Skip to comments.The ‘Who Am I?’ Generation
Posted on 03/22/2014 11:47:31 AM PDT by NYer
During a two-day meeting in the last week of February, the Food and Drug Administration debated regulating a new technique that combines DNA from three people that would, in theory, create children free of certain inherited diseases.
Scientists say these genetically modified embryos, made with the DNA from two biological mothers and one biological father, would potentially allow mothers who carry DNA mutations for conditions like blindness and epilepsy to have children without passing on these defects.
The technique — nicknamed “three-parent in vitro fertilization” — is the latest in a long line of controversial scientific procedures regarding fertility and reproduction.
“Skyrocketing infertility rates and the accompanying explosion in reproductive technology are revolutionizing the American family and changing the way we think about parenthood, childbirth, and life itself.”
That unsettling quotation is from the inside jacket of the 2007 book by Liza Mundy, “Everything Conceivable: How Assisted Reproduction is Changing Men, Women and the World” (Alfred A. Knopf, $17.95). Assisted reproduction refers to creating babies by using one or a combination of technologies that include creating embryos in a lab with in vitro fertilization (IVF), using eggs and sperm from donors, and hiring surrogate mothers.
In some instances, infertility is self-inflicted, as many couples use contraception to delay childbearing during their most fertile years and then later expect technology to produce a baby on demand. Also, the use of contraception encourages sex with many partners, and this leads to more exposure to sexually transmitted diseases that can reduce or destroy fertility. Studies have shown, too, that abortion can lead to infertility.
Janet Smith, a professor of moral theology who holds the Father Michael J. McGivney Chair in Life Ethics at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, told Our Sunday Visitor that society previously believed sexual intercourse belonged in marriage and, as a result, children were to be conceived only with one’s spouse. However, the prevalence of contraception helped sever the link between sex, love, marriage and parenthood, she said.
32,129: Number of embryos using donor eggs used in assisted reproductive technology procedures in 2011, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
35.7%: The percentage of procedures using frozen donor embryos in 2011 that resulted in the birth of a live baby, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
61,740: The number of babies born in 2012 through in vitro fertilization, according to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology. These births represent more than 1.5 percent of all babies born in the United States, the largest numbers ever reported.
722: The number of facilities in the United States that “recover” and store sperm, according to the Food and Drug Administration.
“The contraceptive mentality that leads us to believe we should be dictating when we have children and how many we have now dominates,” Smith said. “Women are now freezing their eggs so they can get pregnant later in life through technology. Babies are seen as an experience to have rather than a gift to receive.”
This concept of a baby as a commodity that can be manufactured on demand rather than a gift received through the love of a husband and wife has become acceptable to many.
However, few realize the huge moral and social problems involved in this technology. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches artificial reproduction methods infringe on rights of children by separating them from their biological parents and distorts the natural concepts of parenthood and family (CCC Nos. 2376, 2377).
A thriving fertility industry in this country that takes in more than $3 billion annually is, according to experts, largely federally unregulated and does little to no screening of potential “parents,” unlike the legal adoption process that requires stringent scrutiny.
Fertility clinics will provide donor sperm to a woman (called heterologous artificial insemination) or will create embryos through IVF and implant the embryo(s) in a surrogate or the intended “social” mother, all governed by contracts among the parties involved.
The Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, which claims to have 90 percent of U.S. fertility clinics as members, reported last month that more than 1.5 percent of babies born in the United States in 2012 were conceived by IVF. The society said its 379 affiliated clinics provided 165,172 IVF procedures in 2012, resulting in 61,740 babies, a new record high. The numbers do not include babies born from heterologous artificial insemination.
Another piece of data not reported was how many of the babies were conceived with sperm or eggs from anonymous donors, but experts estimate that between 30,000 and 60,000 babies born each year have one or both donor parents.
The repercussions of this fertility phenomenon, which deliberately separates children from their biological parents, recently have grabbed media attention.
To any potential donor my word would be, ‘don’t.’ Please do not condone the practice of depriving children of their families. Because no matter how much anyone may want a baby, donor conception has been and will always be about the child. Because I am part of a generation of children that derive from billion dollar corporations commercializing life, corporations that sell human beings.”
“The effects of and reactions to this process vary from donor child, but the overwhelming response is that we are damaged individuals because of donor conception. We walk around with holes in our chests because of the uncertainty and injustice.”
