Whether or not someone agrees with Church teaching on IVF, this legislation is a step in the right direction.
There are a number of long-term problems that can arise from the use of IVF, and one of the biggest is the use of “anonymous” sperm and egg donors. Some new legislation in Colorado is aimed at preventing some of these problems.
The USCCB explains how problematic these anonymous donations can become.
Not infrequently, “donor” eggs or sperm are used. This means that the genetic father or mother of the child could well be someone from outside the marriage. This can create a confusing situation for the child later, when he or she learns that one parent raising him or her is not actually the biological parent. In fact, the identity of the “donor,” whether of egg or sperm, may never be known, depriving the child of an awareness of his or her own lineage. This can mean a lack of knowledge of health problems or dispositions toward health problems which could be inherited. It could lead to half brothers and sisters marrying one another, because neither knew that the sperm which engendered their lives came from the same “donor.”
Such a scenario may sound far-fetched, but there have been numerous real-life examples of donor doctors who fathered hundreds of children without any of the children knowing. This devastating scenario has also happened to couples who accidentally marry a half-sibling.
It’s a heavy burden on these children to be deprived of knowing half of their lineage and heredity. And keeping the secret is increasingly a moot point anyway, in this age of at-home DNA testing. Even if a donor intended to remain anonymous, a child with a test kit can find out an awful lot about them anyway.
This only one of many reasons that the Church teaches that IVF is morally wrong. This teaching can be really hard to understand, but the Church thinks about the long-term consequences in a thorough and careful way.
A lot of things that are possible with the help of scientific advancements have really sad and awful side effects and unintended problems. So there are many reasons that the Church discourages the use of IVF.
All of this is why it’s so heartening to see this new legislation that’s come out of Colorado banning anonymous sperm and egg donations.
The “Donor-Conceived Persons and Families of Donor-Conceived Persons Protection Act” is the first in the nation. Colorado is leading the way in putting the needs of kids first.
The legislation itself explains part of its logic with this sentence: “The identity of the donor is important to the health and identity of many donor-conceived persons.”
That regard for the long-term consequences for the children involved is a refreshing change. Up until now, government regulation of the U.S. fertility industry is so minimal that the field has been called the “Wild West.” Sadly, this “Wild West” environment can lead to reproductive decisions being made with what looks like reckless disregard for the actual lives being created.
So whether or not someone agrees with Church teaching on IVF, it seems clear that this legislation is a positive step in the right direction. We hope to see (many) more instances of lawmakers and adults in charge thinking about what’s really best for the children who are directly affected.