Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Time to regulate the fertility industry?

I hope everyone had a wonderful Labor Day. Now, back to business!

The New York Times reports that one sperm donor has fathered more than 150 children. The story has prompted concern from experts and activists who believe that regulation of the fertility industry is long overdue:
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.

. . .

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.
The pro-abortion blog Jezebel agrees:
Regulation seems like a win-win situation for everyone, except for sperm banks, which currently profit from the ability to sell the same man's sperm to lots of women.
It's worth noting that abortion businesses also have a profit motive, yet "reproductive freedom" advocates are mortified by regulations on those.

But I digress. I find myself in full agreement with the Times and with Jezebel on this issue. Regulation of the fertility industry is in the best interest of babies, mothers, and sperm donors.

Ultimately, as long as the fertility industry routinely creates "extra" babies who are then "discarded," pro-lifers will not embrace assisted reproductive technology. But placing limits on the number of children who can be conceived by a single donor would be a step in the right direction, towards a vision of reproductive medicine that respects the rights of every human being, including those who can't speak for themselves.


Jameson Graber said...

I'm not sure I follow. How does regulating people's choice of sperm donor prevent destruction of human life?

Kelsey said...

It doesn't. It does, however, show a regard for the interests of the child. Once we start viewing those "clumps of cells" as individuals with interests, it's harder to simultaneously view them as mere consumer products.

Jenny said...

The incest part creeps me out, sounds like an episode of Maury Povitch. What are they thinking? One man fathering 150 babies is insane. The odds are too high for some sort of freakshow down the road. This sounds like a puppy mill that is out of hand.