour).

but you can’t always get what you want, as the song goes…

yobbo
2022 years ago

I agree with FX as well. IVF shouldn’t be paid for by medicare, it’s not a health issue. It’s more on a par with cosmetic surgery.

That said, anyone who has the benjamins should be able to do it if they like. As someone has already said, it’s quite legal for lesbians to conceive the old fashioned way if they’re so inclined, IVF just helps those who cant or don’t want to do it that way.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

I also agree with FX i.e. no-one should get a Medicare refund irrespective of sexuality. But if there’s any form of subsidy it should apply to all too.

Dave Ricardo
Dave Ricardo
2022 years ago

“Disgraceful abuse of the human rights of the unborn children”

I presume, C.L., that since on your reckoning these two women will be abusing the human rights of their two children, you’ll be lobbying the Territory welfare authorities to have them removed from their care, and raised in some Catholic orphanage (“Whaddya mean you didn’t say your Hail Marys?!! Whack!”), which would me much better.

Mind you, ‘unborn children’ is an oxymoron to begin with. It makes as much sense as ‘living corpse’.