Thursday, January 3, 2008

Donor Daddies are Baby Daddies Too!

Yesterday I happened upon an article exposing the debate over alternative reproducive technology (ie- sperm and egg donation, but mostly sperm donation). Some, it seems, are framing this latest war as an issue of the "the rights of children to be raised by biological parents versus the rights of 'selfish' adults who want to have children."

I can understand that a person conceived via alternative reproduction methods would be confused about his or her origins. Yet, I can also understand that if the parents broached the topic of the child's origins with sensitivity, it would not be the scarring, traumatic experience that some are making it out to be.

See, I've been reading how this confusion is being manipulated and used by those opposed to families that do not meet the "biological mother + biological father = biological child" model. Some argue that children face real "pain" by being raised by persons other than their biological parents. This article sums up the debate well, and details one woman who is on a mission to.... do what? Let's explore:

Referring to the testimonial of one woman whose daddy was a donor, Elizbeth Marquadt of the Institute for American Values says,

"This debate is dominated by adults’ rights: the rights of same-sex couples, the rights of infertile adults, the rights of singles. But we also have to hear and respond to children’s pain when they lose the ability to grow up with their own mom and dad, whether it’s due to donor conception, or parental abandonment, or divorce."

Marquadt is framing the debate as an issue of selfish adults versus innocent children. (Children who, by the way, would never have been born without the selfish adults.) And by doing so she strikes a chord. For, what reasonable, loving, compassionate person can oppose the rights of innocent children?

Those on Marquadt's side of the debate go to great lengths, in fact, to villify their opponents. As Christine Whipp (over)states her case:

"Why should the child be held hostage for 18 years, denied a relationship with one of its parents, just to satisfy the whims of adults?"

The word "hostage," I won't address, as its use is irrational and inflammatory. But I will note how Whipp characterizes as "a whim" the desire of adults who cannot conceive children without assistance to have children. This, of course, is poor word choice as whim means "sudden impulse." Those using altnerative reproductive technologies must put more thought into reproduction than most other parents- especially biological parents who conceive a child after a drunken roll in the hay. Which, of course, often doesn't even meet the level of "suddely deciding" to have children at all.

I also find that the attitude that childless adults who want children are somehow selfish to be prevalent- particularly among the anti-gay crowd (who, unsurprsingly, often have no qualms about heterosexuals using alternative reproductive technologies).

But let's all note what goes unsaid is Marquadt's implication: People should not be allowed to use alternative reproductive technologies.

Which raises several questions:

1. Is the right to life conditional? Do those who support the buzz phrase "right to life" really mean "right to life while being raised by a biological mother and father"?

If so, they should amend their phrase to say what they really mean.

2. And, is living without both biological parents worse than not living, not existing, at all? Because implicit in Marquadt's analysis, that is what she is saying. Everyone should be alarmed by such an idea- as some people are taking it upon themselves to decide who should be allowed to be born and who should not. All under the banner of "saving the children."

3. And, if two people cannot naturally conceive together, should they marry partners with whom they can conceive in order to ensure that any resulting child has a biological father... oh yeah, and a biological mother?

Another relevant point is that Marquadt, and others, because they intuitively believe that all children need a biological father and mother, assume that most donor-conceived children face pain. Even though this hasn't been studied. Which is why Marquadt is proposing to study it (to be published by the *so very reputable* Institute for American Values? *shiver*). I find it irresponible and alarmist for her and the Institute to make such bold claims about the pain of children, before finding that children suffer such pain. She has gone to several mainstream newspapers, in fact, and declared that children are greatly suffering- all on the basis of some testimonials. A few testimonies do not constitute actual scientific findings.

Which is another reason the Institute for American Values is a joke. Who needs real science when you have intuition, eh?

As someone on the other side of the debate notes:

"Olivia Montuschi, of the UK based Donor Conception Network (DCN), believes that the results of such a study will force Marquardt to eat her words. Montuschi is frustrated that she is speaking out so vocally before collating the evidence."

The most pressing questions, however, I want answered is this: Why do some believe that "biological parent" automatically equals "better parent" for a child? And more importantly, why are opponents of alternative reproduction deigning to speak on behalf of all children, when children have many voices?

Can anyone answer without relying on mere intuition, illogic, or hyperbole?

No comments: