Industry Issues

Learn about all the issues related to donor conception, including what's new in the industry and the related legal implications. In addition, please browse our News and Video pages (for members only) as there have been numerous news stories over the past decade addressing the many issues within the reproductive medicine industry.

What's New in the Industry?
     Recent Media Reports
Legal Issues
     Legal Assistance
     Lawsuits
     2017 FDA Petition
     NY State Law
Articles
     Media Articles
     DSR Blog
     Huffington Post Articles
     Other Relevant Articles
Sperm Bank Policies
     General Policies
     Donor Anonymity

 

What's New in the Donor Conception Industry?

Recent Media Reports

November 2019: NBC News: A modern family: 20-plus sperm donor siblings find each other. Scott Brown, vice president of communications for California Cryobank, said, “Family is what we are in the business of, not genetic connection.”

October 2019: Podcast with Wendy Kramer: There's No Such Thing As Anonymous Sperm Donation

October 2019: 9News: Did a fertility doctor use his own sperm to impregnate multiple women? A lawsuit alleges that a Colorado doctor who offered his help to women for years fathered many of the very children he helped those women conceive.

October 2019: BBC: Chelmsford fertility clinic gave a woman the wrong sperm. "The error was highlighted as part of an HFEA report which showed that mistakes are rare — affecting less than 1% of fertility treatment cycles — but have risen by 6% in the last year and 18% in three years."

October 2019: The Oregonian: Oregon doctor says his donated sperm was used to father at least 17 children, sues OHSU for $5.25 million

October 2019: Washington Post: Danielle Rizzo’s donor-conceived sons both have autism. Should someone be held responsible? See the associated September 2019 Washington Post article: The children of Donor H898. "The boys are part of an autism cluster involving at least a dozen children scattered across the United States, Canada, and Europe, all conceived with sperm from the same donor. Many of the children have secondary diagnoses of ADHD, dyslexia, mood disorders, epilepsy and other developmental and learning disabilities." Read the associated lawsuit. Read the Above the Law article: Sperm Donor Linked To Autism Cluster — Scientifically Fascinating, Legally Complicated. See the CBS Chicago story: Single Sperm Donor Linked To Numerous Children With Autism, Other Disabilities.

September 2019: White couple sues fertility clinic after wife gives birth to an Asian child. A fertility clinic must hand over its sperm donor list after a white couple gives birth to an Asian baby.

September 2019: 'There’s no such thing as anonymity': With consumer DNA tests, sperm banks reconsider long-held promises to donors. "I think it's a very selfish act to try and locate an unknown donor," said California Cryobank spokesman, Scott Brown.

August 2019: The sperm drought. "Dwindling stocks of Australian sperm have fertility clinics looking overseas and couples looking online."

July 2019: Ottawa Citizen: Sperm donor unknowingly fathered dozens of children: 'I am in therapy'

July 2019: BBC: IVF 'mix up': US couple say they gave birth to wrong children

June 2019: NY Times: Sperm Donors Can't Stay Secret Anymore

June 2019: CBS News: Amid donor screening concerns, the sperm bank industry is "buyer beware"

 

Legal Issues

Legal Assistance

Do you need legal assistance? We have a legal connection (with a large international law firm) who can provide pro bono legal assistance for "individuals and families within the DSR network who reach out ... looking for legal assistance." If anyone needs help, please email Wendy.

 

Lawsuits

June - November 2019: Teuscher v. CCB-NWB: Lawsuit against California Cryobank/NW Cryobank. "NW Cryo has engaged in a series of deceptive business practices...." Amended Complaint, filed August 12, 2019. Exhibit A; Exhibit B; Exhibit C. Second Amended Complaint, filed November 12, 2019. October 2019 Above the Law article: Beware Of The Home DNA Test! Mom Strikes Back Against Sperm Bank.

October 2019: OSHU Lawsuit: Dr. B.C. aka Dr. John Doe v. Oregon Health & Science University. An Oregon doctor who says he discovered that his donated sperm was used to father at least 17 children in violation of an agreement that allowed for the creation of no more than five children filed a $5.25 million lawsuit against Oregon Health & Science University.

September 2019: Vidiksis v. California Cryobank: Class Action Complaint filed against California Cryobank for conversion of and tortious interference with donor sperm from Manhattan Cryobank. From the attorney: "Hi Wendy. I hope you are doing well. Would you mind letting your followers know about the new class action we filed last Friday against California Cryobank? Basically, California Cryobank purchased some assets of Manhattan Cryobank, including all donor sperm. Many people have purchased donor sperm from MCB and were storing it with MCB in hopes of conceiving a second child with the same donor sperm. Now, CCB will not give them access to the donor sperm, claiming that the FDA will not let them release it for some unknown reason."

