Artificial Insemination Term paper help:
Artificial insemination is considered to be one of the most controversial issues in many societies because while on the one hand it provides childless couples with a hope to have their own children, it also raises a number of important religious, moral and legal problems and questions. Methods of artificial insemination have developed dramatically in recent years, but the controversy is far from over. Despite the debate, millions of people worldwide have resorted to artificial insemination particularly that most governments have already legalized this process. The debate continues and the two sides involved refuse to give in. At the same time, scientific progress in this field continue to come up with new innovations and developments.
Thesis Statement: Artificial insemination, while widely applicable in many countries of the world, remains a controversial issue over which the authorities of law, science and religion have not yet agreed.
I-The development of artificial insemination
A-Definition of the process
B-Practices of artificial insemination
1-In Vitro fertilization
II-Religious response to artificial insemination
A-Rejection by the Catholic Church
B-Conditioned acceptance by Islam
III-Moral and legal controversy
A-The unknown father
B-Sperm donation and profit making
C-Possibility of incest
D-Battles over parenthood
E-Fatherhood obligations of donators
IV-The case for artificial insemination
A-Solution to childless couples
B-Solution to lonely women
C-Solution to lesbian and gay couples
Reproduction of species has taken place ever since the existence of life on earth. Reproduction is part of nature and the process of life. Science and technology have focused on reproduction, its processes and its problems for man years, and in the past two decades, major developments have been achieved. Artificial insemination, first developed in 1979 became a landmark in the field of reproduction since it revived the hopes of thousands of infertile or sterile couples. Since then, artificial insemination methods have developed very dramatically, particularly as many of these methods have proven to be successful. Legal, religious and ethical problems, however, have also risen as a result of these scientific developments. Accordingly, artificial insemination, while becoming widely applicable in many countries of the world, remains a controversial issue over which the authorities of law, science and religion have not yet agreed.
The definition of artificial insemination itself is very tricky. Insemination is the process through which male semen reaches the ovules produced by the ovary of a female. On the other hand, artificial insemination takes place when the semen and the ovules are brought together through the intervention of a third party. In 1979, the English child Mary Louise Brown was born as the first “test-tube baby.” Mary’s mother had a problem with her fallopian tube, and hence, the sperm could not reach the ovules. Scientists, as a result, collected the sperm and introduced it to the ovules in a test tube. Once the mating between the male and female cells took place, the fertilized egg was reintroduced into the mother’s womb where it grew naturally. Today, this method is more known as ‘in vitro fertilization’ (“Artificial Insemination,” CD-ROM, 1).
The success of the early artificial insemination process was a revolution in the treatment of infertility and sterility. The problem, however, was that if one of the parents was sterile, the method used to reproduce Mary Louise was not applicable. Instead, sperms had to be collected from another man, or ovules had to be collected from another woman. Today, the term ‘artificial insemination’ relates to thousands of cases in which fresh or frozen semen from an anonymous donator is used to fertilized the ovules of a mother in order to reproduce a child (“Artificial Insemination,” CD-ROM, 1).
Another practice that has become common in the US today is known as surrogate motherhood. In this case, artificial insemination is used to fertilize the two eggs and then, the fertilized egg is transplanted in another woman’s womb, usually for a financial return. Surrogate motherhood is practiced in cases where the original mother cannot become pregnant for health or other reasons (Ostling 58).
The various methods of artificial insemination have been practiced widely in many countries, especially in the US and Europe. Thousands of childless couples have found in artificial insemination a means through which their dream of begetting a child can be achieved. However, the legal, moral and religious complications related to artificial insemination cannot be ignored.
Religious authorities are basically very concerned about an issue such as artificial insemination, particularly that it deals with matters of life, birth and parenthood. In 1949, when scientists first spoke of the possibility of artificial insemination, the Vatican immediately responded with a condemnation issued by Pope Pius XII. However, since the practice did not follow until decades later, very few churches actually preached against this issue (Ostling 58). Very recently, Pope John Paul II issued a strict condemnation of all methods of artificial insemination, and considered such practices because they “threaten the respect for human life that is fundamental to Christianity” (Ostling 58).
Islam, on the other hand, has a different perspective. Modern Islamic theology approves of artificial insemination, but only on the conditions that the father’s sperm will be used and that the mother is going to carry her own baby. Hence, if the sperm belongs to an anonymous donator, then the artificial insemination becomes an act of adultery, even though it did not involve any sexual intercourse (Al-Ali, online, 2). In contrast, the Catholic Church rejects all forms of artificial insemination even if the father himself was donating the sperm, and even though many Catholic theologians disagree with the rule of the Vatican.
Evidently, there is a moral problem with artificial insemination. First of all, the semen is not usually that of the husband himself, since in many cases the husband is infertile or sterile. Practically speaking, when using donated sperm, a woman is actually becoming pregnant with a child of a man other than her husband, a man who may never be seen by his child (Douglas 12).
