Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Sperm Donation Needs Regulation

The New York Times recently revealed that one American sperm donor had 150 offspring. This became a major story which prompted much comment. Ten experts were asked to comment. Here are some highlights:
Robert G. Brzyski, chairman of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine ethics committee: "Voluntary donor registries run the risk of being so underutilized as to be useless, but privacy concerns haunt proposals for mandatory registries."

David Plotz, the editor of Slate, is the author of "The Genius Factory: The Curious History of the Nobel Prize Sperm Bank": "This willingness to try anything made the American fertility business the liveliest in the world. More regulation -- necessary as it is -- will diminish that capitalist energy, and bring fertility back in dreary line with the rest of American medicine: more expensive, more defensive, and more responsive to insurers than to customers."

Jamie Grifo is the program director of the New York University Fertility Center: "Too often in medicine, regulators and legislators feel forced to use legislation to make a knee-jerk response".

Colton Wooten was conceived through artificial insemination in the early '90s: "Unless we strive to correct our defective system, we will continue to have siblings who are also strangers and fathers who neglect to call themselves fathers because, in their minds, they were merely donors."

Debora L. Spar, the president of Barnard College, is the author of "The Baby Business": "No man should father 150 children who may be unaware of their common genetic background. Writing laws in this area will undoubtedly be messy and hard and controversial. But it must be done."

Lori B. Andrews, a Distinguished Professor of Law at the Chicago-Kent College of Law: "At one New York sperm bank, each sperm sample was split into nine vials. A frequent donor didn't realize that he was creating as many as 167 children a year... In large cities, some psychiatrists have created entire practices counseling former donors."

Beth Littrell is a staff attorney for Lambda Legal: "a ban on gay men as sperm donors unless they have been completely celibate for the preceding five years... both allows and encourages discrimination against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community".

Naomi R. Cahn is a law professor at George Washington University and the author of "Test Tube Families: Why the Fertility Market Needs Legal Regulation." Wendy Kramer is a co-founder and the director of the Donor Sibling Registry: "Is it fair to bring children into the world who don't have the chance to know about their ancestry and their medical background?"

Charles A. Sims is a co-founder of the California Cryobank, a sperm bank: "The temptation is to focus on a number rather than the process."

Sujatha Jesudason is the executive director of Generations Ahead, an advocacy group that focuses on the social justice implications of genetic technologies: "Many, myself included, are very concerned that regulation of fertility practices will set a precedent for regulation of abortion."

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