by Heather Grace Jones & Dr Maggie Kirkman
Throughout the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, debates about reproductive technology centred almost exclusively on the bodies of women and children, relegating men to the role
of anxious (or unctuous) bystanders. With the publication
of this book, that public discourse has officially acquired balls.
From the Foreword by Susan Maushart
Sperm is a desirable property. Add in the current cultural anxieties about changing family structures and the role
of fathers, and you have a potent recipe for conflict.
Who has the right to use sperm? What makes a father?
Is it sperm or changing nappies? Should donors be allowed
to decide who receives their gametes? Where do the rights
of children fit in? What role should government play in the
new reproductive technologies?
SPERM WARS is an extraordinary collection. Each of the twenty five contributions brings into the light the humanity, the messiness of life and the huge emotional investment of the individuals involved in making babies using the ‘new’ technologies. Read the email exchange between Jacqui and Sarah and Mr XY, the sperm donor who gave them their baby Michael (page 128). Or Julie Catt’s remarkable personal story of her family of four children with three different fathers or sperm donors (page 212).
Mary Hogan writes intimately about her conflicting emotions towards her son’s donor father and her discovery that this donor had many offspring. “The numbers suggested something random, an almost limitless production line
of babies, which was totally at odds with the specialness
of my child.” (page 223)
Bill Muehlenberg puts the case as a biological father of three sons who is present in their home. ‘What children need … is the knowledge that they have two people related to them not just with bonds of love but with a biological connection that makes them unique. They are not the product of an assembly line. page 87)
SPERM WARS raises questions that must be discussed and considered by society now. It combines the voices of personal experience with analysis of current debates and legal cases that have brought into focus the battles over who has access to and use of sperm.