What To Think About the Interests of the As-Yet-Unconceived Child

The last post has inspired a lot of comments, some of which focus on the interests of children who are perhaps going to be conceived but do not yet exist.   This is a topic that’s come up quite a bit and I honestly cannot recall if I have discussed it separately.  It’s interesting (and difficult) to think about.

When people think about having a child (no matter how the plan to conceive) they often think about what raising that child will be like.   (At least I hope they do.)   They think about the quality of life the child will have.  And presumably, if they go ahead and conceive a child, they decide it will be a good (or a good enough?) life.

But the discussion here isn’t about what the people planning for the child think.   The discussion here arises when a reader/commenter says that someone else shouldn’t be allowed to conceive a child under whatever condition is at issue because it will be bad for the child.   The common context here is that it is problematic to conceive a child where the child will not be raised by its genetic parents, but I take this to be but one case of a more general concern about the well-being of the as-yet-unconceived child.

Now if you think about this on an individualized level I think you end up with some metaphysical argument that rather makes my head hurt.  If the people don’t go forward there will be no child.   So is the as-yet-unconceived-child better off not being conceived at all?  Or being conceived under the proposed circumstances?    I just don’t know how to answer that question with regard to a specific and individual child.   Asking that now-conceived and existing child if she/he would have been better off not having existed it just too weird.   I’m not sure who could really answer that question.

Instead, I find I have to think about this question much more generally.   I think the question is really when do we (meaning society) get to decide who should and shouldn’t have kids?  When do we (as society or representatives of society)  get to say that we don’t care what the people directly involved think, the choice isn’t just theirs, children should not be brought into the world in that circumstance?

Perhaps I haven’t fairly reframed the question.   I wonder about this because as I have framed it the danger of posing the question seems clear.   Wouldn’t we say that children shouldn’t be born into extreme poverty?  Or into households where there is violence?   Or where the parents are unlikely to be able to provide the most basic care for them?   And if we do–if we are allowed to make that judgment–where does that lead us?  To the era of involuntary sterilization?   To eugenics?   To many places we have been that, in hindsight, look very bad indeed.

It’s not that it isn’t possible to imagine a world where all prospective parents are pre-screened to see if it is likely that a child born into that family will have a full, productive and happy life.   You can imagine it.   It’s the stuff of dystopian fiction, I think.

Now you could, I think, try to say that this one particular action–creating children who will not be raised by their genetic parents–is so clearly heinous that we can at least rule that out and say it is impermissible.   But you’d have to persuade me that it was that clearly a bad situation.  And this will bring us right back to the persistent nub of disagreement–is at always bad for kids to be raised by non-genetically related parents, or not to be raised by their genetic parents?  There are thousands if not tens of thousands of kids who I think are living proof to the idea that the answer has to be “no”–it isn’t always bad.   Sometimes it turns out just fine.  And one could as well ask whether those kids who are happy being raised by their non-genetically related parents would have been better off not having been conceived at all.

I’m not sure where this all leaves me, except to think that it is dangerous–as our history has shown us–to assert that society should decide who should and who should not have children or under what conditions children should be born.   And I’m not even sure it gets us very far when you come back to the specific issues raised here.



113 responses to “What To Think About the Interests of the As-Yet-Unconceived Child

  1. Morally, there are certain situations where I flat out think a child should not be born into it, period. But I don’t want the state going down the path of forbidding births or sterilizing people, I feel the best that can be done is remove at birth the children of truly dangerous parents. It would be great if say, this guy: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/06/orlando-shaw-father-22-children-14-women_n_3397397.html got a vasectomy, since neither he nor the mothers can afford those kids, but I don’t want the law to force him to.

  2. Thank you for this post. I very much agree, and your last paragraph sums up my opinion.

  3. Reminds me a little of the debate a while back about whether a deaf couple were able to use PGD to select for an embryo that carried the deaf gene they had, and would therefore fit into their family. http://www.bionews.org.uk/page_37988.asp

    There’s a difference though, isn’t there, between only letting things happen that would naturally and not intervening, and ‘officiously striving’ to make things happen that never could in nature – IVF, DI and donor egg treatments falling into the latter category.

    I agree that the idea of stopping anyone having kids who’s currently able to doesn’t lead us anywhere good, but does that consequence follow from the wish to stop people having active surgical intervention/ fertility treatment?

    • Medical intervention in the case of sexual health (the right to freely choose or avoid sterilization, birth control, abortion) is covered by the right of privacy. Birth control and abortion case law is all about active surgical intervention and not “letting things happen” naturally.

      It’s not just that the state cannot prevent natural pregnancy or forcibly sterilize without permission, it’s that the state cannot stop someone from actively choosing to prevent a natural process.

  4. Julie – no it isn’t bad to be raised by non-genetic parents. Yet why do you limit the discussion to only when they are kids. That’s the crux of the question because we live a lot longer than childhood – so what should the common good requirements be in law – the basics – the right to know who you are, and that is the common theme between DC and Adopted and why this hasn’t been solved is because no one thinks about it past childhood. Note I didn’t say every person adopted or DC will give a hoot but it matters to many which also falls into my pet peeve of family health history.

    We should not just be doing what the consumer wants when we are talking about the product being human beings – we should be a better society by now. For some reason society was there prior to the 1950’s for adopted children – and then the moral society and misguided individuals decided we were really blank slates and did not need to know where we came from – my guess is that the parents couldn’t deal with their own insecurities and fears so put it off on the children…

    The question of should they never have been born is ART’s rhetorical comeback to the same question posed to adoptees – would you rather have been aborted. Both are strawman questions. I don’t take the bait.

    • For what it’s worth, I don’t think there should be fully anonymous donors. I think all donors should be ID release at 18 along with all adoption records.

  5. A brilliant writer whose father was a gamete donor wrote an essay about the topic and she opened by saying something along the lines of ‘put down the vial of sperm and look at me when I’m talking to you.” She repeated herself several times to drive the point home; stop talking about their damned conceptions and start talking about why they are treated so unfairly once they are born…’put down the vile and look at ME’.

    Donor offspring have the same human rights as everyone else on their human side but not on their donor side. Half-spring, half human half the rights of everyone else because one of their parents is not treated as being human but rather as just a cell. Just a tool. One of their parents is not human, has no human obligations for their own young. Human children cannot be bought and sold but donor’s children can be. And it’s not suppose to hurt not suppose to matter because that parent is not a parent, they’re a donor, and that’s the donor side of donor offspring that feel’s no pain, has no past present or future that cannot be usurped and replaced, grafted over. The donor’s family won’t miss the donor offspring they are not human not real not part of the family not worthy of recognition.

    Guess what? It’s all pretend. Surprise! They’re human. Donor’s have human children. Calling them Donor Conceived does not change the fact that they are people. Does not change the fact that one of their parent’s is missing and that the government protects most kids from being abandoned but not them. Stop talking about about conception. We need to talk about equal rights.

    Having a right to be a legal member of your social parent’s family is not equal to being a member of your own family. It’s just not and it never will be.

  6. “I’m not sure where this all leaves me, except to think that it is dangerous–as our history has shown us–to assert that society should decide who should and who should not have children or under what conditions children should be born. And I’m not even sure it gets us very far when you come back to the specific issues raised here.”

    For crying out loud nobody is talking about deciding who should and should not have children. We are talking about the fact that people that have children should all be held equally accountable for their care and support and not be allowed to privately contract away those obligations the way that people do in contracts for reproductive services because the result is human trafficking. Their offspring are born in captivity, not free to be recognized as the children of their parents but rather free to be recognized as the children of the people that paid to own a piece of their parent’s body, bought the right to reproduce their parent, bought the naming rights to some of their parents children.

    We are talking about the legal and ethical steps people should be made to follow before taking and raising another person’s offspring. If it’s good enough for donor offspring to be traded in private contracts without formal court approved adoption then why is black market adoption illegal? Why are contracts to relinquish offspring at birth suppose to be unenforceable? Why hold any biological parent accountable for their offspring why not have all children just be up for grabs.

    • “For crying out loud nobody is talking about deciding who should and should not have children.”

      You are clearly trying to decide who should have children. From what I can tell, you believe only heterosexual people have the right to bear natural children.

      You also do not believe that any married gay couple should reproduce. You do not believe a lesbian has the right to bear her own natural child. Reproduction is a civil right, but you would like to ban it for non-heterosexual people.

      You apparently will allow gay people to adopt, but you will not accept that gay people also have a civil right to reproduce naturally. You would deprive a fertile lesbian woman of the right to bear her own child because she is a lesbian.

      “Their offspring are born in captivity, not free”

      You need to educate yourself about the history of American slavery. You are downplaying the trauma and tragedy experienced by American slaves. You are underplaying the horrors of American slavery. That is not a respectful way to treat the memory of enslaved people.

      • persons of the same sex cant reproduce naturally w ith eachother. mother nature decided that not anyone on this forum.

        • The legal system and medical system allow people to do all sorts of things that humans decide, not mother nature. (vasectomies, saving women with ruptured tubes, cesarean sections, ect.)

          Yet you would ban a fertile woman from giving birth to her own son or daughter.

          • The legal system and medical system allow people to do all sorts of things that humans decide, not mother nature. (vasectomies, saving women with ruptured tubes, cesarean sections, ect.)

            Tess there is no medicine and no law that is helping infertile people reproduce and no law or medicine that helps people reproduce themselves by mating with a member of the same gender. Yet anyway. So far you still need a man and a woman to make a baby. In any event who would ban a woman from giving birth to her own child? I’m just talking about the father of that child not being allowed to walk off scott free by titling him donor. This is not about reproductive rights it’s about parental responsibility.

            Yet you would ban a fertile woman from giving birth to her own son or daughter.

          • tess, you brought up “natural” not me.
            but since you brought up the law, gamete donation requires special state intervention in the form of creating new laws specifically to protect it, that vary from laws of kinship and parenthood in other cases.

