“The Genius Factory”ť by David Plotz evoked a number of controversial issues which remained unnoticed for a considerable part of the American society. In fact, this book has revealed the extent to which the modern science can be poorly regulated and controlled that may lead to the violation of rights or the limitation of rights of people using advancements of modern science. In this respect, the problem of artificial fertilization and further life of children and their biological and actual parents is very complicated. To put it more precisely, there is a serious problem when biological fathers are unaware of their children, who were born due to the use of their semen, while children are brought up in families which are not biologically families of their own. At any rate, their fathers are not biologically their fathers and, what is more important, children do not even know anything about their biological fathers. In such a situation, children born in the result of artificial fertilization seem to be the least protected since they are deprived of the right to get information of their fathers, while their parents often prefer to hide the truth about their birth.
In fact, the book “The Genius Factory”ť revealed a bunch of problems related to the artificial fertilization. The author focuses his attention on the research of the functioning of the Nobel Prize sperm bank. David Plotz reveals the fact that the founder of the bank William Shockley had an idea of the creation of the new kind of race of genius people who were born from outstanding fathers, who have managed to achieve tremendous success in different fields of science. At this point, the author is inclined to believe that William Shockley attempted to play God using modern technologies and achievements of medicine and genetics. At the same time, the author underlines that neither donors nor mothers nor children had any relevant information on what was actually going on with the bank. To put it more precisely, all the private information was kept in secret and sperm donors could not know anything about children which were born with the use of their semen, while mothers had very limited information on fathers. As for children, they proved to be absolutely unaware of the way they were born and they had even less information on their fathers than their mothers had.Â In such a way, David Plotz raises a number of ethical issues related to the practical implementation of the modern science, especially genetics and medicine which made the process of child bearing a kind of routine. In fact, the birth of a child has transformed into a kind of assembling of a conditioned product on a factory. Therefore, the question concerning rights of children born in the result of artificial fertilization on the basis of the sperm bank arises.
In fact, the development of the modern science has brought considerable changes in the life of people. At the same time, the emergence of new sciences, such as genetics, evoked numerous ethical issues which the modern science can hardly treat effectively. In this respect, the ethical issues of artificial fertilization and the use of stem cells are extremely controversial and views on the artificial fertilization and the use of stem cells are opposite from the support of these developments to the total rejection of the idea of the possibility of artificial fertilization or the use of stem cells in the medicine or scientific experiments. In this regard, Plotz perfectly revealed ethical controversies of the problem of the use of sperm banks and artificial fertilization.
First of all, it should be said that the development of genetics opened larger opportunities for the modern science and childless couples. In actuality, the science has already managed to conduct a series of experiments and successful fertilization of women who born healthy children became a norm, while the stem cells are viewed by many specialists (Limentani, 1999) as an effective tool that can solve many problems of the modern medicine that used to be considered irresolvable. However, the artificial fertilization and the use of stem cells evoke a strong opposition among the conservative part of the society because it violates basic ethical and moral norms of the society. In fact, it is necessary to underline the fact that artificial fertilization and the stem cells research contradict to basic ethical norms of the conservative part of society.
In this respect, the major argument of opponents of artificial fertilization and genetic experiments is the idea of the “unauthorized”ť intrusion of humans in the nature. Basically, various religious movements are particularly resistant to artificial fertilization and stem researches because they debunk numerous religious beliefs concerning the creation of the world and living beings by some deities.
Naturally, religious movements are unwilling to accept the idea that humans can play the role of a god or creator. At the same time, it is not only religious movements and organizations that oppose to artificial fertilization and stem cells researches. In fact, many people stand on the ground that such researches are absolutely immoral because they view stem cells and researches related to artificial fertilization and genetic researches as experiments on living beings, including humans. The latter is particularly important because experiments on humans are legally forbidden and stem cells researches and genetics contradicts to this legal norm if stem cells are viewed as human beings, for instance. Basically, these considerations became the foundation for the legal limitations of genetics and stem cells researches in many countries.
At the same time, it is obvious that children cannot be totally separated from their parents, either biological or non-biological. However, this was exactly what occurred in the result of the functioning of the sperm bank and artificial fertilization of women. Children born in the result of such artificial fertilization had no information on their biological fathers. This is obviously the violation of their basic human rights since any child should have an opportunity to have information on his or her parents. Instead, the practice of the sperm bank deprived children of such an opportunity. In fact, the process of fertilization and birth of children was accompanied by secrecy and conspiracy.
On the one hand, such an approach to the birth of children was justified by the possible traumatic effect of revealing the truth on their psychology. At this point, it should be said that children were brought up with the belief that their parents were their biological parents.
Naturally, if the secret of their birth is revealed in their adulthood or adolescence, it could have a serious traumatic effect on their psychology. On the other hand, it was obviously unjust to keep in secret the fact of their birth in the result of the artificial fertilization and the use of a donor’s sperm. In this respect, it is important to underline the fact that many parents intentionally hide the fact of the use of a donor’s sperm for the birth of children. As a result, children could not get the information which they had the right to know. In such a situation, it is obvious that the problem of artificial fertilization and the use of donors’ sperm should be regulated. For instance, it is important to provide children with an opportunity to have information on their birth and on their parents. In fact, this information could not be kept in secret by a sperm bank. Instead, it should be available to individuals concerned. However, it is possible to introduce some age limitations to make such information available to children. In such a way, it will be possible to inform children about their biological fathers, while their actual parents would not hide the information on their birth. Therefore, children would be psychologically prepared to get information concerning their biological fathers.
Thus, in conclusion, it should be said that David Plotz has raised a number of problems which relate to the use of genetics and medicine in the modern world. The modern science has a made a tremendous progress, but the existing legislation can hardly keep pace with the scientific progress.