Technologies of Life and Death: From Cloning to Capital Punishment

By Kelly Oliver | Go to book overview

TWO
Artificial Insemination: Deconstructing Choice versus Chance

Does one invent a child? If the child invents himself, is it as the specular
invention of parental narcissism or is it as the other who, in speaking and
responding, becomes the absolute invention, the irreducible transcendent
of what is nearest, all the more heterogeneous and inventive in that it
seems to respond to parental desire? The truth of the child, therefore,
would invent itself in a sense that would be neither that of unveiling nor
that of discovery, neither that of creation nor that of production. It would
be found where truth is thought beyond any inheritance.

— JACQUES DERRIDA, Psyche: Invention of the Other
(emphasis added)

In an age when a child could have as few as one or as many as three genetic parents, maternity and paternity have become tricky business. For example, only one “parent” is necessary for cloning, while current experiments make it possible to combine nuclear DNA from one woman, mitochondrial DNA from another woman, and DNA from a man’s sperm, which makes three genetic parents. Add the contributions from a gestational carrier, who could be a third woman, and the child has four parents to whom he or she is biologically indebted, if not also genetically related; and then add still different parents who raise the child, the so-called social parents, and even in a traditional two-parent household, as many as six parents could be contributing to the genetic, biological, and social parenting of a child. But assisted reproduction not only has made maternity and paternity tricky business, but also has made it big business, indeed a billion-dollar industry. Reproduction as business, and so-called designer babies, raise the question

-51-

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