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Monday, 31 January 2011

Born of parents who never danced together



Anonymous Us carries some personal stories that flesh out the moral teaching of Donum Vitae. That 1987 document, from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has the full title "Instruction on Respect for Human Life in its Origin and on the Dignity of Procreation. Replies to Certain Questions of the Day."

Catholics who are reasonably well informed know that one of the grave moral problems with IVF is the destruction of human embryos that is often a part of the process. However, Donum Vitae give another important reason why IVF is ethically unacceptable, namely that the child should be conceived as a result of the marriage act. This is true even in the case of homologous IVF (where the gametes are both from the spouses). In the case where one of the gametes is from a stranger, most commonly through sperm donation, there is a further evil; as Donum Vitae puts it:
Heterologous artificial fertilization violates the rights of the child; it deprives him of his filial relationship with his parental origins and can hinder the maturing of his personal identity.
That may sound rather dry and technical, which is why Anonymous Us Project caught my eye. Here is a brief description of the Project from the website:
The Anonymous Us Project is a safety zone for real and honest opinions about reproductive technologies and family fragmentation. We aim to share the experiences of voluntary and involuntary participants in these technologies, while preserving the dignity and privacy for story-tellers and their loved ones.
There is a Stories page which makes heartrending reading. Here is a quotation from one story which puts a human face on the principles set out by the CDF:
I am a human being, yet I was conceived with a technique that had its origins in animal husbandry. Worst of all, farmers kept better records of their cattle's genealogy than assisted reproductive clinics had kept for the donor conceived people of my era. It also made me feel strange to think that my genes were spliced together from two people who were never in love, never danced together, had never even met one another.
The Anonymous Us Project is not a specifically Catholic or Christian initiative, just a place where people can share their stories of "Assisted Reproductive Technology" safely. Congratulations to Alana who set it up.

I discovered the site from this article on Merator Net: The pain of anonymous parentage
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