Tuesday, 14 March 2006

Gay genes or not gay genes - it's nobody's business but their own

Here's another example today of how state control of everything from conception to cremation leads to public involvement in everyone's private affairs -- sometimes intensely private affairs -- and to 'public debate' about things that is nobody else's business but those involved.

Today's story in brief involves sperm donors, fertility clinics, the Human Wrongs Commissariat (AKA the Human Rights Commission) and claims of a 'gay gene': Once upon a time, not so long ago, a private company, Fertility Associates, began to offer a service to parents unable to father children on their own. Many parents were very, very happy and began to avail themselves of the service offered, and for a while all was good. But such work cannot be done without the state's stern and controlling eye being cast thereon.

And so it was. The Human Wrongs Commissariat soon took it upon themselves to force Fertility Associates to use sperm from gay men, which they had previously avoided due to what they perceived as the added HIV risk involved. And with that the floodgates of meddling have seemed to open. Following hard on those state heels now comes an academic revelling in the name of Assoc. Professor Sin who demands that "potential recipients of sperm from gay donors to be told that a 'gay gene' could be passed on to the child." ( Picture if you can gay sperm donors phoning Prof Sin with the worrying complaint, "Forgive me Sin, for I have fathered!")

Now, Uncle Tom Cobley and all want a say, from the Gay Association of Professionals to "genetic experts," to molecular biologists and hospital endicronologists rung by newspapers for a quote, to talkback callers and Ian Wishart and, inexorably, Brian Bloody Tamaki. "There is no proof of a 'gay gene'," says one. "Is too," says another. "Don't care anyway," says yet another, "just don't tell anyone." "Do too care," says one more, "we're polluting our gene pool." Expect to see all these people and more bothered by TV crews all day. Sheesh. Talk about a furore in a field that's none of their damn businesss anyway.

Time to pull back and reflect. Just whose business is any of this? Not yours and mine, that's for sure. Not the business of sundry experts or comments-persons. Not the business of Prof Sin or the Human Wrongs Commissariat or the Gay Association of Professionals. Why does everyone always expect a say in stuff that's just none of their damn business?! Why do you? Is that why we have a government of bloody stickybeaks -- because most of you like nothing better than to meddle in your neighbours' affairs?

This is none of your damn business! The only people whose business this is is Fertility Associates, the sperm donors they choose to use and who choose to accept their conditions, and those who choose to avail themselves of the treatment Fertility Associates offers. That's all. What sperm to use, whether or not to use sperm from gay men, and what to tell, and whether there is or isn't a 'gay gene' is the concern only of those involved. The sober reflection and the choice on the issue is theirs' to make, not yours, and you and I and sundry experts and axe-grinders should be told politely to butt right out.

And the moral of the story then? Don't let the state anywhere near your bedrooms, your test-tubes or your fallopian tubes.

LINKS: 'Gay gene' row over sperm donations - Dominion Post

TAGS: Science, Ethics, Health, Politics-NZ


  1. Lovely, lovely pun. Made my morning. Keep it up (perhaps an unfortunate choice of words given topic).

  2. 'Forgive me Sin, for I have fathered'!

    Beautiful. Laughed out loud, loudly!

    Excellent post which I have forwarded en masse.

  3. Back again, with a more serious point. It is actually somebody else's business, you know: it's the business of the child that results. That child is at least as intimately concerned with his/her heredity as his/her non-bio parents are.

    I don't know what the Libz' view is on the right of adult humans to know their full identity (nature + nurture)without let or hindrance. It strikes me as a fundamental one.

    Does that need for heredity information include parents' sexual orientation? I wouldn't say that would be my top pick! I'd think that was something the child and bio-parent could discuss at leisure in the future if, as and when they met. The key is that there be enough information for that mtg to happen.

    I gather that in recent years clinic practice (not law) has been to require gamete donors to have identifying information placed in a special register that their biological children can access after they turn 18. In intent this seems to mirror the Adoption Information Act of 1986. Current clinic practice has no retroactive effect, of course. There must be a few hundred NZ children (many now adults) will never fully know who they are.

    Messing around with genetic material and who people are is a ticklish business. There are no easy solutions. Adoption, abortion, insemination, there's always a price to pay.

  4. Hi Peter

    Just a quick comment about what you wrote:
    What sperm to use, whether or not to use sperm from gay men, and what to tell, and whether there is or isn't a 'gay gene' is the concern only of those involved.

    Isn't that exactly the point behind the whole debate. The problem in that those involved are on different sides of the debate.

    By the way, I don't know if you listened to nine-to-noon this morning, but the gay gene section was a piece of comedy that couldn't have been scripted better. Worth a listen.

  5. "Back again, with a more serious point. It is actually somebody else's business, you know: it's the business of the child that results."

    But that child does not presently exist. And when it does come to exist it will be because of the choices made today by its parents now. And when it is born, they're entitled to make decisions on its behalf, and to speak on its behalf. No one else is.

    "There are no easy solutions." Well, there are when we all mind our own business. :-P

    "Isn't that exactly the point behind the whole debate. The problem in that those involved are on different sides of the debate."

    Don't understand that at all. The decision is one to be made voluntarily between Fertility Associates and those seeking their services -- in this context, the decision for the former is what information to make available; the decision for the latter is whether or not that is enough. Between them, it's up to them to come to some voluntary agreement as to what they're prepared to offer and to accpet.

    And what they decide is none of our business.

    "'Forgive me Sin, for I have fathered'!"

    And I have to confess that I pinched that line from an Irish humourist back in the early nineties, who used it when an Irish priest got rather too friendly with one of his female parishioners and then ran off to the Phillipines to see Cardinal Jaime Sin, and to confess his paternity. I've been dying to use it ever since. :-)

  6. What most people ignore is that so much reproduction goes on everyday, with the people involved not the slightest bit concerned about the genetics - except whether the other person gets them horny or not (which is a form of selection). Many of them pay no regard to means to raise a child, and even people convicted of murder, rape and molesting children can procreate.

    Yet there is an enormous hoo ha about this.


1. Commenters are welcome and invited.
2. All comments are moderated. Off-topic grandstanding, spam, and gibberish will be ignored. Tu quoque will be moderated.
3. Read the post before you comment. Challenge facts, but don't simply ignore them.
4. Use a name. If it's important enough to say, it's important enough to put a name to.
5. Above all: Act with honour. Say what you mean, and mean what you say.