This semester I have been watching a series of lectures from Michael Sandel, professor of government at Harvard, on the issue of justice. In one of those lectures, he referenced advertisements that ran in the Harvard Crimson seeking egg and sperm donors for infertile couples. In the course of the lecture Dr. Sandel raised the moral question of whether it is right to pay anonymous donors for their eggs and sperm for the purpose of creating life. Sandel’s concern is that egg and sperm donors are merely being used as a means to an end rather than being treated as ends in themselves. While Sandel’s concern is certainly valid, I believe an underlying theological issue rests beneath the surface.
In the world of reproductive donation, most donors remain anonymous by working through fertility clinics. The donors receive payment for their reproductive materials and go on with their lives with no knowledge of any subsequent offspring. The theological question this raises is that of parenthood. Does the anonymous donation of eggs and sperm undermine the biblical concept of parenthood?
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