Is It Selfish for a Gay Couple to Have Kids via Surrogacy?

Ethics

My husband and I are gay and are exploring the possibility of having children using an egg donor and a surrogate mother.

Sometimes when we mention this in conversation, people ask us, in a chiding tone, Why don’t you adopt? They often then argue that with so many children in need of good homes, it would be ethically superior for us to adopt, instead of spending a small fortune so we can have children to whom we are genetically tied. In addition, there are ethical issues related to paying women for their eggs or paying women to carry our children as surrogates. Are we acting unethically — or at the least selfishly or self-indulgently — in pursuing biological children instead of adopting orphans who could benefit from what (we like to think) would be a good home? David Lat, New Yorkethical surrogacy

Anybody who is contemplating having a baby, by whatever means, could be adopting a child instead. If those who chide you include people who have biological children themselves, you might want to point this out. Come to think of it, your friends who don’t have children are also free, if they meet the legal requirements, to adopt.

Every child awaiting adoption is someone who could benefit from parental volunteers. There is no good reason to pick on you.

The path you have chosen, it’s true, mixes commerce and reproduction through egg donation and surrogacy. But while acquiring an egg and then working with a surrogate mother are transactions with ethical risks, they can each be conducted in morally permissible ways. The main concerns I would have are avoiding exploitation — so you need to make sure that the donor and the surrogate are acting freely and are fairly compensated — and taking care that your understanding with the surrogate mother is clearly laid out in advance. But any responsible agency that assists you in this should cover these bases.

Wanting a biological connection with your child is pretty normal: We evolved to pass on our genes, after all, even if we’re free to give Mother Nature the side-eye. There are also things you can more likely do for children to whom you’re biologically related — notably, on the organ-donor front. So while it would be terrific if you adopted, it’s no more incumbent on you than it is on any other potential parents.

I’ve worked as an educator and administrator in public schools for over a decade. During this time, I have served as a character witness and written letters on behalf of students who have been arrested. In certain cases, these students have been charged with violent offenses. I often found myself in heated arguments with a loved one over these acts of advocacy, specifically because court proceedings typically take place during the day, which requires me to have someone cover my duties at school. I feel that this advocacy is justified because I am an adult who has invested deeply in the development of the children and knows who they are outside of their offenses. Is it ethical for school staff members to offer their time and efforts to support students charged with violent crimes? Name Withheld

You’re presumably talking about helping the courts to understand the social and educational contexts of students accused of crimes. You’re permitted to testify when the courts find this information relevant in deciding what to do with young offenders. In doing so, you’re helping the courts make what are often very difficult decisions. As long as your advocacy is truthful, it can be a valuable contribution. Asking colleagues to cover for you when you’re doing a public service would seem entirely acceptable; they have good reason to support what you’re doing — and because of that, you should be willing to cover for others when they do the same.

Let me address an issue you haven’t raised: The fact that a student on whose behalf you speak could receive a lighter sentence may upset his or her victims or their families. If the court is doing its job properly, however, the sentence is lighter only because its decision would have otherwise been based on a less complete picture. There is, of course, a question of fairness here, because many young offenders don’t have the advantage of a teacher willing to speak up for them. But you wouldn’t contribute to the overall justice of the situation by denying helpful information in one case on the grounds that it’s unavailable in many others. If you want to help with that problem, you might try to persuade your union to develop ethical guidelines for conducting this form of advocacy.

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‘Men Having Babies’ to Make Case for New York Surrogacy Reform

New York surrogacy reform

New York Surrogacy Reform – Come this Friday to hear how Men Having Babies and other advocates plan to pass surrogacy reform in NY.

