Ugly people can buy beautiful donor sperm and/or ova and make themselves a beautiful baby. Would-be donors will be screened through internet polls.
Isn’t that just heart-warming?
Remember way back when a rich guy named Robert K. Graham opened a fertility clinic that accepted donations only from Nobel Prize winners? Everyone called him a Nazi and other stuff like that. The Repository for Germinal Choice closed in 1999, but did create over 200 children. There’s a big mystery about where those children are today and whether or not they lived up to the intended “genius”potential.
Slate did an investigative piece a couple of years after the clinic closed to try and find some of these kids. So far, it seems these kids are just regular, ordinary, unbrilliant kids. The entire feature can be found here if you’re interested.
I’m more interested in the ethics of the whole business of creating humans from anonymous donations. Margaret Somerville, founding director of the Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law at McGill University has been studying this topic.
Somerville feels that we may be causing a lot of harm to future generations of donated gamete-conceived children.
Is donor conception the 21st-century version of the wrongs we now recognize we did to some children in the 20th century? Are we repeating in a new context and in new ways the terrible errors and grave injustices that occurred with Australia’s “stolen generation” of aboriginal children, the United Kingdom’s “home children” sent to Canada and other British Commonwealth countries, and the “scoop” of native children from reserves into Canadian residential schools and white adoptive homes, all of which deliberately separated children from their biological families.
Canada has seen a significant shortage of sperm and ova donation since it became illegal to pay donors in 2004. Before that, sperm donors were 90% college/university students looking for a fast $75 to masturbate.
Now, Canada’s reproductive laws are so messed up that people have trouble wading through what they are and are not allowed to do. They often end up having to engage in all sorts of “loophole” activities to get themselves pregnant via anonymous donors. (Donations from friends, family members or acquaintances are an entirely different story)
Loopholes and gaps in our reproductive laws seem to be enormous. People can buy sperm or ova from the US, which currently still has plenty, since they still pay donors. Canadians can still find donors or surrogates and pay for their “expenses.” In short, there are still plenty of ways to buy fertility.
Also, technically, you can even buy both sperm and ova and create a beautiful baby from BeautifulPeople. New Zealand is enacting legislation to make double donor conception legal. It’s not illegal in Canada, but it hasn’t been too popular so far.
And it’s all totally anonymous. Neither you nor your child will ever have access to the donor information beyond basic data like a guarantee from the clinic that the donor is healthy and disease free and the donor’s height, weight, hair/eye colour and general interests — no photos.
In Britain, Australia and New Zealand children can apply to get the donor’s name when they’re adults. In Canada there still isn’t any legal requirement to even maintain permanent records. Donor-conceived adults are working to change that.
So, in light of all that, if you conceive a child through gamete donation, ethicists will ask — what happens to that child’s right to know his/her biological history? The whole secret adoption mess took forever to straighten out. Only after decades of children demanding access to their birth records are they finally allowed to search for their birth parents.
It’s one thing for a kid to find out that he was the result of a drunken teenage “accident”, but, as Margaret Somerville explains, it’s quite another knowing that their genetic parent sold – and that their social parent bought – what is (as one donor-conceived woman put it) “the essence of [their] life for $25 to a total stranger, and then walked away without a second look back? What kind of a man sells himself and his child so cheaply and so easily?
Furthermore, in Canada there is no upper limit to the number of offspring a donor can contribute to. Other countries have limits between 6 and 25.
So, if one clinic in Canada is producing even 25 kids from the same donor, what are the odds that some of these kids will grow up in the same area? Maybe get to know each other without even knowing that they’re half-siblings?
What, if any impacts do you suppose there would be on these children deliberately removed from their biological families — and I think the important emphasis is on the word “deliberate”
Check out Kathleen R. LaBounty’s blog Child of a Stranger for her story as she tries to find her anonymous sperm-donor father.