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Unborn babies and Sleazy Porn Films

The Society for the Promotion of Community Standards Inc.
Media Release Monday 14 October 2002

For Immediate Release .... to Scoop News

Unborn babies and Sleazy Porn Films

The Society supports the decision of Justice Heath made in the Hamilton High Court on Friday 12 October to grant an interim injunction preventing an Auckland hard-core pornographic film maker, Steve Crow, from filming the labour and birth of a baby so he can use it as part of a 100-minute hardcore porn film called "Ripe" starring the baby's mother "Nikki"(not her real name). However, the decision gives Crow, director of Vixen Direct Ltd, New Zealand's largest distributor of hardcore porn (Adults Only) videos, the go-ahead for the filming on the condition that he undertakes not to show the baby in the film and this includes any footage of ultrasound scans of the foetus. Justice Heath said that if Crow breached the order he would consider it "a very serious breach of court for which likely punishment would be imprisonment."

The Society (SPCS) has written to the Chairperson of the Waikato District Health Board calling on it to demonstrate some moral and ethical leadership and prevent Crow from filming the birth as he has already indicated that he will be allowing the editing of the film to be done overseas (thereby effectively circumventing the High Court injunction). Crow has stated that images of the foetus including its face and hands, close ups of Nikki's genitals while she is in labour and the birth process itself will all be part of the film. He has indicated his intention to sell the film overseas and that it could be a different version sold overseas, one that could well include footage of the birth of the baby and uiltrasound scans.

Health Waikato chief operating officer John Mollet was reported today as having said that the board had decided on a set of conditons upon which filming of the birth could occur. They have left it up to the consultant present at the time of the birh to decide what could be filmed. However, as executive director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, Ian Powell, has said, most doctors would be uncomfortable making that decision and it was not particularly fair. "The doctor is there to do what he can for the baby and the baby and mother and shouldn't be dragged into the middle of social controversy. Making doctors the arbitrators of social values is not what a doctor is about" (Dominion 14/10).

The Society (SPCS) agrees with Powell that most doctors would view the filming of the birth for a hardcore pornographic film with considerable distaste. The Board was in effect requiring the consultant doctor to direct a sleazy porn film and act as ethical and moral arbiter in the controversy. It had shunted these issues, passed on to it from the High Court, on to medical staff. The Board has made as one of the conditions for filming that no hospital staff be allowed in the film. The Society says that this is unacceptable as staff may need to be present if complications arise in the birth and this poses a health risk to the baby and mother. ("Nikki" was in fact admitted to Waikato Hospital last week with complications). Furthermore, hospital staff should not have to face the risk of appearing in a sleazy porn film whether or not they are ethically opposed to the venture. College of Midwives executive director Karen Guilliland has been reported as saying that she doubts that there will be a midwife in the country prepared to be part of the filming project.

"Nikki", a former stripper, is due to give birth on November 26. Mr Crow, a former property developer turned hardcore porn filmmaker and distributor, has called the views of those like Children's Commissioner Hon. Roger McClay and Child, Youth and Family chief social worker Ms Shannon Pakura, who have sought to ensure that the child's rights and dignity are safeguarded, "Nazi". Crow defends Nikki's "choice" to include the birth scene in "Ripe" and has gained enormous publicity from this planned sleazy and degrading stunt for his company Vixen Direct Ltd. He claims he has already confirmed distribution deals for "Ripe" in Norh America and Europe. He and "Nikki" appear obsessed with the idea of creating what would be the first porno video featuring the birth of a child. Crow appears to want to tap into the lucrative overseas market for sleazy hardcore porn videos featuring explicit sex acts with pregnant women (a recognised sexual "fetish" according to Crow).

Society spokesperson David Lane said: "The High Court decision is a recognition that the unborn child has rights as a human being to be protected from the exploitation inherent in the sleazy porn industry and be treated with dignity as a developing human being. Why should this child not yet born have to face the possibility of a life-long slurring as the 'porno baby' because a purveyor of hard-core porn wants to set his company's name in lights and make money by degrading the innocence of a newly-born?"

"The decision," says Lane, "highlights the urgent need for legislation to be enacted that grants and clearly defines the rights of the unborn child. It is ironical that Justice Heath, in issuing the injunction, has treated the unborn child as if it had rights (which indeed it does) and yet section 159 of the Crimes Act states that the unborn child has no rights. Rights are only conferred on a child at birth under New Zealand law and yet Justice Heath has ruled that ultrasound scan images of the child in vitro cannot be used in Crow's porn film."

