The Center for Bioethics and Culture has recently produced a documentary about sperm donation. Anonymous Father’s Day tells all the facts regarding the practice and highlights personal stories told by donor-conceived children. In the course of an hour, the scope of the so-called “assisted reproductive technology” is candidly discussed by those most affected.
The United States remains one of the few countries where “reproductive technology” goes largely unregulated. Between 30,000 and 60,000 children are conceived yearly through sperm donation.
With the rise of same-sex relationships and single mothers that number has only increased. Many people today are willing to spend vast sums of money to produce children. It is estimated that this unregulated buying and selling of human beings amounts to a yearly $3.3 billion industry.
The material cost pales in comparison to the enormous burden placed on people who were products of these technologies. Wanting to know where you came from and your personal history is perfectly natural. For children born and raised by their biological parents, tracing the family tree is a straightforward task. Not so for those produced via artificial insemination.
Social stigma in even discussing such a topic remains widespread. Anonymous Father’s Day shows the struggles of donor-produced children who are now grown and searching for their fathers. It becomes clear that all the marketing surrounding the practice revolves around parental happiness and altruism. The sad reality is that these children will grow up with an existential void, never knowing their real father and his motivation for their creation.
The rise of the internet has seen a growing number of these individuals coming forward. Support groups and social networks for donor-conceived people are now widespread. DNA sequencing has provided another path for finding answers. One gentleman interviewed was able to track down twelve of his half-brothers and half-sisters. It is estimated that his donor father had between 500 and 1,000 children.
Lawmakers have tried to lessen many of the ethical dilemmas of anonymous donation. Sweden was the first to ban anonymous donation of gametes, with other countries following suit. Even with regulation, however, children are still treated as a commodity to be bought and sold at will. More donor-conceived children are reaching the conclusion that the only real solution is to ban the practice.
The more vocal supporters are quick to respond that this amounts to them banning the act that brought them into existence. Shouldn’t they be grateful and supportive of an industry that gave them life? By the same logic, a person conceived in rape should be in support of rape because that is the act that brought him into existence. Clearly the ends do not justify the means when it comes to creating life.
Though infertility can be a struggle, no one deserves a child. In using the unethical techniques to produce children, it is the children themselves who pay the ultimate price.
There will be increasing pressure for the banning of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. But donor-conceived people are speaking out about the importance of motherhood and fatherhood. A mother and father rearing their biological children in a lifelong committed relationship is what’s best for the children. Anonymous Father’s Day makes clear that this is also best for society.