February 21, 2008

Responses VI: 12-13

(12) "Children being put up for adoption are most times very much wanted by their biological parents! Adoption plans are made not because firstparents don't "want" the child but because they feel they cannot give the best care."

This refers to my saying that I would not adopt a child whose biological parents did want to raise that child - in other words, I would not want to take a child from parents who are willing to raise it!

If parents are giving up their child, whom they love and want to raise, only because they "feel they cannot give the best care," then we need to look at why they feel that way. Is it because they don't have the money? Because they don't know how to parent? Because they are too focused on their own lives?

Lots of people feel overwhelmed by the needs of a baby. That's not enough reason to give a baby away. There are programs to help parents to feel less overwhelmed - and there should be more of such programs. There are programs to help people with low incomes to be able to raise their children - and there should be more of those programs.

Our society should not take children away from their parents marely because the parents are scared of the new responsibility ahead of them. If the fears can be resolved with some concrete assistance, then we should offer the assistance, not take the child away. We should do all we can to help parents raise their own children, because adoption remains in my mind a true second and less perfect solution.

There might be a lot less babies up for adoption if we help biological parents in these ways - and in my opinion that is a good thing. Obviously not good for the infertile couples who want to adopt, but again, this is not about them - this is about the children, and what is best for those.

(13) "You presume that ART (repro tech) children are hurt by definition. I don't agree with that view. They exist, whereas they wouldn't have otherwise....I'm sure you could find a Jack or Jill out there who IS happy, though conceived through donor sperm...Happiness or unhappiness is not predetermined by the manner of conception alone. "

True, I'm sure lots of DI children are fairly "happy." After all, they are usually loved, "wanted," and given everything they could ever want (except their own biological families). Nonetheless, I do belive that underneath their happiness there is often a deep sadness...a loneliness and a longing to know something they may never be able to know - who they really are. Moreover, a "snapshot" of their happiness at any one point in their lives does not tell the whole story, since the gravity and reality of it "hits" people at different times in their lives, and the same DI-conceived people who are laughing today might be dealing with many DI-related issues tomorrow.

More than anything else, though, the happiness that they may experience witnesses to the indestructability of the human spirit and character. Human beings have an incredible ability to bounce back after being beaten down and damaged, don't they? For example, people who survived concentration camps sometimes went on to do great things in their lives - though some also spent the rest of their lives in the shadows, unable to get past the trauma.

Ultimately, even if some children/adults are seemingly unaffected by having been born of repro technologies, this does not speak to the ethics of those technologies. We make the best of whatever situation we are given. Children play in the streets even in war-torn countries, and life goes on even in the midst of tragedy. However, that does not mean this is not a tragedy, that it is an injustice, that it is a suffering and a trauma.

February 20, 2008

Responses V: 10-11

(10) "...since no one elected you 'God', your truth is not THE truth....I am choosing to follow my own truth and am creating my family in a way that my husband and I feel is right for us."

You: purely subjective viewpoint - everyone has his/her "own" truth - in other words, there is no "truth", since the ethical reality of everything depends on perspective

Me: objective viewpoint - there is one truth, and we can't twist reality based on our own desires

This is a philosophical debate that could go on for a long time. Is there such a thing as objectively applicable morality, or is ethical truth purely subjective? Is it always wrong to do certain things, or does the morality of an act truly depend on whom you ask?

Our culture has lately leaned towards the latter rather than the former. Many people now believe that morality is subjective, and that "you have your truth and I have my truth," and all we really need to do is be "tolerant" of each other and not step on each other's toes.

If you beat your wife in your own home, and if that is not unethical in your culture, then all the more power to you, right?

Not quite.

The problem with the view that morality is subjective, and with the claim that "truth is in the eye of the beholder", is that this view is absolutely nonsensical and cannot stand up in real life. If truth is merely subjective, how could we have laws? The murderer, the thief, the drunk driver, the wife beater, the child molester, the racist, the bigot...these may all claim that in their world, their actions are not wrong. They are simply following "their truth," and it may even be backed up in some cases by their own cultures.