May 2019: Frankiewicz and Perez v. Manhattan Cryobank: Lawsuit against Manhattan Cryobank/California Cryobank. From the attorney: "For years, Defendant MCB sold sperm to the public which it knew could contain genetic diseases. Worse, MCB’s own chairman of the board recognized the inadequacies of MCB’s genetic testing regimen and touted the benefits of a more robust screening technology. Nonetheless, MCB, despite having access to such technology, chose not to use it on sperm donated prior to November 1, 2014, despite agreeing and warranting to its customers that it performed a 'complete and thorough screening' for genetic diseases. Read the NY Post article: Manhattan sperm bank didn’t properly screen for genetic diseases: suit

March 2017: Jane Doe 1 and 2 v. Xytex: Wrongful birth lawsuit against Xytex. Xytex sperm donor #9623 was a mentally ill schizophrenic felon. In April 2016, other parents who had used Xytex donor #9623 filed a complaint in San Francisco County Superior Court, alleging "intentional misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation, strict products liability, products liability based on negligence, breach of express warranty, breach of implied warranty of merchantability, battery, negligence, false advertising, wrongful birth, specific performance, punitive damages, and violations of the California Unfair Competition law."

September 2016: Jacoba Ballard and Deborah Pierce v. Anonymous Health Care Provider d/b/a Anonymous and John Doe, M.D. Dr Donald Cline of Indianapolis used his own sperm to inseminate patients and father more than 50 children. "Specimens from a single donor were to be used in no more than three successful artificial insemination procedures in a well—defined geographic area. Therefore, specimens from a single donor were not to be used in more than three successful artificial insemination procedures at Anonymous. 34. The policy described in paragraph 33 was important to limit the risk of accidental incest resulting from many closely biologically related individuals living near each other and unaware of their biological relationships. 35. At no time did John Doe, M.D. ever disclose to any patient that he would use his own sperm to inseminate them. 

June 2016: Jane Doe v. Idant Laboratories. "The boys are part of an autism cluster involving at least a dozen children scattered across the United States, Canada, and Europe, all conceived with sperm from the same donor. Many of the children have secondary diagnoses of ADHD, dyslexia, mood disorders, epilepsy and other developmental and learning disabilities."

September 2009: Jane Doe v. NECC. "Jane Doe, the plaintiff, brought this equity action against the defendants New England Cryogenic Center, Inc. (NECC), and its director, John Rizza (Rizza), seeking an order requiring them to disclose the name of a sperm donor reflected on NECC's records as donor number D237 and whom we shall call D237. Doe claims that she was artificially inseminated in London, England, with D237's sperm and consequently bore twin daughters."

March 2009: Donna Donovan v. Idant Laboratories. In 1995, Donna Donovan was artificially inseminated with sperm provided by Idant Laboratories. Ms. Donovan signed a consent form in which Idant represented that “(1) semen stored at Idant is exceptionally safe; (2) Idant has a screening program that far exceeds mandated standards and (3) Idant’s donors go through a rigorous screening process to ensure that they have a good genetic background and history.” Donovan gave birth to a daughter, Brittany, in January 1996 using sperm from Idant Donor G738. Brittany was diagnosed with developmental difficulties related to her status as a carrier of the Fragile X gene (FMR1). Testing revealed that Donor G378, not Donna Donovan, carried the Fragile X gene.

August 2002: Johnson v. California Cryobank: Lawsuit against California Cryobank. "[CCB] failed to disclose that the sperm they sold to the Johnsons came from a donor with a history of kidney disease called Autosomal Dominant Polycystic Kidney Disease (ADPKD). That sperm was used to conceive [their daughter] Brittany who has been diagnosed to have this serious kidney disease."

1992: United States of America v. Cecil B. Jacobson, Jr., M.D., Case No. 92-5406 and Cr. No. 91-00474-A, 785 F. Supp. 563. "Dr. Cecil B. Jacobson was indicted on fifty-three counts of mail fraud, wire fraud, travel fraud and perjury. In the indictment, the Government alleges that Dr. Jacobson defrauded certain women and their husbands by representing that the women would be inseminated with sperm from an anonymous donor participating in a donor insemination program. The Government further alleges that, contrary to these representations, Dr. Jacobson inseminated these women with his own sperm, thereby becoming the biological father of the children born to certain of his patients."

 

2017 FDA Citizen's Petition

July 2017 FDA Citizen's Petition: "Request that the FDA look into the state of affairs surrounding the sperm donation industry, and then develop the appropriate and much-needed regulation/oversight." Read the 173 associated comments, stories, and powerful testimonials. Here is a PDF of just the Petition. Here is an Excel file of just the comments from parents, donors, and offspring. Here is a PDF of the August 9, 2018, Letter of Denial. (The FDA will only deal with "communicable disease" such as STDs in gamete donation.)

 

NY State Law

NYCRR Title 10 PART 52-8.9 Required records.

