Having children is currently our only legal path to achieving both genetic and memetic immortality. But having kids isn’t easy. You have to find a mate. You have to look outside yourself and into the eyes of another person and convince him or her of your decency, your desirability.
[…]There are two categories of infertility: clinical and social. Clinical infertility arises from physical medical problems. Social infertility occurs when someone is unwilling or unable to attract someone of the opposite sex to procreate with.
Studies indicate that up to 15 percent of couples of childbearing age are clinically infertile. Much of this is due to our toxic environment, pollution, and unsafe chemicals, but there is also something to be said about our toxic behavior. At least one quarter of female infertility is a direct result of sexually transmitted infections.
The sperm bank industry initially began as a mission in eugenics, but ballooned due to our unspoken epidemic in low sperm count. Clinically infertile heterosexual couples began quietly using donated sperm. After a while, they began to be open about using donated sperm and insisted that biology doesn’t make a difference for the child’s well-being.
Then lesbian couples began using sperm donors. They argued, if biology doesn’t matter for a child’s well-being, then why should a parent’s gender? They declared that parenting is a set of tasks and obligations, and women can fulfill those tasks just as well as men can. Single-moms-by-choice followed, saying if biology and gender don’t matter, why should the number of caretakers?
So what happens when fathers become disposable? Public Discourse readers are well aware that fatherlessness invites a stark range of social ills. For instance, 90 percent of homeless and runaway youth come from fatherless homes, as do over 80 percent of rapists with anger problems. Now, those who promote fatherlessness via sperm donation are celebrating motherlessness via egg vending and surrogacy.
Think motherhood is sacred? One surrogate pregnancy can generate $100-300,000. Today, the motherless child has become the fertility industry’s most lucrative enterprise.
Because this is an industry, we shouldn’t be surprised that fertility industry professionals are trying to industrialize the process and do things more efficiently. Surrogacy attorney Theresa Erickson was an “industry sweetheart” until she was convicted of baby-selling. Rather than waiting for commissioning parents to sign a contract before conception, Theresa expedited the process. She shopped for egg and sperm donors on her own and found surrogates to impregnate. Then, after the baby reached the second trimester, she would find parents, lie to them and tell them the original couple had backed out, and charge up to $180,000 per child. She created thirteen babies this way.
The only thing illegal about what Erickson did—the only reason she was put in jail for baby-selling—is that the paperwork was done after conception rather than before.
At a workshop where I once was on a panel with Theresa, she justified separating children from their parents by commenting that her mother was adopted, so what’s the difference? Most people I speak to relate third-party reproduction to adoption just as she did.
We’ve accepted adoption as a good. And adoption can often be very good; it is an institution that finds parents for helpless children who desperately need a decent home. But, at some point, our concept of adoption slid. Many people now think of it primarily as a way of “getting” kids. We know that adoption is made possible by the fact that the relationship between biological parent and child has been severed. So if adoption is good, some reason, then the severing of that relationship must at least be neutral.
But it is not neutral. It’s actually very sad.
Adoption is only morally sound as an institution that provides a loving home for existing children who—for some uncontrollable reason—cannot be raised by their biological parents. Third-party reproduction is inherently unethical, because it serves as a market to manufacture children for any adult who wants them, purposely severing the biological parent-child relationship for the sake of profit.
I hate to write about these things without offering some solutions, but it’s hard to come up with solutions when there are so many powerful, wealthy people wanting to buy and sell other human beings. How am I supposed to stop that? But I actually do have a course of action, even if it’s just a shot in the dark.
My thinking is that we need to be focused on courting properly and having strong marriages, and being more open about showing off the love in our marriages and homes. I think that Christians need to take courting and marrying more seriously as a witness to the watching world. We need to be more serious about how our partnerships can influence the outside world by setting a standard for love of spouse and love of children. If people knew that there was a real difference if you do marriage right – the right pre-marital behaviors, the right courting, the right commitment – then maybe they would learn to be more careful and less selfish with children. It might help people to think more carefully about their own plans and focus on making decisions that will allow them to welcome children into the world and give them what they need.