Scott Tibbs
blog post
October 31st, 2005

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Restrictions on reproduction?

Earlier this month, state senator Patricia Miller (R-Indianapolis) offered legislation that would limit who can access "assisted reproduction" medical procedures to produce a child. This raised a firestorm of opposition and was quite a hot topic in newspapers and on the radio.

The immediate and justifiable reaction was that this was an unacceptable intrusion by government into people's private lives. That argument certainly has merit. Government dictating who may and may not have children has Orwellian implications and laws about who is fit to be a parent brings to mind the dark specter of eugenics.

There is, however, another side to the issue, and that is the rights of the child. Indiana already has standards on who can adopt to make sure the best interests of children are met and that children are not adopted into bad homes. Should the same standard be established for non-sexual reproduction? At what point do the rights of potential children supercede the rights of adults to seek to become parents?

It is both common sense and established fact that the best environment for a child is a two-parent home, with a mother and a father. While many children have been raised in environments other than these and turned out fine, that does not erase the fact that a child is best served by having both a mother and a father in the home. Because children (especially babies) are helpless to fend for themselves, the state does have an interest in making sure they are taken care of. This is the concept behind Child Protective Services.

Nonetheless, for government to decide who can or cannot become pregnant through medical procedures presents what could be a slippery slope. Is the next step to create standards that will forbid people couples from having children normally unless they are "fit parents", and what will those standards be? How could you possibly police that?

Now, if I had my way, in vitro fertilization would be banned or much more heavily regulated because of the number of embryos (newly created human persons) who are destroyed by these clinics. Life is not ours to experiment with and discard, and it saddens me that newly created human life is held in such low regard that those human beings is frozen for years or destroyed/killed without a second thought.

While I do see the similarities between "assisted reproduction" and adoption, I do not think we are dealing with the same issue here. "Assisted reproduction" is attempting to create a life, while adoption deals with a life that already exists. While I appreciate Senator Miller's concern that children created through "assisted reproduction" are raised in a healthy environment, I am unable to endorse her legislative proposal. The state legislature should vote it down.

That does not mean, however, that her proposal should be dismissed out of hand as extreme or wacko. She raises important issues that, as science becomes more advanced, society does have to deal with.