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Concocting Rights and the Rights of the IVF Embryonic Child
Katie Breckenridge, M.S.
Them Before US
Operations Administrator | 10 August 2023
California’s SB 729,[i] which requires insurance companies to provide coverage for fertility treatments such as In Vitro Fertilization and surrogacy has, as of July 13, passed in the Senate and been referred to the Committee on Appropriations.[ii]
This bill expands the definition of infertility to include not only those who struggle with infertility as an actual medical condition but to anyone who is incapable of naturally reproducing, such as those in the LGBTQ community.[iii] The bill’s author, Senator Caroline Menjarvi, stated, “It's going to help the LGBTQ+ community or gay men, couples who want to start a family, me and my wife -- the stories of so many individuals.”[iv]
Legislation focusing on the “equality” of those in the LGBTQ community is often done so under the guise of adults possessing a supposed “right” to have children. As stated by Traci Keen, CEO of Mate Fertility, “When people want to build families, the World Health Organization has declared it a human right.”[v] Senator Menjarvi, Ms. Keen, and WHO seem to have forgotten the stories and the rights of the true victims of this legislation - the children. When proponents of reproductive technologies focus on the “right” to have children, they are focusing on legal rights to fulfill their adult desires, therefore violating the natural rights of children. When legal rights aren’t informed by natural rights, injustices occur.
Natural Rights vs. Legal Rights
Legal rights are those bestowed onto a person by a given legal system and can be modified, repealed, and restrained by human laws. Natural rights are those that are not dependent on the laws or customs of any particular culture. There are three rules that comprise whether a right is legal or natural. The first rule is that “natural rights exist pre-government,” meaning that the right doesn’t exist because of government, but exists regardless of government. The second rule is that “no one has to provide you with a natural right.” Natural rights are something that no one is required to provide to anyone. The third rule is that “natural rights are distributed equally,” as no one is born with a greater or lesser potential to exercise these rights. Children have natural rights to life, to their mothers and fathers, and to not be commodified,[vi] and bills such as SB 729 violate a child’s right to all three.
Right to life and right to not be commodified
If we have the legal right to equality, then we should naturally be born equal and be equally free, but IVF and surrogacy inherently commodify human beings at the start of their lives. Further, these practices don’t respect every human being's equal right to life. The reproductive technology industry is a multi-billion dollar industry [vii] that profits off of the commodification of the lives of human beings.
The three rules that make it a right test confirms every child’s right to life: 1) Life existed prior to government. 2) Upon conception, life begins. Government is not responsible for giving anyone life; it is supposed to acknowledge and protect the unjust taking of life. 3) Everyone gets an equal distribution in the allocation of life. We all get exactly one.[viii]
IVF subjects embryonic human beings to eugenic preimplantation screenings, the treatment of their lives as disposable through the trial-and-error transfer process, being indefinitely frozen, not surviving the thawing process, being outright disposed of during scientific research, or being “selectively reduced” (aborted). Those human beings who survive the low implantation odds are then subjected to higher risks of developmental and physical disabilities.[ix] If children were created through gamete donation, they may face identity struggles and the reality that their lives started with trafficking and monetization.[x]
The surrogacy process contains within it the violations of IVF and the trafficking of human beings, but with the added disadvantage of a severed maternal bond, often referred to as a “primal wound.” This postnatal separation can permanently alter the structure of the infant brain and leave children with lifelong feelings of abandonment and loss that can manifest as depression and issues with attachment, bonding, psychological health, self-esteem, and relationships.[xi]
Right to mother and father
In addition to the violations of children’s rights present within IVF and surrogacy, allowing more “infertility” access for LGBT persons ensures that children will be denied the right to be known and loved by both their biological mother and father. The three rules that make it a right test confirms every child’s right to their mother and father: 1) The relationship between mothers/fathers/and their children predates any government. 2) Nobody provides children with their biological parents. If a child exists, so do his or her mother and father. 3) Everyone possesses exactly two biological parents, one mother and one father.[xii]
When LGBTQ couples seek to create biological children, gamete donors must be used, depriving children of their biological identities [xiii] and the complementary relationship of their mothers and fathers that is essential to their healthy, well-rounded development.[xiv] Sociologists state that men and women offer distinct and complementary benefits to children and that children who lose a relationship with a biological parent do not fare as well. When it comes to gamete donation, same-sex parenting, and single parenthood by choice, these realities tend to be thrown aside, and this can have harmful consequences for children.[xv]
Mothers and fathers are complementary both emotionally and cognitively, and each provides different roles in the family dynamic. Both parents become wired to provide empathy and an understanding of the emotional and practical needs of the child, however, the mother’s brain peaks the most in the limbic area, which is linked to affection and threat-detection. The father’s brain peaks most in the neocortex region, which is linked to social cognition, problem-solving, and planning. These different areas of the brain directly mirror each of their roles. Fathers influence the development of imagination and critical thinking skills through creative play. The rough-and-tumble play that fathers provide allows for the opportunity for fathers to quickly bond with their children, as fathers and children get their peaks in oxytocin from playing with each other, and mothers and children get these oxytocin peaks when being affectionate. This type of play teaches the child about the give and take of relationships, and how to determine and handle risk in an appropriate manner. [xvi]
Fathers use more authoritative parenting, which leads to better emotional, social, academic, and behavioral outcomes. Children with higher levels of father-involvement have higher levels of confidence, sociability, self-control, and are less likely to act out in school. Fatherless children are more likely to experience poverty as children and adults. Fatherless children are more likely to struggle with mental health disorders like anxiety, suicide, and depression. The absence of fathers hinders development beginning at infancy, and the psychological harm of father-absence continues throughout adulthood. [xvii] Boys, specifically, who experience father loss have shorter telomeres, or the end-caps of chromosomes.[xviii] Shorter telomeres are associated with health issues such as heart disease and cancer.[xix]
Children require a stable, secure balance of attachment and healthy separation, which is only achieved within the two-parent mother/father household.[xx] Mothers, desiring to be a secure base of emotional refuge for their children, have more of an inward sense of attachment centered on focus and care, while a father’s attachment is more focused on teaching the child to function in the world outside of the family. [xxi]
When children start to be commodified and viewed as objects to be disposed of in the quest to create families, society creates bills such as SB 729, and children lose their natural, fundamental rights to life, to their mothers and fathers, and their right to not be bought and sold. Laws that trample on the natural rights of children under the guise of “equality” are not rights, but injustices promoting the inequality of the most vulnerable members of society.
