As the world turns–assisted reproduction may lead to requirements for parenthood

In India assisted reproduction is catching on quickly. People who fifteen years ago refused to have any part of it are now agreeing to use donor eggs, or have the male’s sperm taken directly from the testes for the technique of Intra-Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) (a then-unavailable method of injecting sperm directly into an egg).

The article in the Times of India talks about the fact that surrogacy, for instance, is not an irrevocable adoption procedure–the mother who bears the child is still legally its mother and can refuse to give up the child. It also suggests that the day is nearing when the first step to parenthood may be a trip to a lawyer.

How many times have you wondered whether becoming a parent ought to be a privilege that is tested for and licensed–like driving a car or practicing accounting? Someone–in these cases the state and the governing body–decide what basic level of knowledge someone must have in order to be qualified to perform this task or do this work. And they have the power to tell you, no, you can’t drive a car on public streets because you don’t understand the laws or you’re not capable of making a turn without cutting off the curb (and possibly the resident pedestrian).

Who would be the governing body in the case of parenthood? Who is so perfect at it that they could stand in judgment of another? Aren’t we all entitled to reproduce if we want to? Good questions. But the guy who writes the accounting test probably doesn’t practice perfect accounting either. And heaven knows there’s a huge range of quality in drivers–including the ones who write the tests.

But there IS some basic information that every parent ought to know. Like a lawyer, who goes to school for an extra four years NOT, as my ex-husband used to say, to learn everything there is to know. No one could do that. But to learn where to find the answers if you don’t have them. To study precedent and see what wise minds of the past have done.

If we carry this analogy along far enough, we have to include the idea that some people would be told no. Does that mean we would mandate sterilization? That’s already been proven to be untenable by most societies. In 1979 the Chinese people were simply told “you may not have more than one child.” Of course, some of the measures they used to enforce this edict were questionable.

In any case, the rise of the use of assisted reproduction is bringing this question of fitness for parenthood to the forefront. I mean, my daughter works as an adoption counselor for the Chicago Canine Rescue. She refuses people who want dogs all the time because they just don’t understand what’s required…