So should we just agree to disagree, turn a blind eye and be "tolerant" to their ways? Should we just say that hey, no one elected us God, so who are we to say that they are wrong to do what they are doing? What gives us the right to impose OUR morality on them, when they claim to see things differently?

The fact is that life in a civilized society demands the objective viewpoint. By having laws we recognize that ethical rules are objective and must be obeyed by everyone, regardless of their personal "truth." The opposite viewpoint, that truth is purely subjective, would bring us anarchy.

Moreover, imagine that kind of world - where everyone humbly "minds their own business" because they are not God, so what right do they have to meddle with the actions of others. Would you want to live in a world like that? In a world like that, no one would stand up for you if you were abused, violated, injured, threatened or attacked, because they would have no "right" to impose their own morality on the aggressor. In a world like that, you would live in utter confusion, because there would be no "truth," no "right," and no "wrong" - anything would go, and there would be no basis for ever saying "no" to anyone. In the end, the winner would be brute force, since rational argumentation would have run out of steam.

(11) "Tell me this, what do you think about donor frozen embryo transfers (FETs)? Those embryos are already made, for better or for worse. Without couples willing to undergo an IVF procedure, they have no other options but to be destroyed or given over to research. It's still "repro tech" but that procedure gives the only option for life in that situation."

In my opinion, Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) is a good thing as a way to save the lives of the embryos who have been frozen and who are waiting, in effect, to be able to live their lives.

That does not mean I support the creation of frozen embryos in the first place. However, once the deed is done, even though it was unethical, it creates a dilemma - lots of frozen little human beings who are not given the chance to live their lives. I've read that by some estimates, there are up to 500,000 of these beings in limbo in clinics in the U.S. What should be done with them?

One good solution, in my opinion, is to let them live!

For that reason I also strongly support embryo adoption. Those who adopt embryos are giving life to children who would otherwise probably lose their lives. Embryo adoption shares the characteristics of other adoption - it is an act of help towards a child in need - a child that already exists, a child whose problems the adoptive parents did not create but rather, they now want to help alleviate.

February 15, 2008

Responses IV: 8-9

(8) "No one is trying to say that biological parents don't MATTER, just that biology is not ALL that matters and sometimes biological parents can not or choose not to parent their children."

True, sometimes biological parents simply CANNOT parent their children, and that's certainly always been recognized as a handicap for the children. Foster parenting and adoption has never been seen as a "first best" option for a child that is born into this world. If the biological parents are not abusive and if they have ability and means to raise their own children, then that has always been seen as the preferred alternative.

As far as biological parents CHOOSING not to parent their own children, that is a much newer phenomenon - and it is by no means decidedly ethical. Our society and law have traditionally believed that parents couldn't just disregard their parenting responsibilities towards their biological children, whether or not their children were created intentionally. Many people would prefer to just ignore the fact that they've created children, and to have no responsibilities towards these needy little creatures. And yet, our laws go after "deadbeat dads", and men can end up paying child support even when the pregnancy resulted from a one-night stand. Parents also end up paying child support after a divorce, even though many parents would find it more convenient to simply "choose not to" parent their children anymore once the marriage ends.

The law has always recognized that parental responsibility is not dependent on the parents and their wishes. It's always been about the children and their RIGHT to be parented and supported by those who created them.

However, this age-old law of parental responsibility is now colliding with the new development of gamete "donation", where men and women agree to give up their own biological children before these are ever created. These people are not giving up their own children because they have to, or because they are forced to, or because they are abusive parents. They are doing it simply because they claim this is their autonomous reproductive right. Apparently, "reproductive rights" aren't just about using contraception and having "wanted" children -- they also include the right to create an "unwanted" child in order to give (sell) it away to strangers! The biological parents even claim that just because they do not recognize these "unwanted" biological offspring as their own children, then they are not in fact their children! Now that's a boggling example of "mind over matter" - kind of like the ostrich sticking his head into the sand and thinking the world has disappeared.

Of course, the "unwanted" child is given absolutely no say as its real, able and perfectly good parents exercise their "reproductive choice" to give it away to one or two complete biological strangers. It is assumed, expected and even demanded that the child will accept this strange situation as equally good to being raised by its own biological parents. In fact, the child should rejoice at being with these strangers because they "want" the child - whereas its real, biological parent(s) never wanted the child at all.