(a) Reproductive tissue bank records shall be open to inspection by the department and shall be kept for at least seven years after release of reproductive tissue for artificial inseminations or assisted reproductive procedures not resulting in a live birth, and 25 years for inseminations or assisted reproductive procedures known to have resulted in a live birth. For all donated reproductive tissue, the donor's name, address, and any other information which would directly or indirectly identify the donor shall not be disclosed or released by the reproductive tissue bank to any person or entity, except upon the written informed consent of the donor, or except to authorized employees of the department or as permitted by law. The recipient's name, address, and any other information which would directly or indirectly identify the recipient shall not be disclosed or released by the insemination/implantation site to any person or entity, except upon the written informed consent of the recipient, or except to authorized employees of the department, or as permitted by law.

(b) In addition to the recordkeeping requirements of section 52-2.9(c) of this Part, each reproductive tissue bank shall maintain applicable donor/client-depositor records which include:

(1) for donors, pertinent family history of any genetic disorders;

(2) documentation of donor and client-depositor written informed consent;

(3) for semen donors, outcome of any prior artificial insemination or other assisted reproductive procedures, if known, including number of successful pregnancies, if any, and any reports from insemination/implantation sites which would affect the donor's acceptability; and

(4) documented approval of the reproductive tissue bank director, or his/her designee, of the acceptability of the donor.

(c) In addition to the recordkeeping requirements of section 52-2.9(e) and (f) of this Part, each reproductive tissue bank shall maintain applicable records which include:

(1) donor's identification code or client-depositor's name;

(2) for semen donations, documentation of laboratory cryosensitivity testing, and, if performed, results of viability checks after thawing and during storage, if any;

(3) the name of the insemination/implantation site, the physician or other person authorized by law to perform artificial insemination or assisted reproductive procedures, and/or receive reproductive tissue, and the name of the person communicating the order for distribution of the tissue;

(4) the recipient's name, if the name has been provided to the reproductive tissue bank with her informed consent, or the recipient's identification code, if used;

(5) documentation of training, certification, licensure, if required by law, and continuing education for each staff member; and

(6) any adverse outcomes, including infectious diseases in recipients or their offspring and genetic defects in offspring, which shall be reported to the donors if there is any possibility that the donor's reproductive tissue contributed to the adverse outcome.

(d) The following records shall be kept, separate from the recipient's records, by an insemination/implantation site for each insemination or assisted reproductive procedure performed:

(1) donor's identification code or name, if the reproductive tissue originates from a client-depositor;

(2) evidence that reproductive tissue from donors and/or client-depositors has been obtained from a reproductive tissue bank licensed pursuant to Subpart 52-2 of this Part;

(3) disposition of the reproductive tissue, including, but not limited to, the name or identification code of the recipient, destruction logs, and autoclaving or incineration records;

(4) the name and signature of the ordering physician or other person authorized by law to order issuance of the reproductive tissue;

(5) results of sperm viability checks, if performed; and

(6) signature of the person receiving the sample and condition of the sample upon receipt.

(e) The insemination/implantation site shall document the outcome of the artificial insemination or assisted reproductive procedure, including, but not limited to, any known adverse outcome in the infant or infectious disease in the recipient, as well as any known successful pregnancies. This information shall also be reported to the reproductive tissue bank releasing the tissue, even if the reproductive tissue bank is the same entity as the insemination/implantation site.

 

Articles

Media Articles

April 2019: Prospect Magazine: The donor detective: how one woman made it her mission to help donor-conceived children find their biological fathers. "Thousands of children conceived by anonymous sperm donation still have no right at all to know their biological fathers. But they are turning to DNA sites to track them down — and Wendy Kramer has made it her very personal mission to help. Every morning at 5am, Wendy Kramer fires up her laptop in the tiny mountain town of Nederland, Colorado, to read and swiftly respond to requests for help from around the world. 'I'm 15 years old, and last summer I found out (by accident) that I was conceived with a sperm donor,' reads one. Another says: 'Don't know much except the hospital in which I was born (and most likely received my donor sperm from the same hospital). I found out by accident and my mother refuses to tell me much.'"

March 2019: The Atlantic: The Fertility Doctor's Secret. "Decades ago, without ever telling his patients, Cline had used his own sperm to impregnate women who came to him for artificial insemination."

February 2019: NY Times: A Mother Learns the Identity of Her Child’s Grandmother. A Sperm Bank Threatens to Sue.

February 2019: Chicago Tribune: 'It's a wild ride': Online DNA search leads Chicago woman to 15 half siblings she never knew she had

January 2019: CBS This Morning: Woman uses DNA test, finds sperm donor — and pays a "devastating" price

December 2018: NECN: Couple Accuses Doctor of Inseminating Woman With His Sperm

November 2018: Home DNA tests doom anonymity for sperm, egg donors. "All Ryan Kramer had to do was to swab his cheek and embark on nine days of genealogical research to identify his biological father, a man who thought he would remain anonymous when he donated his sperm and never took a DNA test himself. The year was 2005, when consumer DNA tests were in their infancy. Kramer was 15. Thirteen years later, the explosion of individual DNA test kits has opened the floodgates for people who were born from sperm or egg donations. Increasing numbers of people are using the technology to uncover the identities of their donors."