Lane said: "Vixen Direct lawyer Paul Georghegan has sought to exploit the flaw in NZ law which denies rights to the unborn, by challenging whether the court's jurisdiction under the Guardianship Act extended to the rights of the unborn child. He was correct when he stated before the Court: 'Those rights crystallise at the time the child is born and not before.' This argument appears to have had some force to it, as Justice Heath declined an application by CYP to be given wardship of the unborn child and instead appointed Nikki an agent of the court."

Ms Vivienne Ullich, a lawyer appointed by the court to represent the unborn child, said that the film would infringe the baby's basic rights, including privacy, the right not to be an object of sexual gratification, not to be in a porn movie and not to be exploited for the commercial gain of others. The mother's right to appear in a pornographic movie was not so fundamental as to override the child's basic human rights.

"The Society takes the view," says Lane, "that the unborn have a more basic right to that of privacy and others listed by Ms Ullich. It is the right to life and protection from deliberate harm and injury." He asks: "If a person who kills an unborn child aged 22 months or older can be convicted of the criminal charge of manslaughter, which has occurred under NZ law, why has our law not yet granted all unborn children rights of protection against intentional harm and injury, given that they are unquestionably the most vulnerable and dependent human beings in our Society? Instead NZ lawmakers have granted so-called rights to abortionists so they cannot be prosecuted for terminating the lives (= murdering) of our most innocent human victims."

In his 45-page decision Justice Heath did allow Crow, as noted, to go ahead with the filming, only if he gives an undertaking that no image of the child in vitro, during birth or immediately after birth be used in the film or any other porn film. Crow and "Nikki" have given an undertaking to the McClay and Pakura, not to show the birth as part of the film. However the Society takes the view that such assurances are meaningless and provide no real constraints on Crow as he appears, and has the ability, to intend to circumvent the Court order without fearing prosecution.

The Waikato Hospital Board initially sought to try and place restrictions on Crow's filming activities, given his and "Nikki's" stated intentions prior to the High Court hearing. It sent a letter to "Nikki" three weeks ago banning the filming of her labour and birth in its delivery suite for "unlawful purposes". Crow has taken strong exception to this restriction and has been reported as saying "I'm going to bloody well nuke them" [the Board]. He has stated that he intends to use "digital reproduction" of the ultrasound scan in his porn film rather than the images recorded and include images of the newborn resting on the mother's breast (circumventing the Court order). He has challenged the Hospital's ban on filming on legal grounds in a letter sent to the Board. Following the Court decision he now claims he intends to film the birth for "private use" to take advantage of the Hospital's policy that allows such filmings.

If Crow is allowed by the Waikato Hospital Board to film the birth for "private use" there is nothing in the law to prevent him supplying the tape to a film maker overseas who has also been supplied with a master of his film "Ripe". The editing, as noted, can be done overseas and it would appear that he will not be able to be prosecuted.

Justice Heath has adjourned the case until December 18 "to ascertain what steps have been taken since the making of these orders".

To provide insight into the degrading, demeaning and dehumanising content of many of the sexually explicit films marketed by Vixen Direct Ltd, one only has to read the classification decisions relating to these films readily available from the Office of Film and Literature Classification, headed by Chief Censor Bill Hastings. A typical example is "Shayla's Web", starring 35-year-old stripper/pornstar Shayla LaVeaux, a publication released on VHS on May 9 2000. Mr Hasting's Office issued it with a general R18 classification about two years ago and a descriptive note "Contains explicit sex scenes". The decision dated 18 December 2000 (Ref. No 2080) states:

"Shayla's Web is classified as objectionable except if the availability of the publication is restricted to persons who have attained the age of 18 years. This classification is due to the publication's explicit treatment of matters of sex.

"The video recording contains a feature entitled Shayla's Web, three notices and six trailers. The feature and trailers all contain explicit depictions of sexual activiy. The feature ties together scenes of sexual activity by means of a vague plot involving a man who is addicted to sex on the internet. At various points in the feature he delivers monologues regarding the blurred distinction between fantasy and reality and his obsession with a particular woman on the cyber-sex site. The feature has very high production values and a dominant music soundtrack that gives it the appearance of a rock-video. The feature presents explicitly depicted sexual activity in a slick and sophisticated but also alienated world of high-tech cyber-reality.

"Sexual activity explicitly depicted includes fellatio, cunnilingus, anilingis, vaginal and anal penetration with fingers and dildos, vaginal intercourse and anal intercourse, double penetration (a woman simultaneously engaging in vaginal and anal intercourse), masturbation and ejaculation on the faces and bodies of women.

