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FRIDAY, June 25, 2004

Session 7: Public Comment

CHAIRMAN KASS: We have only one person who has asked to make comment in the public session.  So I'd ask Council members not to break here.  We'll have that comment, and then we will adjourn.

We welcome Joan Wheeler, who is a member of the International Adoption Reform Movement and the American Adoption Congress.

Welcome.

MS. WHEELER:  Hello.  I deeply regret not being informed of your meetings in prior months or years on reproductive technologies.  It is because of March's production, your booklet on reproductive technologies, that I am here today.

I represent the children created by reproductive technologies.  Those of us who were adopted know the pain of loss.  We were relinquished into secrecy, victims of traditional closed adoption.  We were given new families, and we were told we were ungrateful if we wanted to know our origins.

As an adoptee reunited with my birth family for 30 years, I strongly oppose the blind use of donor gametes, and I agree that regulation is needed.

Adoptees from traditional closed adoption suffer low self-esteem and identity confusion from being given away and lied to.  Children of donor parents face similar problems.  These children, now adults, are organizing around the world to seek out their donor fathers.  They suffer long life consequences for the actions of both sets of parents.

Donors are not fully educated as to the consequences of their actions.  Young men believe masturbate and get paid?   Great way to make money.  I'm a medical student.  I'm a genius.  Someone can benefit from having my genes.  Oh, and I don't even have to pay child support.

Young women believe, sure, I'll help infertile couples.  I want to give the gift of life to a couple waiting for a child.  It's not as if I'm actually handing over a real baby.  Once she's pregnant, it's her kid.  Besides, I can use the money.

Being that gift of life is a psychological burden that no one should have to bear.  I can hear it now.  Why do you want to know your genetic mother?  I carried you for nine months.  I went through 20 hours of labor for you.  I'm your mother.  She's just a donor.

Forty years ago adoption was in the best interest of the child.  Now the perceived rights of infertile people take precedence.  Recipient parents of donated gametes desperately want to have a child of their own.  They have no intention of telling their children.  They don't need to.  They are safe to raise the child under false pretenses.  This is an extension of closed adoption practices.

Internet adoption agencies boast of total anonymity.  This instills false beliefs in the donor recipient parents.  They fiercely defend their rights and deny the existence of other parents.  The recipient mother gestates and gives birth.  So it is assumed she is the child's only mother.

There is no documentation and no identification of the donor parents.  No legal adoption takes place, and no one need know the truth, especially not the child.  Birth certificates are legal lies.

Couples who claim to be infertile are often very not infertile at all.  Lesbians are leading consumers of the sperm donor industry.  They don't want a man in their life.  So they opt for anonymous sperm.  These mothers will some day have to face their children's questions.  Mom, you fought for the right to marry your same sex partner, but will you honor my right to know my father?  Who is my father?  Why don't you know who my father is?

With two sets of parents conspiring against the donor child, this situation is far, far worse than traditional closed adoption.  Parents are not only not the only conspirators.  Fertility doctors are in control.  They determine where a donor's semen is shipped, and then embryos and eggs are traded like stocks and bonds.  This determines the gene pool to avoid consanguinity, as if biological relatedness is only science.

They don't want sisters and brothers to interbred.  So they spread donor gametes far and wide with no record keeping.  This is social and genetic manipulation.

It is troubling that the Council buckles to popular demand to take out the recommendation to track every embryo made because that could be a political agenda.  I ask the Council to reconsider.  Tracking gametes and embryos is not a conservative Republican or liberal Democratic agenda.  It is a human rights issue.

Because  of the opposition to openness, the issues I bring before the Council could be considered radical.  Imagine donor children have the same rights as normal children.   Adoptees have the same rights as non-adoptees.  Civil rights for children?  These are radical concepts.

Regulation, tracking and disclosure of identity of donors and medical histories should be expected, demanded, and enforced by federal law.  Genetic parents and legal parents should be clearly identified on unsealed birth certificates.

Parents who use reproductive technologies need to accept and respect their child's full circle of parentage.  When alternative, nontraditional families are created, honesty is the best policy.  Therefore, I urge the President's Council on Bioethics to strictly regulate the fertility industry.  Tracking every sperm, every egg, every embryo is not only possible, but it is in the best interest of the children to do so.

Thank you.

CHAIRMAN KASS:  Thank you very much for an eloquent statement.

Anybody have any final business?

(No response.)

CHAIRMAN KASS:  Thanks to everybody.  We will be in touch about follow-up on both the topics of discussion yesterday and the topics we have broached today.

Anybody who has afterthoughts after this meeting both of substance and of procedure, please let's hear from you, and we'll be in touch with you shortly.

Thank you all for coming.  The meeting is adjourned.

(Whereupon, at 11:57 a.m., the meeting was concluded.)

 


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