November 2018: Washington Post: Fertility fraud: People conceived through errors, misdeeds in the industry are pressing for justice

October 2018: HeyReprotech: The False Hope of Open Donors. "'Open-identity,' 'non-anonymous,' 'ID release,' 'willing-to-be-known.' The names vary, but the idea is much the same: when a child conceived through sperm or egg donation reaches a certain age, they get to find out about the donor and maybe make contact. Or do they?"

August 2018: NY Times: A Fertility Doctor Used His Sperm on Unwitting Women. Their Children Want Answers.

August 2018: The Spokesman-Review: Lawsuit alleging doctor’s sperm donation heads to court. Yet another woman accuses a fertility doctor of fraudulently using his own sperm to artificially inseminate her mother.

April 2018: The Lawyer's Daily: Wrongful impregnation of patients with fertility doctors’ own sperm raises novel criminal law questions, experts say

April 2018: Ottawa Citizen: Lawsuit against fertility doctor accused of using own sperm expands to 150 people 'adversely affected'

April 2018: Lawsuit Claims Fertility Doctor Used His Own Sperm to Impregnate Patient. Another doctor gets caught using his own sperm to impregnate his patients.

February 2018: Atlanta Magazine: A Georgia sperm bank, a troubled donor, and the secretive business of babymaking

Wendy Kramer became a vocal advocate for donor children’s rights in 2000 after her own toddler, born of donor sperm from California Cryobank, asked if his father had died. When she tried to learn more about the man, she was stymied by his anonymous status. So, she created the Donor Sibling Registry, a more than 56,000-member database designed to facilitate “mutually desired contact” between donors, families, and siblings.

In January 2017, she filed a letter with the FDA, asking the agency to “look into the state of affairs surrounding the sperm donation industry and then develop the appropriate and much-needed regulation/oversight.” It was acknowledged but not addressed. Almeling, the Sex Cells author, said she was told by the FDA that it would “take an act of Congress” to expand the agency’s powers over sperm banks. “The FDA routinely evaluates its regulations and guidance documents, and updates them as necessary,” FDA press officer Andrea Fischer told me in an email.

Some activists believe that many of the industry’s problems would be avoided if all donors were identified. The prevalence of at-home DNA kits has made it easier for donor offspring to collect and share information that might lead them to a donor’s identity, Kramer said. But other experts say such a policy would narrow the field too much, deterring good donors and leading to a scarcity of sperm. And they say it’s a slippery slope when you invite the government to be more deeply involved in reproduction, worrying this could lead to state-led genetic engineering and artificial selection.

Sperm-banking rules in other countries vary widely. In New Zealand, some hopeful parents must wait two years for sperm because it can be donated only voluntarily, which has created a shortage. Paid sperm donation is also prohibited in Canada, so customers there must buy sperm from the United States. Austria and Italy forbid any egg and sperm donations. Germany and Norway allow sperm donation but not the donation of eggs.

In the United Kingdom, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority issues regulations on artificial reproduction. And France is able to keep close tabs on its donors and donor families because the country has a national, state-run sperm banking program. But that country also doesn’t allow single women and lesbian couples to buy sperm.

All of the sperm banks in the United States insist they do the most, the best, and the deepest due diligence on their donors. But ultimately, the companies are permitted to do business largely as they see fit, which leaves the industry vulnerable to deceptive donors.

December 2017: Ottawa Citizen: Decades of patients sought for possible lawsuit against Ottawa fertility doctor accused of using own sperm. An Ottawa fertility doctor is accused of using his own sperm.

December 2017: The children of an Indy fertility doctor who used his own sperm want the act outlawed

October 2017: Sperm bank settles negligence lawsuits. Xytex will never have to answer questions in court regarding its decision to sell the sperm of a donor the company would later learn had a criminal record and severe mental health problems. One of the parents explains the lawsuit.

August 2017: From the author of a new article on donor-conceived people: "Please find attached a recently published article dealing with the perspectives of donor-conceived individuals on the importance of access to identifying donor information prior to the legal age of maturity in Ireland. It has been published in the Irish Journal of Legal Studies, an Irish peer-reviewed law journal ... I would like to thank you sincerely yet again for all of your assistance during the research process."

August 2017: Indy Star: When you find out your mother's fertility doctor is likely your biological father

August 2017: Boston Herald: Inside the billion dollar sperm donation business

August 2017: Boston Herald: Sperm donation: Any potential date could be with a relative

June 2017: NY Post: Why it's crucial we regulate sperm donors

May 2017: NY Times: Dutch Fertility Doctor Swapped Donors’ Sperm With His, Lawsuit Claims

February 2017: 9News Colorado: Mother worries about sperm donor's medical history. Child from California Cryobank sperm donor is diagnosed with cancer.

February 2017: NBC News Atlanta: Sperm for sale: Fighting for change. Prolific Xytex sperm donor has a criminal record and a history of mental illness.

February 2017: One deputy dead after incident at Xytex. Unethical practice by Xytex leads to disaster.

