Monday, August 1, 2016

Sperm Banks under Fire

New York Times (July 28, 2016): Sperm Banks Accused of Losing Samples and Lying about Donors, by Tamar Lewin:

 A spate of lawsuits accuses sperm banks of deceiving and harming their patients.  The allegations have arisen in cases alleging that sperm banks have mishandled sperm, even losing it in some cases, and have failed to put protocols in place to proven the transmission of genetic disorders.  Other cases allege that sperm banks have sold sperm that was never meant to be donated in the first place and have misled consumers about donors' characteristics.  

The law requires very little of sperm banks.  The FDA requires only that sperm be tested for infectious diseases.  Banks are not required to verify the information provide by donors or to set limits on the number of children a sperm donor may sire.  The American Society for Reproductive Medicine's position is that there is no need for more regulation of sperm banks.  

The lawsuits are evidence of dissatisfaction with sperm banks' practices, in an era when parents are more willing to be open with their children about their genetic origins.  Still, the problem of sperm-donor anonymity persists.  A significant number of donor-conceived children have tried in recent years to gain access to information about their biological fathers.  The law provides no mandate for such access.  Donor-conceived children are left to discover the information on their own, with success often dependent on their tenacity.

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