  7. http://www.adoptionsupport.org/pub/docs/talkingdonor10copyright.pdf

    This link goes to a paper that addresses some of the points of the post. It makes me think of the ways parents prepare children for racial intolerance which they may encounter as they grow up. One of my friends was told by her parents that she would, one day, be called the n-word and she should be ready for it. As a consequence, when she was called this one day by another kid, she was already prepared emotionally, and this helped it hurt less. In fact, she had a snappy come-back and the other kids laughed.

    The paper suggests that parents might unfortunately hide the truth from donor conceived children because of “…the desire to protect the child from emotional harm, especially in light of those people in our society who are opposed to assisted reproductive technologies.”

    “While adoptive parents must prepare their children for unkind attitudes, questions, and remarks about adoption, it is also important for parents to prepare children conceived with donor assistance or surrogacy for the sad fact that not everyone will understand or be supportive of why some people choose this method of family building.”

  8. My parent's donor is my father

    This reminds me of a paper written by a philosopher and professor at NYU….author-J. David Velleman titled “Love and Nonexistence”

    Check out all of his writing, particular “Family History”

  9. My parent's donor is my father

    This reminds me of a paper written by a philosopher and professor at NYU….author-J. David Velleman titled “Love and Nonexistence”
    http : //philpapers.org/rec/VELLAN

    Check out all of his writing, particular “Family History”
    http : //papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2088329

    Remove spaces to link – really worth while reads – highly recommend

    • This is interesting. I wonder what he thinks about the morality/immorality of abortion in the cases of anonymous fathers.

      One of my elementary school friends became pregnancy at University. Due to unfortunate circumstances, she did not know the father of her child or how to find him. At the time it seemed to me that she disliked University and was happy to leave. She also very much wanted to have a baby.

      I wonder if Prof. Velleman would advocate early abortion in this case to prevent the immorality of creating a child that would not know his own father or his paternal family.

      Her family is Catholic and did not believe in abortion. She gave birth and raised the child with their help. Years later she married and had a second child.

      Anyways, obviously it’s not responsible or moral to get so drunk you don’t know what you are doing or who you are doing it with. But does a woman complicate or increase her immorality if she decides to not have an abortion in this situation? Should she have an abortion because not having a paternal connection will be painful? Does this abortion increase the sin or lesson it? Or, does it mean that her only sin is not deciding to gestate the pregnancy, but simply the sin of drunken sex w/ mystery student?

      • Tess you are on the verge of getting it as your analogy indicates your friend raised her child happily and though it was hard for the child to have an estranged father it all worked out for the best. That’s fantastic. Not an ideal situation but it sounds as if its gone as well as it could. Her child can look to her and yes feel wanted. Her child might be upset about being born in less than ideal situation but will get over it nobody has a say in the circumstances into which they were born. I’m on board with all that. But what happened to her child is sad. It’s sad that your friend could not identify the man who got her pregnant. He is the child’s father and should have been there for his child and his family should have been there for the child as well and it is truly a tragedy that these were their circumstances yet they made the best of it. But she did not deliberately go out of her way to make the father go away. She did not deliberately make herself ignorant of his identity. She herself is not actively trying to prevent her child from being part of his or her paternal family it really is just circumstance and not her desire to have sequester her child from biological family at all. She did not seek to take anything away from her child in order that she could raise him or her. This is the chief difference

        • But she did actively prevent it by not getting an abortion. She could have prevented the birth of her child. He was not yet born.

          I do wonder if some people would consider that she shirked her responsibility to have an abortion. If not, why do we consider that she did not have that responsibility to end the pregnancy before a child in this situation could be born? (Is it a belief about abortion itself being immoral? or something else?)

          The outcome for anonymous DE children and my friend is the same — mystery and no information for the child about one half of the genome and no access to living genetic relatives or information about the history of the family.

          Why draw a line at abortion, particularly very early abortion, if ending the pregnancy would prevent the pain of this situation for the child? Isn’t it immoral for her to continue with her pregnancy as she is only supporting her own desire for a child and not thinking about what her potential, gestating child will have to face after birth? I think the logic isn’t following for me, if I accept the premise of the Philosophy Prof.

          If we accept his assumption–that it is immoral to create a child w/ out genetic connection, why isn’t she doing something selfish in choosing to continue her pregnancy? The possible child’s interest is paramount, and the child isn’t finished being created yet. which raises my question of what would the Prof. think of her refusal to end her pregnancy?

          Everything seems to be ok now with her, although my friend’s father is still ashamed of the situation, which became clear when he explained it to my mother (they moved away & we were out of touch).

          • No she did not shirk her responsibility to have an abortion – it’s her body and she does not have to subject herself to any medical procedures or medical conditions that she is uneasy with to the extent that she has any control over that.

            Tess I am a rainbow flag waving San Francisco girl a dyed in the wool democrat in favor of gay marriage and equal rights on every level for every person. I am the least religious heathen you’ll ever want to meet. I’m so freaking liberated I use to swing around a pole – I’m not conservative in the least. I’m pro choice. Not so much anti gamete donation as I am pro-parental responsibility. Creating children that you don’t intend to raise is not responsible reproductive behavior, everyone knows that – it’s why we encourage teens to wait and not get pregnant or why we encourage birth control and family planning. Things happen and children are not always born into great situations and sometimes their parents abandon them. That sucks but there are many people able to provide good and loving homes for those kids as a back up plan. Unfortunately there are not enough abandoned kids to go around. We’ve done too good a job with our campaigns to end teen pregnancy that we put posters on college campuses encouraging them to reproduce and give up their offspring anyway. It’s more efficient and easier to control and keep them and their families away from the resulting kids if its done in a sterile environment and the girls don’t go through pregnancy which might cause them to feel bonded to their children once they are born. So you see I’m not against donation I’m in favor of responsible parenthood.

          • Tess we are calm now and for some reason I really feel like it would be a huge accomplishment to communicate with you in a way where we both felt understood.

            Tell me what do you mean when you say this:?

            “If we accept his assumption–that it is immoral to create a child w/ out genetic connection”

            Forget morals for a moment – its just physically impossible to create a person without genetic connection. The people that conceive the child reproduce their genes in the body of their offspring always and their child will be born related to them even if someone else was involved in gestating them. So people can’t create their offspring in a way where they are not genetically related to them.

            What part of the process do you believe some people say is immoral? I personally don’t speak in terms of morals because I’m not religious so you might be speaking over my head on this one. I know nothing aboout theology so if you could dumb it down for me that would help me understand you.

            • I think people can intellectually disagree without being disagreeable. Once I was talking with a Aunt (in-law – my Uncle married her). She was adopted, and because of that abortion is a very emotional experience for her. I did not know that and once when her son, who I’ve know since I was a kid and we jokingly debate politics a lot, brought up abortion. I am pro-choice, he is not, but we don’t get mad at each other when debating. We were having a intellectual debate when she walked into the room started yelling at me. She was also crying. I felt horrible. I would never have talked about this subject around here if I had known it was an emotional issue for her. I don’t want to hurt anyone by being honest about my political or intellectual opinions, but that sort of emotional response is not going to change my mind. I’ll just keep my opinions to myself and will not engage when rhetoric becomes emotional and/or extreme.

              I followed and read the paper posted by the philosopher. He’s not speaking in terms of theology, but morality/immorality.

              His paper’s thesis is that it is immoral to create a person who does not have the genetic/familial connection to the birth family. He meant that the child was separated from his biological family and kin network, and believed it was immoral for a child to be created who was separated from his heritage. (He did not address anonymous sex, but was talking about donor-created children.)

              My thought was, why do we think it not immoral for my friend to not choose to have an abortion? Is it because we think abortion itself is immoral? Or is it because we don’t want to interrupt a pregnancy once it is started? Was it immoral for her to not get the morning after pill?

              I’m interested in how we see morality/immorality in this situation. I should also mention — I think my friend wanted to have a baby before she got pregnant, and she did not want to be away from her family at University. It was an oopsie, and not consciously intentional, but her pregnancy could have been unconsciously intentional.

              As an aside, I should say that a friend of a friend went to a doctor last year and asked about donor sperm. The doctor asked her why she didn’t go to a bar and find a man anonymously.

              So hypothetically, let’s say someone does intentionally get “knocked up” by a stranger, and then reads this blog and realizes it would be traumatic for the child to have no connection to the father. Should the person get an abortion? Is that the moral choice in that case? Or once we’ve made a mistake sexually, are we off scott free for any further sin, so to say?

              So for me, I’m thinking about this philosophical question: Like sex, the urge to have a child is powerful. People will have children in less then ideal circumstances, just as people will give into lust. But are they one sins (or mistake, if we are not religious), or two? And is a woman morally obliged to correct for her mistake and have an abortion? Can the second mistake be corrected for by abortion? Can the sin of intentionally wanting a child be washed out by the sin/mistake of lust? (Perhaps it’s not the sin/mistake of lust, but a mistake of being careless with one’s body.)

              • Ah good we are really having a conversation now. I think your asking inelegant questions. Those are reasonable to ask of someone, like me with an opposing opinion. Thank you for clarifying what you meant by create a child without a genetic connection – you said :

                “His paper’s thesis is that it is immoral to create a person who does not have the genetic/familial connection to the birth family. He meant that the child was separated from his biological family and kin network, and believed it was immoral for a child to be created who was separated from his heritage. (He did not address anonymous sex, but was talking about donor-created children.)”

                OK I gotcha, you are referring to another person’s essay about the morality of separating children from their genetic families. The term moral makes my skin crawl with fear of right wing religious conservatism. Julie has also taught me if you want to win a debate lead your opponent to defend their position based on natural law or morals because those things only apply to people who believe in them. Law real law applies to everyone even if it sometimes is broken and requires fixing it is a much better basis for supporting a position. So I’m immoral I sin all the time and I don’t think it’s immorall to seoparate children from their biological families – I think all people should be treated equally at birth and have identical rights with regard to their biological parents and have equal obligations with regard to their biological offspring because all people have biological parents and kin and there is no reason why the laws should differ person to person based upon who happens to be raising them or who happens
                to have been granted decision making authority for the first 18 years. So I cannot argue morality because I’m the opposite of qualified. But each of us is qualified to speak on the topic of fairness and equity in the laws that apply to us and so I submit to you that I believe that the circumstances that separate families should be scrutinized to ensure the separation is not taking place in order to provide anyone with a child. That is that people should not be producing their offspring as gifts or products for trade or sale. If people are going to reproduce under contract there should be specific clauses that state nobody but them will be recognized as the parents of their offspring and that contractual reproduction does not relieve them of parental obligations for their offspring. Is irresponsibility immoral, is selling parental rights immoral? I don’t know the answer to that. I can point to where it is not fair, where it creates inequity and umballanced rights where it is unsafe for biological families and for the over all health of communities but I can’t tell you whether it should be considered immoral or not.

