Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Roots for Sale

A recent add offering up to $6,000 for human eggs, is unbelievable. Cryobanks’s services are flourishing and the price is gong to be heavy—especially for the babies that are brought into the world in this fashion.

Father John Flynn, Rome, wrote an article last year pointing out the increasing number of children wondering who their father might be. Some countries allow men to be anonymous sperm donors for in-vitro fertilization (IVF) programs, thus depriving the resulting children from even knowing who their father is.

An eloquent example of the anguish this causes was the case of Katrina Clark. The Washington Post told the story of the undergraduate student at Gallaudet University, who described how at 18 years of age, "I haven't known half my origins." Clark was conceived by means of an unknown sperm donor, when her mother was 32 and afraid she might otherwise not have a family. But, as Clark explained, the debate over IVF tends to concentrate on the adults, with sympathy toward those who are trying to have children. Many of the resulting children, however, suffer from emotional problems.

"It's hypocritical of parents and medical professionals to assume that biological roots won't matter to the 'products' of the cryobanks' service, when the longing for a biological relationship is what brings customers to the banks in the first place," she explained. Clark's investigations led to her recently discovering her father, but many other IVF kids are not so fortunate.

Further complications due to donor anonymity were the subject of an article in the Australian newspaper, the Daily Telegraph. Describing the situation in the United States, the article told of Justin Senk of Colorado, who discovered at age 15 that he had been conceived by means of donor sperm.

Senk's subsequent research turned up the disturbing fact that he had four brothers and sisters living within a 25-kilometer radius -- for a total of five children born to three mothers who had fertility treatment at the same clinic. The father's identity remains unknown. Another case came to light in Virginia, where 11 women have children conceived from one man's sperm. For one mother, Michelle Jorgenson, the site enabled her to discover that in addition to her daughter Cheyenne the same donor had fathered another six offspring; two of them suffer from autism, with another two show signs of a sensory disorder.

Not knowing one's father stirs up enough problems. Most of the children who are searching for their fathers at least grew up in a family with a father present, even if he was not their biological parent. Increasingly, however, there is pressure to allow IVF treatments for single women. Such ways of conceiving are not ethical.

"Techniques that entail the dissociation of husband and wife ... are gravely immoral," states No. 2376 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. "These techniques ... infringe the child's right to be born of a father and mother known to him and bound to each other by marriage." A child is a gift, explains No. 2378, and "may not be considered a piece of property, an idea to which an alleged 'right to a child' would lead." Precepts increasingly ignored, with unfortunate consequences for growing numbers of children.

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