Both in terms of ethics and in terms of rights, there is a universe of difference between parents who CANNOT and parents who CHOOSE NOT to parent their own children. While it has always been recognized that parents sometimes cannot do what they ought, they have never had a right to simply "choose not to" when they could. That's because the children have rights to their own parents, too.

(9) "You will never be affected by my choices so your "opinion" is not relevant in this matter."

How can you be sure I will never be affected by your choices? In a society where gamete donation is becoming increasingly common, my own life could very well be affected by your actions. Imagine that one day, my child (should we have any) marries a gamete-donation child. My grandchildren won't ever know half of their family tree! Yes, my family could be directly affected by your choices.

February 14, 2008

Responses III: 5 to 7

Thanks to the anonymous comments yesterday. Normally I would answer them in the Comment section but since I am currently making a list of objections and responses in the main Blog, I am answering them here. I can only deal with a couple of arguments a day, so please be patient.

(5) "So I guess you think that I would have been better off with my violently abusive bio father rather than in a home that loved me?"

No. A child is definitely better off in a home where the child is loved than in a home with an abusive father - biological or non-biological. -- Incidentally, various studies have shown that children are much more likely to be abused by a non-biological father-figure than by a biological father. Yes, biological fathers do sometimes abuse their children, but it is also a fact that men are naturally much LESS inclined to abuse their OWN biological children.

This question is certainly important for adoption or foster parenting. Children are better off with adoptive or foster parents than with abusive biological parents.

However, when it comes to gamete donation, I fail to see the relevance of this question. When it comes to gamete donation, there is no question of the donor being abusive. In fact, the donors advertised by most sperm banks are exactly the type of men who are very UNlikely to abuse their children. They are often responsible, mature, professional, well-rounded, high achievers, educationally, athletically, socially and financially successful...you name it. Many of them have families of their own and their children are just fine.

So in gamete donation, there is no concern of "rescuing" the child from a bad, abusive father. It would be nice if gamete donation were motivated by something so altruistic, but in reality the child would probably have been quite happy with its gamete donor parent. In fact, it might be have been better off than with its "adoptive" replacement parent, who can often be rather less of a "star".

(6) "As far as children's rights go there are SO more pressing issues to deal with like the many many abused and neglected kids in bio families. I don't get why repro tech is such a focus for you if what you care most about are children's rights. I don't really "get" why you are so focused on reprotech as being such an issue in the midst of today's societal breakdown...You have every right to your opinions, I just fail to see the point of your blog if children's rights are you main cause. ....Isn't divorce a bigger problem than sperm donation??"

Yes, on the overall scale of things, more children are affected by divorce than sperm donation, and there is definitely a societal breakdown in many important areas that affect children and the family. But people with limited time have to "choose their battles." This is my battle.

(7) "Repro tech is not the problem, lack of basic human kindness, responsibilty, etc., is the much bigger problem."

The use of reproductive technologies today actually demonstrates and is fuelled by the "much bigger problem" that you mention: the lack of basic human kindness and responsibility. I would also add that the use of reproductive technologies today also shows a deep selfishness, self-centeredness and lack of empathy on the part of many parents, attitudes that continue to be strongly fostered by our materialistic and individualist culture.

February 13, 2008

Responses II

My responses to arguments continue:

(3) "I don't think you have the right to tell others that "repro tech" is wrong for anyone who has chosen that path."

False. That right is called free speech. It would be a sad state of affairs indeed if we could not express our opinion on ethics simply because someone might be "offended," which really means that their feelings could be hurt.

Notice, this argument doesn't even try to address whether or not I could be right. Clearly, rationality, logic, ethics and the truth do not matter here. It's all based on protecting the emotions of those who use repro tech. I should not have the right to argue, to even bring up the possibility that someone who uses repro tech could be doing something unethical - not because that is the truth, but because they could be offended and hurt by my words.

Well, if you're going to do unethical things then you should not be surprised if someone calls you on it. There IS a right to free speech. But there is NO "right" to have your feelings protected and to have your critics silenced when you do something that is unethical.