Since it’s very first meeting in the form of a 2005 support group for biological gay dads and dads-to-be, Men Having Babies (MHB) has been advocating and educating folks on surrogacy. This has taken place in the form of many elements including conferences for those considering surrogacy, their Gay Parenting Assistance Program which helps fund many gay men undertaking the expensive surrogacy journey to fatherhood, and their extensive directory and review system on surrogacy agencies and clinics.New York surrogacy reform

MHB has recently moved further to make their conferences a meeting place for committed surrogacy and gay parenting supporters, including parents, surrogates, researchers, professionals, and policymakers by creating the Advocacy and Research Forum for Surrogacy and LGBT Parenting (ARF). The New York surrogacy reform program is part of this effort.  The program provides opportunities for formal and facilitated discussions about topics and developments relevant to parenting through surrogacy and / or by LGBT parents.

Now, in the aftermath of the stalled Child Parent Security Act (the CPSA bill), which was set to reverse the ban on compensated surrogacy in the state of New York, Men Having Babies have gone a step further. As part of the ARF initiative, this Friday November 8 in New York City, Men Having Babies welcomes folks to join them at an open to the public event: The Case for NY Surrogacy Reform. [with the link]

As part of the ARF initiative, this Friday November 8 in New York City, Men Having Babies welcomes folks to join them at an open to the public event: The Case for NY Surrogacy Reform.

“While we think it is the most comprehensive and thoughtful surrogacy legislation ever drafted, the CPSA also faced criticism and claims that not enough discussion has taken place about ethical concerns,” said Ron Poole-Dayan, the Executive Director of Men Having Babies. His response, along with others, was to create Friday’s event and “to offer historical and international perspectives on this debate, a review of relevant research findings, and a thorough analysis on how we think the proposed surrogacy legislation addresses core ethical issues and essential best practices,”

For the event this Friday in New York City, Men Having Babies has partnered with RESOLVE: The National Infertility AssociationFamily Equality CouncilStonewall Democrats of NYCThe Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys, and Equality NY among others. Together, they’re assembling more than 30 speakers, and their goal is to contribute to an informed public debate on the issue, and bring in “a wide range of perspectives from surrogates, their young adult children, children born through surrogacy, academic researchers, representatives of national community organizations and international human rights organizations, and legal, mental health and medical experts.”

Organizers are inviting lawmakers, community activists, professionals, academicians, students, parents and prospective parents to listen and offer feedback. More than 100 already registered.

The Senate passed the CPSA earlier this year, and it is likely to come up for a vote in the Assembly later this legislative season.

Gayswithkids.com, November 6, 2019

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‘This baby was meant to be ours’: A gay couple’s journey to become parents

gay dads

‘This baby was meant to be ours’: A gay couple’s journey to become parents

When Kraig Wiedenfeld and Bill Johnson decided they were ready to start a family and wanted a baby biologically related to one of them, they did what a small but growing number of gay couples with their desire do: They found a surrogate to help them.step parent adoption

As chronicled in The Washington Post last year, the two men, then married for four years, embarked on a journey both complicated and expensive that required: sperm from Weidenfeld, an anonymous egg donor and a young woman to carry the baby.

Christina Fenn had already carried three babies — including a set of twins — for two other same-sex couples, when a surrogacy agency matched her to Wiedenfeld and Johnson.

Before becoming a surrogate, Fenn and her husband, Brian, had two sons of their own. She loved being pregnant and longed to help those who couldn’t conceive children.

Assisted reproduction and surrogacy have been around for years, but these days gay men who can afford the cost are choosing this route to parenthood, experts say.

Sometimes, however, desire and hope — and in Wiedenfeld and Johnson’s case, advanced reproductive science — are not enough to guarantee a baby. A first effort resulted in a miscarriage just a month after the embryo transfer. The second effort had the same outcome, and an even heavier emotional toll for all involved.

But the two men and Fenn had contractually agreed on three embryo transfers, leaving them one final chance. On a crisp day last spring, nearly nine months later, that chance came due.

“Are you ready to be a dad?” Fenn’s eager voice said at the other end of the line.

Weidenfeld and Johnson raced from New York City to the hospital in Connecticut just in time for the birth of a seven-pound, 19.5-inch boy, soon to be known as Teddy.

“It was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen,” Johnson said.

After passing the baby around among Fenn, her husband and the two new dads, Weidenfeld turned to Fenn and said, “Look what you’ve done for us. This is not the end of our story together. This is just the beginning.”

