Skip to main content

tv   Religion Ethics Newsweekly  PBS  October 2, 2011 10:30am-11:00am EDT

10:30 am
coming up, catholic charities of illinois refusings to accept same-sex couples for adoption. they recognize civil unions and wants to withdraw such funning for such placements. impoverished women pay a lot of money to be surrogate mothers. it's a bargain for foreigners. the campaign to provide kosher restaurants with the seal of approval provided they treat their employees fairly.
10:31 am
major funding for religion and ethics news weekly is provided by the lily endowment, a private family foundation dedicated to its founders's interest in religion, community development and education. additional funding also provided by mutual of america. designing customized individual and group retirement products. that's why we are your retirement company. the estate of william j carter and the jane henson foundation and the corporation for public broadcasting. welcome. i'm sitting in for bob agger nethy. thank you for joining us. a federal judge upheld most of alabama's controversial immigration law. they ruled police officers can be required to check the immigration status of anyone they suspect is in the country illegally. public schools must check the status of students. the part of the law opposed most vigorously by many religion
10:32 am
groups was struck down. christian clergy outlawed transporting or harboring illegal immigrants and prevented them from minstering to certain people. the judge's decision is expected to be appealed by both sides. an american-born radical preacher was killed in yemen by an air strike this week. officials considered him a major terror threat to the united states. his anti-american sermons inspired several plots against the u.s. ethicists and religion voices raised questions about whether the killing violated law or denied his right to due process. on our website we have a segment on the ethical issues raised by the use of drones. the council considered the palestinian request for independent state. it's expected to be weeks before the council votes on the issue. christian and muslim organizations have urged the un to recognize the palestinian
10:33 am
state and other christian and several jewish groups continue to oppose the effort. after more than a year of delay and several calls from high profile religious leaders, the government reenstated a residency for the anglican bishop of jerusalem. plauz he is a palestinian, they need the the permit to remain in east jerusalem. "to review his visa was denied amid questions about a land sale israeli officials never lodged charges. recent executions in the united states have reignited the debate over the death penalty. this week more than 250 catholic scholars and theologians abolish capital punishment. the letter referred to earlier statements from the catholic bishops and pope john paul ii against the death penalty. this week in a statement for the annual respect life month, the
10:34 am
bishops did not include a mention of capital punishment. another enduring controvercy we catholic teaching has been the definition of family. in the church, it remains that married union of one man and one woman. however many states have legalized same-sex marriages or at least civil unions. it's more than an academic discussion because church-based agencies are providers of many publicly funded social services. bob farr reports from chicago. >> what are number is this? >> six! >> good job! >> thousands of children in illinois have been helped by catholic charities. joliet, the agency run this head start program. it also shelters and nourishes children in need. 15,000 in the state's foster care program, the agency takes care of more than 2,000. now as director glen van currena knows, catholic charities is in
10:35 am
a bitter legal dispute because when it comes to fostering or adopting children, they will take married and single people, but not same-sex or unmarried couples. >> the idea between a man and a woman and marriage is a sacred bound. cohabitating gay or straight is not sacred. it's not stable. >> it's in violation of church doctrine. >> right. >> we will continue to say that children are best raised with a loving home and a mother and a father. we are able to articulate it and it's the truth. that's what the church is about. trying to speak the truth to these very sometimes controversial social questions.
