Thursday, February 26, 2009

Technically Speaking, You Aren't My Mom*

Came across this post by Joey Lye - 

Wondering what others thoughts were on this

FEB 26, 2009

Technically Speaking, You Aren't My Mom*
Peggy Orenstein (Your Gamete, Myself) and Liza Mundy (Everything Conceivable) pull us more deeply into the issues surrounding Assisted Reproductive Technology. It is evident how much there still is to learn about the processes as well as how quickly ART is modifying the way in which society views and accepts reproduction.

Both Orenstein and Mundy raise and discuss the issue of children knowing their origins. In regards to conception via egg donation, Orenstein points out that “most donor recipients haven’t told their children about their origins, though some researchers argue this trend is reversing” (pg 7). The debate of secrecy comes up many times throughout the article – withholding the truth (that parents had used a donor) from co-workers, friends, and even the children themselves was found to be a common decision. It is also made clear that many parents do inform their children when they are the result of a donor egg and “most children’s responses ranged from neutral to positive” (pg 8). These moral debates about whether to be secretive or open about a child’s origin bring us back to the discussion of rights. Do kids have the right to know their true origin? Do donors have the right to meet the children they helped bring into the world?

In Mundy’s first chapter, she brings up a similar dilemma regarding sperm donation. In many of the sperm donation cases, children grow up without a father figure. Do these children “have the right, or the need, to know the identity of the donor who helped bring him or her into being” (pg 20)? If we believe they do indeed deserve to know their roots, how does this get played out? Should the children grow up with a photo of their donor amongst their possessions, or, when they’re old enough to understand, instead of the ‘birds and the bees’ talk get the ‘sperm bank and egg donor’ chat?

Subsequently, if a child establishes a relationship with the donor, how far should this relationship go? What happens in the cases where donors try to become over involved in the child’s life?

Another issue that caused controversy in my mind is how the desire to nurture is completely overstepping nature. If, as Mundy points out, both men and women who are unable to naturally reproduce can now do so with the help of ART, the fine tuned art of natural selection can in no way follow its course. Men and women alike are passing on their genes despite nature’s resistance. “Almost any man who can afford treatment can be a biological father” (pg 18), many women who otherwise could not give birth are now able, and it seems society as a whole is okay with this. Should there be a concern of possible consequences for dodging the bullets of natural selection?

I have touched on a variety of issues here, mainly, the rights of children to know their origin, to meet or build a relationship with their donor, and the issue of overstepping nature’s boundaries in order to reproduce.

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