                • intelligent is what I meant to write not inelegant. They are elegant lovely questions. you are asking smart questions that I can’t spell right!

                  • m,
                    Thank you for your lovely compliment! I do enjoy a good debate, and these issues have helped me to think about citizenship issues and slavery versus the custody rights that freedpeople struggled to gain over their children after emancipation. The freedpeople battled the forced indentured servitude of their children after the 13th amendment was passed. Gaining custody of children was a large post-civil war fight for freedpeople. (My own suggestion to you — your real issue is legal custody rights, not slavery. And the history of custody rights in the US is very dark. You don’t need the rhetorical charge of slavery to make your point.)

                    The paper was linked to by an other commenter if you’re interested in skimming. It’s a fast read. I’m skeptical of philosophers, I suppose. 🙂 But it’s an interesting article to think about.

                    Here’s my opinion about how to evaluate donor stuff. It’s a no-go on the equal rights issue in terms of court wins. I don’t see how this line ever succeeds because embryos and live babies are not similarly situated before the law. The 14th Amendment refers to citizenship rights which require a live person. And the court will not allow people to go back in time — the fact that an embryo is a potential life isn’t enough for legal success.

                    I suppose we could talk about citizenship rights and apply them to embryos, but it’s not legally feasible unless the political system overturns all of abortion law, and declare embryos citizens. I think you’d need a new constitutional amendment. The court also can’t go back in time. The court does not have power over the fertilization, and that’s when anonymity gets established. I’ll think about this more, but my first impulse would be to suggest that the court cannot retroactively force someone to be not anonymous, reading back from birth to conception. But perhaps the court could — I would need to think on this further.

                    But talking about morality/immorality or responsibility/ irresponsibility is something that makes sense for me when thinking about the treatment of embryos. Why wouldn’t we be able to discuss morality in this situation? The word is a little abstract, and perhaps the word responsibility is a better word, but we don’t have to be nihilists. Developing and living by a moral code seems like a humane thing to do, in general.

                    I would think about the harm to the potential life. What is the potential risk of harm, how do I define harm, and how severe is that harm? That is where I personally start when I begin to think about how to approach this question of morality.

            • Marilynn,

              I enjoy debating. It’s not personal for me. I suspect we will not agree on this topic (or on the topic of American slavery, which btw, you might want to think about.) However, I do enjoy bouncing around ideas, and these debates can shed light on seeing something in a new way. But considering another point doesn’t me I accept it, if that makes sense. I try to be very open minded and consider all view points before I make up my mind about subjects.

              I am still unclear if you are against all donor situations or only anonymous donor situations.

              I also wonder if people don’t advocate abortion in this situation because of moral or religious objections to abortion, or some other reason. Obviously no medical interventions should be forced on someone. But what is the moral choice in a pregnancy where the genetic father has vanished and, for all intents and purposes, anonymous?

              • I started reading Julie’s blog in 2008. Back then I was OK with gamete donation without anonymity and slowly as I began to read all of the various laws and, like you kept my mind open to the possibility that someone might have information that would change my mind. I actually set out to do what you were saying, explore the opposing viewpoint and play devils advocate so I could be sure I believed in my desire to end anonymity in gamete donation.

                I have learned a tremendous amount about the law and I’ve met dozens of families separated by gamete donation and helped reunite a couple in the years since 2008. I’ve pressed myself in situations where “if I believe this, then what about this over here where I’m a hypocrite?” I have really put my mind to finding all my hypocrisy and forced myself to pick a side and follow through as a challenge to whether I really believe in equal rights for all people all the time. I no longer believe that ending anonymity in gamete donation because the end result is not equal rights for everyone at birth. Ending anonymity still leaves donor offspring without the same rights as other people have – and I found that this logic should be applied to adopted people and really all of us without exception. Nobody else is allowed to conceal their identity from the government or from their relatives when they have offspring. There is no parental privacy in that regard. Donors and parents of adopted children get a special privlige to hide? Why when nobody else gets to hide and think of this what they are hiding is information that involves other people. It’s not really there’s to hide if it impacts someone other than themselves. So the laws are currently very uneven. The fact that some people must disclose their identities and be accountable for their offspring says to me that all should be or none should be. Either way pick one and stick to it. If its good enough for donor offspring lets apply it to every child born so that no biological parents has to be accountable – conversely why not all? What is the harm in holding everyone equally accountable for their offspring? That won’t stop people from abandoning their kid’s it will still happen it won’t stop people from being lousy parents if that is what they are but the law will be there to protect all their offspring equally if the need should arise.

                Tess do you have a problem with holding all people with offspring equally accountable for them? If so how do you view that as a threat to people who want to become parents – gain parental authority over another person’s offspring?

                • “Tess do you have a problem with holding all people with offspring equally accountable for them? If so how do you view that as a threat to people who want to become parents – gain parental authority over another person’s offspring?”

                  I’d need to hear a specific example to be sure we’re talking about a similar thing.

                  If by holding accountable you mean bringing the state into it I would be very cautious.

                  If I’m reading you right – my position is that embies & infants are not similarly situated before the law. I wouldn’t apply the 14th amendment to embryos because of implications to abortion law. I would also not change the US Constitution in a way that criminalizes sex/reproduction at the point of conception/implantation. If you can get us there w/out interfering in the right of privacy, that would be something I can consider. But I think throwing away the right to privacy is a potential implication of what you want to see happen.

                  Of course, private morality unattached to state mandates is another question.

                  • No hon just at birth holding them accountable at birth for their own offspring so that they are named as their parents on their birth records regardless of who thought they’d bought gametes or embryos or pregnancies. If this is your offspring this is your child accountability. Invalidating any pre-birth agreement for custody and control of their offspring

                  • Preliminarily I would lean towards the idea that iI someone can relinquish an infant at hospitals w/out identification it would follow that someone can relinquish a egg or sperm w/out identification. I think the harm that may be caused by requiring identification in infant relinquishment for safe havens outweighs the harm caused by lacking identification.

                    Is this a legal question or an ethical question? Because my answer is not the same, most likely, although I have not firmed up my opinion.

                    But I’m wary of criminal law and the power of the state. So, no, I wouldn’t bring the state into it if someone wants to walk away on their own terms at infancy or prior to birth, I would not criminalize that behaviour.

                    Ethically it’s a different answer. But no, as of now I would not advocate for increased state power. When you bring the state into it, you often have unintended consequences.

                  • Interesting you bring up the safe haven law. what a terrible policy. anyone can kidnap anyone’s baby and leave it somewhere anonymously with no one the wiser.
                    is there any actual evidence that anonymous baby drop off points have actually saved some babies from being killed neglected or abused?

              • Let’s get into the nitty gritty of my slave analogy – remember I’m saying that the parents enslave themselves by giving up their gametes and then when their children are born they are already enslaved not free by default. The presidents commission on bio ethics and gamete donation raise concerns about the 13th amendment because there are not suppose to be any contracts that you can’t get out of giving up a gamete is more that giving up a gamete the donor is suppose to have the freedom to choose what his gamete is used for. If he says it’s OK to use his gametes for reproduction – you might say well he made that decision of his own free will I hardly think he’s enslaved himself, Unfortunately he is pretty powerless to stop people that buy his sperm from using it if he changes his mind. In this instance what he is giving up is his freedom to reproduce his reproductive rights have been sold and he is no longer free to change his mind and have his body follow suit because soneone else has control of his body they own his cells and if they reproduce him, they’ll own his offspring too.. The 13th ammendment is brought up alot with regard to eggs and sperm and embryos not because they are thought of as children but that those items belong to the body of the donor and they are essentially selling their reproductive rights.

                Its abstract but can you imagine where a right wing organization might pay low income people for their right to vote? Like to be honest for $30 grand I would probably sell my right to vote in every election from now until the day I die. Can I sell my personal rights that way are they transferrable?Can one person exercise another person’s right to vote or right to privacy or right to reproduce? What happens to people who try and sell those rights? What happens if they change their minds? Would there offspring be born into a situation where they don’t have those rights to sell because they were born with out them buy default because their parents sold those rights? Is that fair to them? Is it fair to make one generation have less rights because of sonething an earlier generation did?

          • abortion and conception are two very different decisions addressing two different situations. abortion does not erase the conception. before I had an abortion, I thought it did. but it doesn’t, irregardless of whether it’s the right or wrong decision.

        • Marilyn,

          I posted this in the other thread, but will restate it here because it is so important.

          I research and teach the history of American slavery. You are calling parental abandonment slavery. Parental abandonment is not slavery. I’ve read thousands of pages on the institution of slavery. And, yes, it really is not right to denigrate the historical experience of enslaved people in this way.

          You are also calling the sale of eggs and sperm slavery. It is not the sale of live persons. Ownership of bodies means you are denied no legal name or any legal family. I don’t mean you don’t get your genetic family. I mean you get no one, ever. It means you are legally NOT allowed to have ANY LAST NAME. Do you get it?

          Living as a slave means you may NOT testify in court as a witness against any white person, even if you see a white person murder your mother in front of you. If you are raped, you cannot testify in court against your rapist if your rapist is a white man. You do not get to be a citizen or legal resident of any State or any Province or any Country. That’s what it means to be nameless before the law.

          Someone who is alienated from his/her own family is not a slave. Living as a slave is much different from mere alienation from genetic family members.

          Slave masters could legally force enslaved women (and boys) to have coercive sex. It was rape, but the legal system would not prosecute because the slave masters owned the BODY of the enslaved person.

          Obviously adoptive parents or donor parents cannot legally rape their children. The sheriff will not whip their children in the public square if their children don’t pick cotton fast enough. The abuse I’ve read about people experiencing is horrifying, and this abuse was LEGAL. That’s what it means to buy and sell human bodies.

