Ever since the first baby was successfully born through in vitro fertilization in 1978, reproductive technologies have been hailed as a positive innovation designed to address the infertility problems plaguing modern society. What began as experimental solutions for couples who had difficulty conceiving naturally, however, quickly turned into a multibillion-dollar global industry that monetizes reproduction for all without much regard for bioethics.
Donating eggs or sperm, becoming a surrogate, or serially creating embryos are scientific miracles, but they undermine the meaning and responsibilities of reproduction, dehumanize children, and violate natural rights. In a time when childlessness is celebrated, it is worth noting that men and women crave the joy of parenthood. What is not celebratory are practices that deprive children of their parents in many unhelpful ways.
As Them Before Us founder and Federalist contributor Kathy Faust noted on a recent episode of The Federalist Radio Hour, third-party reproduction sacrifices the rights of children and replaces them with the selfish ambition of adults. This driving ideology, Faust said, is present in both abortion, the “baby-making industry,” and the “baby-making industry” that is high fertility.
“Both define the rights of the child according to whether it is wanted or not. In abortion, if a child is unwanted, you can violate its right to life and banish it from existence. With high fertility, if a child is highly desired, you can violate their right to a mother and father and force them into existence. But in both places, adults determine whether or not a child is worthy of protecting their rights based on what the adults want,” Faust said. “…Children are not a commodity. They are not subject to rights. They are subjects of rights. Children have rights and because they are the smallest and most vulnerable among us, they especially need special protection.’
In a recent dystopian example of this violation of natural rights, Israel has begun allowing families, often wishing to be grandparents, of fallen soldiers to request that sperm be posthumously extracted and used to create children. Often times, Bloomberg reports, “hundreds of women volunteer” to help conceive and carry the child “in a sign of national solidarity and what appears to be a growing preference for a sperm donor who is not anonymous and whose family will participate “.
The “strange trend” of “planned orphanhood” is ripe for bioethical criticism and is certainly entering uncharted legal territory, but it is still largely supported by the nation’s legislature, which voted in March to allow the practice to continue until soldiers agree to it before entering the service.
Similar situations have already crept into the US. In 2019, the parents of West Point cadet Peter Zhu, who died in a skiing accident, petitioned a judge for permission to collect their son’s sperm. The grieving parents shrugged off criticism that welcoming a child from a dead father was unethical in favor of “preserving a part of our child that can live.”
Speaking of male gametes, approximately 30,000 to 60,000 children who are conceived with donated sperm are born each year in the United States. A Harvard Medical School study found that of 143 child sperm donors who were surveyed, “62.2 percent felt exchanging money for donor gametes was wrong. An even higher number, 74 percent, said they “often or very often think about the nature of their conception.”
“Individuals experienced significant distress after learning about the nature of their conception,” the study noted.
Whether the children of sperm donors care how they were conceived, they can still face a myriad of problems such as accidental incest, especially if they are the product of a serial sperm donor.
Regardless of the harms that come from outsourcing reproduction to aspiring grandparents, celebrities, single women who want to fulfill maternal instincts without committing to a long-term relationship or marriage, gay couples, and anyone who wants to avoid the symptoms and bodily changes required of those carrying a baby have essentially unlimited access to the buying and selling of pregnancy as long as they can afford it.
The fertility industry not only supports practices that isolate children, but also supports practices that teeter on the edge of eugenics.
For example, a same-sex couple in California decided to sue an IVF clinic that improperly implanted a female embryo into their surrogate, who later gave birth to a healthy baby girl. The men claimed in their lawsuit that they had always wanted a boy and specifically told the fertility center that they “wanted only male embryos transferred.”
Many fertility processes also rely on creating multiple embryos and then grading and discarding those deemed unsuitable, even though these ‘low quality’ embryos may lead to successful pregnancies. Embryos that meet subjective standards but are not wanted at the moment are frozen and stored — possibly to be used, as Bravo’s Andy Cohen, an unmarried gay man, recently suggested, decades later by family members, including biological brothers and embryo sisters.
“You know what I’m thinking—it’s crazy—but if either [my kids] they can’t have children, maybe in 20 years they will unfreeze their siblings and raise them. Is that a strange thought?” Cohen asked.
A Today Show article tried to reassure Cohen that “no — according to the National Embryo Donation Center, embryo donation (either for research purposes or for people who want children) is an option for those who are done childbearing.” The increasing pressure from the corporate media and elites to normalize such an inherently strange and potentially morally objectionable practice is alarming.
While young men and women in America are committing to sterilization in protest of the US Supreme Court Dobbs v. Jackson solution, others sell their bodies and gametes to an industry with little regulation, oversight, respect for children’s rights, or understanding of the benefits of traditional marriage and family.
Reproductive technologies have been around for decades, but as their effects play out in society, ethical issues have already surfaced and will continue to do so. Simply because science and technology means us i can do something does not mean we Must.
Jordan Boyd is a staff writer at The Federalist and co-producer of The Federalist Radio Hour. Her work has also been featured on The Daily Wire and Fox News. Jordan is a graduate of Baylor University where she majored in Political Science and minored in Journalism. Follow her on Twitter @jordanboydtx.