Brave New Babymaking

Note: This commentary may not be suitable for young children. Please use parental discretion. Leann Mischel, a Pennsylvania college professor, was ready to have a second child. And she wanted the new baby to have the same father her son did. The problem was that Mischel had no idea who he was: The father of her son was “Donor 401” at a sperm bank. And the bank had sold out of Donor 401’s genetic material. But Mischel was in luck. As the Washington Post put it, Carla Schouten, another sperm-bank mother from San Jose, had “the gift of a lifetime for Mischel”—“an extra vial of the father’s sperm chilling in her doctor’s refrigerator.” She gave it to Mischel, who used it to father her second child. This is a chilling example of the Brave New World of babymaking—one that puts human reproduction into the world of commerce. Increasingly, men and women are buying and selling eggs and sperm; other women rent out their wombs for a fee. Egg donors with Ivy League educations and sperm donors with doctoral degrees can charge far more for their products. You have to wonder: How long will it be before the most popular “donor fathers” and “egg mothers” decide to cut out the middleman and sell their products on Ebay? And then imagine the child of that transaction—one who finds out that Dad sold his genetic material to a total stranger because she was the highest bidder. And what about the grandparents? How sad that the parents of men who sell their sperm may have dozens of grandchildren they will never meet. And what if grandparents decide to locate these genetic grandchildren? There’s also the eugenics element. People who buy genetic products want the best that money can buy. For example, the man who fathered the babies of Leann Mischel and Carla Schouten, and of nine other women, is 6-foot-4, good at sports, has a master’s degree, and is of German descent. It all sounds a bit like the plot of a creepy novel—one that involves neo-Nazis trying to spread the seeds of a new “Master Race.” What we’re witnessing is the triumph of genetic reductionism, which treats people as little more than the product of their DNA. There is a growing group of scientists, like Steven Pinker at MIT, who promote an alien worldview called evolutionary psychology: that our genes actually program us. In this view, the human body is not a gift from God but a purely physical object, a commodity bought and sold—or cut up for parts, as with embryonic stem-cell research. But the Bible teaches that humans—far from being mere collections of DNA or reproductive machines—are made in the image of God and that we find our ultimate identity and worth in reflecting our Creator. Some European countries have banned donor insemination of single women and the anonymous donation of sperm and eggs. And we ought to be doing exactly the same thing here. This broadcast brings to a close our two-week series about the “War on the Weak.” You need to explain to your neighbors what is at stake in the clash between the biblical worldview and many of the alien worldviews we have been discussing during this series. As is so clear from today’s subject, genetic reductionism, what is at stake here is nothing less than the question of what it means to be human. This is part ten of ten in the “War on the Weak” series.


Chuck Colson


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