|Jacob Szfranski, unwilling to be a father|
A trial court ruled for Dunston based on the fact that her desire to be a mother outweighed his desire not to be a father. An appellate court reversed, holding, according to the Chicago Tribune, that "the case should be decided based on contracts and agreements between the two parties rather than just who has more compelling interest in the fate of the embryos." (emphasis added). On Friday, the trial court again awarded the embryos to Dunston. Szafranski said he will appeal again.
We sympathize with Dunston's desire to be a mother but it makes us a uncomfortable to bring children into the world whose father fought repeated court battles to prevent them from being born. We're aware of women who gave birth although the father urged an abortion and we don't fault these women. In those cases, at least, it was possible the child could receive support from the father and perhaps even have a relationship which has often proved to be the case. In the Chicago case, however, if children are born, Szfranski will have no responsibility or rights.
CHILDREN AS PROPERTY
In an earlier case, the California court held that the law applies equally to ova donation. Thus where one partner of a lesbian couple donated her ova and the other carried the twins conceived through IVF, a lower court held that the ova donor had no right to the children. The California Supreme Court reversed because the couple lived together and intended to bring the children into their joint home. That the children might be better off knowing the mother whose DNA they carried was not part of the decision.
IN WHOSE BEST INTERESTS?
It's troubling that in these cases and many others involved assisted reproduction, the fate of human beings depends on the laws of contract. There is no a mention of "best interests of the child," hallowed words in laws governing adoption, child welfare, and custody disputes in divorce. The people responsible for the assisted reproduction laws apparently believed (or found it in their best interests to assert) that children created through technology will adapt to the parents the law gives them. Their position is bolstered by the concept of "psychological parent" introduced forty years ago by Anna Freud (Sigmund's daughter), Joseph Goldstein, and Albert Solnit in Beyond the Best Interests of the Child. According to the authors, biological relationships were irrelevant; what counted was psychological relationships forged by day-to-day interaction, companionship, and shared experiences. The concept of "psychological parent" also led to laws allowing grandparents, step-parents, and others to trump the rights of natural parents.
Today, we know from the experiences of those who were adopted as infants that the importance of
Judge gives embryos to woman over objection from ex-boyfriend
Jason P. v. Danielle S. B248629, 5/14/14
Joseph Goldstein, Anna Freud, and Albert J. Solnit, Beyond the Best Interests of A Child, 1973
Jason Patric wins right to be a 'father'
By Annette Baran and Reuben Pannor
Everyone considering having a child from "donor sperm" should read this book before proceeding. It builds a convincing case that likes of omission can create dysfunctional families and disturbed children with inherent psychological problems. Baran and Panno demonstrate the need to maintain a strong sense of importance of the human element and historic, genetic connections.