Next to obesity, F-150 pickup trucks and and the NFL, there’s little that’s more American than screaming about freedom. We love our rights in the United States. And if pressed, a handful of us might even recite a few of them correctly. Sure there’s extensive debate over the merit of some — the second amendment comes to mind.
But where you’ll often find unanimous agreement across party lines is in a line from the Declaration of Independence, which says: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Inherent with birth in this country is life itself, and the profession that with that life, you can do as you please without your government getting in the way. Both are a means to an end, in that regard — the end being ‘Happiness.’
Except if you’re conceived via sperm donor.
If you were made that way and, defying the long odds that preceded you opening your bright eyes to see the world at birth, then your Life, Liberty and pursuit of Happiness come with a giant asterisk.
In fact, if it were up to numerous religious institutions, you wouldn’t have life at all.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church: “Techniques involving only the married couple (homologous artificial insemination and fertilization) are perhaps less reprehensible, yet remain morally unacceptable. They dissociate the sexual act from the procreative act. The act which brings the child into existence is no longer an act by which two persons give themselves to one another, but one that “entrusts the life and identity of the embryo into the power of doctors and biologists and establishes the domination of technology over the origin and destiny of the human person. Such a relationship of domination is in itself contrary to the dignity and equality that must be common to parents and children.”
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints “strongly discourages the donation of sperm” and likewise strongly discourages in vitro fertilization “using semen from anyone but the husband or an egg from anyone but the wife.” (Handbook 2: Administering the Church, section 21.4 Policies on Moral Issues)
Islam says that “any union of gametes outside a marital bond, whether by adultery or in the laboratory, is ‘haraam’ (forbidden).
Therefore, donor sperm pregnancies are strictly forbidden in all schools of Islamic law.”
You get the point. The very notion of Life, and how you obtained yours, is considered sinful or amoral by the two most dominant religious factions.
And yet, that isn’t something that’s perceived as a day-to-day obstacle for the donor conceived. In fact, most probably have no idea (or don’t care) that their creation is viewed by some as morally objectionable.
But the one obstacle where there is greater agreement among the donor conceived comes down to Liberty. The government can’t get in the way of your Liberty or you’re not free, and thus, unable to Pursuit Happiness.
The obstacle, though, is that no federal law exists to grant donor conceived children the ability to access their medical records. Or characteristics of their donor. Or origins of their donor. Never mind the name and identity of the donor himself.
Anecdotally, I’ve heard just about every response to that, as have my donor siblings. “The father who raised you is your real dad, your donor doesn’t matter” or “this changes nothing” are the most common refrains, and they come from a good place, a place of implied protection. Of care.
But “a 2010 study comparing donor-conceived kids, adopted kids, and naturally conceived kids…by a think tank called the Commission on Parenthood’s Future, found some evidence that donor offspring were more likely to struggle with addiction, delinquency, depression, or other mental illnesses than adopted and biological kids, and that donor offspring were twice as likely as kids raised by both of their birth parents to report problems with the law and struggles with substance abuse.”
Why? Because the chances you’ll question that which tethers you to home for idle self-reflection is small. But the chances you’ll question it when you learn one half of you has no identifiable anchor in the world is as certain as death and taxes.
And it says nothing of the terror that might come from a serious diagnosis that you have no context for, and can’t, because the government won’t allow you to know.
Harvard Law puts it this way: “Parents can make the legal choice never to find out the identity of their donor. By contrast, donor-conceived offspring have no such legal right in the United States: unless their parents opted into a known donor program, they are unable to learn the identity of their donors.”
Some states do allow donor conceived offspring to gain access to their medical records, but there are few of them, and their change in tack is recent.
All of which goes to say that two major religions call into question the moral viability of a donor conceived child’s Life. That the federal government has indeed blocked their path to unadulterated Liberty.
And without question, the conflict in those two alone has undoubtedly compromised their Pursuit of Happiness.