“I will be there for every birthday party and special occasion,” Fenn vowed, smiling. “I hope to always be in their lives,” she said of the family.

The number of children born through surrogacy is unknown, but surrogacy agencies say the demand for surrogates has noticeably risen in recent years. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, 738 babies were born via surrogacy in 2004; in 2014, that the number was 2,807.

Victoria Ferrara, founder and legal director at Worldwide Surrogacy, says about 50 percent of the 80 to 100 surrogacy arrangements her organization facilitates involve gay parents. She estimates the number of babies born through surrogacy every year ranges from 2,500 to 5,000 worldwide.

Washingtonpost.com, by Sydney Page, October 26, 2019

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Employment Discrimination – Can Someone Be Fired for Being Gay? The Supreme Court Will Decide

employment discrimination

The Supreme Court has delivered a remarkable series of victories to the gay rights movement over the last two decades, culminating in a ruling that established a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.  Is Employment Discrimination nest?

But in more than half the states, employment discrimination exists and someone can still be fired for being gay.employment discrimination

Early in its new term, on Oct. 8, the court will consider whether an existing federal law, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, guarantees nationwide protection from workplace discrimination to gay and transgender people, even in states that offer no protections right now.

It will be the court’s first case on L.G.B.T. rights since the retirement last year of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinions in all four of the court’s major gay rights decisions. And without Justice Kennedy, who joined four liberals in the 5-to-4 ruling in the marriage case, the workers who sued their employers in the three cases before the court may face an uphill fight.

“Now that we don’t have Kennedy on the court, it would be a stretch to find a fifth vote in favor of any of these claims that are coming to the court,” said Katherine Franke, a law professor at Columbia and the author of “Wedlocked: The Perils of Marriage Equality.”

She added that lawyers working to expand gay rights might have focused too narrowly on the right to marry. “The gay rights movement became the marriage rights movement,” she said, “and we lost sight of the larger dynamics and structures of homophobia.”

Other experts said the court should have little trouble ruling for the plaintiffs.

“Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans continue to face widespread job discrimination because of their same-sex attraction or sex identities,” said William N. Eskridge Jr., a law professor at Yale and the author of an article in The Yale Law Journal on Title VII’s statutory history. “If the justices take seriously the text of Title VII and their own precedents, L.G.B.T. Americans will enjoy the same job protections as other groups.”

The Supreme Court’s earlier gay rights rulings were grounded in constitutional law. Romer v. Evans, in 1996, struck down a Colorado constitutional amendment that had banned laws protecting gay men and lesbians. Lawrence v. Texas, in 2003, struck down laws making gay sex a crime. United States v. Windsor, in 2013, overturned a ban on federal benefits for married same-sex couples.

And Obergefell v. Hodges, in 2015, struck down state bans on same-sex marriage, ruling that the Constitution guarantees a right to such unions.

The new cases, by contrast, concern statutory interpretation, not constitutional law.

The question for the justices is whether the landmark 1964 law’s prohibition of sex discrimination encompasses discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Lawyers for the gay and transgender plaintiffs say it does. Lawyers for the defendants and the Trump administration, which has filed briefs supporting the employers, say it does not.

NYTimes.com by Adam Liptak, September 23, 2019

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Gay fathers study shows they receive less parental leave than other couples

gay fathers study

Gay fathers study shows they received the same number of weeks off as different-sex couples in just 12% of 33 countries studied

Gay fathers study shows that around the world they receive less paid parental leave than lesbian or heterosexual couples, researchers said on Thursday, with many left struggling to pay household bills if they opt to spend more time at home with their children.gay fathers

The study by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) examined paternity laws in 33 member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that offer paid leave to new parents.

First published in the Journal of Social Policy, the research found that gay male couples received the same number of weeks off as different-sex couples in just 12% of those nations.

Lesbian couples received equitable time off in just under 60% of the countries studied, researchers found after examining legislation gathered by the International Labour Organization in 2016. Some countries have since updated their leave policies.

