Thursday 3 October 2013

SPUC's Anthony McCarthy comments on donor-conceived children

Anthony McCarthy, SPUC's education and publications manager, gave an interview recently to The National Catholic Register, a leading Catholic journal in the United States, on the subject of donor-conceived children. You can read the full interview on the Register's site, which includes contributions from other interviewees, but below I reproduce Anthony's contributions.

From "The Commodification of Children and the Insensitivity of the Culture" by Leslie Fan, National Catholic Register, 1 October 2013:
Shouldn’t offspring of third-party conception be some of the “least of these” that pro-lifers and Christians work to protect? Anthony McCarthy is a former fellow at the Anscombe Bioethics Centre and currently serves as the Education and Publications Manager at the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children in the United Kingdom. He told me via email recently that consumerism effects even those of us who are strongly pro-life. “I think we have become very sentimental in this age, which is the flipside of our cynical consumerism,” he said. “Perhaps this explains why even pro-lifers find it hard to think carefully about justice and think only of the loveliness of a child’s existence without thinking about sex and marriage and commitment and how they relate to that child and what he or she deserves.”


McCarthy said IVF lends itself to commodification. “The very language of the IVF procedure is an inegalitarian one of producer over product, of controller over controlled,” he said. “This is radically opposed to the idea of unifying committed sexual love in which a newly conceived child — for those lucky enough to conceive one — is ‘received’ as a gift and at no stage treated in a sub-human, ‘product-like’ way.”


For his part, McCarthy pointed to the use of “therapeutic” abortions many abortion supporters advocate as further evidence of child commodification. “Abortions for disability may sometimes be chosen out of misplaced kindness but are often based on a view of the child as a rejectable, and replaceable, product. The language of choice, appropriate for the supermarket and purchasing of goods, is applied here to a unique and very special bonded relationship,” he said.

In addition to new and available technologies, what else is behind this commodification? “Economic systems based on usury and contempt for labor already encourage the idea that people are commodities and nothing more,” according to McCarthy. “Children, as the most vulnerable members of any society, are particularly prone to commodification. The institution that has always protected children from being regarded as mere commodities in a marketplace is the traditional married family. That natural institution is based around the welfare of children, understood as bringing together biological and social bonds as part of a lifelong commitment — an affirmation of the irreplaceable nature of all members of the family.”


"McCarthy told me he thinks we need to understand the culture before fighting it. “It’s worth seeing how different aspects of commodification support each other,” he said. “On the economic front we see contempt for marriage in terms of taxation, contempt for the family in terms of wages paid or hours of work required. This undermining of the family fits well with the destruction of marriage, and the replacing of the idea of husband and wife with a kind of genderless consuming individualist as the paradigmatic ideal for people to aspire to."

He added that strengthening our family lives, cutting out TV propaganda, getting involved in our local schools and parishes and connecting with other families are key in rejecting commodification. "And of course, for Catholics, prayer and recourse to the sacraments are the most perfect way to resist the very real temptations of commodification."
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