(4) "IVF has bio parents raising bio children and in the case of donor gametes many couples are chosing donors who are willing to have contact, similar to open adoption."

Yes, families who used donor gametes also sometimes choose to have contact with their donors. And indeed, this points out the similarities between donor-conception and adoption. Those who use donor gametes are, in effect, CREATING a child that they will then ADOPT, because the child is NOT naturally, biologically and fully theirs.

It is a good development that donor gamete families choose contact with their donors. But WHY did they choose it?

These developments, the "open" gamete donation and the "open" adoption, are both fairly recent. For many decades, the collective wisdom was that all links to biological parents should be cut forever. Studies have shown that most donor-gamete children were never even told that they were conceived using a third person's gametes! So the social/ intended parents were not exactly jumping at the chance to have contact with the donor and to have the donor become a part of their lives. The social/intended parents did NOT cause this revolution in "openness." They would have been fine with silence, with just forgetting the whole thing ever happened because these are "their" children now.

But over time, the parents realized that their children NEEDED this contact. The children of earlier generations grew up and still felt lost, and needed to search for their missing "halves." They want to have contact with the very biological parents, and families, that were taken away from them by their social/intended parents under the "enlightened" theory that love is all that matters. These children, who always had it drummed into their heads that biology doesn't matter, started logging onto the Donor Sibling Registry and searching for each other and for their biological parents.

Why did these "very, very LOVED" children still long to know those darned DNA donors, their biological parents? Why did their yearning cause this shift towards "open" gamete donation? Because the children have shown us that no matter how much they are "loved," their BIOLOGICAL PARENTS MATTER!!!

The very development of "open" gamete donation should show anyone who is considering the use of donor gametes just how important biological parents really are.

February 12, 2008

Some responses to reader arguments

Some of my recent posts have resulted in a flurry of arguments from those in favor of repro technologies. The permutations of these arguments are quite interesting. I am in favor of rational argument and debate on the facts, not based on emotion - and as such, I wish to deal with each of these arguments seriously. Because there are lots of these arguments, I will answer them in a few subsequent blog entries as well. Today I will start with two of these arguments.

(1) "Save a life? Spare a life? Create a life? What's the difference?"

The difference is in the INTENTION of those who are saving or creating the life. Intention matters. Where morality and ethics are concerned, intention is king. Intention is often what makes the difference between guilt and innocence - before the law, and in our own conscience too. Most of our criminal law is built around intention. For instance, if you really did not intend to kill someone and it happened accidentally, you get off with manslaughter. If you premeditated it, you get slapped with the 1st degree.

When we adopt a child that we did not help to create, we are helping the child. Our intention was not to rip that child away from its biological parents. Our intention is to help a needy little person who is already abandoned by its own biological parents and who needs to be adopted. This is why in some ways adoption is an act of charity, even though the adoptive parents also want a child of their own.

On the other hand, when we intentionally create a child who will not know or be raised by its own biological parent(s), we are in effect creating challenges for that child. We are making that child's life more difficult from the outset. We are no longer fully "innocent" in relation to that child's difficult situation. We helped to create that situation. Our action in raising that child can no longer be viewed in any way as an act of charity. Rather, it is clearly an act of our own selfishness: we wanted a child for ourselves, regardless of the negative consequences for the child. We can say to ourselves, "well, who doesn't have difficulties in life?" That is true, but it is also true that WE have created this important difficulty for the child - a difficulty that the child may struggle with for a lifetime, and that will also affect the child's own children and grandchildren.

(2) "I see no difference between IVF and adoption, all though I could make a successful argument that IVF is more biblical. It does say to go forth and multiply."

Quite funny. Since the Bible says "go forth and multiply," then I guess that any way of "multiplying" is biblical! That would justify rape, incest, sexual slavery, anything. Any way of getting a woman pregnant is, I guess, "going forth and multiplying," so it is biblical! This argument is transparently simplistic and false - but I am dealing with it here anyway, just because I am trying to address them all.

More arguments and responses to follow in the next blog entry.