10:36 am
>> last year, illinois enacted a law recognizing same-sex unions. couples like michelle and karin have the right to foster or adopt children. >> the church can decide whether or not they want to marry a couple. that's a church religious right. but the state has created ways for families to come together. they said that you can come together through adoption and it doesn't matter what that family constellation looks like. are you fit to be a parent? >> is it angry? >> is it doesn't make me feel second rate. because i'm not. it does make me angry, yes. >> okay. david is going to be your turn. >> michelle and karin have adopted three children. david, joseph, and emma. emma was adopted through a religious agency, the two women felt they had to hide their true relationship. >> they may say no, you can't
10:37 am
have this baby. she came right from the hospital home with us. >> catholic charities said it's a matter of religious freedom and civil law and church doctrine collide, doctrine takes precedence and gives us a right to discriminate. bob gilligan is with the conference of illinois, the voice of the catholic church in the state. >> when are it comes to gay couples, they are excluded s. that not discrimination. >> there is a form of discrimination there, sure. we don't accept the application of same-sex or unmarried couples. >> the state is in the process of cutting off the nearly $4 million they funnel because discrimination against ga or unmarried couples who want foster children is illegal and short-sided. kendall is with the illinois department of children and family services. >> i grew up in a family that took in foster children and have
10:38 am
been a foster and adoptive parent myself. if i learned anything, it's that what helps a child succeed is that unconditional love and guidance and in both my experience and in the researched literature that has been produced on this issue, there is no indication that sexuality, sexual orientation has anything to do with parenting. >> child advocate insists that catholic charities's policy harms children. >> we need everybody. it's hard enough to provide good homes for abused and neglected children without imposing additional discrimination on the pool of foster parents. >> not one example that they can show that a child had not been placed in a home. >> they are not excluded. there is 47 other child welfare agencies in the state. there is many other agencies that they can go to. >> it's not okay to say that
10:39 am
people like us if we lived in a part of southern illinois or peoria that you can go to another agencies. catholic charities is the only one out there. >> despite the beliefs on each side, the legal situation is anything but clear cut. catholic charities argue that is the illinois law on religious freedom permits the agency to discriminate. >> the title of the bill is the illinois r freedom protection and civil unions act? where is the freedom and the protection of religious entities? it's in the bill itself. there is a section in there that says that the bill should not infringe on religious practice and ministry. >> every faith-based organization in the state of illinois has the full capacity and the full right to pursue their religious freedom. the question is what happens when you are paid with taxpayer's money, state money to
10:40 am
provide state services. in those cases, we have to insist that those agencies comply with illinois law. >> catholic charities have placed thousands of children in homes over 50 years and 80% of the foster care budget comes from the state. even if it loses that money, catholic charities will continue with adoption and foster care. >> it's part of our mission and part of our teaching. it's part of what we do as catholics. we have to do it in honoring our tenants and faith that call us to do this. if we can't do it in a faith-filled mission, we can't do it. we are using public money. we will do it on our own terms. >> we don't want to see them leave this work, but if that is what's going to happen, illinois child welfare system that they helped build is more than capable of taking on this transition. there other agencies bound by the exact same regulations that
10:41 am
catholic charities is that are ready to take on the work. >> gay adoptive parents think that history is on their side. eventually catholic charities's policy of exclusion will go the way of earlier social practices. like the 1950s when black americans were denied public accommodations. >> it harkens back to saying you can't eat in this lunch counter. eat at one down the street. we know that in every other aspect that's not right. that's not legal. it's not sanctioned in this country. why is it still allowed or could it be allowed in adoption? this is an abuse of what they perceive as their religious freedom. >> there were agencies 30 or 20 years ago that didn't want to place children in homes of interracial couples. the world is changing. >> the issue in illinois focused on gay couples comes down to this. when anti-discrimination laws
10:42 am
and church doctrine clash, which should prevail? >> this is an emerging colonel flikt in our society. as you enact discrimination laws to what degree does a religious institution have to comply with it. we do a lot of things. is the catholic church in compliance with the laws of the state if we don't do certain things against our conscious? good question. >> as the definition of the modern family continues to change, will church doctrine also have to change? for religion and ethics news weekly, this is bob fall in chicago. i recently visited a small town in western india to attend an unusual baby shower. there were gifts and a hindu priest put blessings on expectant mothers. a room full. more unusual, none were carrying their own biological children. to the growing list of
10:43 am
industries outsourcing to industry, add surrogate mothering. minutes after delivering a slightly premature infant by c-section, the doctor was back in her office and on the phone to the parents. >> congratulations. it's a baby girl. are you in mumbai right now? >> they were en route from england and didn't reach the town in india in time to watch a surrogate mother give birth to their child. >> we have taken a picture. >> the doctor delivered 400 surrogate babies since 2004. her clinic implants embryos in surrogates she recruits and pays around $7,000 for a pregnancy carried to term. biological parents come from across india and around the world. this woman came from colorado to
10:44 am
pick up her baby girl namedy is renity born four weeks premature, but after a week in intensive care, she was ready to be discharged. y is renity's 46-year-old mother traveled with her 9-year-old son and tried unsuccessfully to conceive. sur gassy was her last hope and india her first choice. the cost is $10 to $15,000 and a fraction of what it is in the united states. in america she added sur gassy contracts are not always air-tight. >> you can sign a hundred documents. it doesn't matter. if that surrogate changes her mind, she can sue you for that child. often times she will win. coming here to india, these women don't want my child. it's very cut and dry.
