Acton Institute Powerblog

Universal Children’s Day: Let’s Stop Treating Them Like Objects

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November 20 was established as Universal Children’s Day in 1954 by the United Nations. The UN has imagined this as a day of building fraternity between children and raising awareness for children’s welfare.

If we really care about children’s welfare, we need to stop pretending. We need to stop pretending that it’s not in the best interest of children to have a mom and a dad who are married and live together.  We need to stop pretending that children are not being daily abused in our own communities via human trafficking. We need to stop pretending that children are things we get because we want them, not human beings who are completely dependent on mature adults to help create the best environment for them. Purposefully and brazenly conceiving children apart from their biological parents is not in the best interest of children, no matter what we adults want.

Christopher White reminds us that even the United Nations agrees with this (in theory):

Over the past four decades an unknown number—easily in the hundreds of thousands—of children have been conceived via anonymous egg and sperm donation. These methods have helped contribute an entire generation of children severed from at least one of their parents, where the parental desires to have children trump the rights of children to know and be known by their biological parents.

Consider the UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child, which we commemorate today. Article 7 states:

The child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality and, as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents.

What this means is that children, who should be created from an act of love between mother and father, are now being “ordered” in an almost completely-unregulated system of egg and sperm donation and surrogacy. These children, White says, are often left in a state of biological bewilderment – a sort of “Are You My Mother?” wrought terribly wrong.

Then, White says, there are the economic and – let’s be honest – eugenics issues:

The business of egg and sperm donation is highly lucrative, but only for a select few. Buying and selling eggs and sperm privileges the wealthy at the expense of the poor. Moreover, the entire enterprise runs the risk of eugenic commodification. Ads commonly specify racial, physical, and intellectual characteristics—giving parents the opportunity to create their custom-made, designer child. An egg donor from Stanford University or a sperm donor who played football for a top-25 NCAA school will always be preferred over a single mom who dropped out of college to raise her child or a barista at Starbucks who is trying to pull together enough funds to pay for his tech-school tuition.

Study after study after study makes it clear that children are best raised in a home with their married, biological parents. It’s not a perfect world; sometimes, despite our best intentions, this doesn’t work out. Then, as adults, we do our best to make sure the needs of the children are put above the desires of parents. But to willfully make sure that the child’s  best interests are trivialized because “I want a baby” is akin to an adult temper-tantrum: “I want it!!”

The practice of anonymous gamete donation makes such desirable outcomes more challenging from the very outset of conception. This is not to say there aren’t some happy outcomes and that every child conceived through such technologies will suffer. But such a practice does institutionalize the possibility that children will have to suffer more than necessary.

On this Universal Children’s Day, let’s take a moment to consider the child. What is actually best for her? If you were that child, what would you want? What would you need? Let’s make that happen for every child.

Read “Sperm And Egg Donation Foster Technology-Induced Child Slavery” at The Federalist.

Love and Economics: It Takes a Family to Raise a Village

Love and Economics: It Takes a Family to Raise a Village

Dr. Morse shows that mothers create the basic attachments that lay the groundwork for the development of the conscience and only the family can socialize children to use their freedom responsibly.

Elise Hilton Communications Specialist at Acton Institute. M.A. in World Religions.

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