The Humanist Take on DEI and Embryo Personhood

In this episode we take a deep dive on diversity, equity, and inclusion better known by bigoted people as DEI then we look at how In vitro fertilization is causing some ironic responses from the anti-abortion crowd.

Episode 73: The Humanist Take on DEI and Embryo Personhood

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like the only one who didn’t belong? That’s the feeling DEI initiatives aim to eradicate, and today, we’re peeling back the layers of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, explaining its critical importance against a backdrop of legislative pushback here in Ohio. As universities come under fire, we debunk myths that paint DEI as a one-sided agenda. Within our humanist values, we argue for communities where everyone, irrespective of race or other identifiers, is welcomed without the barriers of special privileges.

In another thought-provoking segment, we tackle the complex controversy of the recent Alabama court case involving in vitro fertilization (IVF) and personhood. We point out that Ohio’s new Reproductive Rights Act draws sharp lines in the ethical sand concerning IVF. As religious convictions clash with reproductive technologies, we examine the precarious balance between faith and science. Furthermore, the conversation extends to the sensitive issue of parental and physician decision-making in children’s medical care, where we stand firm on the principle of minimal government intervention.

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New Ohio House higher education bill aims to protect academic freedom on college campuses
Cheat Sheet: What is DEI?
DEI: What It Is & How To Champion It In The Workplace
What is diversity, equity, and inclusion?

AL Supreme Court cites “wrath of a holy God” while claiming frozen embryos are “children”
Alabama’s Assault on IVF Is Even Worse Than It Sounds
Republicans Have No Effing Clue What To Do With The Alabama IVF Ruling
Ooof! Senator Big Brain Has Massive Brain Fart


Click Here to Read Full Transcript

00:02 – Voice Over (Announcement)
This is Glass City Humanist a show about humanism, humanist values, by a humanist. Here is your host, Douglas Berger

00:11 – Doug Berger (Host)
In this episode we take a deep dive on diversity, equity and inclusion, better known by bigoted people as DEI. Then we look at how in vitro fertilization is causing some ironic responses from the entire abortion crowd.

00:28 – Voice Over (Announcement)
Glass City Humanist is an outreach project of the secular humanists of western Lake Erie, building community through compassion and reason for a better tomorrow.

00:50 – Doug Berger (Host)
Okay, I wanted to talk a little bit about today, about an issue that is currently at the forefront of the Christian nationalist, religious conservative, political conservative nexus. Before they went after trans kids, before that CRT, book burning, book bannings, et cetera, et cetera. One of the things that they absolutely hate is what’s called DEI diversity, equity, inclusion. Here in Ohio, there’s a current state law under consideration that would prohibit universities in Ohio from having anything to do with DEI. You’re probably asking yourself but, doug, dei is a good thing. Diversity is good, equity is good, inclusion is good. Yes, they are good.

The conservatives have turned those three letters into a slur, like they did with CRT. I can promise you this that they really don’t know what DEI is. They assume that it is against white people. These are people that are really upset because they can’t use the N word anymore. It’s a simple fact, because it’s usually the old white people that are upset with DEI. What I wanted to do is I wanted to talk about what DEI is what it really is, so that maybe, if it comes up in conversation that you might know people that start spouting off about DEI. Oh, I hate that. Then you’d be better informed, because I’d rather have people better informed than hurting people. What I wanted to do first is I wanted to play a clip it’s a really short video from this YouTube channel called the Root. It’s an African American based YouTube channel and they talk about diversity, equity, inclusion and they call it a cheat sheet. They give a short definition of it. I’ll go ahead and play that and then we’ll come back and talk about it.

03:33 – The Root (Other)
Every industry these days is using the term DEI to explain why they are appointing diversity officers, carrying out diversity training and discussing ways to be more inclusive. But what really is DEI and why is it necessary? Dei is short for diversity, equity and inclusion. Here’s a breakdown Diversity is ensuring the representation of all identifiers across races, gender identities, sexual orientations, religions, political beliefs, socioeconomic statuses and more. Diversity is the fair treatment of all previously stated identifiers, making sure every person in the environment has the same opportunities, resources and support. Inclusion is making sure that the space is comfortable in welcoming to every type of person present. Everybody should feel respected and valued.

