by John Spritzler
October 11, 2009 [updated July 16, 2018]
A basic principle followed by most people in the world is that the welfare
of children trumps the desires of adults. But the
Boston Globe--arguably the most
liberal large city daily newspaper in the United States and a supporter of all
liberal causes from same-sex marriage (read my views on this issue here) to Affirmative Action--asserted today
that the desires of adults trump the welfare of children.
In its lead editorial (copied below) the Globe defends the practice of anonymous sperm- or egg-donation, despite the fact that this practice ensures that children so-conceived will suffer the psychological pain caused by not knowing their biological father or mother. The Globe writes:
"ANONYMOUS DONATIONS of sperm and eggs have helped bring happiness to thousands of Massachusetts families with fertility problems...
"Children born under this system will have a natural curiosity about their biological roots. For some, the curiosity could take on the force of an impassioned search for identity. But such quests emerge from many types of families, of all configurations, and often reach frustrating dead ends. While recognizing the desires of children to know all aspects of their backgrounds, the state should nonetheless ensure that the identities of sperm or egg donors remain such a dead end."
Anonymous sperm donation is
illegal in Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, Britain, Switzerland and
Australia. Some people argue that the anonymity is important because
without it men stop donating in sufficient numbers to meet the demand. But this
misses the point: anonymous sperm or egg (i.e., gamete) donation is morally
wrong because it is based on the principle that the desires of adults trump the
welfare of children; it is a practice that is designed and intended to prevent
precisely that which society should do everything possible to ensure--that
children enjoy the undeniable psychological benefits of knowing and being raised
by both their biological mother and biological father. Parents who use anonymous gamete donation conception do so because they value the bond between a child and its biological (as opposed to adopted) parent; but they deny the child this bond with one of its biological parents. This is immoral: it rejects the widely accepted moral view that the welfare of children trumps the desires of adults.
Infertile couples who want a child should adopt. Adoption, in contrast to conception by sperm or egg donation, is morally admirable because it is a way that adults lessen the harm a child suffers from whatever unfortunate circumstance (having nothing to do with the adoptive parents) caused it to be put up for adoption instead of being raised by its natural parents. The "happiness" that the Globe says anonymously donated sperm or eggs have brought to infertile couples is the happiness of knowing that their child is biologically related to at least one of them. But in order for the adults to enjoy this happiness they must deny the child that very same happiness from having a connection to its biological mother or father.
The Globe dismisses as unimportant the "impassioned search for identity" by children from sperm or egg donation seeking to know their absent biological parent, on the grounds that "such quests emerge from many types of families, of all configurations, and often reach frustrating dead ends." What the Globe disingenuously fails to acknowledge is that the only circumstances (such as the death of a child's parents or their refusal or inability to raise it) that require a child to have to make this kind of "quest" for identity are circumstances that we as a society should try to prevent. Likewise, we should prevent, not promote, sperm/egg donor conception.
The issues of sperm/egg donation and same-sex marriage are directly connected because when society declares two people to be married it formally approves of them producing a child of their own; since a same-sex couple can only do this by means of sperm or egg donation, legalizing same-sex marriage means formally endorsing this practice and rejecting the principle that the welfare of children trumps the desires of adults. This is one reason many people oppose same-sex marriage even if they support civil unions for such couples.
Liberalism's defense of adults placing their personal desires above the needs of children reflects the individualistic value system of liberalism. It is a value system that defines "freedom" as the freedom of an individual to act unrestricted by social obligations to others. This is the value system--euphemistically described as "personal liberty"-- that capitalism uses to justify its increasing domination of the world over the last few centuries: "freedom" means the freedom of an individual to pursue his or her self-interest, in competition with all others, by maximizing profit without regard for the welfare of others (and excusing this selfishness with the convenient myth that an "invisible hand" will nonetheless make it the best of all possible worlds for all.) Freedom for people to create a society based on caring for each other and working together for shared goals democratically arrived at in the spirit of equality, is declared by capitalism's ideology to be tyranny, "mob rule," and a catastrophe to be avoided by all means.
Liberals regard competition as the natural and proper behavior of free individuals, and they view social solidarity and social norms that promote or defend such solidarity as an infringement on freedom. Liberals believe that individuals should only be restricted when it is necessary to protect the freedom of others or to ensure that competition takes place on a "level playing field."
