[In March 2017], Singapore’s Court of Appeal became the first court in the world to award damages to a couple based on the loss of “genetic affinity”.
The couple involved had used IVF to conceive a child, but it was only after the birth of the baby that they discovered that sperm from an unknown third party had been used to fertilize the woman’s ovum, rather than her husband’s sperm….
But this raises an important question: If we recognize the desire of parents for genetic affinity with their children, do we accord the same recognition to the desire for genetic affinity with their parents that children also feel?
I am not saying donor-conceived children should sue their legal parents for damages. But their experiences should be taken seriously in ethical reflection about assisted reproduction and genetics.
We tend to laud advances in assisted reproduction for allowing would-be parents to have more options to achieve pregnancy…But this reflects a very one-sided view of parenthood…and, all too often, the testimonies of donor- conceived children are ignored.
For in three-parent IVF, something basic and constitutive of the child’s very being is altered from the start. The absence of the egg donor in the child’s life and the very strangeness of carrying DNA from three rather two persons may have long-lasting effects on the child’s psyche.
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