Some of the people quoted in this article are concerned that new FDA guidelines will discourage homosexual men from donating sperm for purposes of artificial insemination. Putting aside concerns about AIDS transmission, which do not seem to me to be as far-fetched as the gay-sperm-donation advocates suggest, a bigger issue is being skirted here: given the possibility that homosexuality has an inherited component, why would a couple, even a homosexual couple, want to increase the odds of having homosexual kids by using gay-donated sperm?
Sure, if you have a homosexual child you shouldn’t value him less than you would any other child of yours. But homosexuality is a handicap and may remain one as long as it is infrequent in the population. Prospective sperm recipients might think: Why take the risk? I wouldn’t blame them.
The article seems to focus on sperm banks that are run for the benefit of homosexual couples, but I think the same considerations apply to such couples as to anyone else. Do they want to increase the risk of having handicapped kids? Perhaps, since the magnitude of the risk is unknown, they are reasonably unconcerned. Or maybe they think it’s fine if their kids turn out gay, or indeed prefer them to. In that case they are following the pattern of other parents, notably some deaf ones, who want their children to share the handicap that defines their particular subculture. If that’s the case I think it’s unfortunate, because some of the kids might not share their parents’ political and cultural preferences. That’s not such a big deal if your parents want you to be a doctor and you want to be an artist, or if you want to marry outside of your ethnic or religious group. You can still do those things even if they displease your parents. But if you are gay or deaf because your parents wanted you to be, and you don’t share their differently-abled enthusiasm, you’re stuck.
People have kids for all kinds of reasons. Some conventional couples conceive children knowing that their offspring will face above-normal risks of severe health problems, so these issues aren’t unique to gays or deaf people. But to seek donor sperm that may increase the risk your kids will have a particular handicap, when other donor sperm is available, strikes me as being not in the children’s best interests.
Dr. Deborah Cohan, an obstetrics and gynecology instructor at the University of California, San Francisco, said some lesbians prefer to receive sperm from a gay donor because they feel such a man would be more receptive to the concept of a family headed by a same-sex couple.
“This [new FDA] rule will make things legally more difficult for them,” she said. “I can’t think of a scientifically valid reason – it has to be an issue of discrimination.”
It sounds like minimizing discrimination trumps minimizing AIDS transmission and parental self-actualization trumps the best interests of the child. Am I being selectively harsh on these people or are they merely being clear about what matters to them?