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November 04, 2005

Technology always runs ahead of morality and ethics...

News this week that a 15-year old boy was able to track down his (anonymous) donor-sperm biological father with no more than the internet and a couple of hundred dollars indicates how technological developments are a series of pandora's boxes. Men, whose motives we can only guess at, who donated sperm in the early days of IVF technology and who thereby sired children who they were assured they would have no connection with, have been shown to be a vulnerable group. Imagine having one (or dozens?) of children knocking at your door saying, "Hi Dad".

Of course, with the growing cohort of children born this way, this ethical dilemma was bound to emerge. Marrying an unknown half-brother or -sister increases the greater number of children sired by the same donor. (Is there a limit on the number of children one donor can sire?)

Now we are confronted with a clash of rights: the right of a donor to anonymity and the right of a child to know his biological and genetic heritage.

The notion of having a child fathered by someone else is not knew. The Levirate marriage of the OT is one example. I am sure than many rulers through the years have sired a much wider family than that which enjoys the privileges of royal heritage today.

But it does raise questions in relation to what it means to be human. Not only biologically, but socially. We are not just a collection of cells, we are part of a web of relationships which help define who we are.

Pandora's box is open in so many areas. I suppose we're so used to the chaos that we have no qualms opening still others....

Posted by gary at November 4, 2005 07:38 PM


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