It’s not me having second thoughts–sorry if that heading mislead you. A couple of different things have gotten me thinking about gamete providers and second thoughts.
First there is this decision–a significant one, I think–from Illinois. It’s been in the newspapers, but you can read the actual opinion as well. It’s long and deserving of some real consideration. (I’ve also written about it before at an earlier stage of the proceedings.) For my purposes here, though, I’m not going to dwell on the opinion. (I’ll do that another day, soon I hope.) A bare-bones version of the facts will do.
Karla Dunston and Jacob Szafranski were dating. Karla was facing chemotherapy that would very likely destroy her ability to produce eggs. I think this was before the days of reliable egg freezing, but whether this is true or not, Karla thought to preserve her genetic material by having the eggs fertilized and then freezing the pre-embryos. To do this, she needed sperm. She asked Jacob if he would provide the sperm. He agreed to do so. Continue reading
The last post here was about the problem of accidental incest. (Do note the word “accidental” because it is critical–I’m not talking about deliberate, knowing incest.) There are some interesting comments so I thought I’d do another post on the subject, partly to sort out threads and perhaps also to move a bit further along the line here.
I’ll start with a recap of what I meant to be my main point from the last post: Why is the specter of accidental incest troubling? I suppose this is a variation, albeit a significant one, on the question “what’s wrong with incest?” (Understanding why accidental incest is troubling is important to me as I consider what to do about it.)
There are (at least) two non-exclusive answers. Continue reading
I wanted to add a few thoughts to the post I wrote yesterday. It’s about a new Oregon case and you might be better off going to read it. I won’t summarize in any detail.
Here, however, are a couple of key points. It appears that Oregon recognizes that it is problematic to treat same-sex and different-sex couples differently. They are all couples, in the view of the law, and so if you’re going to provide some different sex couples with a legal privilege, you have to provide same-sex couples with the same privilege. This looks like a simple (and to me, unobjectionable) equality statement.
Now there is a specific privilege that is at issue in the case here: In particular, OR allows the spouse in a different sex couple (who would be a husband) to have an automatic path to legal parenthood under some circumstances. It must therefore allow the spouse in a same-sex couple (who would be a wife) to that same automatic path to legal parenthood under the same circumstances. Continue reading
I’m interrupting my consideration of anonymity/secrecy to discuss a brand-new opinion from the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC). The opinion was issued this morning and you can read the full text if you like. I will, however, summarize what I see as the main points.
JS and VK are a married same-sex couple. JS gave birth to a child–called “Nicholas” by the court, but that’s not his real name–in 2014. The child was conceived using sperm from VK’s brother.
By operation of Massachusetts law, JS and VK were Nicholas’ legal parents from the very beginning. Continue reading
Sometimes it seems so difficult to make progress in thinking through these issues. This is one of those times. Yesterday I began consideration of anonymity and secrecy in the use of third-party gametes. Really it is just about secrecy–haven’t gotten to anonymity yet. I had it in mind that today I would move on. But the more I think about even the little bit I wrote, the more I find there is more to consider.
Though I think it is worth reading the last post (and yes, I’m biased here), I can put it in a nutshell: I think concealing the fact that you used third-party gametes from the child who was conceived with those gametes is a bad idea. (And just to be clear, I do not take the same position vis-a-vis the world in general. I don’t think you have any obligation to announce your use of third-party gametes generally.)
But what follows from that statement? Most obviously, if I were the person deciding, I’d be honest with the child and tell them about their origins. Probably no one objects to that. Many would agree that it falls within my discretion to tell. Continue reading
I spent this past weekend at a wonderful conference in Boston. Lots of very smart people thinking about ART and many things related to ART. One of the recurrent topics was the importance of anonymity those who provide gametes for third-party reproduction. (I know that this seems a very clunky way to put it–why not just say “sperm donors” and be done with it? There are reasons, as regular readers (of my now irregular blog) will know. For one thing, there’s the word “donor”–which is perhaps not the best word to use for people who are paid. For another, there are overlapping issues for egg providers, and it may be that the overlapping issues are converging. I cannot discuss all this here, but suffice it to say that I choose the clunky language deliberately.)
Anyway, one of the things that interested me was that many different questions were raised and there seemed to be some real disagreement in how to think about these questions. Since I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about anonymity in the past, I thought it might be time to revisit (and maybe reorganize?) my own thoughts on the subject. This could take a couple of posts, but I think it’s worth it.
So first off, there’s what one even means by anonymity. Anonymity is related to secret-keeping. An anonymous donor (in the philanthropic context) is one whose identity is kept secret. But when you think about third-party reproduction, you can think of different levels of secret-keeping. Continue reading
I write about this story, not because I think we are really at the edge of this level of science (I don’t believe that we are) but because it gives me pause. And I do think it is probably only a matter of time before what is discussed here is possible.
The idea is pretty simple:
In the future, it could even be possible for stem cells from a male to be used to produce an egg, allowing an infant to have two biological fathers
First off I have to wonder, purely on a technical level, if there is a reason this would work for men and not women. I mean, if a man’s stem cells could be manipulated to produce and egg, couldn’t a woman’s stem cells be manipulated to produce sperm? Perhaps not since the idea seems to me that men do have an X chromosome–which is where you’re getting the material for an egg—while women do not have a Y chromosome. But really, I digress. This isn’t my point.
I don’t have a general objection to all genetic engineering. I see that it is rife with ethical issues. Continue reading