Tuesday, July 12, 2005

On the Genius sperm bank, eugenics and assisted conception

2 documentaries that I have been watching for the past two days, have been eye opening, yet somewhat confusing for me. It first started off with a conversation I had with a single friend a few days ago. For reasons known only to herself, she has concluded that she is damned to be single for the rest of her life and all she wants is to have a child of her own, but not a husband.

I must say, I don’t really understand her reasoning, but apparently her thoughts are echoed by many women, especially in the US. I say especially in the US, because information from that part of the world is more widely available to me from the various media. Perhaps more and more Asian women hold the same ideology. If you’re one such person, please enlighten me.

Apparently the genius sperm bank (I am unable to access the official website from where I am due to the censorship board), is where one can go to obtain sperm donation by men whose intelligence is above average. In 1980, Robert Graham founded his establishment because he was “troubled by his ever-so-slightly dubious notion that poor "retrograde humans" were gradually diluting America’s gene pool.”

“Early in my life it dawned on me that bright, desirable citizens weren't reproducing themselves,” Graham said during a rare interview in 1983. “The local doctor had only one child, the banker had one child, and the richest and most famous man in town was childless.”

His theory is not new. In fact it was inspired by Hermann Muller, a 1946 Nobel prize winning American geneticist. But the idea of Eugenics, the science of improving human evolution through breeding, has been traced back as far as the late 19th century, popularised by Francis Galton.

Is nature more superior than nurture? Is it more important to have good genes rather than a good, productive environment? And what drives single, unmarried women to seek donors from the genius sperm bank to produce their children? In the documentary, apparently initially it was childless couples who went to the bank to seek sperm donations. But in two of the cases, the women ended up raising the child or children themselves.

I cringe to think that there is a generation of children growing without a firm father figure role in their lives. We already have a steady stream of children raised by single mums either because of divorce or sex outside marriage, but now we have children raised by mothers who are determined to rear children on their own, without the relationship of a man, by choice. Its not that I think that women are not capable, I just feel that in life a balance is necessary, that we need a counter-balance to even things out. And in the case of women seeking sperm donors, its us human playing God isn’t it? Or is it no different from women marrying a man for his sperm and then divorcing her and then keeping her children?

One of the men in the same documentary claims that he is a genius and have 19 offsprings. He is not married, because he does not believe in committing himself to just one woman. He has father 10 children by sperm donations and 9 children with his various ex girlfriends. And all his children live with their mothers.

Perhaps I am old fashioned but I seriously find this trend disturbing. How does Islam view this issue? 9 children born out of wedlock, perhaps that is clear cut, but what about the other 10? And in terms of his responsibility as a father, its convenient isn’t it? To have lots of offsprings and not needing to be responsible for them? And what if any of his 19 children end up marrying each other? Wouldn’t that be inbreeding?

On another documentary I saw on BBC was Sperm Wars, there were cases where 2 mothers lost their sons. In both cases, the family has requested that sperm was extracted from the dead bodies, to be used later, to produce another generation of children. I personally find that very eerie, its almost like defying fate. In the first case, bruce Vernoff died at the age of 35, and left behind a widow. The widow was impregnated with the dead man’s sperm (which was extracted from him 30 hrs after his death) and it eventually produced a daughter.

In the second case, the mother, Pamela, was still gripping with the pain that she lost her son Jeremy Reno who died at age 19. She asked his ex girlfriend if she was willing to donate her eggs, and will use a surrogate mother to be a carrier of her dead son’s sperm and the donor egg. She has yet to get approval from the Ethics board before she could start the procedure.
One case raised by the Ethics board member was that of a mother, so over wrought by the pain of losing her son, that she requested for his sperm to be extracted, and she impregnated by his sperm. Such that he could be replaced.

For me, all these people doing this is too freaky. Have we, as human race, decided that with the technological advances of science we can now play God and mess with the natural order of things?

Have we come to a point where we can no longer accept the natural order of things without interfering and changing it to suit our own cause? And unfortunately, most of these is happening in America, where the free economy rules. If you have the money to fund it, chances are you can find somebody to do it for you.

Of course we could always reason all this as advancement in technology and science, and what better than to use all available resources to reach our own personal goal?

As Tenah said, “Honestly I ni sian la kat omputih2 ni, entah apa yg depa cari in life.”

But perhaps, there are some non omputihs who think the same way?


Lollies said...

I think Mary Shelley has explored this..of course in the dramatic and the unfortunate Frankestein.

All so freaky.

atiza said...

it's the end of the world darling..

Leen Ash Burn said...

I had a friend who said if religion allows for it - she doesn't much care for a husband, she just wants babies. I see her reasoning - alang2 nak dapat husband, kalau yg hampeh, might as well you do it (bringing up the kid/s) alone.

Oh well.

Siti, HAPPY BELATED BIRFDAYYYYY!!! Sorry I totally missed it :( *HUGS*

Sunflora said...

Lollies.. freaky is the word!

Atiza tu lah unfortunately maklumlah dah akhir zaman.

Leen thanks :)
Actually how does our religion sees it yek? Ni nak kene tanya ustaz ni.