“A lot of the differences in leave stem from gender stereotypes where women are the primary caregivers,” Elizabeth Wong, the lead author, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“That not only affects heterosexual couples, it greatly disadvantages same-sex male couples.”

Laws in most countries did not prohibit same-sex couples from paid leave, but policies only referenced the needs of heterosexual couples and did not acknowledge same-sex couples.

As of 2019, same-sex marriage was legal in less than 30 countries, and gay sex remains illegal in about 70 countries.

The rise of far-right political parties around the world has raised concern around LGBT+ rights, and the fight for parenthood or adoption rights is a legislative battle even in countries like Germany.

On average, same-sex male couples had five fewer months of paid leave than different-sex couples, while same-sex females received three fewer months than heterosexual couples, researchers said.

The study did not address transgender or non-binary couples.

Australia, New Zealand, Iceland and Sweden were the only countries to offer the same paid leave to all couples, including gay men, ranging from 18 to 70 weeks.

While companies in Switzerland often offer parental leave to men, only a minority of people benefited, said Jody Heymann, a director at WORLD Policy Analysis Center.

“There’s little doubt that if you want to avoid discrimination, it’s far better for paid leave to be done through social insurance,” said Heymann of government funded public health programs.

A 2018 report from the WORLD Policy Analysis Center found that OECD countries that offered six months paid parental leave saw increased numbers of workers and no change to unemployment or economic growth.

Thomson Reuters Foundation by Kate Ryan, September 5, 2019

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The unintended consequences of Canada surrogacy law changes (Opinion)

Canada surrogacy law

There are unintended consequences to Proposed Canada surrogacy law changes.

Canada is considered an international surrogacy destination, with progressive laws that have attracted couples internationally. But, in just over nine months, a new Canadian fertility landscape will be born, bringing new regulations for reimbursing surrogates and donors. In fertility circles – both in Canada and beyond – there is fear that these new regulations by law will discourage people from becoming surrogates and donors.Canada surrogacy law

The new regulations from Health Canada, which come into effect June 9, 2020, set out exhaustive categories of reimbursable expenses – a big change from the current system, which does not specify what can be reimbursed and allows for wide interpretation of what constitutes a “reasonable expense.” That wide interpretation has allowed for flexibility in customizing fertility arrangements but may have a huge effect on Canada surrogacy law.

When the new rules take effect, eligible expenses will, for instance, include travel, insurance and legal fees, as well as counselling services and care for dependents and pets. The idea is to offer more certainty about which reimbursements are legitimate – and to allay any fears about being subjected to criminal sanctions.

Federal Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor has said that the regulations would provide couples struggling with infertility, single individuals, same-sex couples and others in the LGBTQ2 community more flexibility in building families. Couples will have the option to offer surrogates reimbursements for certain products and services beyond the actual pregnancy and into the postpartum period, which was not previously the case. This might make it easier for couples to obtain a surrogate, as they can provide reassurance that expenses related to potential health complications arising after the delivery will be reimbursed. But at the same time, the new regulations introduce more onerous requirements for reimbursement by requiring surrogates and donors to complete signed declarations in addition to providing receipts (surrogates are exempted from providing receipts under certain circumstances).

The biggest concern is that the regulations will likely make it even more difficult to access assisted reproduction, including medical procedures such as in-vitro fertilization, to conceive a child with the help of a surrogate and/or donor. The fear is that the new regulations will further discourage individuals from becoming surrogates and donors. Currently, surrogates and donors in Canada are driven by altruistic motivations, since it remains illegal to pay a surrogate for her services or pay for ova or sperm from a donor. However, if potential surrogates and donors risk not being reimbursed for reasonable out-of-pocket expenses, they may be dissuaded from helping others build families.

