This essay is from today’s Motherlode blog. It’s by David Dodge, a gay man who lives in NYC. He’s provided sperm so that a lesbian couple he knows can have a child. He did this as an act of friendship and so, I think, is rightly described as a sperm donor.
The essay recounts all the things he thought about as he considered his friends’ request for his sperm. I think it gives a great sense of the issues that anyone contemplating providing gametes for third-party reproduction ought to think about. Indeed, I think it’s a list of considerations that women considering being surrogates ought to read and think about, too.
For those who are worried about the identity issues that might arise with a sperm donor, I’ll note at the beginning that it is clearly the plan that he will be known to and, to an as yet undefined degree, involved with the child. At the very least this ought to allay concerns about family medical history questions. Should a question come up the people to ask will be available. Continue reading
This is spurred by a substantial article in this morning’s NYT. I haven’t talked/written about surrogacy for quite a while and so perhaps it is time to circle back to the topic. I’m well aware that there is some extensive discussion under the last post (the one about birth certificates), but I lost track of that while I was travelling and this seems timely. I can only hope I’ll get back to the birth certificates shortly.
So surrogacy. There are so many things to say about it, so much to discuss. I’m going to pick a few points that leapt out at me reading the article. There are many others.
1. Surrogates prefer working with gay men than with straight couples (or I assume with single women.) Continue reading
There’s been conversation here from time to time about what it means to be a “biological parent.” I think that the term is at best murky, because I think a woman who gives birth to a child–whether genetically related to the child or not–might be a biological parent. Others disagree and, I think it is fair to say, view “biological parent” as essentially the same as “genetic parent.”
We’ve also disagreed (very recently) about whether the woman who gives birth has a biological relationship with the child. I think the division here is pretty much the same split about whether “biology” includes more than “genetics” in this context.
On one level this is just a debate about language and one might say that everyone is free to use the language they prefer, so long as they make its meaning clear. Continue reading
Just a brief post here on a particularly interesting article prominently featured in today’s NYT. It’s about preimplantation genetic diagnosis–also called PIGD. This is a topic I have written about before.
The idea with PIGD is simple, though the issues raised are anything but. When one does IVF the pre-embryos grow to something around an 8-cell stage in a petri dish. Without causing any harm to the developing embryo you can take one of those cells and do all kinds of genetic testing on it. It is that ability to do genetic testing that presents ethical quandaries.
Of course, some people will say that all IVF is bad/immoral Continue reading
I’ve been meaning to get back to this thread I started so confidently with “part I.” Without a “part II” it seems sort of silly. This post will make more sense if you go back and read that other one first.
Just the same I’m doing a brief recap. Maybe it’s like a running start. Maybe I’ll say something slightly different. I’ll try to summarize some principles and then go forward.
I generally support the legal recognition of functional/de facto parents. What I mean is that I think the law should recognize the people who actually function as the social/psychological parents of a child as the child’s legal parents. My primary reason for endorsing this approach is that it is, in a general way, good for children. I believe that children need stability in those primary relationships. (I think I could back this up with a lot of studies, by the way. ) So the law should protect them.
Now there is another thing about the functional/de facto approach. Continue reading
There’s a case out of Kansas I have been following for some time. William Marotta served as a sperm donor for two women in 2008 or 2009. The women found him via Craig’s list. The three people entered into a contract saying that Mayotte would only be a donor and would have no rights or obligations as a parent. The parties to the contract have, apparently, abided by its terms even as the two women split up.
The problem is that after the women split up the legal mother (I think in Kansas only one of the women could be a legal parent) obtained public assistance to support herself and her child. The state then sought reimbursement from Mayotte, asserting that contract or not, he was the legal father and obliged to pay child support.
Now a court has ruled that the state’s position is correct. Continue reading
Here’s an essay that I think is a nice complement to the last couple of posts. It’s from the NYT Motherlode blog and is part of a series by Amy Klein. In this one (published a week ago) she considers whether using a donor egg would matter to her.
There are several things about the essay that I think are noteworthy given the recent discussions here. Most obviously, this is an instance of an individual making precisely the sort of calculation I think one needs to make–weighing the pros and cons before proceeding with something obviously serious.
You can also see consideration of both sides of the balance. Continue reading
I know there’s a lot of discussion in the comments to the last post, and of course I’m quite happy about that. Discussion is good, right? But there’s a point where the comments become cluttered and it’s hard (for me, coming late anyway) to follow it all. So I wanted to try a new post, restating some but then moving along.
At the outset, I want to highlight what I think is the critical question here: “Is being raised by people who are not your genetic parents necessarily bad?” To me the inclusion of the word “necessarily” is critical.
If you leave out “necessarily” and just ask “Is being raised by people who are not your genetic parents bad?” then I think the answer has to be sometimes yes and sometimes no. Continue reading
I’m always (yes, you’d think I’d learn) sort of astonished about the degree to which conversations here evolve (or devolve, depending on viewpoint), to focus on questions of the meaning of genetic relationship. I think this reflects both the personal concerns of those who take the time to write but also (and perhaps more importantly) a larger debate within our society. Indeed, as I think I’ve said, it seems to me that the prevalence of stories about seeking genetic origins, etc. reflects the same societal concerns.
Anyway, I thought it might be useful to step away from the detailed discussion of individual cases and think more broadly, and I wanted to try out a slightly different way of looking at things.
Let’s start with the focus on a single question: How important is it for a child to be raised by its genetic parents? Continue reading
There have been three recent stories (of quite different sorts) about sperm donors (which by extension also have something to say about egg donors) that I wanted to highlight and comment on. Before I get to that, though, I wanted offer a reminder about the terminology I choose to use.
The generally used terms (as you can see from the writings I’ll link to shortly) are “sperm donor,” “egg donor” or, more inclusively, “gamete donor.” I’ve highlighted the “donor” part of each term because this is the word I try not to use. In many (but not all) instances, the “donor” receives compensation though typically the compensation is (technically) for time/inconvenience, rather than for the actual gametes. I accept that motivations of the many people who provide gametes aren’t purely commercial–there are altruistic elements as well. But still, the term “donor” for most of us suggests someone who gives something without compensation. I would prefer to reserve it for those who are actually in that category–those who are purely altruistic–and hence, I try to use “sperm provider,” “egg provider” and “gamete provider.”
Now–to the articles. Continue reading