Natasha Pearlman, "I feel so betrayed because I don't know who my father is" (Daily Mail, August 2, 2007) - An excellent article about Tom Ellis and how he has reacted to finding out about his real origin. And to think that there is opposition in Britain to placing the "donor-conceived" stamp on children's birth certificates:
"Bizarre", responded outspoken MP Evan Harris. "There is no proper evidence that children or adults suffer from not knowing who their 'real fathers' are, whether from IVF or from infidelity," he said. He was backed up by the chief ethicist for the British Medical Association, Dr Vivienne Nathanson. The committee's view of parenthood is decades out of date, she wrote. Parents ought to be honest with their children, but they should be coaxed into doing so, not forced. Placing "donor conceived" on birth certificates is "a highly genetic-determinist view of life".
No proper evidence, really? Does Tom Ellis and others like him need to scream harder? Something tells me that no hearing aid could ever help these people: they just don't WANT to get it.
Indeed, Vivienne Nathanson's whole argument (read it here) is disturbing. She argues not only that there is no evidence that children are harmed, and that the whole arugment of harm is "illusory" but that the real harm here is to the parents, who would be forced to tell - and so their parenting is being undermined. No longer can parents choose the timing of telling their child - now they must tell whenever their child sees their birth certificate (if not sooner).
And then, of course, the terrible threat - if UK legislation mandates disclosure, then parents will go abroad and have their children elsewhere! Our country will be populated by aliens! To which I say, too bad, too bad.
And too bad for the parents who can no longer choose to lie forever. Nathanson's argument about timing would have more force if it didn't run smack against the statistic that up to 90% of parents choose NEVER to tell their children that they are donor-conceived. It's not about WHEN here, it's about telling AT ALL. That's really the right that Parliament wants to protect. Children have a right to know, and their parents often have too many "good" reasons never to tell them.
Nathanson is right that the parents' freedom of parenting is being clipped here. But where adult freedoms run up against the rights of children, Western law has long stood solidly on the side of the weaker party - the best interests of the children take precedence, thank you very much. Parents have a few years to figure out how and when to tell, while the child doesn't even yet know what a birth certificate is, can't read it or hasn't asked to see it. You'd think that would be enough time for the parents to get their act together. By the time a child knows what a birth certificate is, you'd think the child would also have the right to know who its biological parents are.