Host of the 2023 Golden Globe Awards. Gerard Carmichael included in his opening monologue that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the group of journalists that decide the nominees and the winners of the Golden Globes, didn’t have a single black journalist in the association until after George Floyd died. The last time there was a black member was in 2002. This means that the Golden Globes nominations and voting were missing out on black voices that could have contributed to helping black films and shows get nominated and win awards.

04:48 – The Root (Other)
There’s a myth that we aren’t innovative and that we don’t bring innovative solutions. We are the most creative people If you look at Google’s YouTube platform. Black creators use YouTube not just to innovate, it’s monetized. We also network there and we have built our businesses from entertainment to the arts to science and engineering using a highly creative platform.

05:16 – The Root (Other)
DEI is put in place to avoid these situations. It is implemented to make sure that, from the very beginning, all types of people get the chance to be in the room and make the decisions, like Google’s Chief Diversity Officer, melanie Parker. For more topics from our cheat sheet series, visit TheRootcom. I’m America Stilla.

05:35 – Doug Berger (Host)
Okay, once again, that was the Root and I’ll have a link to their channel up in the show notes so you can check it out. So they gave a pretty good summary of what DEI is, just so that in case you weren’t following along or maybe you had your you were looking away, maybe you went to the bathroom, but basically there are three components. There’s diversity the presence and participation of individuals with varying backgrounds and perspectives, including those who have been traditionally underrepresented. Equity is equal access to opportunities and fair, just and impartial treatment. And inclusion is a sense of belonging in an environment where all feel welcomed, accepted and respected. Now, as a humanist, I agree with these points 100%, and it’s really important to me that a lot of companies and public entities are putting this into action, that they’re trying to work on being more diverse, more equitable and more inclusive, because I think it’s very important, because when you have a people, when you have a community of people with all different experiences, all different life experiences, all different voices, you know that to have the best outcomes, to have a great community, you need to include everybody. You need to include white, cisgendered men, you need to include trans women, you need to include African American women. You need to include people from Central America. You know, wherever you can, you’ve got to do it.

Now, most people who are opposed to DEI believe that it is being racist towards white people, and that is not the case at all. It has nothing to do with it, because white is a race, so it would be included in diversity. What a lot of these people that are opposed DEI. What they’re really upset about is that white people are losing their special privileges. Then you have other people that are upset about DEI because they equate it with affirmative action, you know, and people who are bigoted towards affirmative action. They believe affirmative action gives people who are not qualified other people’s jobs who are qualified, which is not the case, and that’s definitely not how DEI works. Affirmative action says that in a pool of qualified candidates, the company would hire the candidate that best meets the need to be diverse. So if you have a pool of candidates where you have five men and three women qualified for the job and you want to increase the number of women in your workplace, then you would choose the best candidate from the group of women, from the group of three women. Dei is where you make sure you have policies and other processes in place that include all the different people in your company, and there have been dozens of studies that have shown that companies that have strong DEI objectives and use them do better and are more profitable. And if you have colleges or universities that have a strong DEI objectives, they tend to be better places. You know they are able to attract more and more students. And so why then, are right-wingers so opposed to DEI? And, like I said, most of the people that are opposed to DEI are white men, old white men, and they are afraid of losing their special place that they assume that they have because they’re old white men. You know that used to be the default. For example, if you are a business owner and you tend to hire people who are like yourself, you are not contributing to your company’s DEI objectives. So, basically, for equity in the workplace, what you wanna do is you wanna have equal opportunities, fair compensation and balanced training and educational opportunities.

I was just watching a documentary the other night on PBS about flight attendants and the history of flight attendants and how they struggled to one get rid of the sexism inherent in being a flight attendant and being able to then have better equity and better diversity and inclusion in the airline industry. Because when the flight attendant was originally conceived they were a nurse. They were used as nurses on flights because at the time people thought that they’d have medical challenges for people that were flying and this is when regular air transportation started taking off in the 30s and 40s. So they would have these women on board that were nurses, medically trained nurses, and that kind of just kind of bled into the history of the airline industry where you would have these nurses and they controlled everything about these women. They could only be a certain weight, they had to be a certain height, they couldn’t be married, they couldn’t have children, they couldn’t wear slacks, they had to wear skirts. They couldn’t wear hoes because that was a fire hazard, but they had to wear skirts and they were all women. Airlines did have a male flight attendant, but he was called a purser and usually the male pursers made more money.