November 2016: Friends with Benefits: Texas Man Who Donated Sperm to a Friend Has Parental Rights. 2016 Analysis of sperm donation laws.

November 2016: Canadian Medical Association Journal: Switched before birth. "Why is it wrong when it happens in a hospital by accident, but okay when doctors are paid to do it? That is the question on the minds of so-called 'donor offspring' — people created through the eggs or sperm of individuals they will never know."

October 2016: CBS This Morning: Lost samples, poor screening: sperm bank industry oversight examined

September 2016: CBC News: Canadian sperm donor registry overdue, families say. Related article: 'I always wanted a sister': Offspring with same sperm donor meet for first time.

September 2016: International Business Times: Who Is Donald Cline? Fertility Doctor Secretly Fathered Dozens Of Children With Former Patients In Indiana, Affidavit Says. "Although Cline’s personal donations may be considered unethical by many, it’s a practice that wasn’t all that uncommon for fertility clinics before the 1990s. Director and co-founder of Colorado-based Donor Sibling Registry, Wendy Kramer, told the Indy Star she always advises people conceived through the help of a sperm bank before 1990 to check their mother’s fertility doctor first when searching for their biological father. The website helps connects parents, donors and offspring, and according to Kramer, checking a mother's fertility doctor is a crucial first step in determining the biological father for most children born before 1990."

September 2016: Indy Star: Indianapolis fertility doctor accused of using own sperm. Another doctor caught using his own sperm more than 50 times.

August 2016: Law.com: Prolific Sperm Donor Was a Schizophrenic, Not a Neuroscientist, Leading to Spate of Suits

July 2016: NY Times: Sperm Banks Accused of Losing Samples and Lying About Donors

February 2016: Victoria, Australia, Minister for Health: New Law Gives All Donor-Conceived Victorians The Right To Know Their Heritage

December 2015: EC Gynaecology: The Need For Comprehensive Genetic Testing of Gamete Donors

December 2015: TVM (Television Malta): Children’s Commissioner says egg, sperm donation should not be permitted

May 2015: International Children's Rights Institute: Wendy Kramer, advocate for donor-conceived children, on discrepancies in record keeping

April 2015: California Cryobank and Manhattan Cryobank each donate $100,000 to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine

April 2015: Radio Canada: Author argues for regulation of sperm banks (PDF)

April 2015: Toronto Star: U.S. sperm bank admits it doesn't verify donor information

April 2015: Toronto Star: Sperm donor shortage forces Canadians to look to U.S.

April 2015: Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Couple sues Georgia sperm bank, claims donor wasn’t as advertised. A Canadian couple is suing a Georgia sperm bank, saying that the donor the company provided for them turned out to be a schizophrenic who has a criminal record and whose photo was doctored to make him look more attractive.

March 2015: London Times: Sperm donation: a lucrative and growing industry

October 2014: Washington Post: White woman sues sperm bank after she mistakenly gets black donor's sperm

October 2014: The Today Show: Woman in sperm bank race mix-up: Lawsuit isn’t about race

September 2014: Chicago Tribune: Suit: Black donor's sperm sent to white woman. Midwest Sperm Bank mix-up.

July 2014: Finding your perfect sperm donor match has never been so simple. "Recent reports that sperm donation in Britain is still in a critical state have been much exaggerated. Donors and sperm samples are in good supply, reports the London Sperm Bank."

April 2014: Salt Lake Tribune: University of Utah says sorry for sperm mix-up; family not happy

April 2014: Fox News: It's time for states to outlaw anonymous sperm, ova donations

January 2014: Fox News: More children born from sperm donors seeking out genetic family

January 2014: An Adoptee's Reaction to MTV's Generation Cryo

January 2014: CBS This Morning: Family discovers fertility fraud 20 years later: "It almost seems surreal." A Texas family discovers that they were the victims of a sample switch at a Utah fertility clinic.

August 2013: The Age, Victoria, Australia: State law change to help children find donor parent

August 2013: CBC News: Ottawa doctor loses Order of Canada after sperm mix-ups. "In an agreed statement of facts, five women were involved in four artificial inseminations provided by Barwin between 1986 and 2007 and in all four cases DNA tests confirmed the women received the wrong sperm."

*September 2012: BBC News: Denmark tightens sperm donor law after NF1 transmissions

*September 2012: Daily Mail: Danish sperm donor passes rare genetic disorder to at least five of the 43 babies he is thought to have fathered in ten countries.

*Note: The BBC News and Daily Mail articles above are referencing an earlier story, originally reported by DSR members (see the June 2011 Copenhagen Post article on our Medical Issues page). The interesting thing about this story is that this donor is also a California Cryobank donor. We regularly hear stories about sperm donors passing along medical and genetic issues to children here in the US, but no regulation is ever initiated.

May 2012: BioNews: A call by the Donor Sibling Registry to stop using the figures of 30,000-60,000 US sperm donor births

March 2012: Sydney Morning Herald: We can't keep them in the dark

October 2011: Salon: Are sperm banks unethical?

