Oh, so now there is growing concern, eh? Pandora’s box of sperm donation

From the NYT, the article begins innocently enough:

Cynthia Daily and her partner used a sperm donor to conceive a baby seven years ago, and they hoped that one day their son would get to know some of his half siblings — an extended family of sorts for modern times.

So Ms. Daily searched a Web-based registry for other children fathered by the same donor and helped to create an online group to track them. Over the years, she watched the number of children in her son’s group grow.

And grow.

Today there are 150 children, all conceived with sperm from one donor, in this group of half siblings, and more are on the way. “It’s wild when we see them all together — they all look alike,” said Ms. Daily, 48, a social worker in the Washington area who sometimes vacations with other families in her son’s group.

Modern family vacations, eh? No connection save the, um, genetic one. What happens when those 150 kids fathered by the same donor meet at school? Brothers and sisters? Oh, whoopsie:

Now, there is growing concern among parents, donors and medical experts about potential negative consequences of having so many children fathered by the same donors, including the possibility that genes for rare diseases could be spread more widely through the population. Some experts are even calling attention to the increased odds of accidental incest between half sisters and half brothers, who often live close to one another.

“My daughter knows her donor’s number for this very reason,” said the mother of a teenager conceived via sperm donation in California who asked that her name be withheld to protect her daughter’s privacy. “She’s been in school with numerous kids who were born through donors. She’s had crushes on boys who are donor children. It’s become part of sex education” for her.

Critics say that fertility clinics and sperm banks are earning huge profits by allowing too many children to be conceived with sperm from popular donors, and that families should be given more information on the health of donors and the children conceived with their sperm. They are also calling for legal limits on the number of children conceived using the same donor’s sperm and a re-examination of the anonymity that cloaks many donors.

Now, they say, there is need for regulation. No thought of the impact upon a generation of children. No thought of the genetic implications. No thought at all.

Experts are not certain what it means to a child to discover that he or she is but one of 50 children — or even more. “Experts don’t talk about this when they counsel people dealing with infertility,” Ms. Kramer said. “How do you make connections with so many siblings? What does family mean to these children?”


Linked as a “Featured Blog” at Pundit & Pundette. Thanks!


5 Responses

  1. This phrase struck me: “popular donors”. How does an anonymous, never-seen, never-met, sperm donor get to be “popular”? Do the women who frequent sperm banks share trendy expectations? Are there fashions in donor profile answers? If a celebrity were to tell People Magazine that she selected a donor whose profile was a red-headed stone carver, would women rush in to the fertility clinics with the article and ask for the same donor?

    I’m not making fun of people who need to use a donor (for instance, if a husband is infertile), just that the article itself sounds like it was written for the fashion/lifestyle pages….

  2. It’s repulsive, isn’t it? Deacon Greg (at the Deacon’s Bench blog) highlighted the same article and someone commented that we have been reduced to animal husbandry. Great analogy. You can see that blog here:

    Lord have mercy is right!

  3. Ugh! I can’t imagine what it would be like to have a “donor number.” instead of a father.

    Just think of it. Everytime you started a romantic relationship you would have to first check with the other person. “Donor baby yes or no? Yes? So what number are you?”

    Lord have mercy.

  4. UGH, something else modern science has brought us that is clearly against all laws of nature! Unbelievable.

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