So you know, this documentary I was watching on PBS was talking about the flight attendants getting unionized and getting collectively bargaining and some of their stories. So that is where DEI plays a part, where you have these stodgy, old white men who won’t let a woman who’s married and who may not weigh a particular certain amount and you discriminate against her, you know you’re hurting your company, especially if you’re doing it nowadays, in 2023, 24, 2024. So, being you know diversity, equity and inclusion is very important, and it’s something that we need to all fight in support of if we want to have a compassionate world to live in. You know, this isn’t negative. Dei is not negative. It’s only negative because the right wingers are against it, and I think that needs to change.

13:30 – Voice Over (Announcement)
For more information about the topics in this episode, including links used, please visit the episode page at GlassCityHumanistshow.

13:44 – Doug Berger (Host)
During the struggle to protect abortion rights here in Ohio, and one of the things that was used one of the arguments was used and is covered under what ended up being a state issue, one that protected reproductive rights here in Ohio was protecting people who decided to use in vitro fertilization, also known as IVF, and that’s a process of fertilization where an egg is combined with sperm, in vitro or in glass, and involves growing the embryo, deciding if it’s viable or not. Then it’s implanted back into a womb. It could either be the womb of the person that donated the egg or it could be another womb, like you donate it to somebody else, and this is a process that’s been going on for almost 50 years 40 some odd years since the late 70s. That is used for couples who cannot conceive. They cannot have children for one reason or another, and this is one of the techniques that has been used. It’s scientifically sound. It’s been used for decades. It’s very expensive and in many cases, insurance isn’t required to cover it, but a lot of insurance companies do. It’s still something that you know. You have to have the money to do it, and I know I’ve had friends and family members I’ve known who have gone through this process and they’ve had like GoFundMe pages to raise money to do it, because it’s thousands and thousands of dollars to go through this process.

And that was one of the things that, as I said, is covered under the New Reproductive Rights Act. And the reason being is because Christian nationalists and evangelical Christians and some Catholics are opposed to IVF. They are of the mind that you’re messing with God’s plan and if God had wanted you to have a baby, you would have a baby. And if you are not having a baby, there’s a reason why you’re not having a baby and God has decided that for you. And so if you’re using science against the will of God, that has to be stopped. And that’s why that was included in State Issue 1 was because that would be something that they probably would try to go after if they were able to ban abortion. If they weren’t able to ban abortion, they might go after it. And so, basically, this has happened, not in Ohio, but in Alabama.

There was an Alabama Supreme Court decision the week of the 20th February, the 20th, that said that embryos that are frozen, or IVF treatments, are children under Alabama law, and this happened on the 20th, I believe, and it was by a 7 to 2 vote of the Alabama Supreme Court and it involves an Alabama law called the Wrongful Death of a Minor Act. The act allows the parent of a deceased child to collect punitive damages against a party who causes the death of a minor child through negligence. And what had happened was that some plaintiffs in a court case had already conceived several children through IVF, and the way the process works is they collect many eggs, they fertilize many eggs, but they freeze the ones that they don’t use so that maybe in a future time they either use those eggs or maybe they’re donated to somebody else, but they’re kept on. They’re kept in cryogenic stasis for years. There was a report when I was reading up on this information that there was a baby that was born recently that had been an embryo frozen for 27 years. So, like I said, the science on this is pretty solid that we can freeze embryos and pretty much all the studies so far have shown that there’s no negative effects of doing so. Thank you.