October 2011: NBC Dallas: Some Call for Regulation of Sperm Banks

October 2011: Colorado Public Radio: 'Donor Unknown': One Girl's Quest to Find Her Father. Audio interview with Wendy Kramer.

October 2011: NY Times: Getting to Know a Sperm-Donor Dad

October 2011: AlterNet: One Man Fathering 150 Children? Why Sperm Banks May Be Unethical

August 2011: USC Reporting on Health: The Secrets of Fertopolis: Should Sperm and Egg Donors Have to Disclose Their Identities?

April 2011: Infertility & Reproductive News: Impact of Egg, Sperm, and Embryo Donor Conception on Families

March 2011: The Center for Bioethics & Human Dignity: Regulation (or Lack Thereof) of Assisted Reproductive Technologies in the U.S. and Abroad. "Among developed nations, the U.S. assisted reproduction or fertility industry is one of the least regulated. This has led to a reproductive free-for-all. Any technological means, regardless of the medical and ethical consequences, can be utilized in the pursuit of parenthood if the price is right."

January 2011: BioNews: Paying gamete and embryo donors: what are the right principles?

October 2010: The Guardian: Shortage? What shortage? How the sperm donor debate missed its mark

2010: The Columbia Science and Technology Law Review: The Regulation of Genetic Aspects of Donated Reproductive Tissue — The Need for Federal Regulation

May 2009: BioNews: The case for comprehensive medical testing of gamete donors

April 2009: International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family: Donor-Conceived People's Access to Genetic and Biographical History: An Analysis of Provisions in Different Jurisdictions Permitting Disclosure of Donor Identity

April 2009: Law.com: Sperm Banks Can Be Sued Under Product Liability Laws, Federal Judge Rules

Fall 2008: Human Life Review: “Donor Offspring” Redefining Family

March 2008: DePaul University College of Law, Chicago: Symposium: Tracking Change: Donor Sibling Registry: Educating, Connecting and Supporting Donor Families. From Wendy Kramer's speech: "I believe that it is of paramount importance that this industry examine and address the issues of educating, connecting, and supporting donor families as well as the necessity of more accurate record keeping and accountability."

February 2006: U.S. News & World Report: Who's Your Daddy?

Marilyn Huff: What's the Limit of Offspring per Donor? A commentary on the ASRM's guidelines for the number of offspring per donor.

August 1988: Princeton University: Artificial Insemination: Practice in the United States: Summary of a 1987 Survey. As of 2013, this was still the only survey on US sperm banks. It erroneously stated that there were 30,000 donor-offspring born each year in the US. The same number was still used in 2013, 25 years later.

 

DSR Blog

When the Truth Comes Out: 8 Tips for Parents of Donor-Conceived Adults

Curiously Not Curious

Kindred Spirits

Donor Offspring: Voices of the Disenfranchised

From a Donor's Wife

Woman uses DNA test, finds sperm donor — and pays a “devastating” price

DNA and Your Rights

Truth Be Told

Donor Siblings: Our "Spreadsheet Moment"

Parent: A Noun and a Verb

Connecting on the DSR vs. on DNA Websites

Dibling-Dumpling

 

Huffington Post Articles

Donor Conception: Old vs. New Thinking

Choosing a Sperm Bank...What To Know

Sperm/Egg Donation: Genetics & Mental Illness

Sperm & Egg Donation: Telling is the First Step

One Week of News About the Sperm Donation Industry

FDA Citizen's Petition: The Need for Sperm Bank Regulation

Sperm And Egg Donation: 10 Things Your Doctor, Clinic or Sperm Bank Won't Tell You

Finding Our People: Wendy and Ryan Kramer's Story by Ellen Glazer

The Ambiguity of "Open" Sperm Donation

There Are No Laws Prohibiting Donor Recipients From Reaching Out To Donors

"Donor Babies" are Sometimes Grandparents!

A Multi-Billion-Dollar Unregulated Industry With No Oversight — What Could Possibly Go Wrong?Biology and Birth Certificates: Our Right To Accuracy

A Brief History of Donor Conception

The Donor Sibling Registry Reaches 50,000 Members!

Sperm Donation Needs Federal Regulation

Egg Donation: Reporting Discrepancies & Medical Issues

Thinking About Selling Your Sperm or Eggs?

Donor-Conceived People Searching — One Central Registry

An Open Invitation to All Sperm Banks

The New "Check Box" That Needs to Be On Pediatrician's Forms

DNA = Donors Not Anonymous

NBC Story: 48 Donor Siblings and the ASRM48 Donor Siblings and the ASRM

Biology and Birth Certificates: Our Right to Accuracy

Donor Families Connecting: Love or Fear?

30k-60k US Sperm and Egg Donor Births Per Year?

