My Daddy's Name is Donor
Cathleen Kaveny June 4, 2010 - 10:15am
A new survey by the Institute for American Values showing that children conceived by Artificial Insemination-Donor have questions about their paternity . Some seem to wish they'd been born into an intact family.The trouble, of course, is that in most cases there is no intact family for them to be born into. The only alternative was non-existence.I never know what to make about surveys like this--when the alternative is non-existence. And I also wonder what the difference is between a survey of AID- kids, who express regret about coming into existence in this manner, and, say, a (hypothetical) survey of children born with significant disabilities, or in poverty, who express regret about being born in that physical or social condition.Would the Institute for American Values sponsor a survey of my hypothetical kind? And what kind of conclusions do they think should follow from the survey they actually did, as distinct from other possible surveys of this sort--when the alternative is non-existence?And if the response is, "well . . . it's different. . . AID is an immoral means, whereas having a child with a disability isn't or in poverty isn't," then it seems to me that the real argument doesn't actually turn on the self-assessment of the children about their well-being, but upon something else--namely, a conviction that the means involved in AID are illicit.And why not just be upfront about that?UPDATE: One of the authors of the study, has responded to this post. I think she's missed my point. So I'll try to put it in an nutshell. I'm not endorsing or opposing AID here--I'm looking at argument structures.These children may complain about their genetic heritage, but what does that complaint actually mean, since: 1) without AID they would not be themselves; ad 2) without AID they wouldn't exist. The alternative for them isn't an intact family, it's non-existence.
About the Author
Cathleen Kaveny is the Darald and Juliet Libby Professor in the Theology Department and Law School at Boston College.