The issue does not stop here. Many sperm banks across the US collect sperm from thousands of anonymous donators and college students who are willing to give their sperm away to these banks in return for money. In other words, these people are actually selling their sex cells that will eventually be turned into children. As reproduction turns into a profitable industry, the moral grounds on which the entire issue of artificial insemination lies becomes questionable.
Many young people donate their sperm to several banks or to the same banks on several occasions so long as they get paid. Thus, in the future, children that descended from the same father may eventually become adults, fall in love and get married. In social, moral and religious terms, this is considered as incest, one of the most immoral condemned acts in most societies in the world, not to mention that it is also an illegal practice. It is almost impossible for a person born from artificial insemination to tell whether he or she is committing incest since many never try to find who their real fathers were (Everton 23).
Legal complications resulting from artificial insemination are not uncommon, depending on the type of artificial insemination used. For example, New Jersey will never forget the case known as Baby M. in which a surrogate mother decided at the moment she delivered the child to keep the child for herself. The couple and the surrogate mother have been bitterly quarreling over the custody of the child, while the lawmakers have not been able to reach a final decision yet, especially that the sperm and the eggs belonged to the couple, while the surrogate mother only bore the child in her womb (Ostling 58).
More complicated cases are also arising about the rights and obligations of sperm donators. When young people donate their sperms to sperm banks, they think that their obligations are over once they get paid. This is not true, however, because the child born from the sperm has the right to know who the real father is. In some cases in the US, sperm donators have been forced by the courts of law to meet fatherhood obligations to children who came from their sperm. However, there is no final rule to tell whether the sperm donators should actually be obliged as fathers or not. Since the situation remains in the shadow, it is obvious that in the future, there will be many similar cases (Everton 23).
Despite all the arguments against artificial insemination, there are many who consider it as a solution for their problems. Childless couples who had spent fortunes trying to beget a child do not care much whether the sperm came from the father or from another man. They do not care much whether religion stands with or against the case as long as they get the child they have always dreamt of. Accordingly, artificial insemination becomes a practical means through which a hope is realized and a need satisfied.
More critically, artificial insemination is looked at as a last resort by thousands of women who are unable to meet Mr. Right. Many women today want to live their lives freely and happily, and to do this, a boyfriend or a husband has to be out of the picture. While most of these women can do without a man, they cannot resist their need for a child and a family. While many women try to get pregnant through fast relations, there are an increasing number of women who believe that artificial insemination is much better, especially that it does not involve any social complication with a man (Cook 5).
Lesbians and gays also believe artificial insemination to be suitable for them. With artificial insemination, lesbians do not have to have sex with men in order to get pregnant. They can simply contact a sperm bank and get what they want after a few trials. Gays, on the other hand, can seek artificial insemination with the involvement of a surrogate mother who will bear the child for nine months and later on deliver it to the couple (Douglas 12).
The reason that artificial insemination is such a major controversial issue today is that it relates to very sensitive problems and needs, namely parenthood and reproduction. At the same time, it involves major fields of life such as the law, religion and morality. The arguments against artificial insemination are very strong obvious, but at the same time, the issue is very controversial because technology is telling people that here is a solution for your most serious problem, but it is not religiously or morally acceptable. For those who have lived many years yearning for a baby, who have felt deprivation and who always suffered from the idea that there will be a day when they will die without leaving heirs behind them, artificial insemination might be acceptable, and it might even be their only hope. Thousands of people are already resorting to artificial insemination all over the world, regardless whether others like it or not, and even when legal consequences are very painful and shocking. Issues such as artificial insemination, relating to life, birth, reproduction and parenthood cannot be resolved merely by resorting to rationality or logic. After all, no one can deny that the issue is very emotionally charged. It is not difficult to understand the situation of a childless couple when they strongly and even blindly support artificial insemination. It simply gives them hope and life. Personally, I think that artificial insemination is a matter that should be left to the couple to resolve. At this moment of my life, I cannot judge because I do not want to be a parent. I believe that only those people who have been deprived the gift of parenthood can judge for themselves.
Al-Ali, Nizar. “Health-Middle East: An Islamic case for ‘test-tube’ babies.”
Inter Press Service English News Wire, April 21, 1998, online: 1-2.
“Artificial Insemination.” Encyclopedia Encarta97. CD-ROM. Microsoft
Corporation, 1998: 1.
Cook, Emma. “So you want a baby but there’s no sign of Mr. Right….”
Independent on Sunday, November 16, 1997, online: 5.
Douglas, Carol Anne. “Women as wombs.” Contemporary Women’s Issues
Database, January 1, 1994, online: 12-13.
Everton, Leslie. “The new revolution in making babies.” Time, December 1,
Ostling, Richard. “Religion: technology and the Womb. Rome denounces some
rapidly spreading methods of conception.” Time, March 23, 1987: 58.