Grandparents via Donor Conception

Donor Conceived People and The Reproductive Medicine Industry Disconnect

The Voting Booth of Sperm and Egg Donor Anonymity

Sperm Donors Who Wish to Remain Anonymous Just Shouldn't Donate

Roots and Wings for Donor Offspring

The Ethical Sperm Bank: An All-Open Sperm Bank. An Idea Whose Time Has Come

 

Other Relevant Articles

Here are some other articles on the law, the ethics, the comparisons to adoption, the need for regulation, and the nuts and bolts of donor conception. Issues we should all ponder!

March 2018: International Journal of Law, Policy and The Family: Domestic Implementation of the Donor-Conceived Child’s Right to Identity in Light of the Requirements of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

December 2011: BioNews: Of family and finance: Israeli citizens without rights and HFEA remuneration

September 2010: The Globe and Mail: Doctor sued over allegedly mixing up sperm samples

July 2010: BioNews: 'My Daddy's Name is Donor': Read with caution!

2009: Medicine and Law: Donation of Eggs in Assisted Reproduction and Informed Consent

December 2009: Genomics Law Report: Reproductive Genetic Screening: More Questions Than Answers

November 2009: BioNews: Children's human rights and assisted human reproduction

June 2009: National Review: Scrambled Ethics

February 2009: Adoption Institute Old Lessons For a New World: Applying Adoption Research and Experience to Assisted Reproductive Technology

January 2009: ASRM Ethics Committee: Interests, obligations, and rights of the donor in gamete donation

December 2008: The Wall Street Journal: Ova Time: Women Line Up To Donate Eggs — for Money

June 2008: Medical News Today: Donor Offspring May Feel Betrayal, Anger: Study

June 2008: ADVANCE: Conceivable Truths

April 2008: SSRN: Necessary Subjects: The Need for a Mandatory National Donor Gamete Registry

November 2007: Center for Genetics and Society: It’s Time for an Egg Donor Registry and Long-term Follow-up

2007: Thomas K. Sylvester, Yale Law School: The Case Against Sperm Donor Anonymity

2007: CNN: States urged to open adoption records

2007: Best Practice & Research Clinical Obstetrics and Gynaecology: Donor gametes: anonymous or identified?

March 2007: Manchester Evening News: Men still donating sperm

April 2007: American Fertility Association Newsletter: DNA And The Exploding Myth Of Donor Anonymity

November 2005: NewScientist.com: Anonymous sperm donor traced on internet

The Sperm Bank of California's Research page

 

Sperm Bank Policies: What are they thinking?

 

General Policies

How much do sperm banks make? Here's an interesting 2017 article from a marketing company that ran a marketing program for a New York sperm bank. "The cryobank gathered an additional 1,000 local leads during their seven-month trial. This resulted in an average lead growth of 166 percent month-over-month. After accounting for the number of leads that passed the sperm bank’s genetic testing, the resulting conversion rate was about 3 percent. In total, we earned the client an estimated $3,000,000 in additional revenue." They spent $21,000 on the ad campaign. So that means each approved donor will earn the sperm bank almost $100,000.

2017 book about the sperm banking industry: Scattered Seeds: In Search of Family and Identity in the Sperm Donor Generation. Journalist and writer Jacqueline Mroz looks at the growth of sperm donation and assisted reproduction and how it affects the children who are born, the women who buy and use the sperm to have kids, and the sperm donors who donate their genetic material to help others procreate. "This is the dawn of a challenging moment in time for assisted reproduction,” Mroz concludes. “With technology evolving rapidly, it’s time for legislators and policymakers to start acknowledging these changes and examine the consequences of an unregulated industry."

2017 quote from a donor-conceived person: "I don't think donor anonymity is an issue that is front of mind for the general public. It's individual fertility specialists and clinics seeking to retain control and living out their antediluvian paternalistic attitudes in practice that are the reasons behind the persistence of donor anonymity. They don't trust the lived experience of donors, donor-conceived people, or the parents of donor-conceived people and believe that in all cases "doctor knows best." When you have a combination of capitalism and patriarchy you're going to have problems with getting progressive values into place."

2016 interview with medical ethicist Art Caplan, Professor of Bioethics at NYU, Langone Medical Center: "Sperm Banks Are Run Like Grocery Stores From The 19th Century," Says Art Caplan

Cryogenic Laboratories Inc. implies that donor anonymity is required by law. A former sperm donor shared this photo of his CLI agreement. We call B.S. on CLI's terminology. There are no "legal statutes and standards" pertaining to donor anonymity. Also notice the typo ("statues") — who writes these illiterate, dishonest, misleading, and unenforceable sperm bank agreements?

Fairfax Cryobank refers to sperm purchase as "adoption." A Fairfax customer shared this email. Why do they call their sperm purchase agreement an "Adoption Letter" in an email to a customer? No one "adopts" sperm!

 

Donor Anonymity

ALL donors in the US and Denmark are still sold as "anonymous" (be it for 18 years or forever), despite the fact that all donors can be found at any time via DNA testing and/or an Internet/social media/public records search.