Alarmingly, the draft guidance document interpreting the regulations released by Health Canada states that “[t]here is no obligation to reimburse, meaning that only persons who wish to reimburse eligible expenditures will do so.” This could lead to exploitation of donors and surrogates. (The guidance document has not yet been finalized; consultation on it closed on July 26.)

www.theglobeandmail.com by Melissa Salfi, September 6, 2019

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Trump Tells Supreme Court LGBTQ Workers Can Be Fired

Anthony Kennedy retirement

Administration continues to target queer people in the workplace

One week after the Trump administration filed a Supreme Court brief arguing that people should be able to get fired based on their gender identity, the president’s team returned to file yet another brief — this time arguing that gay workers should be able to get fired simply because of their sexual orientation.Kavanaugh court

The administra­tion’s brief on August 23 stated that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act “makes clear that it does not” cover workers on the basis of sexual orientation, while the brief filed the previous week stated that the law “does not bar discrimination because of transgender status.”

In the brief targeting gay workers, the administration stated that Congress “of course remains free to legislate in this area,” even as Republicans in both houses have overwhelmingly continued to reject LGBTQ rights bills. GOP lawmakers most recently mounted strong resistance to the Equality Act, which would amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act and related federal laws to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. That bill passed the house but faces dim prospects in the Republican-controlled Senate.

The administration stated in the brief that unless Congress acts on LGBTQ discrimination, “this court shall enforce the statue as it is written.”

The Trump administration has mounted an increasingly aggressive assault on the rights of queer workers just weeks before the Supreme Court is slated to begin hearing arguments about whether LGBTQ employees are protected under the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

The president’s recent barrage of attacks on queer employees also included an August 14 proposed rule that would give federal contractors wide ability to use religion to justify discrimination against LGBTQ workers. That rule would effectively gut President Obama’s 2014 executive order implementing protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in federal contracting.

gaycitynews.com by Matt Tracy, August 23, 2019

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Trump has a devastating record on LGBTQ rights. Don’t deny the truth.

Trump LGBTQ

President Trump’s dismissal of “fake news” means his constituencies can believe whatever they want about him and his actions — even if their beliefs are in mind-bogglingly stark opposition to one another.

Religious extremists opposed to LGBTQ equality can confidently tout Trump as being down with their agenda by pointing to a speech in February in which Trump defended state-funded adoption agencies that turn away gay couples on religious grounds. Trump supporters who want to believe the opposite will point to a tweet he sent recognizing “LGBT Pride Month.”Trump LGBTQ

But it’s the religious crusaders who are correct — and in rare agreement with most LGBTQ activists. The Trump administration’s continued assaults on LGBTQ rights are nothing short of breathtaking. And yet, Trump’s supporters who don’t want to acknowledge this aspect of the administration find ways to bury this part of his record in the chaos.

Last week alone, there were two major salvos in the Trumpian war on LGBTQ Americans.

The Justice Department filed a brief Friday urging the Supreme Court to allow employers to turn away or fire transgender workers based solely on their gender identity. The department is expected to file a similar brief this week in a separate case asking the high court to legalize discrimination against gay, lesbian and bisexual workers, as well.

On Aug. 14, the Labor Department proposed a rule rolling back an executive order that President Barack Obama signed in 2014 banning anti-LGBTQ discrimination among federal contractors — an order that the Trump administration said in 2017 would remain “intact.” The religious right was ecstatic, while Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, called the regulation “a broad and sweeping effort to implement a license to discriminate.”

Yet, in the same week, in a stellar example of Trump supporters believing whatever they want, the Log Cabin Republicans, a group of “LGBT Republicans and straight allies,” announced its endorsement of Trump’s reelection bid in an op-ed in The Post. It was a particularly striking decision, given that in 2016, the group declined to endorse him . Now, it astonishingly declared, Trump has moved “past the culture wars” and taken “bold actions that benefit the LGBTQ community.”

What planet has this group been living on? And what has changed since the Log Cabin Republicans declined to endorse George W. Bush in 2004 over his support of a federal constitutional amendment to ban marriage equality? Trump’s record distinguishes him as among the most hostile presidents in history on the issue of LGBTQ equality. He is bowing to religious extremists in the GOP base in ways that could set back more than 30 years of progress, backing their demands for religious exemptions allowing discrimination. Even Bush, a devout evangelical Christian, didn’t roll back his predecessor’s pro-gay executive orders, such as one that President Bill Clinton signed banning discrimination based on sexual orientation in the federal workforce.