          In contrast, children today must be educated. They are not allowed to work at a job below a certain age. They are legal able to get married. They will see their children sold away from them down south. Their husbands will not be sold away down south.

          That is what it means to commodify and sell people. You really don’t understand the history of American slavery if you think otherwise.

          This is why inflamed rhetoric causes people to talk past each other. You probably don’t literally think people are slaves, but you wanted to use that language for effect. But using language for effect tends to shut down conversation.

          • Tess I picked up on some subtle cues from your writing and I have a hunch you are from the UK. The way you said your friend was at university led me to think that.

            Anyway as an American I am exposed to a slave-era hold over that you may not have encountered yet – Black people that have last names.

            On my description of slavery you countered that:
            “Ownership of bodies means you are denied no legal name or any legal family. I don’t mean you don’t get your genetic family. I mean you get no one, ever. It means you are legally NOT allowed to have ANY LAST NAME. Do you get it?”

            So Jackson, Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Monroe, Washington etc. etc, they showed up from Kenya with those names or what?

            Where did they get those surnames Tess? Have you read slave registers I have read lots of slave registers trying to locate people’s relatives. They kept track of their genetic families but their names changed when someone new bought the right to control their bodies. They were assets of the family who held title to them. Those born in captivity did not loose rights they were simply born with none.

            I’m not diminishing the hardships faced by African american slaves by pointing out that slavery – the buying and selling of human beings still exists in modern times all over the world. The extent to which people who are bought are secondarily abused is a whole separate issue. I’m focusing on the buying the selling the trading the naming the custody and the control of records identity etc. You cannot say that is not happening. I never claimed that donor offspring are all whipped and demeaned and starved and degraded I’m saying they are not free and don’t have equal rights. They are sold and are bought they are gifted and traded and assigned to whomever holds title. It’s not rhetoric, I’m careful about that. It’s not inflamitory or sensationalized. Choose me another term that means a person who is treated as an object in a contract for control and title over them. And that person does not enjoy full human rights as others. Is there a place I’m off base. Address the points I’m making instead of saying how Donor offspring are unlike slaves in this way or that way – what about the critical ways that in fact define slavery, you can be beaten and not be a slave you can be a slave and not be beaten your freedom and rights have to be restricted based upon your utility as a tradable item.

            • M,
              I study the legal history of slavery. I’m particularly interested in 19th century slave law.

              Selling people still occurs and there are people who are presently held as slaves in certain areas of the world. But that underlines the point — it’s not accurate to say that custody and guardianship=legal slavery or social slavery. Slave children, and I’m speaking of certain areas of African in which this still occurs, are not allowed to attend school and are customarily targeted to do menial household work. It is socially acknowledged and known in the community which families are owned and which families are not slaves. It is a very different lived reality from legal custody or guardianship. It is slavery.

              American slaves did not have legal last names as slaves. It’s necessary to understand this to understand the legal history of slavery. They were even denied a legal name. They were legally dead before the law.

              When last names are written in slave registers (and often they were not) they are often the names of the slaveowner. These were not legal names. There’s some really interesting research about how people culturally kept their father’s name (or fictional kin names) privately among themselves & their family.

              “Is there a place I’m off base.”
              Yes, and this might help. I can see why custody gets you going. Custody and guardianship are powerful. You do not need to use the word slave — it isn’t accurate and it really does downplay the wrongs of slavery.

              You have a problem with the law of domestic relations. You’re not talking about slavery, you’re talking about the law of domestic relations and child custody law. Child custody, marriage law, and the indenture of children all are a part of the law of domestic relations. You’re interested in the power of custody, not ownership. The father of the family was given the status of master of the household. He was in custodial control of his wife, his children, his guardians and his indentured servants.

              Children, adopted or otherwise, aren’t treated as slaves or even as servants. They are treated as dependence. Dependency has a long legal history in American law, and I think you’re cottoned onto the dark side of guardianship and custody.

              Ownership is different from Custody. That’s why indentured servants had a different experience then slaves. Masters had custody of servants. Masters owned slaves. That’s why guardianship is a different category then the master of indentured servants. If you’re still worried it isn’t powerful enough, perhaps you would be interested to know that Masters could sell servants. (I don’t think selling eggs is the same thing as indentured servitude, because the child is not contracted to labour, but can you see…custody and guardianship is quite powerful enough in the history of American law to cover everything you are talking about.)

              Tapping Reeve wrote a early treatise titled _The law of baron and femme: of parent and child, guardian and ward, master and servant, and of the powers of the courts of chancery, with an essay on the terms heir, heirs, heirs of the body_


              • You are half right about what i think I’m interested in custody and guardianship but what is custody or guardiansip when youy pay to obtaain it? Custody of someone’s offspring requires their consent and or the consent of the courts after its checked out the ethics of the situation. A person is not suppose to be the object of a private contract for control and custody – that is buying and selling people. That is slavery when you pay to have or have a private contract to have custody of someone else’s offspring. The gamete donation agreements include an agreement to relinquish control and custody of the offspring not just the sperm or eggs. Its the larger part of the contract what to do with the children born. You see I’m concerned with custody the ethics of custody and if not handled ethically Tess it does become human trade it does become slavery only the people who are bought get born into really loving cushy situations but it does not mean their rights have not been violated and that they were not sold and purchased. The idea that all someone is doing is buying some sperm is knocked right out of the park when you read the agreements that the donors sign – they are compensated to reproduce and then be absent. So we can’t have an honest conversation about what’s going on until I agree no sperm are not babies and you agree yeah Ok so they do more than just give up their genes they have to give up control and custody of their children as well – and when the kids are born they don’r have the same rights as others because of their parents actions and that is not fair

                • “what is custody or guardiansip when youy pay to obtaain it?”

                  It’s still custody or legal guardianship. One can commit an illegal act to gain guardian ship, such as bribe a judge, but the legal relationship remains legal custody or guardianship.

                  The following are 3 very different legal situations which resulted in 3 different lived experiences for the child:

                  (1) Adult gains custody of a child from a different guardian. Child holds a free status in society. (as opposed to slave or indentured servant.)

                  (2) Adult pays to acquire a the guardianship of a child who is an indentured servant. Child is contracted to labor for adult until he is no longer a minor. Guardian is required to treat the child as an indentured servant, and as a consequence the child has many rights denied to slave children.

                  (3) Adult pays to acquire ownership of a child with slave status. The slave child may be bought and sold at any time to a new master. The child is legal capitol and often insured as property. A court can and must require the master to sell the child slave in order to settle debts in the case of bankruptcy. The adult slave never against the right to leave the master and if he attempt to leave, he is considered a fugitive. Slave hunters and bloodhounds hunt the escaped man and return him for a bounty. The adult is brought back to his master in chains. Many enslaved people were sold on the courthouse steps when their master died. That is often how the courts settled the estate when debts were unsettled or when the heirs needed to liquidate the capitol in order to divide it.

                  Please note the differences between custody/guardianship of a free child and ownership of a slave child.

                  The sins of American slavery should not be white-washed with comparisons that belittle the experience. Assuming that legal slavery was equivalent to any sort of custody/guardianship flatters the prejudice of racists and apologists for slavery who wish to defend that “peculiar American institution” as “not so bad.”

                  The profound suffering and struggle of American slaves needs to be recognized. Despite this overwhelming oppression, people survived, resisted and triumphed over slave power. The heroic actions of Harriet Tubman and thousands of people unknown to history should be recognized. We don’t honor their memory when we underestimate their experience. We discount their bravery.

                  • Oh boy. So is it safe to say that you think it is OK for people to enter into private contracts for custody and control of a human being? A contract has three elements, object time and consideration, The object is the objective to be achieved or the physical object to be obtained; its the thing one person wants and the other is willing to give. Time is of the essence of course, how much time does one have to deliver on their promise? What is the duration of services to be provided? When is the work completed? Consideration is what one person gets in return for giving what the other person wants. You’ve heard of contracts where someone buys a car for only a dollar as a token jesture – for a contract to be a contract the person doing the giving has to get something in return otherwise its just a favor and they don’t owe you anything there is nothing for a court to enforce. So human beings are not suppose to be the objects of contracts in fact its illegal and yet here we are with these contracts filled with paragraphs and paragraphs of terms and conditions related to the custody and control of the donors offspring for which they receive no consideration but the same contract has them being reimbursed for the time it takes them to reproduce and be willing to give up their offspring. It’s so offensive to think that anyone could look at those contracts and say that the donors offspring have not been sold.

                    So for you it’s OK to sell or buy a human being so long as you treat them nicely once you have them? It’s not slavery unless you have them do menial labor for you and abuse them – the buying them part that’s cool and nobody should think that is wrong is that correct? The falsified records with nonbiological parents names that part is not like slaveholders giving their slaves their surname to indicate who their master was. How is it different? Because the people who are buying the donors offspring want them to serve in the capacity as their children rather than as cotton pickers…they still have to serve the people who paid to have custody and control of them . It’s different when you really are someone’s child really are their offspring. They did not get you from someone else who was willing to give you up – you really are their child you are not playing a roll in someone else’s charade yu really are their son really are their daughter – donor offspring have to act as if they are the daughter of the woman who gave birth to them because that is what she paid for – she paid extra for the birth experience so they’d feel more like her child so she could call herself their birth mother and twist the meaning of the word biological – they are definately expected to live their lives in service they are not free to be who they actually are they have no legal right to recognition of their true identities they are an absolute second class of citizen with fewer rights across the board because they were the object of a private contract for custody and control of them.
                    You can say that I’m belittling the memory of American Slaves all you want but in fact I can recognize the fundamental underpinnings of slavery and don’t want anyone to endure any of it ever again. Before there can be any of the abuse you speak of there first has to be a contract for custody and control of a human being. No contract for custody and control – no physical abuse of people after they’ve been purchased because they won’t be purchased to begin with

                    Tess start with the basics. people, in whole or in part should not be the objects of contracts, neither should their freedoms, rights, or personal liberties be the object of contracts.

