State lawmakers in Michigan are gearing up this week to vote on the state’s first assisted reproduction and surrogacy parentage act.
That may sound like a pro-child and pro-family effort, but it’s just the opposite.
The devil, as always, is in the details.
Assisted reproduction refers to adults who use methods like in vitro fertilization, artificial insemination, and the use of egg, sperm or embryo “donors.” In each case, the text affirms that an intended parent is the legal parent of the child, whoever the biological mother or father is or whatever technology doctors used to create the child.
A parentage contract, not biology, determine who the child’s mother or father is.
The preference for technology over biology in the bill is comprehensive. Throughout the measure, the text uses gender-neutral terms such as “individual” or “parent” to refer to all parties, including the surrogate mother.
The word “woman, women, or mother” does not appear once in this bill. Of course, only women can get pregnant and bear children. For those motivated by a desire to help families, surely such neutered language undermines the close familial bonds one hopes to create.
The greater harm, however, is how the bill handles donor-conceived children. In Section 106, the bill states that “a donor is not a parent of a child conceived by assisted reproductive under a surrogacy agreement.” Legally, that may be the case, but biologically this couldn’t be further from the truth. Such an egg or sperm “donor” is responsible for 50% of the child’s DNA.
This legislation erects an unnatural barrier between a child and his or her biological mother or father.
Of course, these biological parents are not really “donating” their sperm or eggs. A highly lucrative industry profits from buying and selling such gametes. Sperm may be sold for up to $1,500 and a woman’s eggs have a starting price of $2,500. In weird but all-too-common cases, men can father more than 100 kids in this way.
Further, in Section 109, the bill places an undue burden on children spawned from “donor” egg or sperm. The law states that the contractual agreement, including the use and identity of donor parents, may be sealed from public view unless the child goes through a lengthy process to request that information.
For children conceived with a donor’s egg or sperm, half of their medical history, family origins, and other family siblings, cousins, aunts or uncles are hidden from them.
Harvard Medical School and another study, “My Daddy’s Name is Donor,” have done extensive research into the experiences of children created from donor egg or sperm. Now adults, an overwhelming number of donor-conceived persons share stories of identity issues. They feel as though they don’t “fit” with their parents, feel sadness or anger at how they were conceived, guilt over their dissatisfaction, and experience poor mental health.
“Donor” egg or sperm is just a legal euphemism for depriving a child of a relationship with his or her biological parent(s).
There are deep moral problems with this use of technology, and especially with the Michigan law. The state should, at a minimum, follow Colorado and prohibit all anonymous egg and sperm donations. Colorado rightly recognized that children desire to know who their biological mother and father are.
Instead of obscuring birth certificates by erasing the biological parent(s) or a child’s surrogate mother, it would be better to list all parties. This could include the child’s biological mother (egg donor), the child’s biological father (sperm donor), the surrogate mother, and/or the in vitro fertilization technician. Of course, it could also include the intended mother or father if they are not related to the child in one of the aforementioned ways.
While unusual for a child to have six “parents” like this, the current bill makes this scenario possible. Such a bizarre arrangement is tailor-made to create an identity crisis for the child(ren) involved.
The purpose of law should be to protect and promote human flourishing, not merely to ratify what is technologically possible. Family law, in particular, should prioritize the well-being of children, not the preferences of adults.
Michigan’s parentage bill should be held to the same standard.
It’s no small thing to have the legal right to purchase egg, sperm, and/or a womb to create a child. The potential for abuse in this industry is huge.
Unfortunately, HB 5207 fails to protect potential children and families. Instead, it creates a lucrative market wherein anyone, infertile or not, has the “right” to create a child using assisted reproduction.
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The post Michigan Parentage Bill Ignores Importance of Biology appeared first on The Daily Signal.
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