10:45 am
they do not want my child. they want my money. that is just fine with me. >> it's not fine with everyone. >> the contracts usually written to be blunt protect the wealthy people who are commissioning the baby. if the woman suffers an injury, if the woman has a health problem due to childbirth or if there is a long-term chronic condition, then what? >> university of pennsylvania ethicist kaplan worries the relationship is lopsided between the women and couples who commission them to have their children. for example, surrogates in india are routinely implanted with up to five embryos to improve the chances of a pregnancy. in the u.s., clinics usually implant no more than two, sometimes three. >> why would you use three, four, or five? you don't want the couple to have to come back. it's expensive, even for a rich
10:46 am
person. you want to maximize the chances even if it compromises the interest of the babies. >> the doctor concedes that implanting five embryos heightens the risk for infants and mother and said she is lowering the number to three or four, but the downside is a lower pregnancy success rate. when multiple embryos develop into viable pregnancies, she does a selective reduction, aside from religious concerns, it could present medical risks to the surviving fetuses. >> some who say from the beginning that they have less embryos because we are not for reduction. in those cases we definitely never transfer more than two. there parent who is do not have an objection to this and they don't get more than two. >> drt insists her facility protects the interest of surrogates as much as the
10:47 am
clients of her commercial program and the infants she delivers. >> we do a lot of psychological counseling to the surrogate and the family before they we recruit them and what they will have to undergo. if she had any complications in her previous pregnancy, we will ask her not to be a surrogate. the same can repeat. to make it sure and safe for her. >> the moment the pregnancies are confirmed, surrogates are required to move into this home run by the doctor. they are offered skills training and tailoring, but mostly it's a quiet sedentary life. women who spend nine months here have all experienced childbirth with their own biological children as a prerequisite for becoming a surrogate. very few have experienced any prenatal care. that's in sharp contrast to the pampering they get here with meals provide and medical attention should they need it
10:48 am
around the clock. the doctor acknowledges the irony and said it's part of a thorough surveillance to ensure smooth pregnancies for surrogate and parent sakes. >> we have a specialist who checks all the surrogates every three weeks. we have been able to detect minor malformations which we inform the couple that this can be treated post delivery without impact on the baby. we have had patients where the surrogate had babies with down syndrome which was detected and confirmed and we aborted the babies after the consent of the couple. >> well in advance, they are consulted on decisions like pregnancy termination. parents must accept their babies once born whether healthy or not. surrogates we spoke to talked about building a new home and using their money for their children's education. the money, $7,000 to $8,000
10:49 am
would take them decades to earn. most say they were happy to help infertile couples. the woman who had this baby admitted to some sorrow at the separation. >> you can't help it when you carry a baby for nine months. i would like to see how she does in the future. >> i have her address. i can get ahold of her. i hopefully will be able to maintain some kind of a relationship with her. >> we caught up with the mother in mumbai, an hour's flight from the clinic. she and her son were holed up in a hotel, a wading dna test results and documents to satisfy the indian and u.s. governments that the infant could leave the country. >> am i living happily ever after now? i hope so. i hope i can get her home and i hope that she is a happy healthy little baby.
