By Jonathon Van Maren
In Chapter 7 of my book The Culture War, I detailed how human beings are increasingly becoming commodities, and specifically how children are becoming a product people feel they have a right to, rather than the little people we have serious obligations to—obligations that should include, if at all possible, a mother and a father. Reproductive technology, however, has resulted in children being created in petri dishes by physicians using labs to produce the desired human products for paying customers who may or may not be aware of the appalling mortality rate of children created in this fashion, a grim side-effect of outsourcing the natural process of reproduction to clinicians.
But regardless of the human cost to the children created in this fashion, many in our society now feel that they have a right to children, irrespective of our obligations to those children. Consider this story out of Israel from the Washington Post :
Waving rainbow flags and demanding equal rights, members of Israel’s LGBT community and their supporters rallied across the country Sunday, protesting the government’s refusal to amend a law that would have allowed gay couples to have children via surrogacy. Their anger was sparked by an apparent U-turn from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who had committed to supporting a key change to existing surrogacy legislation but voted against an amendment when it was presented last week in the Knesset.
Protests were held throughout the day as members of the sizable community also announced a one-day strike that was widely supported across Israel’s workforce and backed by numerous multinational companies. In Tel Aviv, the heart of Israel’s LGBT community, main roads were blocked for nearly an hour, and a central event in the evening drew thousands of supporters chanting against Netanyahu and his government’s policies. In Jerusalem, protesters clashed with police outside the prime minister’s official residence and two people were arrested for disturbing the peace…
Netanyahu has expressed support for LGBT rights in the past, and in a recent Facebook post he recognized the need to fix the “unfair” existing surrogacy law. But his coalition partners, including conservative and ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties, stand firmly against expanding such rights for LGBT families. His critics say that was why he ultimately opted to vote against the change. After the vote, Netanyahu uploaded an additional Facebook post saying he supported surrogacy for fathers as well as mothers. He said would support more comprehensive legislation on the matter in the future.
Israel’s surrogacy law was passed 22 years ago, but it “does not provide a real solution to all those who want to become parents in this way,” said Irit Rosenblum, founder and chief executive of New Family, a nonprofit group that helps and supports the establishment of alternative families. An amendment to the law that was approved last week now means single women, in addition to heterosexual couples, can use the surrogacy process to have children. The law was not extended to men who want to become fathers…
“In order to become parents, we have to travel abroad and spend many thousands of dollars,” said Shai Davis, a board member of LGBTech, an organization of technology professionals dedicated to enriching the community for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
Two men or two women, for obvious reasons, are incapable of producing biological children together—but notice here that they are demanding that the law be changed so that they can utilize whatever means necessary to obtain children to add to their “alternative family,” a phrase which essentially means a family in which the children are either motherless or fatherless. Any barrier preventing them from obtaining the children they desire is not recognized as a fact of nature, but rather as evidence that these barriers are homophobic—ethics and natural law must bend to their will. They cannot create children, because they are missing either the mother or the father, and so they will pay a professional to create children in a medical facility and rent a womb to gestate them in. Even further, it may soon become possible to request that your child be constructed to certain parameters in advance. From the Daily Mail:
Creating ‘designer babies’ to enhance their looks or intelligence could be morally acceptable, according to an expert report.
The Nuffield Council on Bioethics said the key issues in genome editing were the welfare of the future person and the wider impact on society. The body, which explores ethical questions raised by advances in biology and medicine, called on the Government to support public debate on the issue and ensure a ‘responsible way forward’. It is now becoming possible to alter DNA in a human embryo, potentially correcting genetic diseases. However there is also the possibility of enhancing intelligence or selecting for height or hair colour.
Genome editing involves changing the DNA in an embryo – cutting out and replacing parts of the genetic code. Under the technique, which is not permitted in the UK, the altered embryo is then implanted in the womb. Professor Karen Yeung, chairman of the Nuffield Council’s working party, said: ‘We have concluded that … genome editing could be morally acceptable.
‘More specifically, it is our view that … genome editing is not unacceptable in itself, and therefore there is no reason to rule it out in principle.’ The council’s report recommends any interventions must be in the interests of the social, physical and psychological welfare of the future person, and ‘should not increase disadvantage, discrimination or division in society’.
The truth is that we do not have the right to have children. They are gifts, not products. Children are to be conceived by a mother and a father, not commissioned by the engineers of an “alternative family” that place the desire for children above the need of a child for a mother and a father. That is selfish, it is cruel, and it reduces children to consumer items that can be created on demand for whoever can afford to purchase one.
For anyone interested, my book on The Culture War, which analyzes the journey our culture has taken from the way it was to the way it is and examines the Sexual Revolution, hook-up culture, the rise of the porn plague, abortion, commodity culture, euthanasia, and the gay rights movement, is available for sale here.
2 thoughts on “Children should not be commodities”
Many lesbians and gay men are parents; others wish to be parents. In the 2000 U.S. Census, 33 percent of female same-sex couple households and 22 percent of male same-sex couple households reported at least one child under the age of 18 living in the home. Although comparable data are not available, many single lesbians and gay men are also parents, and many same-sex couples are part-time parents to children whose primary residence is elsewhere.
As the social visibility and legal status of lesbian and gay parents have increased, some people have raised concerns about the well-being of children in these families. Most of these questions are based on negative stereotypes about lesbians and gay men. The majority of research on this topic asks whether children raised by lesbian and gay parents are at a disadvantage when compared to children raised by heterosexual parents. These are the most common questions and answers:
1. Do children of lesbian and gay parents have more problems with sexual identity than do children of heterosexual parents?
For instance, do these children develop problems in gender identity and/or in gender role behavior? The answer from research is clear: sexual and gender identities (including gender identity, gender-role behavior and sexual orientation) develop in much the same way among children of lesbian mothers as they do among children of heterosexual parents. Few studies are available regarding children of gay fathers.
2. Do children raised by lesbian or gay parents have problems in personal development in areas other than sexual identity?
For example, are the children of lesbian or gay parents more vulnerable to mental breakdown, do they have more behavior problems, or are they less psychologically healthy than other children? Again, studies of personality, self-concept, and behavior problems show few differences between children of lesbian mothers and children of heterosexual parents. Few studies are available regarding children of gay fathers.
3. Are children of lesbian and gay parents likely to have problems with social relationships?
For example, will they be teased or otherwise mistreated by their peers? Once more, evidence indicates that children of lesbian and gay parents have normal social relationships with their peers and adults. The picture that emerges from this research shows that children of gay and lesbian parents enjoy a social life that is typical of their age group in terms of involvement with peers, parents, family members and friends.
4. Are these children more likely to be sexually abused by a parent or by a parent’s friends or acquaintances?
There is no scientific support for fears about children of lesbian or gay parents being sexually abused by their parents or their parents’ gay, lesbian or bisexual friends or acquaintances.
In summary, social science has shown that the concerns often raised about children of lesbian and gay parents, concerns that are generally grounded in prejudice against and stereotypes about gay people, are unfounded. Overall, the research indicates that the children of lesbian and gay parents do not differ markedly from the children of heterosexual parents in their development, adjustment or overall well-being.
Children need both a mother and a father.