Sunday, January 17, 2010

Who's your daddy?

Depending on your intonation and inflection, the phrase above could be either:

a) an innocent inquiry, or
b) an invitation to violence, or
c) taunting someone after pwning to the nth degree.

In the common parlance, (c) is commonly the favoured answer. But option (a) can be quite the booby trap, snapping steel-trap jaws on the unwary.

Sperm donation has made possible many infertile couples to have children. It has also allowed single women to have biological children as well. Once upon a time, sperm donations were relatively anonymous: all a donor had to do is fill up a questionnaire regarding his health and education and off he goes produce the desired fluid in privacy (with the help of a handy visual aid or two). Most fertility centre pay these men for their time (and specimen!), making it particularly an attractive way for college-age men to afford the weekend beer.

As more awareness of the ethical considerations of this issue surface, more stringent regulations are put into place to control assisted reproduction technology. Many countries, particularly in Europe and United States are no longer allowing anonymous donation, driving down the number of sperm donors. Lack of anonymity renders them vulnerable to unwanted contact with their offspring and even potential financial assistance demand. There are a number of donors who are categorised as open donors; i.e. they are alright to being approached by their offspring after they reached 18. However, their numbers are relatively small.

So what is your obligation to your gamete? Your donation has made a child, a person of his/her own right. Someone who is genetically linked to you. Whether or not you have any kind of relationship with the mother, or even know who she is, the child is half yours; 50% of the child's chromosomes come from you. That in itself means that you have a moral obligation to play a role in the child's life.

Women who get pregnant (either planned pregnancy or otherwise) are expected to want their children and to take care of them until they mature. Therefore women are expected to bear the burden of their fecundity by default. So why is it women who opted to terminate their pregnancy (without it being a health risk) are pilloried? Why are men exempted from this?

Many religions frown upon gamete donation. In muddies the relationship and lineage of inheritance. A number of people conceived via gamete donation has decided to look for their biological parent, hoping to fulfill some kind of emptiness from the lack of knowledge of their familial history. And as more women donate their eggs, there is the possibility that one day we will hear of people looking for their donor mothers.

By the way, if you think that sperm donation is only for the heathenish West, think again. We also have them in Malaysia. *snicker*

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