                  • “they are definately expected to live their lives in service they are not free”

                    Depends on your definition of “in service.” I think you mean “in the custody or guardianship of…” Not “in service” as it’s illegal to force labour out of children. You can call child protective services on guardians who force their kids to work below a certain age. I’m sure slave children would have liked that government protection.

                    “No contract for custody and control – no physical abuse of people after they’ve been purchased because they won’t be purchased to begin with”

                    You are misunderstanding the difference between ownership and guardianship. A master owns a person. He may re-sell the people he owns at any time. Custodians/Guardians may not sell their charges.

                    “So is it safe to say that you think it is OK for people to enter into private contracts for custody and control of a human being?”

                    huh? Where do you get that from my comment? I was simply explaining the legal history facts to you. I did not give my opinion until I spoke about how you’re underestimating the horrors of slavery. I’ve put some effort into trying to explain the legal history of slavery and the differences between slavery, indentured servitude and guardianship.

                    “So human beings are not suppose to be the objects of contracts”

                    Look, because the law allows something does not mean I agree with it. I’m trying to explain the legal history of slavery to you, and the differences between guardianship and slavery, but it’s obviously not of interest.

                    Note, I do not assert that guardianship is super-fabulous pants. In fact I explained that the freedpeople fought for custody of their children post-Civil War. The forcible transfer of custody is plenty ugly for you to make your rhetorical point. You don’t need to assert your slavery comparisons.

                    Are you aware that you’re projecting all over me? I could explain some details about the labor history and contract law. But it’s clear you’ll just assume I agree with the current legal practices if I to give a tutorial in the history of contract & indentures. You can read about it yourself in Robert J. Steinfeld, _Coercion, Contract, and Free Labor in the Nineteenth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001).

                    “I can recognize the fundamental underpinnings of slavery and don’t want anyone to endure any of it ever again. Before there can be any of the abuse you speak of there first has to be a contract for custody”

                    You don’t comprehend the underpinnings of slavery. Slave owners did not have custody of slave children. Slave masters owned slave children.

                    How you talk about American slavery is up to you. Today SCOTUS overturned the Voting Rights Act. That’s what I’m thinking about tonight.

                    “So for you it’s OK to sell or buy a human being so long as you treat them nicely once you have them?”

                    Again, you’re projecting all over me. I’ve spent a long day reading about slavery today and I don’t need this.

                    I engaged with you in good faith. I’m going to watch something fun and frivolous on netflicks.

                  • “super-fabulous pants.” is my new favorite term.

                    If what your saying is that legally this is all just looked upon as custody I can’t disagree with that. How is this

                    Our government should not enforce contracts for the custody and parental control of human beings. Terms of contracts where people agree to relinquish parental obligations for their offspring if and when any are born should be held invalid and not binding. People should not be recognized as legal parents of any child not their own offspring without first going through the legal process of a court approved adoption because to do so is to treat their offspring as an object to be traded or sold once born. Contracts commissioning the creation of human beings should not be enforced.

                    If someone has custody of you and they contracted with your biological parent privately to obtain that custody they purchased you and your identity as the child of your biological parent was not recorded and you are recorded as being the child of the people that bought you – you are living a life in service performing an act your job is to pretend to be the child of the people that bought you rather than being allowed to live life as who you really are you are not free to live life as the child of the parent that sold or donated their relationship and parental duties for you. Custody and control and parental title of most donor offspring these days is generally resold. The rights to the resulting children are paid for first by the clinic that pays the donor and then are marked up and resold to the individuals who might ultimately raise the child once born,. If those people make too many embryos they might resell the rights to the resulting child to someone else so that the people who have parental rights over the child once born often change hands multiple times. So that in retrospect anyone holding the pink slip at the time of their birth would be recognized as being their parents without regard to who they actually are.

      • Her responsibility to her child as a parent involves knowing that there is another parent with equal responsibility and that her child deserves the best that both of them have to give. If she does everything she can to find him and to encourage him to have a relationship and secure his support for their child then she’s done right by her kid. If she does not know who he is she can make every effort to show the child she’s trying to find him because they deserve that. Most people care about their offspring and if she were to find him he would probably care about his child and so would his family. In fact it would be unusual for him and them not to care about his kid.

        • She really couldn’t find him. It was a crazy university situation and she was not being cautious. She also had little experience with alcohol.

          • Sad. Maybe some day. You know all the people I reunite will never be legally recognized as kin unless the name of their father was just left blank like your friend’s kid. It’s the only way that their rights remain intact. The moment another person is named in place of their missing parent, they loose out and will never unless the law is changed be a legal member of their family even if they find them the law will always treat them as if they are strangers and I’d like to change those laws. Full legal recognition of genetic kinship ALSO. First actually and then you can move to recognize other kinds of kin and families legally. You got to make sure those other families are added ethically.

  10. My parent's donor is my father

    And “Gift of Life” by professor Velleman.

  11. Anyone who thinks slaves were treated like family members really needs to watch this video of Paula Dean and read this short article:


    “Back then, black folk were such an integral part of our lives,” said Deen. “They were like our family, and for that reason we didn’t see ourselves as prejudiced.”

    “This morning, I showed this video to my wife. My wife is dark-skinned. My wife is from Chicago by way of Covington, Tennessee. The remark sent her right back to childhood. I suspect that the laughter in the crowd was a mix of discomfort, shock and ignorance. The ignorance is willful. We know what we want to know, and forget what discomfits us.”

    Slaves were not treated like adopted kids. That sort of thinking leads to the casual racism of Paula Dean.

    • marilyn i agree you really have to stop using the slave analogy it’s too extreme

      • I know it bugs you but I’m addressing the buying and selling of people. Not the treatment of people once they’ve been bought. I’m addressing the naming conventions. Read my response to her above. Read any number of adoption rights web sites. I’m not the inventor of this idea Ki. Do you realize that the ONLY argument taken seriously by the presidents commission on cloning and gamete donation and assisted reproduction etc is the 13th ammendment specifically? Slavery specifically and the 13th ammendment are among the objections raised by people in those reports people on that commission because really when you distill the whole thing down the issues have to do with owning human beings versus simply being responsible for the one’s your body reproduced to create. Can you own someone else’s sperm own their right to reproduce so they can no longer change their mind and say no I don’t want to reproduce you don’t own me or my body or my freedom? You don’t own the right to name my offspring and raise them? The thirteenth amendment. You go read Ki. I know you listen to me and I know I come off brash you are thinking about the abuses endured at the hands of those who thought they owned them, bad stuff not the same as what donor offspring typically experience. Forget about that and look at the buying and selling and owning of bodies part. How else would you describe the owning and usury of another persons body? Sure they go into it willingly but its something they can’t get out of seemingly. Primarily because they allowed a chunk of their bodies to go separate they no longer can control it or what others do with it. But they could change their minds and the law now leaves them pretty helpless to stop other people from creating their offspring. Their reproducive freedom is sold and they are enslaved.

        • The 13th Amendment prohibits slavery. But it does not give citizenship rights to enslaved people. (This includes the right to testify in court.)

          “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

          The 14th Amendment gave citizenship rights to enslaved people. (the right to legally marry, the right to testify in court, the right to contract, ect.) Remember, minors do not have the right to contract. There are some citizenship rights children do not have.

          AND: according to the 14th Amendment one must be born. The 14th Amendment does not, as written, apply to anyone not-yet-born. And where you are born is very important for who counts as a citizenship in the United States. If a woman gives birth over the airspace of the United States in a plane, that kid is entitled to US citizenship. But if she’s only in labor — doesn’t count — the child has to be born.

          Sec 1: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

          • To be clear: the 13th amendment doesn’t give citizenship rights to non-born people. That is the crux of the issue that you’d have to get past the supreme court.

            You’d also have to argue that buying an egg = buying a live person in court. So that means, in court, you need to argue that an egg is a person. Or an embryo is a person. But you’ll run into abortion law there because an embryo is potential life, not a born person.

            I’d like to see the quotes from the presidential commission, because the way you’re talking about it doesn’t sound legally sound.

            • Tess what on earth are you talking about? Let’s say I’ve got the money and I’m a kick ass lawyer and I’m going to set stuff straight in the world for donor offspring – I don’t need to even discuss eggs or sperm or embryos I point to a bunch of born people who have fewer rights and I go fix that these are human beings and they are being treated unrfairly and unequally compared to these human beings over here and the reason they are being treated unfairly is because of their biological parents actions which are totally outside their control and should not be a determining factor in whether or not they are afforded the same rights and legal protections as everyone else. Just start there and you don’t need to turn sperm or eggs into people, who cares about the sperm and the eggs lets talk about how the law is treating born individuals. Don’t even use the word donor screw it its irrelevant

              I don’t have to prove eggs or sperm are kids, number 1 it can’t be done because they are not kids so there is no use bothering with that. So we just say that all people with offspring have to be accountable for them when they are born regardless of their intentions or agreements to the contrary because anything else is unfair to their offspring and places their whole family in a compromised position. So if they want to contract away their parental obligations for money that’s dandy but those terms and those contracts should be worthless and unenforceable as they are suppose to be – it is illegal to have those things as objects of contracts yet courts are enforcing those terms much to my horror because of course its trafficking..

              • the 13th Amendment can’t be used to regulate embryos because they aren’t people yet.

                You are in a catch 22 legally. That’s why this approach wouldn’t work with SCOTUS.

                • In case this isn’t obvious: When I give an opinion like this I’m saying what I think SCOTUS would do according to case law. I’m basically saying you need one of two things: (1) A new SCOTUS (2) a different legal argument or (3) a constitutional amendment.

                  I’m not giving my own opinion.

                • the 13th ammendment would deal with whether or not a person can enter into a service agreement to reproduce that they cannot get out of – contracts for body parts and control of those body parts enslaves the person the body parts came from. It essentially says that someone can buy and own part of a person not just own the person but the rights of that person, do you see? In this argument regarding the sale of human tissue the issue is not whether it enslaves the children which will be born ( which as you know I think a valid argument can be made for that) The presidents commission on bioethics is concerned with the rights of the party giving up their body parts for research because it puts someone else in control of their bodies and their actions to where they can no longer object if they change their minds. Its what they call a contract with the devil it has no exit clause allowing them to stop doing the service they contracted for which is reproduce create offspring. They may want to do that service today but not tomorrow and nobody should own a persons body and force them to continue to reproduce against their will. Also it means that people buy responsibility for the donors actions which is like I said before like buyig someones freedom of speech or right to vote. Personal rights are not suppose to be transferrable and your not suppose to be able to waive them. So forget personhood of embryos start with the personhood of the people trying to sell their cells and tissue.