February 11, 2008

Seeking Surrogates in India

Growing and giving away children is becoming a "respectable" business in some places, it seems. Could this perhaps be called "exploitation," or is it merely another legitimate free-enterprise way of making money and escaping poverty? Are Western couples preying on poor Indian women, or are they giving them a way out of their misery? As with many questions, it all depends who you ask.

Sarah J. Flashing, MA, says it very well in her new essay at the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity:
"The problem with commercial surrogacy...is that at its very foundation it rejects human dignity, the inherent aspect of what it means to be human, having been made in the image of God. ...Her dignity is violated by exploiting her financial vulnerabilities. Her dignity is violated by viewing her womb as a piece of factory equipment that can be utilized over and over again for the production of a product, or fixed when it breaks down from continued use. Her body is not a piece of property that can be monopolized for nine months by a child she may grow to love but cannot be held. She is a human being created in the image of God, and to treat her as such would mean to be generous to her without consideration of her procreative capacity, not to use this capacity as a means for her survival."

February 07, 2008

"We the infertile people"

Yesterday I received a comment on this blog, where a woman demanded that I cease speaking out against reproductive technologies because, until I have walked a mile in her (infertile) shoes, I can't possibly imagine the hell of infertility, and therefore I can't appreciate how any and all means of getting out of that hell - including repro tech - are clearly acceptable.

She assumed that if I am speaking out against repro tech, then my knowledge of infertility and repro tech must be purely academic. And if my knowledge is purely academic, then I have no right to express my opinion, which is so offensive to those who have actually walked the "road of hot coals".

I thought about this comment for some time. In the past, I have not made personal comments on this blog about myself, and part of me did not want to get into that. I disagree with the view that a person is not entitled to speak about something just because he or she has not experienced it himself. That kind of mindset would lock us in narrow and separate worlds.

Nonetheless, I finally decided to clarify a bit about my own situation, because it just so happens that I do know for myself the pain of infertility. My husband and I have been trying to have children for many months now. We have watched other couples we know - friends, family, coworkers - have babies, and more babies, and more babies...while we are still coming home to our two pets.

No, it is not easy. In fact, it can be very difficult, and yes, I have cried a lot.

In our own case, I still have hope. We are now being seen by a fertility specialist, and we are undergoing tests to find out what the problem is (or are - if they can be found). It is stressful, embarassing, awful...every time I go into that clinic I completely tense up and hate every minute of it, and yet it is our hope.

However, my views on repro tech remain the same. If in vitro or other repro technologies turn out to be our only hope, then we won't do it. We will try to adopt. That can, of course, be long and difficult and expensive too. Well, we may try to be foster parents too, I am open to that.

And whatever else happens...we trust in God and what he has planned for us. I do believe that things happen for a reason, and that everything, even pain and suffering, can be made to work for the good. My husband has been incredibly supportive through it all, he is truly a solid and great man.

It is certain that infertility is a great suffering. Sometimes I feel like a social outcast because I struggle with having children. Sometimes I feel like a leper...and I wonder, if it is my fault, am I ruining my husband's life, do I even deserve to be with him? What will my mother in law, who is eager for more grandchildren, think of me if she finds out that it is me? I just want to hole up and hide.

On the other hand, it is good to put things into perspective. I am currently reading a book about Africa by a Polish journalist who lived there for 40 years. He describes the terrible poverty, the wars, the famine, the dire living conditions. Those still exist today. People struggle with so many things in the world. In the West, people's suffering is mostly hidden within big houses, behind smiling faces, and we do not see it. Everyone seems happy, and we feel like the only ones who aren't. But the fact is, suffering is a fact of life.

In my opinion, the best way to deal with suffering is to take a step back and to realize that our suffering is NOT worse than a lot of other people's. People all over the world are terminally ill, they are dying, they are divorcing, they are losing their loved ones, they are losing their homes, their countries, they are hungry, they are persecuted, they are in war-torn countries fearing for their lives...in fact, in comparison with most of the world, WE are the lucky ones, in many other ways.

I still believe that the answer to the pain of infertility is NOT to transfer the suffering onto the children who are created - that is NOT our right, even as "infertile people".

February 06, 2008

Bone marrow can become sperm

A few days ago I wrote about how the British government wants to take out the reference, in their laws, to children needing a father. My question was, are men passé?