“I mourn the things that I will miss, another family I will never have. While I consider my donor to be my father, I know it is likely I will never knowingly meet him, and he will never be there for me as a normal father anyway, so I don’t consider myself as having a father. It is hard, to say the least.”
“It seems odd and horrible at the same time that two people who have never even laid eyes on each other have a child. I hate that my dad got paid. … And even though I think about him all the time, he has no idea that I exist.”
“And I think the worst day of the year is Father’s Day. Because I want everything to be fair. I write two cards every year. One to my legal father, and one to you. And no one knows about the second card except for me.
In the 2013 film “Delivery Man,” the lead character discovers he fathered more than 500 children through sperm donation 20 years earlier, and now more than 100 of his offspring want to find him. An MTV series in 2013, “Generation Cryo,” followed a 17-year-old as she searched for her half-siblings and their donor father. The 2010 movie “The Kids Are All Right” had a similar theme.
As it turns out, the kids are not all right. A 2010 study of donor-conceived children, “My Daddy’s Name is Donor” by Elizabeth Marquardt, Norval Glenn and Karen Clark, concluded that reproductive technology was advancing uninhibited without research on the effect on the children produced. They found biological and adopted children fared much better than donor-conceived children.
“On average, young adults conceived through sperm donation are hurting more, are more confused, and feel more isolated from their families,” the study states. “They fare worse than their peers raised by biological parents on important outcomes such as depression, delinquency and substance abuse. Nearly two-thirds agree, ‘My sperm donor is half of who I am.’”
Jennifer Lahl, president of the Center for Bioethics and Culture Network, has produced a trilogy of films exploring the damage caused by assisted reproductive technology. “Eggsploitation” documents the damage done to women by egg donation; “Breeders: A Sub-class of Women” deals with surrogate mothers; and “Anonymous Father’s Day” highlights many of the problems associated with the practice of anonymous gamete donation.
In the latter film, four donor-conceived individuals discuss feelings of loss, abandonment, anger and the deep desire to know their biological fathers and half-siblings.
One person, who discovered he has between 500 and 1,000 half-siblings, spoke of the “genealogical bewilderment” that unites those who are donor-conceived. Some speak of the “yuck factor” in their conception.
Alana Newman, one of those featured in “Anonymous Father’s Day,” has become the public face of many who are donor-conceived through her Anonymous Us Project. Anonymous Us is an online community, found at AnonymousUs.org, where anyone involved in the gamete donor process may post his or her story, well, anonymously. (Excerpts from these personal accounts are shared throughout this story.)
Newman told Our Sunday Visitor that her own experience of not knowing her donor father caused her great personal difficulties and alienation from her family. In response, she created a community where people like her could tell their stories. Many are poignant, relating identity crises, a sense of shame over the way they were conceived, a deep loss from not knowing half of their biological history and family, and concern about the exchange of money that brought them into being.
Moral theologian Smith said because contraception severed the link between sex, love, marriage and parenthood, some women have sex with men they don’t love, don’t intend to marry and don’t intend to have children with. Thus, when they want a baby, they think it’s no problem to conceive a child with the sperm of a man they don’t know.
“All of this contributes to the lack of connectedness in our culture,” she continued. “Being raised in single parenthood households, in households wracked by divorce, being made through artificial technology — all this leads to generations of children who do not have strong family influences and formation in being raised. Those ties are the ones that make us strongest and most secure.
“We are raising generations of badly formed and psychologically wounded young people. They will find it very difficult to face the challenges ahead,” Smith said.
Newman also is very concerned about the potential for abuse of donor-conceived children, and the statistics show children are more likely to be abused by a non-biologically related male in the household. She said she had interviewed fertility clinic managers who admitted they rarely, if ever, turned away a client who wanted to get a baby.
Newman added that she also worries about the donors, especially the women who develop health problems and even infertility because they must undergo hormone treatments to hyper-stimulate the ovaries and then have surgical retrieval of their eggs. And there are plenty of egg and sperm donors who have written about their regrets on the Anonymous Us website, including the regret that they will never know their own offspring.
One sperm donor wrote on the Anonymous Us Project website:
“To all donor-conceived children I’m sorry. I needed the money and I thought I was making your parents happy. I thought you would be loved and wanted. But not by me. ... I now realize I was wrong. This whole system is wrong. Please forgive me, but I am not your father, nor did I ever intend to be.”
Some clinics limit the number of children that can be fathered by one donor, but some don’t. Even with limits, proliferation of clinics in this country and even international trade in sperm mean that one man could potentially father hundreds of children who will never know him.
