HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Sperm Bank Story

The New York Times has a story by Linda Dackman entitled, "Looking for Love at the Sperm Bank," that details her search for a father for her child.   It is an interesting read as she struggles through the selection process.  She writes,

One young prospect excited me, a tall young man of Japanese and Jewish descent. Jewish, like me, and Japanese as a nice twist. I'd had a half-Japanese boyfriend once, a medical student, and had liked him a lot. But would a mixed race child be a mistake, an even greater disadvantage for this poor imaginary kid than being raised by a single mother? My heart raced, my Pergonal-enhanced ovaries ached, and my stomach took flight. This process was so preposterous. I knew love was supposed to be blind, but come on.

There was anguish when I opened the next file. His family's medical history seemed as bad as mine - cancer all over the place, as well as poor vision, headaches and allergies. Ah, this was going to be a problem, this eugenics, where there ought to be emotion. The information in these files was so abstract, so sterile, so tinged with the depressing reality of paternal grandmothers with diabetes and fathers with heart disease.

What about personality, love, intellect, passion? All I had to go on was the hieroglyphics of handwriting. I couldn't visualize any of them. From what I understood they were mostly kids, college students in need of tuition money, with mothers who were probably younger than I. I'd probably be better off grading their college English papers and picking a father for my child on that basis. What was I doing here?

The story reminded me of an excellent Frontline video that I sometimes use in my Health Law class.  It is entitled, "Making Babies," and provides an educational overview of the many assisted reproductive technologies available as well as an introduction to some of the many ethical and safety issues these technologies raise.  It is a little dated now but I still recommend it.  [bm]

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