Published: 28th August 2021
Welcome to Reason: Exploring the ethics of artificial conception
Recently, the Kerala High Court supported a woman's right to refuse from furnishing the name of the sperm donor when she has conceived via Assisted Reproductive Technology. How fair is that choice?
“We are born of love; Love is our mother.” – Rumi (1207-1273), Persian poet.
There is a story of a man with five children – the first four of them fair and the last dark. On his deathbed, the husband called his wife to his bedside and said: “Whose child is the last one? Tell me the truth and I will forgive you and die in peace.” The wife replied: “He is yours – not the other four.” The man turned his face away from his wife and breathed his last.
That takes us to a saying that “Mother is a fact…”
Recently we had a topic-essay wherein Supreme Court had directed CBSE to amend its by-laws on name change in Certificates. This often happens in case the husband divorces or deserts the wife.
Now we come to a different reason for not recording the husband’s/father’s name. But first the related facts as reported by PTI on August 16, 2021 and widely carried in the media.
Agreeing with the woman's claims, the Kerala High Court said the rights of a single woman to conceive through Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) procedure was recognised in India and in such procedures, the identity of the sperm donor cannot be disclosed. With single woman’s right to conceive through ART, like In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF), being recognised, requiring them to furnish father’s name in the form for registering births and deaths of children born through such procedures necessarily affects the right of dignity of the mother as well as the child, the High Court said. It said that the State has to provide appropriate forms for registration of births and deaths of children born through such procedures.
“The right of a single parent/ unwed mother to conceive by ART having been recognised, prescriptions of forms requiring mentioning of the name of the father, the details of which are to be kept anonymous, is violative of their fundamental rights of privacy, liberty and dignity,” the court ruled.
The ruling by the high court came on a plea by a divorced woman, who got conceived by IVF procedure, challenging the requirement under the Kerala Registration of Births and Deaths Rules, 1970 to mention the father’s details.
The mother in her petition said that she cannot disclose the father’s name as firstly, the identity of the sperm donor is kept anonymous and has not been and could not be disclosed even to her and secondly, such a requirement intrudes upon her right of privacy, liberty and dignity.
The subject is open to many views. What are yours?