Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Psyche of the Test Tube Baby & the Bioethics of Fatherhood

A generation ago the first "test tube baby" was born in Great Britain via in vitro fertilization (IVF) in 1978. Since then, more than three million children have been born with the help of reproductive technology. In fact, America's first test tube baby has had a baby of her own: Elizabeth Comeau, 29, delivered her first son, Trevor James Comeau on August 06, 2010. The advent of IVF provides a readily available option for single people and same-sex couples wishing to have children and with test tube baby technology the presence of a father can be deleted from the family equation. As the number of children growing up without a father continues to accelerate, attention must be focused on what the affects of father absence are on the children's emotional development.

The negative effects of father absence have been well documented and the statistics are grim:

* 72% of all teenaged murderers grew up without fathers. 1
* 75% of teen suicides occur in single-parent families. 2
* 90% of all homeless runaway children are from fatherless homes. 2

The decline of fatherhood is a major force behind many of the most disturbing problems that plague America: crime and juvenile delinquency; premature sexuality and out-of-wedlock births to teenagers; deteriorating educational achievement; depression, substance abuse, and alienation among adolescents; and the growing number of women and children in poverty. 3

Fatherlessness is a social problem exacerbated by the breakdown of the traditional family, the glamorization of single motherhood and the denigration of fatherhood.

In today's brave new world, in vitro fertilization is considered a commonplace procedure utilized by infertile couples and single women all over the world. As society evolves into this new era, we must consider the value of the traditional family structure, the rise in father absence, and the detrimental effects it has on children's cognitive and emotional development. The daunting psychological challenges confronting children that do not have both parents must be recognized as an alarming societal dilemma. Embracing IVF technology without fully understanding the consequences on these children's futures is irresponsible and short sighted.

1 Fatherhood Educational Institute: http://www.fatherhood-edu.org
2 Getting Men Involved: The Newsletter of the Bay Area Male Involvement Network, (Spring 1997)
3 D. Popenoe. "Life without father." In: C. Daniels, ed. Lost fathers: The Politics of Fatherlessness in America. (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1998).

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