Well, it turns out that again in Britain, scientists have discovered how to turn women's bone marrow into sperm cells!

This is no longer mere science fiction. Men and women appear to be losing any need for each other. We have already lost a need for each other in almost every way in normal life, and now, we are losing a need for each other in the most elemental aspect of all, human reproduction.

I view this is a very sad development indeed. Not just for the sake of men, but especially for the sake of the children who will not have fathers - due to parenting by lesbian couples or single women, or, perhaps one day, due to the fact that even their own genes come only from two women.

February 05, 2008

Mommy 1, Mommy 2 and Daddy

A team of doctors have created a human embryo with three biological parents. They planted the nucleus of an embryo (formed in the usual way with egg and sperm) into another egg whose nucleus had been removed. The embryo began to grow as normal.

This of course leads to the disturbing question: do we want to create people with three genetic parents? What are we doing to our children? And does anyone even care about the impact on children, since the overriding concern in all these technologies seems to focus on the desires and "needs" of the adults?

A rather disquieting tangent along these lines is the door that such an experiment opens to polygamy. If children have three "natural" parents, then why can't these parents all get married and live in the home, and share in the raising of their child? Any other arrangement is arguably unfair to the child, who is forced to choose between parents and see less of one than the two others.

It is also interesting that for this experiment, the scientists used the "defective" embryos left over from IVF. And with this little "transplant," the embryos got a second wind and started developing as normal. Thus, there may now be a way to "save" some of those embryos that were previously written off as too damaged to use in IVF.

February 04, 2008

Britain - blazing the way to the new dark ages

How lovely, the National Health Service in the U.K. is debating whether to use taxpayer money to cover the cost of renting surrogate wombs. Couples or individuals - whether heterosexual or homosexual (or, presumably, "other") - would be able to get their babies from rent-a-wombs free of charge, with taxpayers footing the bill.

I am constantly amazed at the repro tech stuff that is coming out of the U.K. these days. It's a train out of control. Can it get any more crazy, any more appalling, any more disturbed and disturbing?

WIth the government picking up the tab, the surrogate business is liable to increase to a veritable "cottage industry". Some women could even begin to specialize in being live baby incubators. It could become a whole new career field, perhaps even supported by courses in local community colleges.

Perhaps women like Jill Hawkins are visionaries and pioneers of the future after all. The question is, what kind of future are they harbingering? Jill Hawkins, on antidepressants as she plans the surrender of her eighth baby...the pioneer of a future:
  • where children belong to no one by nature and anyone by law;
  • where children have no right to their biological parents, siblings, relatives, families or cultures;
  • where adults have the right to give life or inflict death and to "assign" babies to whomever they choose;
  • where adults commission the manufacturing of their children based on preferences and specifications, and can seek damages where these specifications are not followed or the child is an "inferior" product;
  • where even adults are used and exploited for their sperm, eggs, and wombs, especially adults that are young and not fully informed or cognizant of the consequances, financially or emotionally needy, or who live in developing countries;
  • where being an adult means having might - and might makes right, and contains all rights - and where being a child, especially unborn - means having no rights at all...
A grand old future. Britain is blazing the way of progress and enlightenment, that much is sure.

February 02, 2008

Baby manufacturing defect II

Last September, the media reported that a lesbian couple is suing their doctor for transferring two embryos rather than one. They want $400k for their damages in having to raise two girls rather than just one.

The doc is defending himself by saying that although the transfer of two embryos was a bona fide mistake, the rate of "embryo splitting" is also high in IVF and the embryo could have split on its own even if only one was transferred; hence, the doc alleges that he owed the mothers no duty of producing only one child.

It's not clear who will win that one. In the immediate dispute I would lean towards the plaintiffs. Yes, the doc owed them no duty of final outcome - however, he did have the responsibility of carrying out his end of the bargain without error. He did err, and raised their chances of a twin outcome from a certain lower percentage to a higher percentage.

Notice the lesbians did, according to the story, briefly consider giving one of the girls up for adoption. But they chose not to - and yet, they still want damages. How could they still believe they are entitled to receive funding for raising and educating the second girl, if they were not forced to keep her?

