Consider that young couple with the beautiful children. Picture the kids' smiles, their laughter, their infectious joy.
Now imagine the world without those children. The couple not raising a family. Grandparents without their grandkids. Uncles and aunts unable to spoil their nieces or nephews. The children's choir at church with fewer voices.
Because that is the consequence of House Bill 3077, which I will hereby dub the Oklahoma Anti-Family Act of 2010.
HB 3077 would make it illegal for a fertility clinic to compensate an egg donor for the expenses that accompany egg donation. Note that the House refused to do the same for sperm donation, which will remain otherwise unregulated by the government.
I would ask the Legislature a few questions. Have you ever sat with a couple agonizing over their fertility? Have you ever counseled them as they have gone through years of costly medical procedures and emotional ups and downs? Have you talked with them as they made the difficult and courageous decision to seek a donor?
Most importantly, have you held the children who were born? Watched the families celebrate with joy? Been present at the child's baptism?
As a minister, I know by experience the confidential process by which couples engage the services of a fertility clinic. Many keep it confidential. Have you ever considered that child of your friends' " that child you know and love " might have been made illegal and impossible by this bill? That that child might never have been if this was the law of the land? Legislators, do you really think you have the moral authority to make that decision?
Rep. Rebecca Hamilton, D-Oklahoma City, says that women should donate but not be compensated. The result of that view is that families seeking a donation would be left to chance. Clearly, she is thoroughly ignorant of the difficult process whereby a family seeking a donor conscientiously and responsibly often seeks a donor most similar to the mother. Without the ability to make this decision, many families would not rely on chance and would thereby not have these children.
Currently, these services are provided locally by clinics such as the highly respected Henry G. Bennett Jr. Fertility Institute at Integris Health Center and the University of Oklahoma Physicians Reproductive Health. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine sets ethical guidelines and regulations for this medical practice.
Has the Legislature studied these industry guidelines and found them lacking? Have legislators recommended improvements to the guidelines prior to banning the practice outright? Have the respected Integris and OU clinics engaged in any violations of the current guidelines? Have they acted maliciously or with gross abuse? Do they require government intervention?
If the OU and Integris clinics are functioning within the ethical guidelines and there is no evidence of malice or abuse, then where does the government get the authority to make this decision?
This is an ignorant act of government overreach and abuse of powers, lacking in compassion toward Oklahoma families. Further, it is a moral outrage, a sin against the beautiful children they would make impossible.
Jones, who holds a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Oklahoma, is pastor of the Cathedral of Hope United Church of Christ in Oklahoma City.