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What gay couples need to hear about 'donor' conceived children

By Maggie Millar - posted Monday, 11 July 2011

There have been a number of articles and television programs in recent months about the burgeoning world trade in babies. There has also been much discussion about the rights of gay couples to donor conception and adoption, especially of overseas infants. No doubt this is one of the things the gay community thinks the PM needs to hear, and the three gay couples are sure to raise it with her at the much publicised dinner they will shortly share with her at the Lodge.

There are also however some things gay couples – or indeed anyone who thinks they have a right to someone else's child - need to hear.

When Jacqueline Tomlins and her partner Sarah took 'their' son to Canada to meet his (assumedly) maternal grandparents (Age 20/6) did they also include his paternal grandparents? Because there is obviously a father somewhere, and many of his relatives may also like to meet this addition to their family.


Or is this yet another example of the rights of all children to know who they are and where they come from being ignored? Jackie and her partner sound like caring sensible people, so hopefully their children will be more fortunate than many, and will have ongoing contact with all their parents.

No-one has a right to a child; and no-one, whether gay, straight, single, married, young or old is entitled to someone else's child, especially when that child's own human rights are thoroughly trampled on.

Babies and small children cannot speak for themselves. According to Australian ethicist Professor Margot Somerville, no procedure should be embarked upon unless we can be absolutely certain that children conceived by various medical interventions will approve of what was done to them as infants when they reach adulthood.

There are now more than enough examples world wide of donor conceived persons, whose rights were never even considered, being very angry indeed at such cavalier and inhumane treatment, especially when they are unable to trace their fathers or mothers.

As one woman in a splendid article by Angela Shanahan (Australian 11/2) put it: "I cannot begin to describe how dehumanised and powerless I am to know that the name and details about my biological father and my entire paternal family sit somewhere in a filing cabinet…with no means to access it.

"Information about my own family, my roots, my identity I am told I have no right to know."


Despite the weasel words used to describe these procedures: sperm 'donor' (father), egg 'donor' (mother), 'expenses' (fee for 'donation') etc. it is abundantly clear that what these donors are parting with are their own children, apparently without any concern for their future welfare. As one donor conceived adult puts it "I'd like to meet the man who didn't consider it important to have contact with me - his own child."

And always we have the media hype about these procedures ensuring the happiness of couples who for whatever reason can't have children of their own, thus encouraging the notion of a 'right' to a child. No mention of how the children may feel in years to come. The media it seems always and only concentrate on the cheap emotionalism of the adult side of the story.

To force any human being to forfeit their own reality without their knowledge or consent in order that someone else can live out their fantasy is unconscionable. This is real identity theft. And if these donor conceived children do want to meet with their own fathers or mothers as is perfectly natural and understandable, they are told they are ungrateful.

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About the Author

Maggie Millar is on the Victorian Women’s Honour Role for her activism on social issues including adoption, body image and ageing. A former award-winning actor, she now practices as an artist in Central Victoria.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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