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Do Donor Babies Have a Right to Know Their Biological Parents?

Posted: 04/23/2013 5:03 pm

A meeting, more of a sighting, will take place between a sperm donor accompanied by his parents, and the offspring, the result of the donation to the lesbian couple. The man originally agreed not to be involved in the life of the child, but changed his mind.

The lawyer for the couple said that it was the right decision for this loving couple to have exclusive rights to the boy. No mention of the child. He seems to be an afterthought -- because he is.

This story is about the rights of adults who want children. There is no mention of the rights of the child. The United Nations declared that children have rights. But they appear to be of low priority.

When a woman in a relationship says to the father "yes, I will have your baby," and then changes her mind and has an abortion, well, too bad for the daddy. It's all about her rights.

If a man does not want a baby and the woman says, I do; too bad. He's going to be a father, pay child support and have a court tell him when he can access this child. A man has no rights. But the child has fewer.

I wonder what would have happened if a woman had changed her mind and wanted to play a role in the raising of a daughter that she had "donated" via her ovum to a homosexual couple.

The case did not make it to court. The two parties, that would be the sperm donor and the lesbian couple, came to an agreement pre-trial. He gave up rights to be the father and the women have been declared the child's parents. It seems that no one wants to be a test case. Well, no adult.

Today, with modern medicine and new lifestyles, there is no guarantee that a child will be born into a genetically related family. But, how did we get to a place where it is OK to legally deny the child access to his genetic material? To deny a child knowledge of the two gamete donors? How unfair to the child, to all the children who are created from gametes-known or anonymous.

This case was perfect for the courts. This dilemma demands that we define the rights of children. This "family" is an example of what happens when we lose sight of the fact that all human beings have intrinsic value. It is that ethical belief that is the root of our understanding of equality, dignity and human rights.

A man who donated sperm changed his mind and wants to be part of his son's life -- for the child is his son. Psychologists are now in agreement that fathers play an important role in raising offspring. Am I the only one not shocked? Evolution dictates that a male gamete and a female gamete are required to produce offspring. One can conclude from this scientific fact that the ideal situation for offspring is to live with and be raised by the genetic male and female gamete providers.

Jeffrey Rosenberg and W. Bradford Wilcox wrote in 2006: " [H]aving a positive male role model helps an adolescent boy develop positive gender-role characteristics; that adolescent girls are more likely to form positive opinions of men and are better able to relate to them when fathered by an involved father."

Ditta M. Oliker Ph.D. wrote about the importance of fathers in June 2011 in The Long Reach of Childhood:

"Even from birth, children who have an involved father are more likely to be emotionally secure, be confident to explore their surroundings, and, as they grow older, have better social connections...Numerous studies find that an active and nurturing style of fathering is associated with better verbal skills, intellectual functioning, and academic achievement among adolescents."

Ronald Rohner, professor emeritus of family studies at the University of Connecticut, and co-author of a study into the importance of fathers wrote in the May 2012 journal, Personality and Social Psychology Review that the need for a father in a child's life is one of the most important factors in developing healthy children, emotionally. And "We're now finding that not only are fathers influential, sometimes they have more influence on kids' development than moms."

And what of extended family? When did having loving genetically related people around you ever become a negative? The paternal grandparents have no rights? This boy has been effectively cut off from his past. Think about that. Think of the programmes that focus on the search for one's roots. Why is this child different? Why would he not care about his roots when he gets older? How do you think he might feel knowing that he has been denied access to family because too many people were too cowardly to take this case to court?

We have managed to turn children into things, adornments, ornaments, appendages, with no right to be genetically related to parents, or the very least, the right to know genetic parents, or be loved by extended family. It might upset the sperm catcher. Or the sperm donor.

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  • <strong>1. Your fertility is mostly determined by genetics, which influences how many eggs you are born with. </strong> Doctors believe that the number of eggs you have at birth determines the length of time you will remain fertile. At birth, women have about two million eggs in their ovaries. For every egg ovulated during your reproductive life, about 1,000 eggs undergo programmed cell death. Other things, such as smoking cigarettes and certain types of chemotherapy, can accelerate egg cell death and promote an earlier menopause.

  • <strong>2. Regular menstrual cycles are a sign of regular ovulation.</strong> Most women have regular cycles lasting between 24 and 35 days. This is usually a sign of regular, predictable ovulation. Women who do not ovulate regularly have irregular menstrual cycles. Those who do not ovulate at all may have a genetic condition called polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

  • <strong>3. Basal temperature charting does not predict ovulation.</strong> An older method of tracking ovulation involves taking your oral body temperature each morning before getting out of bed. This is called basal body temperature. This method is used to spot a rise in basal temperature, which is a sign that progesterone is being produced. The main problem with using this method is that your temperature rises after ovulation has already occurred. This makes it more difficult to time intercourse at an optimal time for conception. A better method is to use over-the-counter urine ovulation predictor test kits such as Clearblue Easy. These kits test for the hormone that prompts ovulation, which is called luteinizing hormone (LH).

  • <strong>4. Most women with blocked fallopian tubes are completely unaware they may have had a prior pelvic infection.</strong> About 10 percent of infertility cases are due to tubal disease, either complete blockage or pelvic scarring causing tubal malfunction. One major cause of tubal disease is a prior pelvic infection from a sexually transmitted disease such as chlamydia. These infections can cause so few symptoms that you may be completely unaware your tubes are affected. This is why fertility physicians will order a dye test of the tubes, called a hysterosalpingogram (HSG), if you have been trying and failing to conceive for 6 months or longer.

  • <strong>5. In most cases, stress does not cause infertility.</strong> Except in rare cases of extreme physical or emotional distress, women will keep ovulating regularly. Conceiving while on vacation is likely less about relaxation than about coincidence and good timing of sex.

  • <strong>6. By age 44, most women are infertile, even if they are still ovulating regularly.</strong> Even with significant fertility treatment, rates of conception are very low after age 43. Most women who conceive in their mid-40's with fertility treatment are using donated eggs from younger women.

  • <strong>7. Having fathered a pregnancy in the past does not guarantee fertility.</strong> Sperm counts can change quite a bit with time, so never assume that a prior pregnancy guarantees fertile sperm. Obtaining a semen analysis is the only way to be sure the sperm are still healthy!

  • <strong>8. For the most part, diet has little or nothing to do with fertility.</strong> Despite popular press, there is little scientific data showing that a particular diet or food promotes fertility. One limited study did suggest a Mediterranean diet with olive oil, fish and legumes may help promote fertility.

  • <strong>9. Vitamin D may improve results of fertility treatments.</strong> A recent study from the University of Southern California suggested that women who were undergoing fertility treatments, but had low vitamin D levels, might have lower rates of conception. This vitamin is also essential during pregnancy. At Pacific Fertility Center, we recommend our patients take 2,000-4,000 IU per day.

  • <strong>10. Being either underweight or overweight is clearly linked with lowered levels of fertility.</strong> The evidence in recent years is that obesity is clearly linked with a longer time to conception. Having a body mass index less than 18 or over 32 is associated with problems ovulating and conceiving, as well as problems during pregnancy.