They might claim that they simply could not bear to part with their own genetic child. The irony of their situation is that since they are lesbians, the girls are evidently the product of a sperm donor. As such, the lesbians can't possibly believe that biological parents matter so much to a child - or even to the parents of the child. After all, they already intentionally separated the girls from at least one of their biological parents.

Since they had the option of placing one of the girls up for adoption, the court should point out that it is simply unreasonable for them to receive funding for raising and educating the second girl.

The broader point, however, is that we are witnessing the birth of a society where parents sue because their children didn't come out as ordered. In other words, parents are now the disgruntled customers, and their children are the products.

Rather than being happy with whatever they get, parents are now demanding that their children conform to certain specifications. Back in the days of natural reproduction, parents would never have dreamed of suing each other (or God) because they got twins instead of a single baby. Each baby was a gift, even if it was a challenge.

Now, parents demand specific numbers of a specific kind of child, and they expect to have their cake and eat it too: "Two boys without the deafness gene, one girl without the cancer gene, and no down's syndrome or other disabilities, please."

If anything goes wrong, parents don't just accept it anymore as the gift of a nature that knows better than our own human limitations. They rage against the clinic for wasting their time and hurting their emotions, and leaving them with a deficient product that requires their time and money - certainly a cause for "damages."

It is a shame that while the parents may believe they have sustained "damages" due to the errors of the clinic, their attitude will likely lead to even deeper "damages" to their own children, who will inevitably perceive that they are a burden rather than a blessing to their own parents, and who will perceive that rather than being treated as beautiful and invaluable no matter what their attributes, their parents value and love them only conditionally.

February 01, 2008

Parents sue over baby manufacturing defect

Imagine if one day, your parents told you that if they had known that you'd be born with a certain defect that you have, then they would rather have never conceived you at all. They would have adopted or just not had children.

And it's not because your defect has made you a serial killer or because you are a psychopath, dangerous or evil to society or to themselves. It's only because they didn't want to be burdened with the medical expenses that your defect brings, and possibly also because they think your life may become too full of suffering (for you - or for them?) and you may die young - and, it seems, they would only have wanted a child that lives to old age.

And how would you feel, additionally, if the same defect for which they would have rejected you and ended your life in a Petri dish, is the same defect that your mother actually has, and which she has lived with for many years even as she married and had children (like you)?

This is what an Australian couple is alleging, in a lawsuit where they are suing their IVF clinic for implanting them with the wrong embryo. The embryo happened to have the cancer gene that the parents commissioned to be screened out. The clinic had created 8 embryos. 6 were killed on the spot, while two were implanted. Only one made it through to birth. But oops - three months after the baby's birth, the parents found out that their son had the cancer gene after all!

So of course, like proper dissatisfied shoppers, they stormed Customer Service and sued. They want money for emotional trauma and they want money for the medical expenses of raising their new son, whom they allege they would never have had if the doctors hadn't assured them that he would be free of the cancer gene.

Away with the old; in with the new. In the days of yore, parents used to love and be thankful for any child that was born to them. They did not have demands of a clean bill of health or anything else for that child. A child was God's gift, a free and great miracle. Parents believed that each child had its own value, and that if their child had a disability then it was still equally valuable and had something to teach them about love.

Today, some parents are no longer content with receiving the flawed and damaged gifts of nature. Parents now pre-select their children in the lab dish. They will no longer accept just any child; they want the most perfect child that they can get. When their "order" gets messed up and is filled incorrectly, and another child is born as a result, they have "emotional trauma". The child has created great and grievous "damages"solely by being born less perfect than its parents demanded. Parents are enraged at being "stuck" with an inferior product that they did not order. They are appalled that now, they are supposed to pour their love and attention, their finances and their time, onto this inferior product that was never supposed to exist. What a travesty of justice! Someone certainly has to pay the price.

But regardless of how much the clinic pays, someone else will pay the most. That is the child itself. The boy, once he realizes how conditional the love of his parents is, will pay the most. The parents may think that the cancer gene will ruin their child's life. In fact, it is their own inability to unconditionally love their child and rejoice at his birth that could very well damage him psychologically beyond anything else.