Thursday, November 02, 2006

Brave New Fathers

As a follow-up to Aaron's blog last week about reproductive tech, I came across an article in the LA Times. The story raises profoundly disturbing questions about how society views reproduction and having babies, and crosses the line into the chilling realm of eugenics.

The news article starts out with Chad and David, a gay couple in Fairfax, Virginia, sorting through possible ‘egg donors.’ Chad likes #694, who scores high in academics and music, but David prefers #685, who has the edge in athletic ability and dance.

Here’s the plan: the two men hope to have a child through gestational surrogacy. This will involve paying a carefully-chosen woman to provide the eggs, since they want to “exert some control over the child’s genetic makeup.” These eggs, combined with the men’s own sperm, would produce several embryos by in vitro fertilization. Some of the embryos would be implanted into another woman, also paid for her services, who would carry the baby (or babies) to term. In this way, Chad and David hope to become fathers.

Do you have any questions about this kind of arrangement? Here are some of my concerns:
  • Setting aside any moral objections to homosexual relationships, research has shown that children need both male and female role models for proper development.
  • According to Chad and David, this “felt more like catalog shopping than human reproduction.” It seems like human beings and their parts have become commodities to be bought and sold on the open market.
  • Selecting one person for reproduction over another based on genetics denies the ethical principle of equality of persons. Such eugenics ideas have discriminated against the poor and disadvantaged, and history has taught us we pay a high price.
  • Speaking of eugenics, what of the embryos that are not implanted? Surely those with genetic defects will be discarded, violating the sanctity of human life. At the very least, leftover embryos will be frozen, leaving them with an uncertain future.
  • What of society at large? Have we so instrumentalized procreation that children are more a ‘product’ than actual sons and daughters?

My thanks to Stephen Grabill ( for bringing this article to my attention.

Original LA Times article:,0,5016763.story

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