Them Before Us presented the following statement to the Washington State House | Health Care & Wellness Committee on House Bill 1151: (You can watch here, timestamp 1 hour 49 minutes.)
And to the Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee on SB 5204 (timestamp 1:52:40).
If you would like to lend your support to oppose this bill, use our statement to help craft your own and e-mail the members of these committees (house) (senate).
Dear Committee Members,
Them Before Us is a nonprofit committed to defending children’s rights to their mothers and fathers. We urge you to oppose HB 1151 because it would require insurance companies to subsidize interventions that intentionally deprive children of a relationship with one or both biological parents. Insurance companies should not be forced to subsidize an unethical, unregulated, child-harming industry.
Anti-child. Infertility is a heartbreaking experience and should be handled with the utmost compassion. The desire for children is natural and good, but that desire must never come at the expense of children’s rights. Third-party reproduction – surrogacy and use of “donor” sperm or egg- harms children. Many of these children are speaking out against the practice. Kathryn Francisco, who was born via sperm donation, writes about her experience saying,
“Hiring a stranger to have a child, through the sanitizing, third-party arrangements of hospitals and fertility centers, only whitewashes the truth. As a ‘donor,’ you are intentionally separating your child from his or her father or mother in the most formative years of life…When you are donor-conceived, on a biological level, half of you (or all of you, depending on the type of donation) is entirely unknown to the unrelated people who are raising you.”
Stephanie Blessing, created via sperm donation shares,
“Calling my conception unethical in no way devalues the fact that I am glad to be alive… I love the man who raised me… Yet despite my sweet childhood, I am adamantly against ‘donor’ conception.”
Another young adult who was conceived via sperm donation wrote,
“My heart bleeds daily for my unknown family. My life had a price and I am the one who bears the consequences.”
Third-Party Reproduction ≠ Adoption. Unrelated adults are less invested in and protective of children. Thus in adoption, hopeful parents must undergo screening and vetting. Third-party reproduction requires no background checks resulting in riskier, more unstable homes. Donor-conceived children are more likely to experience family instability, with 44% of donor-conceived children living through one or more “family transitions” by the age of 16, compared with 22% of their adopted peers and 35% of their peers raised by biological parents.
Ellie, another donor-conceived adult explains:
“I’ve been involved in the state foster care system for about two decades, a system which encourages keeping families together and tries to support keeping children with their blood relatives unless there is a severe safety issue. Children thrive best with their biological families… Unfortunately, I was born as the result of a profit-driven medical clinic selling parental rights without regard for what is best for the end product, the child produced… We, the donor-conceived, are being denied some pretty basic human rights. We are commodified, existing only because our biological parent was willing to sell genetic material in order to make someone else a parent.”
Adoption elevates the needs of children. Third-party reproduction elevates the desires of adults.
Commodification. Children have a right to be born free, not bought, sold, swapped, traded, or designed. And yet, this is the reality of donor conception. Brian, a product of surrogacy wrote,
“Babies are not commodities. Babies are human beings. How do you think this makes us feel to know that there was money exchanged for us?”
In one study, 70% of donor-conceived adults believed that society should end the practice of gamete donation and 62% said that they found the commercial nature of gamete donation to be unethical.
Alana Newman, who was conceived through sperm donation writes,
“I knew from an early age that I was purchased and selected from essentially a catalog. I knew that my blonde hair and blue eyes was somehow valued above other colorations—because my mother never fell in love with my father, he was never a full human being to her only a handful of breeding details. I always knew that I was purchased and created precisely to make her happy, that was my raison d’etre.”
(Them Before Us. Faust, Katy & Manning Stacey. p. 165.)
Identity Struggles. Many children produced via third-party reproduction struggle to know who they are. Research has found that 63% say they wish they knew more about their biological parent’s identity. Another study found that over half of donor-conceived individuals wonder if their biological parent’s family would want to know them and 63% agreed with the statement “My sperm donor is half of who I am.”
One child produced via “donor embryo” and surrogacy fantasized about what it would be like to be raised by her biological parents,
“To be raised by two persons who you were once cells of, by a woman who you bonded with when growing in her tummy, to be birthed into the world to both these creators and be made not from cash but from mutual love from all parties, and to be able to look into the mirror and have your daddy’s eyes, Mommy’s nose, and a compromised height… to be loved by the two who created you and not from the strangers who bought you, is natural and beautiful. But I was denied this primal family structure to support a business and an unfamiliar infertile couple.”
For the sake of the children whose rights and well-being are harmed by the fertility industry, Them Before Us urges you to vote no on this bill. No adult has a right to a child who is not biologically theirs and insurance companies should not subsidize the creation of motherless and fatherless children. As adults, it is our responsibility to care for and protect children, not incentivize their harm.