Blonde hair and blue eyes, or olive skin and jet black hair? Take your pick. This is what a fertility clinic in Britain is offering to women unable to have children using their own eggs, through fertility treatment. Many have claimed the clinic introduces choice and control Hitler that would proud of. Though I’m not so convinced it’s as bad as this. Fertility doctors from a partnership between the Bridge Centre in London, and the Genetics and IVF Institute (GIVF) in Virginia, USA are offering women a once in a lifetime chance to win a human egg as the first prize in a raffle. The joint venture has sparked outrage throughout the UK, with widespread belief that this is pure commercialisation of the value of human life. I, too, can not help but think what madness this is.
I wholeheartedly sympathise with couples who are unable to have children and I think it’s great that women have the opportunity to begin a family. IVF treatment is neither cheap nor easy. But here’s where it gets tricky – the winner will not only receive an egg from a graduate but will also be able to view childhood pictures of potential donors before choosing one. Ultimately the idea here is to pick a donor by choosing which attributes they would ideally like the child to have; to an extent that this is done according to the mother’s profession, ethnic background, hair and eye colour, qualifications, attitudes and upbringing. This is madness I hear you say! I agree it all sounds like a trip to the sweet shop to create your perfect child with the right mix of ingredients, but isn’t this what we do normally anyway? It may not be wrong to want a child with desirable traits – we all want healthy, intelligent children and commonly from the same background and race akin to our own, which is also what alot of us go for when choosing the ideal partner. So why is this so different? In the respect that we wish for offspring with ideal qualities it isn’t.
But here is where the boundaries blur.
What makes this scheme ethically wrong is the fact that this potential form of life is being raffled – bid on like a cheap commodity. If that degrading angle isn’t enough then this comment from a woman will almost certainly make you think twice. One of the first contestants to sign up was “Celia”, a woman from the Midlands desperate to win herself an egg. It was when I read her comment -“I don’t want anyone to know these babies are not mine. Not my family or any of my friends. We don’t intend to tell the children, either” that the level of arrogance/deceptiveness dawned on me. How on earth can you build a family from foundations of deceit? It is the right of any human being to know of their biological parents, culture and everything to do with their background that undeniably moulds who they are. The ability to choose donor eggs from women of similar backgrounds, and then fob the resulting child off as one of your own though is wrong, and children and parents will suffer equally. Yes the centres have got the right idea, giving woman the gift of life is a wonderful thing, but with increasingly ethically complex schemes and greater choice, there is no room ignore the risks.
Pawandeep K Kahlon