Saturday, February 16, 2013

A Socialist opposes homosexual adoption

Taubira's Law, having passed in the National Assembly, is now being debated in the Senate. It is easy to forget that the law is still not entirely a fait accompli. More steps are needed, and there is the Ethics Council that will examine the issue as a result of a massive response to a petition that is still being signed by opponents of the law. And another Manif pour Tous demonstration is set for March 24.

Among those opposing the extensions of the law is writer and philosopher Sylviane Agacinski, wife of the former Socialist prime minister Lionel Jospin. While she approves of homosexual marriage, she strongly disapproves of adoption and the consequences of medically assisted procreation and surrogate mothers. Rue 89 reports:

(…) She was preceded in the Senate debate, by a sociologist, an anthropologist, two child psychiatrists, representatives from eight associations, six representatives from religions, three psychoanalysts, four adoption professionals, one philosopher. She was followed by four lawyers, government ministers, the Defender of rights, etc…

A strange moment, when only a handful of senators were present, each  of them already with a clear position on the question. They were there, it seems, for the sole purpose of being able to say later that everybody had been heard.

She begins to read the remarks she has prepared. For half an hour she explains her misgivings. Marriage to recognize love between homosexuals, yes. Filiation, no. Because "filiation symbolizes the interdependence of the the sexes." Because "paternity is never the masculine equivalent of maternity, nor is the reverse". Because the system of parenthood is "neither a logical nor a mathematical model" but "a qualitative biological model: a man and a woman, two categories that are not interchangeable" - moreover, that is "the only reason why parents are two."

Sylviane Agacinski explains that the bill she is combating "separates maternity from child-birth" and creates a "double rule of filiation": "one that would continue to be based on procreation, the other that would rest essentially on the will ('volonté')."

She feels that this parenthood built on will is itself inspired by two models: the traditional parent (the mother who gives birth and the father who recognizes the child) and the notion of "an intentional parent", a notion "constructed in California on the occasion of a decision tied to surrogate motherhood."

She pauses, and says emphatically:

"This notion therefore did not precede medically assisted procreation or surrogate motherhood, but is instead a consequence: we are already caught in this biotechnological way of thinking."

With every sentence, she seems to be overtaken by a desire to plead on a grand scale, but then remembers that, in fact, "the die is cast." So she tries to save what is still savable. And encourages the senators to limit the adoption of children of an adult by his partner "to simple and not plenary adoption": in the event of a separation, "it isn't certain that he will keep the same bond with the child."

Note: The distinction rests mainly on the attachment of the child to his natural parents (simple) versus the complete breaking of bonds with the original family (plenary). See English-language Wikipedia.

She has finished. Now the questions. Jean-Pierre Michel, one of the fathers of the Pacs (civil union), reveals his fantasy of the moment:

"Maternity is already separated from child-birth. There are already experiments with artificial maternity, outside the human body…"

Sylviane Agacinski is stunned. She quotes from The Artificial Uterus, by biologist Henri Atlan who explains that gestation is "a complex exchange between the mother and the embryo", that it does not involve only her uterus, but also her brain, her nervous system, her entire body.

"An embryo placed in an artificial environment can never develop beyond a few days or a few weeks."

Note: As I write that and think about what it really means, I cringe in horror at the cold-bloodedness of human nature.

(…) Jean-Pierre Michel continues:

"But if the legislature does nothing, we will have even more outrageous realities. We must legislate on surrogate motherhood. We already see mothers carrying their daughter's child."

Smiling in her self-control, Agacinski objects that it is very rare. She mentions a documentary that tells the story of a woman who was carrying her sister's child:

"To legislate on this is to legitimize it. It places sisters in general in a position to be legally the ones who are going to have to say yes or no to their sister's demand for a child. This is unbelievable! Unbelievable!"

Does Sylviane Agacinski realize that at that moment she is face to face with two fanatical views of the law?

Those who believe in its omnipotence, in its capacity to fashion the world. And those who, though they deny it, see the lawmaker as a notary of social evolution…

The frivolity of the questions that follow confirms the role-playing. Jean-Pierre Michel gathers his papers. On the agenda it's time for a break.

In the photo above she is seen with François Hollande last June.

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At February 17, 2013 7:20 AM, Anonymous Daquin said...

Unusual example of a socialist acknowledging biology.

Note that Agacinski is also a prominent advocate of "parity", well... selective parity, in lists of election candidates.

More recently, a regulation has been passed in France in 2011 (i.e. under Sarkozy) obliging all boards of directors (of private companies, yes) to gradually have 40% women !!
You bet...

At February 17, 2013 1:29 PM, Blogger tiberge said...

@ daquin,

I remember Sarkozy's law. Parity is a great injustice and a detriment to progress on all levels. I'm glad Agacinski came out against adoption, but it really is an exception to her other views. I suppose the idea of gay adoption was just a "bridge too far" even for her.


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