[i] California Legislature. “SB-729 Health care coverage: treatment for infertility and fertility services,” Bill Text, https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=202320240SB729
[ii] California Legislature. “SB-729 Health care coverage: treatment for infertility and fertility services,” Bill History, https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billHistoryClient.xhtml?bill_id=202320240SB729
[iii] Higdon, S. “California moves to provide surrogates to gay male couples in the name of 'fertility equality',” The Post Millennial, last modified June 10, 2023, https://thepostmillennial.com/california-moves-to-provide-surrogates-to-gay-male-couples-in-the-name-of-fertility-equality
[iv] Aguilar, A. “Proposed CA bill could provide coverage for fertility care,” ABC, last modified June 12, 2023,
[vi] Faust, K, & Manning, S. (2021). Them Before Us: Why We Need a Global Children’s Rights Movement. Tennessee: Post Hill Press.
[vii] Grand View Research. “In Vitro Fertilization Market Growth & Trends,” last modified April 2022, https://www.grandviewresearch.com/press-release/global-ivf-market#:~:text=The%20global%20in%20vitro%20fertilization%20market%20size%20is,a%20new%20report%20by%20Grand%20View%20Research%2C%20Inc
[viii] Faust, K, & Manning, S. (2021). Them Before Us: Why We Need a Global Children’s Rights Movement. Tennessee: Post Hill Press.
[ix] Breckenridge, K. “IVF Harms to Children,” Them Before Us, last modified July 15, 2022, https://thembeforeus.com/ivf-harms-to-children/
[x] Them Before Us. “Donor Conception,” https://thembeforeus.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/Donor-Conception-Handout.pdf
[xi] Breckenridge, K. “Dear Legislative Allies, This is How Surrogacy Harms Children,” Them Before Us, last modified November 13, 2021, https://thembeforeus.com/dear-legislative-allies-this-is-how-surrogacy-harms-children/
[xii] Faust, K, & Manning, S. (2021). Them Before Us: Why We Need a Global Children’s Rights Movement. Tennessee: Post Hill Press.
[xiii] Them Before Us. “Biology Matters,” https://thembeforeus.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/2.-Biology-Matters-Handout-1.pdf
[xiv] Them Before Us. “Gender Matters,” https://thembeforeus.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/3.-Gender-Matters-Handout.pdf
[xv] Them Before Us. “Same-sex parenting: What does the science really say?,” last modified May 7, 2019, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfBI9F8e-bA
[xvi] Machin, A. “The Marvel of the Human Dad,” Aeon Media Group website, last modified January 17, 2019, https://aeon.co/essays/the-devotion-of-the-human-dad-separates-us-from-other-apes
[xvii] Children’s Bureau. “A Father’s Impact on Child Development,” last modifed June 7, 2018, https://www.all4kids.org/news/blog/a-fathers-impact-on-child-development/
[xviii] National Conservatism. “This Is a Child,” last modified September 12, 2022, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-jYdo4KYO4I
[xix] Canditi, N. “What Are Telomeres? Why Are They Important in Aging?,” NAD, last modified October 18, 2022, https://www.nad.com/news/what-are-telomeres
[xx] Holmquist, A. “Psychoanalyst: Forget Political Correctness, Kids Need Both Parents,” Intellectual Takeout, last modified October 17, 2019, https://www.intellectualtakeout.org/article/psychoanalyst-forget-political-correctness-2kids-need-both-parents.
[xxi] Machin, A. “The Marvel of the Human Dad,” Aeon Media Group website, last modified January 17, 2019, https://aeon.co/essays/the-devotion-of-the-human-dad-separates-us-from-other-apes