Our Takes

Donor-conceived people seek identities

Actress Jennifer Aniston, during a press junket promoting her movie “The Switch,” about a woman who gets pregnant using a sperm donor, recently asserted that “women are realizing ... that they don’t have to settle with a man just to have that child.” Aniston’s comments, which got her into hot water with television-show host Bill O’Reilly, came on the heels of the release earlier this summer of “The Kids Are All Right,” a film about a lesbian couple with two children conceived through a sperm donor that’s become the darling of movie critics. 

While Hollywood may tout this oh-so-contemporary method of child conception, a recently released study shows that in real life the ramifications of women having children through artificial insemination have heavy tolls on their offspring. A study by the Commission on Parenthood’s Future found that young adults conceived through the use of an anonymous sperm donor experience more feelings of isolation and confusion than those who were raised by biological parents or adopted as infants. 

And in an Aug. 15 report, The Associated Press gave voice to a few young adults seeking more rights for donor-conceived children, including a ban on anonymous donation.  

One woman, Lindsay Greenawalt, talks about the sadness of seeking out her father, whom she knows only as “Xytex donor 2035.” 

“He knows I’m looking for him — and he doesn’t want to make contact,” she said.

New York delivers the latest blow to marriage 

New York, the last state to require either grounds for divorce or a period of separation in order to terminate a marriage, instituted “no-fault divorce” legislation Aug. 15, making the easy way out of a marriage a truly nationwide reality. New York has, up until now, had one of the lowest divorce rates in the country. 

The New York State Catholic Conference, which has historically been opposed to such legislation, issued a statement from its executive director, Richard E. Barnes, when the state Senate initially passed the bill. 

“Clearly, not every marriage can be permanent. But when serious reasons exist, such as abuse, adultery or abandonment, the law provides for quick divorces,” Barnes said in the statement. “In cases where no such grounds are present, so-called no-fault cases, a couple may divorce following a one-year legal separation. The state has a legitimate interest in such a waiting period, where reconciliation is still a feasible possibility, because of the important place of marriage in society, particularly as it relates to the stable rearing of children.” 

New York Gov. David Paterson signed the bill into law Aug. 15, saying in a statement, “Finally, New York has brought its divorce laws into the 21st century.”

Hoax can’t put damper on Lourdes celebration 

A bomb scare at one of Catholicism’s most beloved sites failed to shake the faith of believers gathered there for celebrations on the Aug. 15 feast of the Assumption. 

Even though 30,000 pilgrims to Lourdes, France — many of whom were in stretchers or wheelchairs — were temporarily evacuated from the shrine after a man called in the threat, the scheduled prayer service took place anyway, which was broadcast on a website so pilgrims could watch, and the shrine’s afternoon eucharistic procession went off without a hitch. 

“We will not be afraid,” declared Bishop Jacques Perrier of Tarbes and Lourdes. 

The question of why someone would want to instill so much fear in people, especially among those with illnesses and disabilities who came to the shrine for healing, remained a mystery as of press time. 

“It was a cruel hoax,” a Lourdes police spokesman told the London Daily Mail. “Somebody wanted to cause as much disruption as possible to people already suffering illness and handicaps.”