I Want my Dad
|FAITH Magazine May-June 2008|
Editorial from The Salvation Army Newspaper The War Cry for 5th April 08
Headlines of a prime ministerial change of mind on allowing Labour MPs a conscience vote when the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill goes before the Commons next month have focused on one issue - animal-human hybrid embryos.
Last September The War Cry noted that the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) had agreed in principle to allow the mixing of animal and human genetic material for research into incurable diseases and that the resultant 99.9 per cent human mixture would be human bits, not human beings.
The Bill will give legal backing to the HFEA’s go-ahead. But it also includes another controversial but less-publicised issue - fatherhood.
Under a section dealing with assisted reproduction (through IVF or artificial insemination), a sperm donor is not regarded as the father. In the case of married couples where third-party sperm has been used, the husband will be regarded as the father. If, however, he says he doesn’t want to be regarded as the father, the child will be fatherless. Where two women are in civil partnership, the non-impregnated partner will be regarded as a parent, unless she formally objects to being regarded as such. In either instance the child will be fatherless.
The Bill, though, does not describe the importance of fatherhood. The Government has long since established that children who are brought up by a mother and father are less likely to fall into crime and are more likely to succeed at school and be emotionally stable.
Of course, some fathers - feckless and footloose - are little more than incontinent sperm donors. Many mothers don’t want the father of their kids around. But children see life differently. They want to know their dad. That want the love of a dad. They want to be proud of their dad. They want the identity and security that a dad gives.