  12. Tess – should adopted people and donor conceived people have the right to know where they came from under the law?

    And your last paragraph in the comment above – not the slave comparison discussion but the belief you have that slaves were not treated like adopted kids – or rather the opposite sequence. I would agree for the majority but not everyone who adopts, adopts for the right reason. Horror stories of adopted kids exist, and from keeping an eye on it appears to be increasing lately – to the point that Washington state did a study on the severe abuse of adopted children because they too saw the spike. One example from many – google “|Hana Williams+Ethiopian adoptee” finally her so-called parents are going to trial this July.

    • Tao:
      I don’t know what I think yet about anonymity, ect. And I don’t know what you mean. Do you mean that all children have the right to some specific level of basic information? Or do all children have the right to live with biological parents?

      Before I decide something, I tend to think about it from all angles, argue devil’s advocate, and really think things through before I come to a final decision. I’m also the kind of person who is ready to change my mind if I get new information.

      In legal terms the word “rights” has a specific history. Do you mean:

      Does a infant have a constitutional right under the law to this knowledge in all cases?

      Or do you mean: It is unethical to choose to deny this knowledge to a child? Because they are two very different positions with very different implications. I also don’t know to what extent you would like to bring the law into the matter.

      For example: Some states allow mothers to drop off infants at hospitals/police stations with no questions asked as a way to avert infanticide. Should this practice be prevented, even if it encourages infanticide? If the infant has a right, then the practice should be banned, even if it increases infanticide.

      But if it’s a moral question, not a question of constitutional rights, then the infant does not have a constitutional right to this knowledge. The ethics of the two harms must be weighed: risk of infanticide versus lack of knowledge.

      • Tess, just the right to know where they came from under the law. Currently only a handful of states have restored the right for adoptees to access their original factual birth certificate – that was taken (often retroactively) from adoptees – I believe CT was the worst sealing retroactively in 1988 (?). The Sixth Circuit of Appeals has weighed in that there is no privacy of a birth that has a pubic record and refused to over turn the change in Tn law that unsealed adoptee original birth certificates. 106 F.3d 703 (6th Cir. 1997) “A birth is simultaneously an intimate occasion and a public event — the government has long kept records of when, where, and by whom babies are born. Such records have myriad purposes, such as furthering the interest of children in knowing the circumstances of their birth.” They also weighed in on the Constituional right to familial privacy did not extend to as far as the plaintiffs would like.

        The UN Treaty on the Rights of the Child also states it is a right to know your identity – only the US and Somalia has not signed…

        Donor conceived deserve the same right but because of how lax the laws are even if they change the poor record keeping will not be able to provide the info to many.

        Safe Haven laws – I don’t think they necessarily desire anonymity – rather they desire to not be charged with abandonment which is what they would be charged with. It is highly doubtful that any research was done prior to implementing those laws found in most states considering the mishmash of laws created – some don’t even require checking the fathers putative registry, or the missing child database, so if they couldn’t even consider those aspects do you really think they did anything other than say – well they must want to be anonymous and that was the extent of it? The Safe Haven laws are ridiculous because you have always had the ability to go to a hospital and surrender – they place a call to Dept of Children. That was a really common way adoption happened. All they needed to do was to educate the public – not add new laws to the books.

        • Do you mean people deserve to get a name on the birth certificate, or more extensive knowledge, such as social security number?

          I was under the impression that almost all abortions are currently open adoptions in the United States. I’m not up on adoption law at all so I can’t speak to what I think about the state of current law.

          • One thing I can say: I think infants have rights and are citizens. I don’t think eggs or sperm have rights. I am pro-choice, which should make it clear that I do not think that an embryo is a citizen. Once a child is born, that is when the person comes into her constitutional rights.

            I also believe in the right to privacy. That means I don’t think the state should interfere or outlaw many things that relate to reproductive sex.

            In other words, if a young fertile woman decides to attend an anonymous gang-bang with the intent of getting pregnant, I do not believe the state can outlaw that activity. The state may not force women to only have sex with men who give their correct identification. If she wants to have anonymous sex with the intent of reproducing, she is allowed to do so. (In other words, the state may not criminalize fornication with irresponsible, anonymous men.)

            I don’t think getting pregnant from a gang-bang it’s a good idea, but I do not think her eggs possess citizenship rights. There would be two ways to enforce the identification of the paternal line: (1) make sex between fertile women and men illegal unless identities can first be certified and recorded (2) Mandate abortion in these cases which the state forcibly carries out. (I don’t agree with either of these enforcement clauses and I think that SCOTUS should hold these as incompatible with the right to privacy.) So how will the courts ensure that all similarly situated people are treated the same under the law? (fertile young woman having anonymous sex & fertile young woman using donor sperm.)

            In the U.S., any laws banning or manding rules about gamete donation are going to need to deal with case law on the right of privacy.

            • no one is proposing to outlaw anonymous sex.
              quite the opposite, the suggestion here is that the government should treat ART cases exactly like sex.
              if a man is truly anonymous and can not be identified, end of story. If (and only if) the state’s assistance is requested, and the man can be identified, the state will identify him and assign him paternal status.

              • Isn’t that pretty much how it is right now with fully anonymous donors, donors who cannot be identified until the child is an adult, or fathers from sex that can’t be located? The situation that is treated differently based on the state and/or the relationship status of the biological mother is when the donor’s identity is known from conception.

                • How is the relationship of the biological mother treated when the donor’s identity is known from conception?

                  I’ve always found it interesting in the tradition of family law that the husband has the right to be on the birth certificate whether or not he is the father of the child. I’ve wondered in Kim Kardashian’s case if her husband could have demanded to be put on the birth certificate, and if under the present law Kim would have been able to prevent that.

                  • my understanding is that either the husband or wife may rebut the marital presumption of paternity.

                  • I think if a doctor performs the AI, then the husband is always the legal father and that presumption is unable to be rebutted. In some states, if a doctor didn’t perform AI, then depending on state law, the presumption of paternity might be rebuttable with a known donor because I know some states treat doctor versus at home/turkey baster AI differently. Some states only declare the donor a non-father when the mother is married, so in those states a known donor would be the legal father from birth if the woman was unmarried. However in some states, no donors are legal fathers, regardless if the woman is married or not.

              • ding ding ding circle gets the square

            • Falacy of the excluded middle Tess. Sorry I’ve been studying that one. No the solution is to apply the same rules to people who donate gametes as are applied to other people that have offspring and simply hold them and nobody else accountable for their offspring. Tighten up the laws that say that mothers and fathers may not interfere with their child’s ability to receive support from and have a relationship with their other biological parent. Mothers are not suppose to be able to deliberately waive the support obligation of the other parent it si not their money it’s their child’s money. These laws exist but they are unevenly enforced and applied and I think it makes sense to have those laws apply equally and sure some people some women will stay tight lipped about the identity of their children’s father but it would be real clear that she did not have a legal right to withhold that information from the state from her child or from him or his relatives. Nobody else should be hnamed as father on an original birth record ever, if a non bio person wants parental authority over another persons offspring they are suppose to adopt – that is what adoption is for .

          • People deserve to have the same access that non-adopted do to a factual birth certificate – not an amended birth certificate that shows who adopted them. Open adoptions do not mean the adoptee can access a factual originial certificate of birth. Only changing the laws can do that. Adoptees from closed adoptions depending on the state even if they know the names on the original birth certificate are barred by law from getting it – only a judge can say they can have it and they must prove good cause like I did.

            • Ethically things are a different question from what will pass a constitutional rights question. Generally in the states people have pretty much an absolute right to reproduce. In the case of abortion the viability test comes into play. But 1st trimester there are no cases in which the interest of the embryo is considered.

              One way to think about this is to ask yourself how embryos are treated via the law. What the state can require for live children is not what the state can require for sperm/eggs/embryos.

              The state cannot treat an embryo like a infant unless it wants to deal with right to privacy challenges.

              I haven’t thought about it much, but my initial thought would say that it would be hard to get past the right of privacy as established in the sterilization/birth control/ abortion cases. I suspect it would be challenged at the supreme court. I’ll think about it more, though. Not familiar enough with ART cases.

              • I take issue with many of the times when people want to say conceal an adopted person’s true identity or someone whose step father got named on the birth record because sure they have a right to their privacy abou their medical issues but as soon as the information they try to keep private impacts someone else, it’s not theirs alon any more and its really unfair for any one individual to hold a controlling share in the truth that impacts all the members of a family equally. Also don’t forget that reproductive privacy involves having reproduced and nobody else has the right to remain private once they have offpsirn they are in the public realm and don’t get to pretend to be not biologically related so why should aanyone get to pretend to be biologically related.

  13. Say I really want a blind child or a child without legs (easier to control). If it is possible to genetically engineer them, is it permissible that I do so? If it isn’t, aren’t we thinking about the interests of the as yet unconceived child, who wouldn’t even exist if I didn’t engineer them?

    Is it permissible to purposefully create a child who will lack what most of us take for granted?

    • Your really just a blessing and a joy to have around Pronoiagape.

    • I think the mistake we all make is in getting hung up on the “to create” part and not focusing on the law that would equalize their rights once they are born. Of course you are talking about planning to build in some physical handicap and I think that the key really goes back to holding people accounatble for their own offspring. People are more careful with their reproduction when its them that has to take care of the resulting kids. A man is less likely to keep reproducing when he already has 8 mentally retarded children at home to care for. As a sperm donor he may create hundreds unaware of the results of his reproductive actions. Not that they don’t deserve to live but that they are his kids and he should be having to be aware of his physical problems are causing physical problems and of course his children benefit from doctors who treat all the kids not just one and they are a family under one roof or just a few roofs etc. So you’ll have less of that building of blind peg legged children when your not shopping for gametes out of the catalong at home.