But what had happened was at this fertility clinic that was in this hospital. A patient in the hospital had broken into the clinic through an Unsecured door that they didn’t know about at the time they had opened up the cryogenic freezer, taken some of the embryos out, and because they’re frozen with nitrogen you just can’t touch them with your bare hand. And they tried to do that and dropped it and it broke and damaged all the embryos that were in this little vial that was being frozen. And that’s what the plaintiffs then sued the hospital wrongful death of a minor and it went to Appeals court and the judge sided with the hospital, that that and said that Embryos that are frozen like that are not children and so they’re not covered under this law. But then the Alabama Supreme Court came back and said that the embryos qualified as children and it says the majority declared that the natural, ordinary, commonly understood meaning of the word child includes embryos which the opinion dubbed Extra-uneran children, children outside the uterus. Incredibly, the majority said that this was true. And here’s the clincher when the wrongful death of a minor act was passed in 1872 Now again, ivf didn’t exist as a viable scientific treatment for infertility until 1978 and this law wrongful death of a minor act was passed in 1872. And it said that’s because and this is their explanation the majority, according to the majority state lawmakers of the 1870s, believe that the unborn Qualified as full legal persons, no matter their physical location, that is, inside a biological uterus or a cryogenic nursery.

And it said that the holding has its own terrifying implications for IVF in Alabama. It means that a medical professional who inadvertently damages or destroys a microscopic embryo has maimed or killed a legal person and is on the hook for punitive damages that could run into the millions. And clinics simply cannot bear this crushing liability because because a lot of times, not all of the embryos are used. You know, sometimes the embryos are destroyed, either because they weren’t viable they weren’t because they grade them before they implant them, or Through some kind of process, medical process, in the freezing process. They don’t survive, and so what? What this does, then, is that Several. I think at least three fertility clinics in Alabama now have suspended IVF treatments.

The Attorney General for Alabama Claims that he would refuse to Prosecute any doctor or hospital that does IVF treatment under this law, but you know, we have to take his word for it, and I don’t think I wouldn’t trust it if I was a clinic. I wouldn’t trust his word for it. So how does this Come into play with with Humanism, for one thing, and in separation of church and state. Well, they had a judge who did a concurrence. Now the the, the majority decision was seven to two and they crowd.

They used a lot of legal terms to say that an embryo had the same right, should have the same rights as a child, a Baby that has been born, and so, in a concurrence, chief chief justice Tom Parker spelled out the implications. He said the people of Alabama have adopted the Theologically based view that life cannot be wrongly destroyed Without incurring the wrath of a holy god. As a result, parker continued, the courts have an affirmative, affirmative duty to protect quote the unborn, unquote including embryos. Any law that risks the deaths of these little people is constitutionally suspect. Courts may not engage in the business of carving out an exception for the people, in this case, small as they were. This reasoning, on its own terms, applies to criminal laws with the exact same force of civil laws, and it means, parker added, that even if the Alabama legislature wanted to legalize IVF, as it’s currently practiced, the state constitution would prohibit from doing so, because the aglombalmic constitution has a clause in it about the sanctity of life that protects the born and the unborn child.

So you’re talking theocracy right now they are making laws based on their religious beliefs. It’s not any different than what the Taliban did in Afghanistan. It doesn’t have anything different than what Ayatollah did in Iran. When you make laws based on your religious beliefs, you’re creating a theocracy, because it’s one thing to ignore scientists when they say you really should wear a mask to prevent disease. It’s quite another to say that embryos that can be frozen and survive are people too. With all of that and it’s like, as some of the commentary I’ve read has asked, well, the person that dropped these embryos can’t they be charged with murder? That’s an interesting question that needs to be answered, but they won’t answer it because all they want to do is they just want to stop messing with God’s plan and, however they do it, that’s how they’re going to do it. Now, one of the things you need to do also is understand how IVF actually is practiced.

Doctors retrieve eggs, they fertilize them with sperm, they create as many embryos as possible and then freeze them. The embryos are rated for quality. Higher quality embryos are thought and transferred into the uterus. Multiple embryos are often transferred during each cycle in the hopes that at least one will result in a live birth, and some couples they do this process multiple, multiple times, and this is the standard of care for IVF has been for decades.

The mainstream medical establishment universally agrees that this method is in the best interest of the patient. Now Chief Justice Parker says that that method is unconstitutional because it does not sufficiently protect embryos from being killed. Although the majority is subtler, it’s a clear implication of its opinion too. So Parker lays out his alternative about how you can still have IVF and not be killing embryos unnecessarily. And what he says is that doctors must create just one embryo at a time and each embryo, no matter how poor in quality, must be transferred. And only one embryo may be transferred at a time. And if the cycle fails, the whole process must start all over again. And it says that each cycle can cost up to $30,000. So Parker’s method would force patients the ones who can afford it to undergo doomed single embryo transfers one by one.

