There are perhaps a dozen tabs open in my browser just now, each of the holding something I’ve been meaning to write about/pass along. But I’ve just gotten stuck on this one line:
Lahl, who admits to a having strong views against in-vitro fertilization, says these advances in reproduction have resulted in poor medical care for donor women and has produced a society OK with “babies without sex.” [emphasis added]
I don’t mean to brush aside the concerns about medical care–those are important and I have and will discuss those. But I am afraid that until I go on about the words in bold a little, I won’t be able to do all the other things on my list, so here we go.
Context first: The quote is from this article, which is about some of the controversies around money and those women who provide eggs for use in ART. It’s from a Canadian paper covering a Canadian conference (one that has generated a lot of interesting stories), which is important because Canadian law is distinctive. The speaker is Jennifer Lahl who is a film maker and, I think, the president of an organization called The Center for Bioethics and Culture Network.
Now as I understand that quote (and if you’re going to comment, you could tell me if you read it the same way) Lahl’s implication is that there is something wrong with a society that is okay with babies without sex. I think that means that her view is that babies should be inextricably bound up with sex. And while I’m well aware of this position, every time I run into it I am brought up short.
Here’s another article I’ve been meaning to get to about the Catholic Church’s rejection of IVF that is based on the same principle. The children profiled in that article are being raised by people who are genetically related to them. Their mothers gave birth to them–no surrogacy or anything. You might think it would be hard to find an objection here, but the problem is that the egg and sperm from the mother and father were mixed in vitro rather than during sex. (I don’t mean to suggest that the parents here never have sex. The problem is we know that these kids did not result from sex.)
This position is one I really cannot fathom, and that’s actually frustrating for me. Although I do not accept the position that those related by DNA are truly the parents of a child, I do understand it. I can discuss it (and have, probably ad naseum as far as some of you are concerned.) I can understand the health concerns around use of third-party gametes and the debate over anonymity. But I just cannot comprehend why society should care whether a child–is conceived via sex or in vitro.
My guess is that those who take this view also take the view that all contraception is wrong, perhaps even that all non-procreative sexual activities are wrong. Thus, not only must conception be tied to sex, but sex must be (at least potentially) tied to conception. And here I think I must be looking at some set of religious views–not necessarily exclusively those of the Catholic Church, but views rooted in some religious morality.
Anyone have any thoughts on this? Can anyone help me understand?
Finally, if it does matter, do the following things matter: Was the sex mutually gratifying, or was one participant barely tolerating it? Was it for pure carnal pleasure, for love or for some other reason? Was it fully consensual all around?
It seems to me bizarre to pose most of these questions, but I’m so at sea here that I don’t even know how to begin.