Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Wanting Babies Like Themselves, Some Parents Choose Genetic Defects

no. 304

The title of this post is that of an essay published in today's New York Times. A copy of the full text of the essay is available through the post title on this blog's Annex. The essay's title could very easily describe in some manner how many familes choose their sperm or egg donor. Perhaps we would not use the term defect but the concept is the same.

True most families choosing donor conception probably start out joking that this opportunity gives them the ability to improve the gene pool. This was true in our own case but to be honest the donor we chose in the end had as many medical conditions in his past as did my own family, many the same, according to his and his family's medical profile. So not expecting to my kids genetic medical history ended up mirroring that of my lost biological children. Did we plan on picking these defects? No we did not but others purposefully do so their kids are like themselves for varying reasons discussed in the article.

The essay is not specfically about donor conception but it does discuss a scholarly article to be published in the journal Fertility and Sterility which itself discusses the "use of preimplantation genetic diagnosis, or P.G.D., a process in which embryos are created in a test tube and their DNA is analyzed before being transferred to a woman’s uterus. "

As I mentioned the essay speaks to the issue not of parents screening out disease and disability but using the DNA analysis to ensure or support the desire that the children be like their parents, who may have varying "disabilities". The essayist refers to individuals who "suffer" from dwarfism who would rather have children who are little like them rather than "normal" size kids. Another couple who are both deaf would prefer their child be born similarly deaf rather than a child born with the gift of hearing.

One would say why are these families looking to ensure their kids are handicapped and at a disadvantage. Others woud argue just the opposite. Many in the donor conception community would again argue that the desires of the parents were taken into account first before that of the children "created".

Did we choose traits we wanted? Yes. Did we look at them as defects? No. Would we have used PGD to pick and choose prior to a transfer? I cannot say. At the point we achieved a DI IUI pregnancy we did not want an amnio and we knew whatever child we were given was a gift that we would cherish.


Anonymous said...

I am part of a couple who is presently going through DI in an attempt to have the family my husband and I have always dreamed of, but were sadly robbed of 3 years ago when my husband was diagnosed with azoospermia. We have been through it all and have decided on DI. In my journey I found out that an International Conference about NRGT’s (New Reproductive and Genetic Technologies) was being held in my town in May of 2007, and I knew I had to jump onto the committee and help out with the organization of it. My goal is to get the word out and let everyone possible know about this conference, even if it is just to let people in my situation know that there are voices of infertility and genetic research being heard at global events such as this.

I thought that you and those who come to your blog might be interested in this upcoming International Conference called “Nobody’s Child, Everybody’s Children” that will discuss current policies, practices and legislation about new reproductive and genetic technologies from a global perspectives.

It is being held at Malaspina University-College in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada on May 24-26, 2007.

The conference themes being discussed are:
NRGTs and the Rights of Children and Families
Global Issues in NRGTs
NRGTs and the Arts
Feminist Perspectives NRGTs
Current Medical Perspectives on NRGTs
NRGTs and the Practical Philosopher
NRGTs and the Law

Speakers and delegates from all over the world will gather to critically consider legal, legislative, and medical issues related to the development and implementation of new reproductive and genetic technologies.

Supporting a confluence of perspectives and philosophies, this conference is attracting the attention of academics, researchers, scientists, physicians, counselors, policy makers/analysts, activists, lawyers, philosophers, ethicists, students, individuals with lived experience and adult children conceived by new reproductive and genetic technologies. Among the prominent speakers who have agreed to present are Ms. Maureen McTeer, and Drs. Louise Vandelac, Jeffrey Nisker, and Eric Blyth.

Perhaps you might put a link on your site to direct those who might be interested in our conference information.

Or you can contact me:
Allison Jarvis

Anonymous said...

This is a difficult one. I guess I support choice. I may not agree with that choice, but it isn't my opinion that counts.
We are guilty of choosing traits in our egg donor that I DON'T have, but WISH I did. (Height etc.) Maybe my choices weren't so different....?
I can't imagine wanting my children to endure a genetic defect. However, if you look at it as a gift, then I guess that changes the perspective entirely.

Quite the can of worms.