And it’s just. It’s just. Like you know. It’s people who are not medical doctors who don’t understand how this process works, getting in between you and your doctor. It’s as simple as that. And it’s theater based in religion, which even makes it even worse.

There has been some pushback from conservative politicians, which kind of amazed me a little bit. Even the former president, donald Trump, is supporting IVF. He said we have to have more children, and so what I wanted to do is I wanted to play a couple of clips. The first one is Alabama. Us Senator from Alabama, tommy Tuberville. He’s a former football coach and they kind of the news media kind of well, for lack of better word ambushed him at a conservative convention somewhere and asked him about this ruling. And you can tell he has no idea what he’s talking about. And one of the things that he points out he says we’ve got to have more children. Gotta make it easier for people to have more children. But he agreed with the Alabama court case ruling. And then the other clip is going to be very, very ironic. So we’ll get to that after we talk about Tommy Tuberville.

28:35 – Reporter (Other)
Reaction to the Alabama Supreme Court ruling on the fact that embryos are children.

28:40 – Coach NoClue Tommy Tuberville (Interviewee)
Yeah, I was all for it. We need to have more kids, we need to have an opportunity to do that, and I thought this was the right thing to do.

28:47 – Reporter (Other)
IVF is used to have more children and right now IVF services are posits Some of the clinics in Alabama. Aren’t you concerned that this could impact people who are trying to have kids?

28:57 – Coach NoClue Tommy Tuberville (Interviewee)
Well, that’s for another conversation. We need more kids. We need people to have the opportunity to have kids.

29:04 – Reporter (Other)
What do you say to the women right now in Alabama who no longer have access to IVF, who will not as a result of this? What do you say to them? Well, that’s a hard one.

29:15 – Coach NoClue Tommy Tuberville (Interviewee)
It really is. It’s really hard Because, again, you want people to have that opportunity and that’s what I was telling her we need more kids.

29:24 – Doug Berger (Host)
Yeah, I was really pleased as punch when that reporter said, well, ivf is about having children, it helps people have children, and he’s like, well, that’s a difficult thing to talk about. He doesn’t have a clue. He never read the, never read the ruling. You know, this happened in Alabama. It was big news Not as big as news as when people found out about it and you would have thought that maybe somebody on his staff had briefed him about it and you could tell he had no idea. And that’s.

That’s a lot of things with these Christian nationalists. They don’t know how actual science works. They don’t know how technology works. All they know is when they are against it or when they support it, and that’s all that matters to them. Now the next clip I want to play is kind of ironic. It is a presidential candidate, now pseudo presidential candidate, nikki Haley, is there are in South Carolina at the time that I’m recording this for the South Carolina primacy primary, and she may have dropped out by the time you see this, this, this segment, who knows? But I just thought that her answer one of the answers she gave to the IVF question was very ironic.

30:55 – Reporter (Other)
How should Republicans talk about IVF treatments?

30:56 – Nikki Haley (Interviewee)
What I will say is don’t have a knee jerk reaction over this. We want to make sure embryos are protected. This decision needs to be decided between the parents and the physicians, no one else. Government doesn’t need to start intruding into this.

31:14 – Voice Over (Announcement)
Thank you for listening. For more information about the topics in this episode, please visit the episode page at Glass City Humanist dot show. Glass City Humanist is an outreach of the secular humanists of western Lake Erie Shole can be reached at humanistwleorg. Glass City Humanist is hosted, written and produced by Douglas Berger and he’s solely responsible for the content. Our theme music is Glass City Jam, composed using the Amplify Studio. See you next time.

Transcript is machine generated, lightly edited, and approximate to what was recorded. If you would like perfect transcripts, please donate to the show.


Written, produced, and edited by Douglas Berger and he is entirely responsible for the content. Incidental voice overs by Shawn Meagley

The GCH theme is “Glass City Jam” composed using Ampify Studio

This episode by Glass City Humanist is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

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