"The feature contains several prolonged and concentrated depictions of ejaculations on the faces of women which are considered to degrade and dehumanise these women and women in general to a significant degree. In particular two such ejaculations stand out in the video recording. The first involves a man ejaculating onto a black glass reflective surface. The woman with whom he has previously engaged in sexual intercourse licks up the ejaculate on her hands and knees while the camera focuses on this activity and the woman looks constantly at the camera rather than at her sexual partner. The woman demeans herself by performing this action on her hands and knees for what appears to be the viewer's sake only, as the man who has ejaculated on the floor lies back and does not watch the activity himself.

"The second such depiction is one in which three men ejaculate copiously on a woman's face after she has engaged in sexual intercourse with one of them while the other two watch. Throughout the extended period in which the camera focuses on the woman's face being ejaculated upon and afterwards while she stays in the middle of the three men at crotch level the woman looks at the camera. The outward gaze implies that the viewer is a fourth person who might also ejaculate on her face which is already covered and dripping with the ejaculate of three men. This presents as degrading and dehumanising to the woman involved and to women in general. The effect of these degrading, dehumanising and demeaning depictions is mitigated by the slick prpduction and highly stylised manner of their presentation.

"Additionally, the feature and trailers all contain close up shots of female genitalia during sexual activity. The dehumanising effect of these close-ups are, however, lessened in the feature by constant camera pull-up to faces and wide shots of bodies during sexual activity.

"The dominant effect of the publication is of an adult video presenting scenes of explicity depicted sexual activity in a slick and high-tech manner. While the publication contains some scenes and activities which degrade and dehumanise the women presented and women in general to a significant degree the generally stylised manner of the feature mitigates the negative effect of such depictions on the dominant effect of the publication. The publication is intended for adults.

"In view of the explicit treatment of matters of sex, the availability of the publication is likely to be injurious to the public good unless restricted to an adult audience."

Earlier this year it was reported that Mr Ron Atkinson, one of America's biggest porn directors came to New Zealand to film two hardcore porn movies. They were both done in association with Vixen Direct Ltd which advertised on its website for young NZ actors/actresses for these features that were filmed over two weeks in mid-July. Those auditioning were asked to send a nude photo of themselves to the company.

Degrading, dehumanising and demeaning women is par for the course in sleazy hard core porn. The Classification Office headed by Chief Censor Bill Hastings regularly classifies hardcore porn videos distributed by Vixen Direct Ltd and rarely classifies them other than R18. One exception is an extremely degrading video entitled "Triple X NR31" which both the Classification Office and the Film and Literature Board of Review considered so "objectionable" that they ordered a number of excisions. Steve Crow has so far refused to make these cuts and has mounted legal challenges to both these decisions. The four cuts are required to "remove depictions of sexual conduct of a highly degrading, dehumanising nature and depictions where women are highly degraded, dehumanised and demeaned. All of the scenes to be excised feature ejaculations over women's faces in medium close-up" (OFLC Ref. 9900675 dated 28 May 199).

The Society (SPCS) takes the view that if Steve Crow, a known hard-core porn distributor is allowed by the Waikato Hospital Board to film the birth of "Nikki's" baby this will set a very dangerous precedent. It has written to the Waikato Hospital Board warning them of the degrading material produced and marketed by Vixen Direct Ltd. If producers of hard-core sleazy porn are allowed into hospitals to film the births of the children of porn stars or any other women, we may soon see the emergence of a new NZ-based industry involving the export of images of "porn babies" filmed in our public and private hospitals.

The Society's Constitution requires it to "uphold the dignity of the human person made in the image of God." The miracle of birth and human development in the womb are wholesome and life-affirming aspects that deserve to be treated with respect. The unborn child and newly born should never be tarnished by association with sleazy pornography as they have rights to protection against exploitation as unique developing human beings. The Society joins the Children's Commissioner, Hon Roger McClay, and Child Youth and Families chief social worker, Shannon Pakura, in calling for "Nikki" and Crow to abandon all plans to film footage of the birth of her baby for use in porn film. The Society also urges Mr Crow to close down his distribution of hardcore porn videos that degrade demean and dehumanise women and are injurious to the public good.

Contact: David Lane Secretary SPCS david.lane@paradise.net.nz Tel. 04-970-1067

Sir John Kennedy-Good KBE QSO
Professor TV O'Donnell MD FRACP CBE
Marilyn Pryor Founder Patricia Bartlett OBE

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