On December 12, the Heritage Foundation hosted an event which focused on the wellbeing of children in light of new reproductive technologies and the legalization of same-sex marriage for the whole country. One of the speakers was Katy Faust, the Founder and Director of Them Before Us, which is an organization that defends the rights of children to have both a mother and a father. The other speakers were Melissa Moschella, an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Catholic University, and Jeff Shafer from Alliance Defending Freedom.
Faust believes that the breakdown of the nuclear family in America is harmful for children and also for society. She mentioned that the effect same-sex marriage would have on children did not enter much into the debate about that issue: “…we spent so much time talking about adults and what adults wanted but it’s kids who are the true victims when we get policy wrong.” In addition to having two parents of the same sex, Faust said that it was also problematic for kids to grow up in a home with only one parent. She said that children need to be loved by both a father and a mother, or harm may come to the children or to others: “…look at any issue that you care about–incarceration rates, teen suicide, homelessness, drug use, behavioral issues–you get right down to the heart of it and the bulk of the kids who make up those statistics have lost a relationship with their mother or their father or suffered some kind of family breakdown…”
Moschella spoke about how new reproductive practices are harmful to children. Genetics are important because “There’s this permanent, identity defining link between genetic parents and their children, which means that in donor conception cases the donor is not ‘no one’ to the donor conceived child…” She backed up this claim by citing studies. A 2005 study from the Human Reproduction journal found that “Over 80% (of 12-17 year-olds surveyed from 29 households) said that they were likely to request the donor’s identity and pursue contact, many saying they wanted to learn more about him in order to learn more about themselves.” A 2013 study by the Social Science and Medicine journal found that “Donor offspring view the donor as a whole person, rather than as simple genetic material…” Children who were made as the result of donors have reported feeling angry because they do not know their ethnicities and who their real fathers are.
Shafer discussed how the United States has redefined the meaning of a family, and specifically how the understanding of parenthood has changed. He said: “So in the law in legal literature in parent and child, the defining norm of natural kinship is being encroached upon and replaced by norms of intent and function. Once the process of human reproduction is understood as fundamentally contractual and technological…the filial connections between the child and the adults concerned is of no significance.” Shafer believes that the change in how parenthood is understood today is very significant, and takes away an essential aspect of being human: “We are, through law and technological deed, confounding and diminishing in the public mind the categories-the natural categories-of mother and father as children are now being brought into existence precisely intending that they be without a mother or a father…and the law cooperating with and affirming this at every turn, indeed announcing that this is the requirement of justice and equality; we’re getting schooled into a new vision of human nature.”