A Sept. 5, 2011, New York Times article reported on a social worker who found more than 150 half-siblings to her donor-conceived son. The article cited the very real concern that genes for inherited diseases could proliferate widely when large numbers of children have the same donor father, as donor and embryo screening is not possible for all inherited diseases.
Furthermore, some children of anonymous donors worry they risk incest if they fall in love with a half-sibling who is unknown to them. The Donor Sibling Registry was created to help related people connect, but it is strictly voluntary.
This “revolutionary” way of forming a family has produced not only a moral quagmire but a legal nightmare. Margaret Brinig, who holds the Fritz Duda Family Chair in Law at the University of Notre Dame School of Law, told OSV the fertility industry is lightly regulated. Federal regulations cover what diseases a donor is to be tested for, but beyond that, it is up to the states, where regulations vary widely.
For example, some states do not allow hiring surrogate mothers, while others, like California, do. This naturally attracts clients from countries around the world that do not allow surrogacy.
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine issues guidelines for these procedures, Brinig said, but they are just guidelines. In any case, for some procedures, no doctor is even involved, and sometimes transactions take place informally between acquaintances.
Generally, Brinig said, states hold a biological father responsible for support of his child, so that is another reason donors prefer to be anonymous, and most fertility clinics provide a contract guaranteeing the donor’s name will never be revealed.
More critical than the financial issue, however, is the sticky question of parenthood. Brinig described a case (Buzzanca v. Buzzanca) in which a married couple used a surrogate mother and donor sperm and egg.
Before the baby was even born, the couple split up, and the husband declared he had no children and would not provide support. Likewise, the surrogate denied she was the parent of the child. The wife sued, and the court ruled the baby had no legal parents.
An appeals court later ruled that the intended parents were legally responsible for the upbringing of the child.
“It’s just a mess,” Brinig said. “Once you go down this path, there is no terrific solution.”
Even many married infertile couples prefer to use anonymous donors for IVF rather than adopt, Brinig continued, because with anonymous donors, there are no birth parents to deal with.
One of her big fears with the explosion of this reproductive technology, Brinig added, is that existing children who need adoptive homes might not find them.
“Once technology gets to the point where everybody can sort of manufacture their own children, nobody is looking out for those [adoptable] kids, many of whom desperately need a home,” she added. “I worry a lot about the kids.”
Indeed, all of these difficult medical, legal, psychological, ethical and personal problems wrapped up in assisted reproductive technology do seem to be “revolutionizing the American family,” as the quotation near the beginning of this article states.
Creating the Master Race.
“We are raising generations of badly formed and psychologically wounded young people.”
It’s the debauched culture, you nitwit! These broken families and kids being raised not knowing who their parents are is the result of cultural decadence.
Increasingly, we are going to see a polarized society with two radical extremes. Kids from the average family will be clueless poorly educated, soulless feral potheads probably ending up dead at 50 after the healthcare system collapses.
Meanwhile, kids from those families who understand basic truths of life, will be smarter, traditional, and will look upon their peers with disgust.
It would be a little like Constantine’s time. One of the reasons he had to end the persecution of Christians was that they were the only people left in the empire with any value whatsoever. He needed them in high positions because all other groups were corrupt and unintelligent.
Solzhenitsyn desperately tried to warn the West that this was coming.
The Who Am I? Generation
Cry for Help from Young Woman Conceived with IVF
Why the Church Opposes Surrogate Motherhood and attempts to legalize it in The District of Columbia
Pregnancy From Sperm Frozen 40 Years Ago Highlights Problems With IVF (with a twist)
Former IVF doc [Anthony Caruso]: my conversion began when confronted by a priest
Teacher says Catholic school fired her over IVF
Teacher Claims Catholic School Fired Her Over IVF
Pope says arrogance drives infertility field, tells couples to shun artificial procreation Man Made Limbo (the consequences of IVF)
IVF babies risk major diseases
Polish Cardinal, Former Secretary to Pope JPII: Politicians, Like Pilate, Kill the Truth of the Life of the Unborn
Bishop criticizes reproductive technologys procreation without sex
Excommunication for deliberate embryo destruction?
Catholic School Teacher Fired for Having In Vitro
Vatican Summit Looks at Selecting Embryos
62-year-old Redding woman gives birth to 12th child
Actress Brooke Shields kills 140 of her very own Children by undergoing 7 IVF Treatments
Clinic Mix-Up Sparks Fears over IVF H