But Trump began unraveling Obama-era progress on LGBTQ rights almost immediately. Within its first weeks, his administration withdrew an Obama directive on treatment of transgender students. A few months later, Trump fired off a tweet announcing that he’d reinstate a ban — which Obama had ended — on transgender people serving in the military. This year, the Department of Health and Human Services moved to strip anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people in the Affordable Care Act.

WashingtonPost.com, August 20, 2019 by Michelangelo Signorile

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Families of gay kids were once seen as the enemy by support groups. That’s changing.

Families of gay kids

Families of gay kids were once seen as the enemy by support groups. That’s changing.

David Pitches, 74, a retired New York architect, never came out to his parents when he was a teenager growing up in Yonkers. “We were a silent family,” he says. “Coming out to them seemed to entail a family intimacy that I never had, or cared to have.”families of gay kids

Even after his parents figured it out years later, Pitches always felt they disapproved. “My father believed that gay people should lead their lives in private, and my mother never accepted it, even to her dying day at age 94,” he says. “Growing up in the ’50s was not a fun thing for a dreamy little boy who was gay.”

Even if families sought to understand the implications of their child being gay in what was, at the time, an anti-gay culture, they had nowhere to turn for support.

“The idea that I singly, or with them, would ever think to get some sort of therapy or program for coping was absolutely beyond their or my ken,” he says. “I was a deviant, and an embarrassment, who was best kept undercover or well-closeted.”

Fast forward to 2012, when Wendy Williams Montgomery, then a devout member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, discovered that her 13-old son was gay. “Learning this felt both confusing and scary for me,” she says. “It was never a question of: Do I still love him? Can I still accept him? My question was: How do I do this as Mormon? Am I going to have to choose between the God I love, and the child I love?”

For two weeks, she couldn’t eat or sleep. She sought understanding from the church, but found only hostility.

“The message I was receiving by my church leaders, family members, friends and printed text was that my son was broken in an irreparable way, and would have to suffer through a truly horrific life until he died, at which time he would be ‘fixed’ and straight like the rest of us in heaven,” says Montgomery, who quit the Mormon Church five years later.

Fast forward to 2012, when Wendy Williams Montgomery, then a devout member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, discovered that her 13-old son was gay. “Learning this felt both confusing and scary for me,” she says. “It was never a question of: Do I still love him? Can I still accept him? My question was: How do I do this as Mormon? Am I going to have to choose between the God I love, and the child I love?”

For two weeks, she couldn’t eat or sleep. She sought understanding from the church, but found only hostility.

“The message I was receiving by my church leaders, family members, friends and printed text was that my son was broken in an irreparable way, and would have to suffer through a truly horrific life until he died, at which time he would be ‘fixed’ and straight like the rest of us in heaven,” says Montgomery, who quit the Mormon Church five years later.

WashingtonPost.com, August 20, 2019 by Marlene Cimons

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They Lost Custody through adoption law. Should They Still Be Able to See Their Children?

adoption law

Adoption law in New York may be changed to give more rights to birth parents, even when adoptive parents object.

Adoption law in New York may be changing.  Latoya Joyner, a state assemblywoman from the Bronx, said she was raised by a loving adoptive family after her biological parents lost custody of her. The same was true for Tracy L. VanVleck, the commissioner of human services in Seneca County. 

But that is where their similarities end. The women are on opposing sides in an emotionally charged battle over a potential change in New York state adoption law that is awaiting Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s signature.adoption for gay couples

The legislation, called Preserving Family Bonds, would fundamentally shift the relationship that birth parents can have with their children after a court has taken the children awaypermanently and another family steps in to adopt them.

The proposed change has touched off a wide debate, some of it informed by the wrenching personal experiences of people who have not only gone through the foster care system but, like Ms. Joyner and Ms. VanVleck, now have the power to shape it.

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