Sperm donation, surrogacy motherhood…..we’ve been having it

This article was first published on March 28 and is republished here due forced migration.
When at first I read Leizel Eykelhol’s article; “Fathers anonymous” in The Times (March 28, 2011) I was thoroughly convinced that sperm donation has got be one of the most morally bankrupt activities man can engage in. And it seemed fairly simple to rationalize my standpoint on the matter.
I come from a social background where families, comprising a married set of people and supported by sets of close relatives; bear and raise children as among core responsibilities in life. The father and the mother deliberately decide on the course of action and are always directly involved at all stages of both procreation as well as the raising of the family in a home.
But in addition to that, there is an undeniable unique psycho-sociological relationship between a child and biological parents which, under normal circumstances, necessities a connection at all times. Among other things, a person’s true identity resides with biological parents. At least that’s the core of it.
As such, I could not – at the time of reading the article – reconcile the morality that justifies sperm donation with that which informs my understanding of proper human social development from a procreation perspective – let alone the acceptability of physical engagement in the process itself.
The questions racing through my mind included: ‘If a man desires to have children, as he should; why not have his own AND look after them himself? Why milk sperm into huge reserve tanks where it can be plastic bagged by, I’d argue; equally insane women who are sufficiently selfish to rather breed in complete blindness than engage with those they are familiar with?’
Incidentally, the same newspaper carried another article (“Orphans drop lawsuit over palatial estate” p3) about an Italian aristocratic family currently engaged in a bitter row over surrogate children acquired by a gay male member of the family.
Princess Gesine Doria Pamphilj and Prince Jonathan’s sad story simply sealed my conviction that, indeed; procreation of children through ‘mediums’ – be they sperm donors or surrogate mothers – is simply wrong and therefore unacceptable.
But then it struck me that the situation involving sperm donation and generation of surrogate children and which I was fast distancing my morality from is actually not necessarily unfamiliar nor a foreign practice in my own community. We just do not call it that, yet evidence of it is everywhere.
One only has to consider first the general acceptance of female pregnancy and the bearing of children outside wedlock and with that, the consequent increase in the number of single parent homes – mostly female – in South Africa over the past few years. We ain’t been to any wars nor has HIV/Aids much to do with it.
There is sufficient statistical evidence showing the phenomenal growth of female-headed families in South Africa, the last near accurate estimation (Census 96) having put the figure at just over 3.5-million.
Fourteen years on, that figure will have doubled in 2011 especially given annual reports that show that an increasing number of school going children in especially poorer communities partake in the sexual activity frenzy where sperm is donated willy-nilly directly to both witting and unwitting would-be mothers and many of who, for all intents and purposes therefore, become surrogate mothers.
Eykelhof’s article sought to suggest that donating sperm was not as easy in South Africa as it might be! I found that hard to believe because, please; ‘we’ve been having it.’

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