HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Sperm Bank Regulations

David Plotz has written a short editorial in the New York Times concerning the FDA's recent regulations concerning sperm donors.  He finds that not only are such regulations unnecessary, they miss what he believes to be the real issue that arises with sperm donation and that is anonymity.   

. . . . New F.D.A. safety and screening standards for sperm banks, which take effect next Wednesday, include strict requirements for testing and retesting donors for H.I.V. But the F.D.A. has also published an accompanying "guidance" document advising banks to bar as donors men who have had sex with other men in the last five years, on the grounds that these men are at high risk for H.I.V. Though the guidance doesn't carry the force of regulation, many sperm banks have indicated that they will follow it. Gay groups including the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund and Human Rights Campaign have protested, but so far in vain.

This is a case of government trying to solve a problem that no longer exists - because the free market already solved it. . . .

With its late and largely unnecessary obsession with sperm safety, the government is missing the real issue in the sperm bank world: donor anonymity. Thousands of Americans are born every year without the right to know who their father is.

The editorial raises some interesting issues not only about how to regulate sperm banks in the most effective and nondiscriminatory manner, but also concerning anonymity and whether pscyhologically it is harmful not to know one's genetic parents.  [bm]

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