BIOETHICS: by David PerrinNews Weekly
Should lesbians be allowed artificial insemination?
, July 8, 2006
When it comes to matters involving children, governments should always put the interest of the children ahead of those of adults, says David Perrin.Lesbians, by their choice to be in same-sex relationships, need to acknowledge that these relationships are sterile and naturally will not lead to having babies.
The only way a lesbian can have a baby is for her to use artificial reproduction technology (ART), relying on male sperm from male donors who may never be involved in the life of the child they father.
The Victorian Law Reform Commission is considering whether lesbians should be able to use ART to have babies, but this should not be allowed. Nor should it be allowed anywhere else in Australia.
The interests of the child should always prevail over the whims of selfish adults.Interests of children
When it comes to matters involving children, governments traditionally have always
put the interests of the children before adults - even, occasionally, before the children's parents.
This can be seen in laws to protect children from abuse and to provide for their long-term welfare.
There is growing evidence that ART is damaging to the wellbeing of children.First
, there is the theft of their identity.
ART-produced children, lacking knowledge of their anonymous fathers who abandoned them, can suffer psychological damage by being effectively deprived of their genetic and genealogical identity.
Not knowing one's family and medical history can be confusing to ART-produced children. These children are often prone, later in life, to suffering reduced self-worth, anger and depression.
In some recent cases, sperm donors have anonymously fathered and abandoned a large number of children. These children in adulthood try to find their natural father and siblings in a frustrating search that can be profoundly distressing.Second
, ART-produced children are exposed to a higher incidence of risks and disabilities because of the nature of the technologies used to produce them. These include placenta praevia which blocks the baby's passage into the birth canal. Heart, muscle and skeletal defects were detected in a recent US study. The Human Genetics Commission in the UK has called for a scientific study of children conceived through ART because of concerns about the long-term effects of this technology on those very children.Third
, ART-produced children suffer psychologically when they come to learn that many of their siblings at embryo stage were destroyed, discarded or frozen to be destroyed at a later date.Fourth
, sperm-donor fathers can pass on genetic damage, such as severe congenital neutropenia, a disease of the blood. Any damaged sperm from donors has the potential to damage the resulting child; so the risks of ART to the child need to be acknowledged and limited, rather than expanded by allowing lesbians to access this technology.
There is overwhelming evidence that children are best brought up by both a father and a mother who can provide them with male and female role models. Children reared by lesbian couples are deprived of male role models.
Children of both sexes need both male and female role models to be able to optimise their life experiences. Children learn from the interaction of their parents how men treat women and how women treat men in real life. There are over 100,000 international social science studies from the past 35 years that indicate that family structure matters. Children raised in a biological two-parent family, cemented by marriage, do overwhelmingly better in life by every
Moreover, lesbian relationships are more liable to break up than heterosexual relationships, leaving children in those relationships increasingly vulnerable to psychological damage because of the failure of the relationship.
Legislators have a duty of care to ensure that children are not deliberately damaged to cater for the whims of lesbian adults.
ART-produced children today have enough health and psychological problems with which to contend, as a result of the technology, so it is unwise to heap on top of them the problems of being exposed to the unstable lesbian lifestyle.
Artificial reproduction is publicly funded through Medicare, so the wider community deserves to have a greater say in this matter.
- David Perrin is the national president of the Australian Family Association.