August 28, 2007

Genetic links are only important for the parents, right?

In her article on transgenerational reproduction, the commentator, Ana Smajdor, points out something very interesting, ironic and important.

She discusses the recent case of the Montreal woman Melanie Boivin, who has frozen some of her eggs so that her 7-year-old infertile daughter Flavie would be able to use them someday. Smajdor points out that this kind of egg donation shows that the mother believes that the genetic link is important in having children. If Melanie Boivin had not thought that it was important to be genetically related to the child, then she wouldn't have frozen her eggs for her daughter to eventually use: "Because of course Flavie, like any other infertile person, could seek to use donated eggs if on reaching adulthood, she found herself longing to start a family."

The irony is that while Boivin believes that it's important for the child to be genetically related to the parent, the reality is that by using her mother's eggs, Flavie will be giving birth not to her own genetic daughter but to her half-sibling: in effect, Melanie Boivin will have a child with Flavie's future husband.

What a screwed up scenario. However, it's not as new as you may think. This has already happened! In her book Everything Conceivable, Liza Mundy mentions a case where the father of an infertile man donated his sperm for the son to use. The son has thus had a baby which is, in reality, his half-sibling.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well I must say I'm shocked, insulted and frankly mad at this callous, ignorant article. Like Mrs Boivin, I am also the mother of a Turner's girl and the conclusions you so readily "leap" to are flat out wrong.

I considered having the same procedure done and NOT because I thought it was important to have a child genetically connected to my family. Quite frankly I could care less about it. My reasons were instead:
- Financial: Finding a donor for eggs can be next to impossible not to mention the cost;
- Emotional: My daughter can not conceive and that may be something that will effect her emotionally if she really wants to simply carry a pregnancy - many women do. This could give her that chance;
- Scientific: The pregnancy has a better chance of viability if donated by a close relation.

It doesn't matter if my daughter has children, what matters is what SHE wants. Like Mrs. Boivin, I just want to give her every opportunity I can to be happy. Your article has cheapened Mrs. Boivin's painful, selfless act of love. Worse, you twisted her story into a false crusade so it would look good on your site. You should be ashamed.

D.

Tom said...

Certainly an act of love to endure all the pain of egg-donation, but a very misguided one because any resulting child will have to endure a pain all of its own: the pain that results when one's kinship ties are ruptured to please other people.