Ethical Issues with Sperm Donation

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What are some of the ethical issues to think about before using donor sperm to create your family? How many times should a man be allowed to donate? How much screening should be done on donors? Host Dawn Davenport interviewed Ole Schou, founder and CEO of Cryos International – the largest sperm bank in the world according to Guinness Book of Records. Cryos’ simple mission and vision is to help childless people to become parents. Ole Schou’s special interest over almost 30 years is ethics & law and the impact on the market mechanisms and the use of donor sperm.

+ Highlights of the show (click to expand)

  • How big of a concern is consanguinity—the accidental partnering of half siblings through donor conception. How many children should be allowed per donor or how many donations should be allowed? How do we track?
  • How have the voices of donor conceived people who are now adults changed the practice of using donor sperm and also by extension donor egg?
  • Do children have the right to know the identity of their donor? Medical history? Genetic history?
  • Do we need to support donor conceived young adults and donor contact? And if so, who should provide this support?
  • How do people choose a donor? What type of counseling should be automatically included?
  • We hear people outside of this field express concern about designer babies. What are your thoughts on this?
  • Telling children about their donor conception.
  • What are some of the ethical issues with anonymous vs. identified donors
  • How much screening and testing should be done on potential donors?
  • There is a trend towards centralization in sperm banks. Fewer smaller local banks towards a smaller # but larger and more centralized banks.
  • How has the demand changed in the last 20 years for donor sperm?
  • Do you see a difference in what the different segments of people using donor sperm are looking for?
  • Should we take the money out of sperm donation or egg donation and move to a purely altruistic donation model?
  • Are there ethical issues associated with a combined donor egg and donor sperm IVF cycle?
  • Should home insemination be allowed?
  • Should donors be required to be parents themselves before they donate such as is required in France?
  • Is it ethical to buy sperm over the internet?

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Image credit: zen Sutherland

25/02/2015 | by Radio Show | Categories: 2015 Shows, Infertility, Infertility Radio Shows, Radio Show | 2 Comments



2 Responses to Ethical Issues with Sperm Donation

  1. TAO says:

    I listened to the entire show and didn’t like it at all, but I listened, and mulled over night.

    Using the postman effect, etc., as a means to brush off real feelings and fears a donor conceived individual may have about the potential of dating, or marrying, a half sibling. The donor conceived is in a completely different situation, simply because, in the postman effect one parent (mother or father) would know that there was a very good chance, or that in fact their child was dating their other child. Donor conceived individuals from anonymous donation would not have a parent who knew that who they were dating was their child’s half sibling.

    He focused a lot on the whether there were genetic concerns for half-siblings having children, and concluded there is very little risk so the donor conceived shouldn’t worry about marrying a half-sibling. He skirted around the incest question, but incest is taboo in our society, that isn’t going away, and I doubt it matters one whit to a donor conceived individual that people in a completely different country, and culture, may marry cousins to continue a royal line. In our society incest is taboo, the society and culture the donor conceived individual lives in.

    In other words, they should just not feel like other human beings would feel. Just be happy, ignore your feelings, they are not worthy, you are just being silly – despite what society says.

    He skirted around the problem of too many children by one sperm donor, by speaking to the fact it is only problematic if there are two half siblings in a rural area. The mobility of the US population is huge. People move, young adults moved, relocate to college. He’d have had a point back when moving across the country took the better part of a year by covered wagons.

    As to the right for a child to know who where they come from, their identity, who their parents are – saying the convention had not provided a definition of parent. The convention clearly identifies who they mean referring to parents when speaking about adoption needing the parents agreement to said adoption. He skirted the question about the right to identity for countries who have signed the convention (which the US hasn’t). Furthermore, if you were adopted or donor conceived (and knew it) you’d know who those parents were so it’d be a moot point. They mean where you came from, what family you were born in.

    You tried to get him to discuss what now adults who were donor conceived felt. He didn’t want to talk about that, it came off as simply unimportant.

    • Dawn Davenport Dawn Davenport says:

      TAO, thanks for your input. I took his thoughts on consanguinity a little differently. I didn’t think he was dismissing the feelings of donor conceived adults or their concerns about unintentional “incest”, but was trying to put these concerns into perspective. I do, however, hear your point to why these feelings are still valid and real and important regardless.

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