      • medical ethics would prevent that. But what will increasingly occur is cleaning the genome (checking embryos before implantation for hereditary diseases like cystic fibrosis.)

        • Yep, PGD is readily available, with the option to check for inherited genetic diseases as well as abnormal chromosomes.

        • medical ethics would prevent what? they don’t know the results of their reproductive actions because they don’t raise their own children if there are problems with their children they are unaware and continue reproducing blindly. Can you name any other task where we say don’t look at the outcome and just keep on doing it? Like drive a car blindfolded keep doing it don’t worry about what you might hit along the road someone else will clean that up just keep driving

        • That is precisely my point – why would medical ethics prevent that? Are they thinking about the interests of the as yet unconceived child? The child wouldn’t even exist if I didn’t do this.

  14. It’s quite simple. People need to learn to mind their own business. How someone has a child (provided they didn’t kidnap it from its legal parents) is nobody’s business.

    • tyson if you accept theidea of legal parenthood to begin with, you are accepting that “how someone has a child” is the governments business, which in a democratic society is everyones business.after all the govt is the proxy of the peple in determinng the law

      • Kisarita you’ve said some good shorities today!

      • Um, no. It’s not everyone’s business. There’s absolutely no reason to believe it is, except to feed the bizarre curiosity of those with not enough to do.

        • Legally, this is where the right to privacy, as found in Griswold, Roe, ect. will come into play.

          It’s also the legal difference between the proposed legal regulations of adoption (infants) and regulating eggs/embryos (embryos=potential life; egg=egg.)

          Anyone who wants (or tries legislatively) to legally ban or regulate embryos/eggs/sperm will eventually confront the constitutional right to privacy in court.

          • Tess rather than focusing on the sperm eggs or embryos what if we focused on just people – any person born. Laws that relate to any person born and their right to say – a medically relevant medically accurate birth record that would not be certified by their state until and unless the people named as parents demonstrated that they were genetically related as parents to the person named on the certificate either by genetic testing or sworn statement that they are the genetic parents and that their own medical histories are of vital importance to that person and to the CDC for statistical and record keeping purposes. If they were not the genetic parents then they’d have to identify the genetic parents on the birth record and if those individuals did not want to raise their offspring they could relinquish their offspring for adoption in court after an investigation to make sure the parents had not been paid or in anyway coerced or compensated into creating a child specifically to be given up for adoption.

            None of that involves treating embryos or sperm or eggs as people with rights. I’d never suggest such a thing. None of that threatens people’s ability to privately procreate in the way that works best for them – they are done procreating and now they are just people with offspring like anyone else getting named on their offspring’s birth records because accurate birth records are important for vital statistical purposes or the CDC would not bother collecting the parent’s medical histories. There is no invasion of privacy there at all – everyone else has to identify themselves on their offsprings birth certificates as parents this would just ensure that the wrong information does not get recorded as it effects the recorded identity of the person who the certificate is issued for. It would also protect people against having their eggs embryos and sperm misappropriated from clinics and labs like happened at UC Irvine.If it were ever discovered the child was not related to the people named as parents they’d all have some legal recourse to get the record corrected and hold the clinic liable and find the genetic parents of the person named on the certificate.

            Now it is all about the people raising the child being the parents which totally ignores medical reality that impacts an entire family and their ability to avoid unintended incestuous contact for generations. Now it impacts generations with incomplete and inaccurate medical histories. Now it separates families. So how would you feel about laws that just focus on the born individuals right to genetic accuracy in their medical records? Not protecting embryos like people.

            • And would you have any objection to laws that gave legal kinship recognition to genetically related individuals so that people in reunion would be treated like the kin that they are? All those siblings that hook up on the DSR? Would you be opposed to the law granting them legally recognized kinship relationships? If you are related as aunt and nephew genetically then the law would grant legal recognition of such? Any problem with that? Any problem with some formal adjustment or addendum to birth records indicating that after the fact after they are born? Setting the record straight?

              • I’m fine with the law recognizing relationships between consenting adults. Whether that relationship is marital, genetic, or fictional kin, I’m fine with it. In fact, I’d be opposed to the state medling with the definitions of family recognized by adults.

                Now I would have a problem if, say, adult X wanted the law to recognize her as a cousin to adult Y, but adult Y wants nothing to do with adult X, that’s something I would object to.

                I’m good with it as long as the State is not using its power to coerce adults into the State’s vision what what the state thinks family ought to be. I want adult citizens to be empowered to create their own visions of family. I am wary of the coercive power of the state.

                • First I want to say thank you for saying you have no problem with the law recognizing the genetic relationship between consenting adults and that would apply to any genetic family in reunion and that would be a victory for literally millions of people if that happened.

                  I have a question about this statement:
                  “Now I would have a problem if, say, adult X wanted the law to recognize her as a cousin to adult Y, but adult Y wants nothing to do with adult X, that’s something I would object to.”

                  This is not the way it is currently legally. You have relatives that are your relatives and it will be recognized by law that way whether you like it or not. If you are someone’s sister and your pissed off at her the law won’t unsister you even if you petition for it. It’s just part of who you are in relationship to everyone else in the world, it is not a matter of choice like getting married where it requires consent it is a matter of fact based on having originated from the same two parents or having been adopted by the same two adoptive parents. My goal would be legal recognition of genetic kinship based upon test results even if their birth records and custody orders don’t match that genetic reality and hopefully to allow people to have their records corrected if they are inaccurate. It is not a person’s fault that their parents did not raise them, it does not change the fact that they are their child and that they are related to all their relatives. They should still be recognized as related to their own family regardless who has custody of them or who raises them. If genetic kinship is recognized as legal kinship it’s not something people opt into or out of.

                  Would you want the law to allow people to divorce themselves from their families legally? Would you want the law to divorce a person from their whole family or just like individual family members like that one cousin you mentioned in your response? How would that work? I just want to help people that have inaccurate birth records get to a point where they can enjoy the same rights as those that have accurate records.

                  • “Would you want the law to allow people to disown themselves from their families legally?”

                    If they are adults? yes.

                    I would want the adult to have control over who ever they wanted recognized (or not) legally. I want the choice to be the adult and not left up to the nation-state.

                  • Rad you’d want people to be able to disown themselves as legal kin from their families. How would you go about that administratively – this is all really critical to understanding how rights to information work within a family within existing law when people are legal kin. These are rights that donor offspring are not able to exercise so it is relevant to this discussion.

                    How would you go about the administrative task of handling a person’s request to become unrelated to their legal kin? Would you allow them to have their name erased from their own birth record so that they would no longer be legally recognized as the child of their parents and therefore not related to anyone else in their family? Could you do that without altering the records of other people who might not be willing to consent to that? If I have offspring and I’m a mother that is my medical record as well proof of my relationship and you as my child should not have the ability to dictate my relationships or my reality or my records. You are free to avoid me and not talk to me but legally how would you unrelate yourself if your relationship with your relatives is a two way street? Could you unrecord yourself as being related without it impacting someone else’s right to information about themselves and who they are related to? The problem with the right to privacy is that you should only have the right to keep private that which involves only you. If the information involves anyone other than you it is not yours alone to conceal or divulge.

                  • You don’t need to do anything to the birth certificate.

                    A court order would suffice, I’m sure.

                    I can’t see many cases where anyone would actually want to do this before the law, except in the cases of large estates & the future inheritance if there’s a falling out between adults.

                    But you asked me if I thought the court should recognize, and I thought I would be clear — Adults should be able to insist on recognition or non-recognition according to their own beliefs.

                    I think adults should have the freedom to define family for themselves.

                  • adults do have the right to define family for themselves, but that does not mean the state has to recognize it. if two siblings decide that they don’t define themself as family, the state can still forbid them to marry. the government does allow for adult adoption, which i find ridiculous, we discussed it in other posts.

                  • “but that does not mean the state has to recognize it.”

                    I was answering what I theoretically would want if I had the power to determine it. Generally speaking I want the state out of these sorts of decisions.

                    But I’m not Queen of America, so you don’t really have to worry what I think. 🙂

                • What is your feeling on the state recognizing fictional kin as genetic kin? As when someone is named as a parent on an original birth record? The information is treated as vital to the health of the person the certificate is issued for and treated as of vital importance to the health of that person’s relatives and the community. The information on the health histories of the people named as parents is collected by the CDC along with information about the health of the person the certificate is issued for and it is used for studies on reducing the rate of birth defects and to control the spread of disease in the general population. You pay for those studies and so do I. The margin of error is now so great do to unrelated people being named as parents as to completely undermine the results of any medical research based on the information collected. There really is no point in medical research to understand the role heredity plays in birth defects if the information collected is not even suppose to be genetically accurate. The margin of error for people who lied always exissted but is now so grossly out of control we might as well just stop recording births altogether and stop trying to keep tabs on who does and does not have offspring. There is no point anymore if people are allowed to lie if there is no expecttion that people be related to the child they are claiming to be parents of. If we were to be fair about all this nobody should have an expectation of a genetically accurate birth record not even the governent and we shoudl stop CDC from gathering birth stats. Also stop paternity suits for child support based on genetic parentage.You get supported by whoever claims you first.

                  • Did you read the amici brief? I agree with it.

                    It would be quite possible to make a record of the genome and/or lineage that is not the birth certificate. I’m fine with that and I’m fine with the ability of people to access information about their genetic lineage.

                    Birth certificates are not medical certificates of the genome. I’m fine with the creation of a separate record-keeping log that records genetic and biological lineage.

                  • So you have no problem with people having their genetic parents names recorded so they can access it and you have no problem with recognizing genetic relatives as legal kin. Your much more progressive and logical than I thought you were at first I really misjudged you Tess. I’m sorry about that.

