By Kent Larsen
Mormon Businessman in Australia Promotes Sperm Donation
BAYSWATER, VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA -- A Mormon businessman, owner of the
well-known international franchise Jim's Mowing, promoted his views on sperm
donation in an article in the Melbourne, Australia Age. Jim Penman founded
the $70 million franchiser, which has sold more than 1,600 franchises in
Australia, Canada, the US and elsewhere.
Penman, who holds a Ph.D. in history, founded Jim's Mowing in 1982, when he
was down on his luck and needed a way to bring in money. Since then the
business has expanded to become a household name in Australia. But in spite
of his fame and wealth, Penman maintains a modest lifestyle, living in a
modest brick house in suburban Melbourne and driving an old Volvo.
However, Penman's promotion of sperm donation puts him at odds with current
LDS Church policy, which "strongly discourages" the practice. But Penman
justifies it because of the results, "Have you ever had children?" he asks.
"It is the most wonderful and marvellous thing. Last night we were just
playing around and chasing each other and tickling. It is just such an
incredible thing, there is so much joy in children. I think somebody who
wants children should have that."
According to the article, Penman has married three times, and has seven
children from his marriages. He also is the father of four children by sperm
donation, after donations he made in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Penman has also raised some controversy with his ideas about sperm donation.
Rather than make it anonymous, Penman supports prospective parents being
able to meet donors. "I'd like to see people have more options. I would be
delighted if someone was to ring me up and say 'I want a biological father
because I'm sterile and I'd like to talk to you and know something about
you'. I think that would be a wonderful thing to do."
He also says that parents should be able to choose among donors based on
factors like intelligence, and caused a stir in 1998 when he voiced his
views in letters to the editor in New Scientist magazine. The issue is an
emotional one for Penman, "One thing that really gets me upset is ethicists
who impose their really narrow prejudices," he says. "They say you should
not try to have the best child you can. You should not select. It is OK to
select the best horse, the best pig, the best cow, but children should come
totally at random."
Melbourne Australia The Age 1Nov00 P2
By Misha Ketchell