Children’s Rights, or Rights to Children?

Public Discourse 10 November 2014
If it’s okay to buy and sell sperm, eggs, and wombs, then why is it not okay to sell other human tissues or organs? If it’s okay to sell one’s reproductive parts, why is it not okay to sell one’s sexual parts, as in prostitution? If it’s okay to pre-sell and pre-order children via third-party reproduction, what is so wrong with buying and selling children who are already born or conceived?

….After founding The Anonymous Us Project nearly four years ago, I have read hundreds of stories from donor-conceived people, gamete donors, and involved parties. I’ve become well acquainted with the issue from several angles. And here is what I’m worried about when it comes to the new ways in which we’re bringing forth new life.

Stories of Third-Party Reproduction Gone Wrong
Having children is currently our only legal path to achieving both genetic and memetic immortality. But having kids isn’t easy. You have to find a mate. You have to look outside yourself and into the eyes of another person and convince him or her of your decency, your desirability.

Third-party reproduction is not only used by the friendly, sympathetic infertile couples of our popular imagination. The cash-money market model of baby-making has opened the door to a broad consortium of terrifying players. Baby Gammy is just one example of how this new model serves predators first, children last. There are many more.

Mitsutoki Shigeta is a Japanese multi-millionaire who recently made international headlines for commissioning sixteen children born via Thai surrogates. He housed the surrogates, along with his children and nannies, in several condos that functioned as holding camps. He apparently has a great deal of sperm stored and was planning to commission at least a dozen pregnancies every year for as long as he could. A family member of one of the surrogates reported that in the surrogacy contract it was stipulated that if the woman were to bear an “imperfect” child, she would be required to pay $24,000 to him, Mr. Shigeta, and raise the baby herself. She would be paid just under $12,000 for carrying and giving birth to a healthy, normal child.

Then there is Nadya Suleman, the infamous Octomom. Nadya made headlines in 2009 after giving birth to octuplets born via sperm donation and IVF. Her story caused controversy, because Nadya already had six children and was living on public assistance at the time. She filed for bankruptcy in 2012, with over $1 million in personal debt. Around that same time, she released a porn video to help with her financial situation.