Thursday, February 05, 2015

Attacks on artificially assisted reproduction

A National Catholic Register newspaper commentary writes:
Feiler found the work of Marshall Duke, a psychologist at Emory University. Duke came up with a questionnaire for children called the “Do You Know?” scale, which contained 20 questions about the child’s family history. Children were asked, among other things, if they knew where their mom and dad went to high school, where their grandparents grew up and which person they looked most like in their family.

What Duke found was surprising. The single best predictor of emotional health and happiness in children was how well they performed on the “Do You Know?” scale. Feiler wrote, “The more children knew about their family’s history, the stronger their sense of control over their lives, the higher their self-esteem and the more successfully they believed their families functioned.”

This finding may not be so surprising, considering the popularity of websites like, where the creators invite visitors, “Join us on a journey through the story of how you became, well, you.” Even TLC has a genealogy show called Who Do You Think You Are? — which implies that our very identity is rooted in those people who not only begot us, but those who begot our parents and grandparents, as well.

And yet society has embraced, without question, creating children who will intentionally be denied part, or all, of their family history.
So is this about the millions of kids who are cut off from their parents by government action? No, it is a complaint sperm donation and other such technologies.

These technologies have stabilized as a very small percentage of births, and it is strange for anyone to be concerned about them when other ways kids get alienated are many orders of magnitude bigger.

This article, and another by the Center for Bioethics and Culture make a big deal out of a London Dail Mail article 7 months ago:
Gracie Crane was one of the first children conceived from donor embryo
Born before the 1998 Embryology Act, she has no right to know who her biological parents are
Despite her parents unconditional love, Gracie says she can't truly feel part of a family that doesn't share her genetics
Not knowing who she is makes Gracie wish she'd never been born
Gracie wants to be a mother one day, but says her experiences mean she would never have a child through donor conception
Every year 2,000 people opt for egg, sperm or embryo donation in Britain
It is wrong to say that society has embraced this without question. As the Mail article explains, Britain abolished the anonymity in 1998. German courts are abolishing it now. In the USA, regulations vary from state to state, but IVF is expensive and usually not covered by insurance.

I previously mentioned the bioethics center, and a movie they made to convince you that these things are bad.

The Mail story is about a mixed-race girl who was a test-tube baby for genetically unrelated older white parents. They adopted two more mixed-race siblings, had the girl diagnosed with dyslexia, and shipped the girl off to a Hogwarts-style boarding school.

Do you really want to make public policy based on the rants of one bratty teenager?

The Mail has a knack for finding some troubled girl and sensationalizing her story. Here is their latest:
Growing up in a happy middle-class home in Surrey, Emily Hunter Gordon, now 25, had every advantage and everything to look forward to.

Her parents, although divorced, were loving and sent her to the best private schools they could afford, all while ensuring she never wanted for anything.

Yet by the age of 12, Hunter Gordon was a regular cannabis user and swiftly descended into drug addiction, first attending rehab at the age of 16.

Later, she became addicted to dangerous meow meow, a drug that has been linked to more than 200 British deaths, and stole from her mother in a bid to pay for drugs.

Now clean and mother to a two-year-old son, the 25-year-old says that while getting off drugs was hard, rebuilding her relationship with her mother has been even tougher.
So does someone want to pass a law against whatever these parents did?

The Catholic Church is not opposed to the anonymity, as it has run agencies for anonymous adoptions for many years. The Church does oppose divorce, illegitimacy, and the main causes of alienated kids.

In most cases, I would say that a kid has a right to know his genetic parents. But there are good arguments for anonymous adoption, as well as anonymous donation of genetic material. So there can be a conflict between what the kid wants, and what the genetic parent wants.

The German Supreme Court (BGH) decided on Wednesday that the children of sperm donors have a right to know who their biological father is at any time. Because most men are only willing to donate anonymously, German women may have to do like British women and go to a foreign clinic to get anonymous sperm. In the USA, courts do not interfere with contracts so easily, and contracts for anonymity have been consistently upheld.

But in the USA today, millions of kids are denied access to parents because of some judge's opinion of the BIOTCh. It is very strange that some "center for bioethics" would be created just to whine about a handful of cases where a kid wants to meet the sperm donor dad, and ignored the millions of kids who are separated by the courts from their real dads.

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