Thus liberals think it is wrong for workers to enforce solidarity by forcibly preventing scabs from crossing their picket line during a labor strike, because this denies the scab personal "freedom." At the same time liberals defend the racial/gender quotas imposed by Affirmative Action on the grounds that they are necessary to make the competition among people of different races and genders take place on a level playing field. Liberals know that the actual effect of these quotas has been to destroy the solidarity between blacks and whites that developed during the 1960s Civil Rights Movement on the basis of opposing racial discrimination (which is the opposite of demanding racial quotas.) They know that Affirmative Action enables employers and schools to foment white resentment of blacks by telling whites they had to give the job to (or admit into the school) a less qualified black person. Liberals don't care, because they value competition, not solidarity. (Read "We Need THIS, Not Affirmative Action.")
With respect to supporting individualistic competition and opposing norms of social solidarity, such as the principle that the welfare of children trumps adult desires, there is no disagreement between the politicians and mass media pundits in the U.S. who call themselves "liberals" and those who call themselves "conservatives." Both liberal and conservative leaders defend capitalism and the competition and inequality integral to it. This is why the ultra liberal Senator Ted Kennedy and the champion of conservatism, George W. Bush, co-sponsored the "Leave No Child Behind Act" that makes children more controllable by their future corporate employers by using standardized testing to make them insecure and unsure if they even deserve to have a decent job, all in the name of making our children better able to compete against others like themselves in the "global economy." Usually, however, liberal and conservative leaders pursue the same goal but in different ways.
The conservatives explicitly support capitalism and the right of corporate elites to do as they wish, while at the same time paying respectful lip service to some norms of solidarity that most people embrace. Thus most conservative leaders oppose same-sex marriage while supporting capitalist policies that force many children to live in poverty. Liberal leaders, in contrast, claim they want to protect ordinary people from harmful "unbridled capitalism," but they promote the individualistic ideology of capitalism and attack the ideology of solidarity, which, alone, enables people to successfully resist the ravages of capitalism.
The Republican Party mobilizes its followers to support capitalism, competition and inequality in the name of "family values" and similar notions. The Democratic Party pursues the same end by ideologically de-mobilizing those who want to fight against capitalism and challenge the authority of the corporate elite. Thus Democratic Party leaders (joined by virtually all "Left" organizations and major labor union leaders) tell working class people they are racist for opposing racial quotas and they are bigots for opposing same-sex marriage and therefore they are not fit to make important decisions in society that should be left to the enlightened upper class.
The corporate elite who rule our society are an immoral force that we need to overthrow. They are the cause of the growing inequality in our society, of the warmongering of our government, of the lack of good health care for all regardless of personal wealth, of our government's policy of supporting Israel's ethnic cleansing, of the Federal Reserve handing trillions of dollars to banksters like Goldman Sachs, and countless other policies designed to preserve elite rule and prevent the majority of people from shaping society by positive values of equality, solidarity and democracy.
But if liberal and conservative leaders and Left organizations and even labor unions (as discussed here) are all part of the problem, who are the people that are the solution? They are we: the great majority of people who think of ourselves as working class or middle class, who have no organizations that truly speak for us and our values, who therefore feel powerless to challenge the terrible things that are done in our name in fake democracies like the United States where the people with real power were never elected and cannot, therefore, be unelected. If we ever do succeed in getting organized and defeating the corporate elite and creating a genuine democracy, it will be a revolution. (But most assuredly not the kind of revolution Marxists want, in which a new Marxist elite rules undemocratically with the excuse that regular people need generations of social engineering before they will be ready to run society on their own.)
All of the hundreds of millions of us in the United States (and billions of
us in the world) who want this kind of fundamental revolutionary change should
call ourselves what we are--egalitarian revolutionaries. It is we--egalitarian revolutionaries--who
oppose the immoral values and policies of the Liberals and the Conservatives and, yes,
the Leftists. It is only a movement of people like us--egalitarian revolutionaries--who will
make the kind of world we truly want to live in.
Supreme Judicial Court Justice James McHugh, addressing the case of a mother seeking the identity of a sperm donor in order to obtain child support and genetic information, was right to call upon the Legislature to clarify these issues. The Legislature would be deeply remiss to allow a situation with such broad implications to be addressed through a patchwork of legal opinions. The state must act now to avoid uncertainty - and to preserve a fertility system that has worked well for the majority of those involved.