Bioethics Blogs

Metaphor: Shopping

Story: a white couple ordered sperm from a sperm bank, stipulating that it be from a white man, for artificial insemination; however, in the delivery room, it was immediately apparent that they didn’t get what they ordered, as their newborn daughter was mixed-race. The couple is now suing the sperm bank for $50,000.

In Tuesday’s Chicago Tribune, columnist Dahleen Glanton wrote a commentary on this story, entitled “In defense of couple suing a sperm bank.”  Glanton’s commentary on the story is particularly illuminating in ways that she probably didn’t intend. Here are some excerpts from her commentary, with italics added by me:

Three years ago [this couple] went shopping for sperm . . . This would be a major purchase for the couple . . . I imagine they felt a little like I did when I bought my first home  . . . two vials of sperm from Donor No. 380. Sold! . . . Who hasn’t gone shopping only to get home, open the bag and find out that you didn’t get what you’d paid for? Under normal circumstances, you’d just return it to the store. But we’re talking about a child here. All sales are final . . . In an instant, [one of the couple] says in the lawsuit, her excitement and anticipation of her pregnancy was replaced with anger, disappointment and fear.

Notice how, in a five-column story on the top of page three in a major American newspaper, Glanton defends this couple’s lawsuit: with the language of consumerism. She writes as if buying sperm to have a baby is analogous to any other major purchase.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.