                    So you said that birth certificates are not genome certificates and you think genetically related parents should be on a seperate document. The CDC does collect the medical information of parents named on birth certificates and treats that as being medically accurate – Lets note that they don’t collect ammended birth certificates of adopted people because those certificates are not medically relevant. So original birth records are suppose to be medically accurate and are used that way. Would you support some change in the law where a separate certificate was then issued for genetically unrelated parents one that would not be used as a record of vital statistics? That seems to be what you are saying. Or would you want to have the Birth Certificate state that it is not used for vital statistical purposes and that the persons named on the certificate may not be genetically related to one another please refer to the medically accurate lineage certificate or something? I was just working with the one document we have – trying to get the info on that straight but I think two certificates is fine as long as they eplicitly state that it is or is not to be treated as medically relevant

                  • Yes, I’m fine with people accessing their own lineage. I’m also fine with the release of genomic information to biological heirs if it doesn’t violate medical privacy laws.

                    “Or would you want to have the Birth Certificate state that it is not used for vital statistical purposes and that the persons named on the certificate may not be genetically related to one another please refer to the medically accurate lineage certificate or something?”

                    No, the birth certificate needs to be used by the custodial parent for legal reasons, sometimes immediately if there is a hospital emergency or for the purpose of traveling to another country.

                    I’d suggest a separate system to track medical information and biological lineage. In this way the person has access to biological lineage and the legal rights of the custodial parents aren’t violated under equal protection.

                • Tess, why does the state need to recognize familial relationships at all? A- For various financial reasons mostly like taxes inheritance an so forth, and B- to determine legal parenthood, and C- to define incest which is illegal.
                  Do you believe the state has a legitimate interest in all these areas? If so than they can’t use the criteria of “whatever consenting adults call themselves”. they need to establish fixed criteria, and that criteria should be consistent with what the norms of society at large.

                  • A better way to put it than norms would be common denominators something that the law can be sure applies equally to all its citizens. Norms just has such a nasty conservative tone to it that us lefties find it off putting but common denominator is very fair. We all have biological kin so its fair if the law recognizes that reality. Some of us opt to get married and its fair if the law recognizes people as being inlaws or step relatives while those marriages are in force. Some of us have adoptive families and its fair for the law to recognize the existence of those legally constructed kinships.
                    Recognizing kinship where only friendship exists is not something the law needs to do – if you want to be viewed as kin and you are not there are various ways to legalize that so long as your not discriminated against in forming those legal relationships. Or so long as you are not opposed like they don’t want to marry you – you can get off your knees now.

                  • “consistent with what the norms of society at large.”

                    ah, but who gets to decide those norms? I don’t like the state enforcing, patrolling and punishing those who don’t conform to hegemonic normative sexual or reproductive behavior.

                    I am also skeptical of the effectiveness of the state to enforce normative behavior. Some people trust that the state bring about good things if it acts in this punitive way to enforce “normative” families. I do not.

                  • Ah see Ki she nailed you on the norm thing – can’t use that word and win a debate with a liberal. I know, I’m a liberal – common denominator – criteria that equalizes us is in fact what you the queen of brief and brilliant really mean anyway. Law is suppose to be constructed to apply to people based upon those things we all unquestionably have in common things that are not the subject of debate things that are not subjective to value judgments. Then there is no argument.

                  • It doesn’t matter if you want to use the word “norm” or some other word that means the same thing. The name of the rose…

                    I think we can simplify this: Y’all trust the state to do good in a way I do not in the area of family relations. That’s fine – we agree to disagree here.

                  • consistent with the way the terms are generally used by society at large.
                    A law that uses concepts completely at odds with how society functions is not a law that is relevant to that society.
                    a its got nothing to do w trusting the state. if you’d be on this blog longer, you see i oppose state interference very strongly. thats one of the primary differences between me and Marilyn.
                    to use a gross example- and Tess this is an oversimplified example strictly for the purposes of illustration- the commonly used definition of the word father is MALE. A law that uses the word father to mean female or mother to refer to a male, is a law that is out of step with the society it aims to serve.

                  • Tess – the use of a term like common denominator to describe the state and federal government’s criteria for assessing who is and is not kin is the basis for finding the common ground that our claims to equal rights must stem from. Rights that stem from that which we all have in common is entirely different than rights that stem from what someone deems to be normal. Ki’s point is fully supported not based on that which is deemed to be normal but rather that which we all have in common. We cannot have equal rights if we all get to determine our own identities and craft our own stories and decide what family means to us personally because who we are in relation to other people impacts people other than ourselves. The law has to hold biological parents accountable for their offspring they cannot just leave it up to people to decide for themselves whether or not they are parents because their children have to depend upon someone and there is not always going to be a line out the door for every child whose parent decided to write their own narrative and tell their own story. So we base the laws that we have on things we all have in common and say people are responsible for their own actions its reasonable and hard to argue and does not change based on your feelings or your color your gender or your religion. We don’t let people opt out of their kinship relationships because they did not opt into them in the first place. If you are someone’s sister you can’t expect the law to pretend that you are not for your benefit. What the law does by pretending that certain people are not related is dangerous for public health and it is maddening to people who have to live with false and incomplete records. This is not an agree to disagree issue. If you are in favor of gays and lesbians right to marry whom they wish based on it being an equal rights issue I encourage you to please look at the rights that donor offspring are not able to exercise the rights lost that you said you did not want to hear about…those are concrete things that are lost by every donor offspring person and each will have their own feelings about those losses. But the losses can’t be argued they are real and they are unfair they could exist and be conceived in exactly the same way without having to experience those losses of rights if the adults in control at the time of their birth behaved with their best interests in mind. There is an alternative to their loss of rights and it is not non-existence it’s fairness. It’s granting them equal protection just like we’ve done with gays right to marry. The solution for them was not to not be born or not to get married the solution was to equalize their rights and treat them fairly. Consider that.

                  • Common norms like the only legitimate marriage = a biological man and a biological woman? There’s a long history of people labeling other family forms as deviant or less-then ideal for children.

                    I’m not willing to allow state power to support only traditional gender & sexual norms (or commonalities or whatever term we’d like to use.)

                  • “The law has to hold biological parents accountable for their offspring they cannot just leave it up to people to decide for themselves whether or not they are parents because their children have to depend upon someone and there is not always going to be a line out the door for every child whose parent decided to write their own narrative and tell their own story.”

                    This is our key difference:

                    You trust state power to bring about good results through coercive measures.

                    I would allow the state to interfere through the power of coercion & force in some narrow circumstances.

                    But I do not expect that the use of coercive state power will force a good parenting result, especially if those people do not identify themselves as a “parent.”

                    State power is highly effective at punishing. But the tool of state power is is a clumsy tool if you hope to use it to force people to be responsible parents or good people.

                  • ki sarita,

                    That’s interesting to know you and M differ on state power. I apologize for misunderstanding your views.

                    Yes, agreed about outdated terms. Two of my friends had a child from a donor embryo. One of my friends was labeled as the father on her child’s birth certificate. It was upsetting and they wanted to sue, but they were too exhausted with the new baby.

                  • actually gay marriage is a taylor made example of laws changing in response to social norms changing.

            • RE: birth certificates. I agree with Patricia Cain & others who wrote this amici brief.



              Some of the questions you asked I have not yet come to a final decision about.

              I do suspect, however, that I am wary of the potentially coercive power of the state in a way that you are not.

              You see the legal system as a helpful tool that can be used successfully to force biological parents to uphold their familial responsibilities. You are comfortable with state coercion being brought into play to force people to adhere to your concept of what family is and should be. Genetic relationships have a primary place in your concept of family, and you want to use state power to force everyone else to recognize those relationships and give them due deference, legally, socially, and culturally.

              I see the state as sometimes helpful, but also a dangerous element to bring into play. It is an unwieldy tool that can have unintended oppressive consequences. I believe the criminal and punitive aspects of the state should be employed with caution. I am wary of state regulation in the realm of bodily and personal liberty, especially in the realms of reproduction, birth, labor, sex, gender, dress codes, marriage, ect. I am wary of the coercive potential of the state to regulate and punish those who do not adhere to gender or sexual “norms.” I am wary of a state that forces its narrow concept of family on its citizenry. I want the citizenry to be free from state imposition of family definitions. I want people to have the power to define their own families, lovers, children, and self-identity. I am very wary of state interference into the people’s reproductive, sexual and marital choices.

              I also don’t see the primary use of legal documents to be a tool for geological record keeping. Mandating clinics to keep records is another question all together.

              But legal documents protect legal families. Getting rid of DOMA is important because when these families aren’t recognized, it threatens the family structure and, as Justice Kennedy wrote in his opinion, that instability is hurtful to children. I would oppose anything that interrupts the ability of people to create their own definitions of family.

        • if you think this is no one’s business, why do you read and comment on this forum?

          • To encourage people to stop trying to take away the rights and freedoms of others to procreate in the way that works for them.

            • well other folks wantn to encourage folks to do what they think is right too. its their business as much as yours.

            • personally i don’t have any illusions to influence anyone to do anything. i got involved due to my own personal story which i do not wish to share, and even though that passed, julie hooked me in an intellectual sense!

            • Equal rights to reproduce must come with equal obligations to be accountable as legally recorded parents of our own offspring so that all offspring are born with the same rights and legal protections. There is no need to restrict people’s ability to reproduce we just need to hold all people personally accountable as legal parents of their own offspring in order to protect their offspring from loosing physical and financial support from a biological parent without benefit of a court approved TPR and guardianship by someone who is not their biologocal parent to vet things like compensation, kidnapping, non-consent, etc.

    • No freedom and equal rights is everyone’s business. It’s everyone’s responsibility to make sure that the law equally obligates people and that we all have equal rights. If we know that some people are being treated unfairly and are prevented from having the same rights as everyone else we need to do something about it. Of course the people who paid to be these people’s legal parents have all the control the authority they bought their way into a power position and their actual parents are estranged unknown anonymous people who supposedly signed away their relationship to them – there is no written record of their actual identities they live life as the children of whoever paid for them to play that roll. They have no choice they have nowhere else to go. Like taking the leash off a dog they might yearn to be free but where will they go they don’t know where there pack is its all been disbanded so they might as well just go home to their masters and make the best of it. its comfortable anyway but its not the same as being free and living life as who you are. They are not a member of their pack they are someone’s well loved faimily dog they have tags they are happy they do tricks they love their people they’re loyal

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