10:50 am
>> for every sur gassy story, india has voluntary guidelines and it's not clear if future laws would be enforced and standards vary widely. the doctor said she only serves infertile patients and some offer surrogates to healthy parents who for career or convenience want to avoid pregnancy. the ethicist worries about where all this is leading. >> we're may have situations where people say as genetic knowledge improve, i'm not infertile, but i want to avoid traits or properties and that day is coming. that's important as we have sur gassiy as an international activity. that is something that a handful of people use who suffer from infertili infertility. tomorrow can be what more people are interested in because they have a more ugenic or
10:51 am
perfectionist interest in making their children. >> for her part, the doctor plans a major expansion of the one-stop sur gassy shop, a leader in a half billion dollar industry. she makes no apologies for making a lucrative living and insists she, the surrogates and the new parents come out winners. in other news, kenyan conservationists died of cancer at the age of 71. she was the first african woman to win the nobel peace price in 2004 to empower women to work for the environment and social justice. on our calendar, jews began a celebration of the high holy days and ending with yom kippur. during this prior and repentancey and have a story
10:52 am
rooted in thor toa into practice. it was founded after federal agents raided the largest kosher meat packaging plant and discovered widespread mistreatment of workers. the group means awaken to justice and transparency in the kosher industry and they started with restaurants. >> what are became clear to me was that we had to take responsibility. not a-time act like a boycott. something systemic that was ethical transparency. >> we translate as an ethical seal and initiative that we launched inay of 2009. we don't charge anything for this seal. we have a licensing agreement which they sign. the criteria for our certification is first and foremost, we want to make sure that people get at least minimum wage and want to make sure that
10:53 am
overtime is given. then we want to make sure that people are respected and work is dignified. >> when we started here, we said let's strive for the ideals. we want health care and animal treatment and environmental standards and fair trade. we want worker's comp. all these issues and went to restaurants and fining workers getting paid $2 an hour and $3 an hour. ridiculous. we have to meet law. >> one of the really exciting things about this program is that it's a grass roots program. the people go into the restaurants and are volunteers. college students and graduates and young professionals who care deeply about this mission and about this project. every two or three months or so, we have a training. >> there is nothing easy about the work we are trying to engage in. we are sending young volunteers to ask owners to open their books and speak with workers about very sensitive issues.
10:54 am
>> we take them aside so that we create a safe space away from management and we ask them questions to verify what the payroll says. >> war kinds of things do you do here? >> the driving. >> how many hours have you worked? what is your pay? what's it like to work here? do you feel harassed? the feedback we receive keep it anonymous. we have an anonymous tip line. >> we're approached locations and initially didn't meet standards. we focus and encouraged them and were able to come back and sign them on. >> sitting in a dark basement with a worker who paints black and white cookies. black, white, black, white. all day, every day and seeing his eyes tear up when for the first time a customer was concern for his welfare. that rocked me to show somebody
10:55 am
else that we are present for them. we are an advocate for them. >> we see this as a partnership. between the workers and the community and restaurant owners. >> i felt as a good person, someone who believed in doing the right thing. it's important to set the standard. >> we have actually done numerous phone calls and comments who come in to let them know we are supporting us because we have this seal. >> this is a new wave of activism through what one eats. what we eat and what we buy is a vote of confidence in our highest values. >> they certified over 90 eating establishments in 13 states and canada. that's our program for now. you can follow us on twitter and facebook, find us on you tube and watch us any time, anywhere on smart phones and iphone. there is much more on the website including more about the jewish high holy days and you can comment on all of the
10:56 am
stories and share them. audio and video podcasts are also available. join us at as we leave you, scenes from the blessing of the animals at washington's national cathedral on the feast of st. francis, october 4th. >> i'm sure you are taking good care of your owners. god bless you. >> thank you. . >> major funding for religion and ethics news weekly is provided by the lily endowment, an indianapolis private family foundation dedicated to its founder's interest in religion and community development and education. additional funding also provided by mutual of america designing customized and group retirement products. we are your retirement company. the estate of william j. carter and the jane henson foundation and the corporation for public broadcasting.
10:57 am
10:58 am
10:59 am


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on