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People as Product
Shawn Vandor was born after his mother did in vitro fertilization, using sperm from a man she didn't know. He talked about the frustrations he's experienced wanting to learn more about his biological father on today's show.
He describes himself as a "a product of donor insemination." I didn't introduce him that way because I didn't want to call him a "product." After the program, I asked him if he really thought of himself that way. He said yes:
I do think I'm a product. It's a kind of mode of production, the fertility business. And to think about it that way clarifies a lot of things for me.
Shawn sees the mother as the customer, making choices about what she thinks she wants her child to be like. The doctor is the curator, between the donor and the mom. Anonymous sperm and egg donors, in Shawn's view, are the raw material, what makes the business go:
The product is the end result. And no one is really thinking about the end result. The system is mother-based and has been for long time.
As he said on the show, Shawn wants the US government to make it illegal to donate sperm or eggs anonymously. He says that would protect his right to learn his genetic lineage and medical history. He doesn't think he should be forced to use genetic testing on himself just to get that information. And he thinks guys who donate sperm for $50 a pop should think a lot harder about what they're doing: contributing to the creation of human life.
Shawn is 33 now, and figures as more kids born through IVF grow up, his view will prevail. The argument is distorted now in favor of "consumer mothers," he says,
who think the whole world revolves around their uterus. Theirs is not the only point of view. They’ve had that privileged point of view for the last generation. But we're a significant part of the next generation. Why woudn't they want to protect our rights?
He may be spotting a trend, at least in desire for more open donation.