Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Religion isn't the answer (or even the question)

A debate has ensued on Mercatornet after the publication of Lea Singh's "A Creation Myth for the 21st Century", over the role of religion (primarily the Catholic Church) in donor conception views.  Several of the comments posted were of obvious religious content, and after a DI dad called out that Lea is Catholic, it must be that she has ulterior motives in writing her article, because no one would disagree with donor conception unless they're of the religious right, and are bigoted, pro-life, and conservative.  

I find it very insulting that society feels that the only people who are anti-ART are also anti-abortion and anti-gay, and that we must be using God as a reason, because otherwise we'd be hypocritical.  Lets set one thing straight here...I am, and never have been, homophobic or religious.  My views on abortion have changed over the years, but I consider myself to be pro-choice (even if it's a choice I personally would not make).  I consider myself fiscally and socially liberal, but am a registered Independent.  Whew!  Now that all those questions are cleared up for everyone, let me explain my rationale of being opposed to donor conception.

Donor conception is an illusion.  It is an illusive medical treatment for infertility, but it is not and never will be a CURE.  It's also not a cure for women who can't find Mr. Right, or for lesbians who would rather have a child with their partner but cannot.  Therefore, the infertility industry has society under a spell.  They propagate the illusion that donor conception/ART is all of these things and more.  They tell everyone that "love makes a family" and "love is all you need", and that everyone is happy after treatment.  It's a LIE.

I hope that with the help of my new blog Donor Conceived Perspectives, that some of the horror stories that offspring have endured from the infertility industry will be highlighted.  Almost every offspring has a story that includes being told that their records were destroyed, or lost, or that the individual who works at the clinic/sperm bank is looking at their records right now but they tell the offspring that s/he has no right to access any information whatsoever about who they are.  An even more haunting story is of an adult offspring who was told by researchers who were doing research on the doctor, that they found her records but burned them so no offspring will ever find their identity.

One of the comments by Caroline Lorbach (an Australian DI mom) on Mercatornet was this: 
What I have concluded from my mediations on this issue is that if I was donor conceived I would be damn angry that there are people out there who hold personal information about my genetic relations including a parent & possible half siblings.  They hold this information but choose not to let me know.  I would be angry that a doctor knows who I am related to but chooses not to tell me!  Medical professionals & governments (after all in some countries they provide the money for these services to continue & in other countries they gives licenses for clinics to operate) have allowed the secrecy to go on for far too long.

I want to thank Caroline for this comment, because as a mother of three DC teens, she understands that the blame is not on herself but on the infertility industry.

So back to the religious myth of anti-ART people.  While the Catholic Church may be outspoken against donor-conception, I always avoid this coincidence because I feel that religion is not and should not be the cornerstone of human rights.  Each and every one of us should be concerned about human rights, regardless if we're Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Hindi, Buddhist, Muslim, or Atheist, because we are ALL human.  I once wrote an essay in school that was supporting pro-life, and I did not use a single religious reference in the 2,000 word essay.  I got an A+ on that paper, mainly because I succeeded in proving my point without religion, which my teacher didn't think was possible.  It is possible.  And it's possible to prove that donor conception is unethical without the using any religious references as well.  

I have not met a single offspring who blames their parents for conceiving them with a donor.  Most say that they feel like their parents didn't understand the consequences and were told by a doctor that this was what to do.  For those of us older offspring, this was surely the case.  However, now there are a multitude of voices speaking out across the world, and parents need to be making more informed decisions, and not only take advice from a single doctor or clinic.

One of the main problems with our situation is that politically, it's not a liberal OR a conservative issue.  People need to stop looking at the issues of donor conception from their prospective political angle and start looking at it from the offspring's angle.  The conservatives don't want to look at it from our side because they don't even want to acknowledge that it happens and simply continue the era of secrecy, non-disclosure, and deception.  The liberals don't want to see our side because they see it as being anti-gay rights and anti-reproductive rights.  No one wants to take responsibility for the children created from the $3 billion dollar a year (in the US alone) infertility industry because that sounds "un-American", and that the laissez-faire policy currently in tact is acceptable behavior.

It's not.  It has never been acceptable behavior, but the infertility industry advocates secrecy and they subsist secrecy in their entire operation.  They don't advertise that all the statistics out there are ones they created.  They don't say that the so-called regulations on sperm banks and clinics were developed by them!  The US government has little to no say (except that the sperm must be tested for things like HIV) in how many offspring a donor can create, what information can be given, and how long the records must be kept.  There are no checks and balances whatsoever.  So obviously they are going to deny that there are offspring out there who are unhappy when a patient asks.  

Most clinics won't even point offspring or parents to registries like the DSR, because they fear that knowledge breeds rebellion.  They fear that the more people who find donor families, the more people are going to demand open-ID donors, and they know full-well that the more demand for open-ID donors means a possible ban on donor anonymity, which subsequently often leads to less donors (as seen in the UK and Australia).  Once there's a ban on anonymity, the infertility industry can no longer deny that these men (and women) are creating biological children that may in fact want to know their bio parents, and thus, many donors are turned away because either they don't want to meet the offspring one day or they realize what they're really doing and chose not to sell their biological children.  But obviously, the infertility industry doesn't want to hurt their business.  The problem is, all other businesses must be accountable for their actions, why is the infertility industry removed from this vital aspect of the free market economy?

This is the time to rebel.  This is the time for us to tell the infertility industry that they are wrong.  This is the time that parents  need to speak up and demand such accountability (if not for themselves, for their children).  The infertility industry must become responsible for their actions!


damianhadams said...

I grew up religious but now am more atheist. I have relatives that are in same sex relationships and I love them and their partners dearly. I used to agree with DC but now am against. Sort of flies in the face of that opinion about anti-DC being based in a religious arguement.

whosedaughter said...

I grew up non-religious but went to a Presbyterian church. I never - ever identified with ANY OF IT. My personal philosophy (since my earliest memories) has always been everything is energy, we/everything is all "god" just trying to understand itself. I also have relatives in SS relationships who we ALL absolutely adore. I am also against DC/surrogacy (never was for it but I did think it was kind of 'cool' being DC because it was different). It all absolutely flies in the face of that opinion about anti-DC being based in a religious argument. It's high time that we to put THAT argument aside and move on to the bigger human interest picture..

Anonymous said...

Thank-you. Thank-you. Thank-you. I am a Catholic who blogs about biotechnology and I could not have said it better myself. The Catholic Church has been against ART not because they want to punish infertile couples or those who want an "alternative lifestyle" but because of the effects on the children.

The Church believes that every human being has a right to be created out of love for love in a womb, not in a lab. I am amazed that with all of the emerging technologies like preimplantation genetic diagnosis, even reproductive cloning, no one stops and asks if this is really good for the resulting child. All anyone ever seems to talk about is what the parents want, not what is best for the child.

Thank-you for voicing your opinion. It is sorely needed!

Panic Away said...

This is an assuring line - I have not met a single offspring who blames their parents for conceiving them with a donor. It is sad that there are so many who refuse to make the change to give the rights due. Ultimately, who really does take the responsibility?

Anonymous said...

One shouldn't base one's opposition to anonymous sperm donation in human rights because it was these very same human rights (and indeed the whole cornerstone of cultural liberalism) which has brought anonymous sperm donation. Fighting fire with fire won't put out the flames.