The myth of donor anonymity is perpetuated by researchers. An article in the December 2016 issue of the Journal of Law and the Biosciences, Sperm donor anonymity and compensation: an experiment with American sperm donors, illustrates the fact that the US sperm banking industry is still not properly educating prospective donors and parents about the myth of anonymity. With DNA testing, Google, and social media, anonymity is a thing of the past. Sperm banks (and egg clinics) need to stop the fallacy of selling "anonymous" donors, and the "experts" need to stop perpetuating this idea. Donor-conceived people have been locating their donors via DNA testing since 2005 (see November 2005 New Scientist Magazine) — so this is not new. This published "study" was conducted in partnership with a sperm bank that profits more from offering anonymous donors. Communication with their donors about anonymity had already taken place. How was this major conflict of interest acceptable to the Journal of Law and Biosciences? In response to the article, Harvard Law published Wendy's blog contribution, DNA: Donors Not Anonymous, and the link to her HuffPo response blog, Sperm And Egg Donation: 10 Things Your Doctor, Clinic Or Sperm Bank Won’t Tell You.

The myth of donor anonymity is also perpetuated by infertility organizations, sperm banks, egg clinics, government organizations, etc. Why don't organizations where people go for support and guidance in the US, Canada, Australia, the UK, Europe, and other countries (e.g., the ASRM, HFEA, Path2Parenthood, Fertility Network, Donor Conception Network, BFS, etc.), along with all sperm banks and egg clinics, clearly educate on their websites about the fact that anonymity can no longer be guaranteed/enforced, not even if only for 18 years. They've all had since 2005 to disseminate this information, so it isn't something that they're just hearing about.

A letter from the Editor-in-Chief of Human Reproduction: "Due to genetic testing donor anonymity does no longer exist. Many thousands of people worldwide have been conceived with donor gametes but not all parents tell their children of their origin. Genetic testing will make this impossible. Over three million people have already used direct-to-consumer genetic testing. The rapidly increasing availability of cheaper and more detailed tests poses numerous challenges to the current practice of sperm and egg donation: 1. Whether they are donating in a country that practices anonymous donation or not, donors should be informed that their anonymity is no longer guaranteed, as they may be traced if their DNA, or that of a relative, is added to a database. 2. Donor-conceived adults who have not been informed of their status may find out that they are donor-conceived. 3. Parents using donor conception need to be fully informed that their children’s DNA will identify that they are not the biological parents and they should be encouraged to disclose the use of donor gametes to their children. All parties concerned must be aware that, in 2016, donor anonymity has ceased to exist." —JLH (Hans) Evers, Editor-in-Chief, Human Reproduction

Where around the world is donor anonymity banned? Austria, Finland, Germany, The Netherlands, New South Wales, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, and Australia. However, much of the sperm in these countries is imported from the US, which is still sold as "anonymous."

September 2018: UK Government Department of Health & Social Care: Quality and safety of organs, tissues and cells if there’s no Brexit deal. "The UK imports donated sperm, primarily from commercial sperm banks in the USA and Denmark. Approximately 4,000 samples were imported from the USA and 3,000 samples from Denmark in 2017, as well as a small number from other EU countries." According to the UK's Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority (HFEA), "Every year around 2,700 children are conceived with the help of a donor."

November 2017: ABC South Australia: SA sperm donors' identities could be revealed whether they like it or not. "Donor-conceived people should be able to access identifying information about their donors, without their donor's consent, to ensure those people have the same right to information about their genetic parentage as those who are conceived naturally."

May 2017: BioNews: German Parliament passes the Sperm Donor Registry Act. The Sperm Donor Registry Act will allow children born from 2018 onward to access their donors' information.

April 2017: Report on the Review of the Assisted Reproductive Treatment Act 1988 (SA). A report on the review of South Australian legislation that was tabled in Parliament. If this legislation passes, South Australia will become the second place in the world to grant retrospective access to identifying information via legislation.

October 2016: Court reaffirms: no anonymity rights for sperm donors (in Germany!) "A Hanover court ... ruled that a child's right to know about their lineage was more important than a sperm donor’s right to privacy, reaffirming a high court ruling from [the previous] year."

May 2016: NSW, Australia, Herald Sun: Sperm donors step up after law change. The media and other industry "experts" frequently report that ending donor "anonymity" will automatically result in a drop in donor numbers. Quite to the contrary, there has been a 10-fold increase in the number of sperm donors AFTER only forcing 18 years of "anonymity" in the state of NSW, Australia.

2016: Journal of Law and Medicine: Does the removal of anonymity reduce the number of sperm donors in Australia? This paper examined the effect of removing donor "anonymity" on sperm donor numbers in Australia. From one of the authors: "Now that we have data that the UK and Australia were not adversely affected by removing anonymity, hopefully, the USA will follow suit. Especially seeing as though DNA makes any guarantee of anonymity null and void, it is unethical that clinics still offer it."

2014: Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority (HFEA): Egg and sperm donation in the UK: 2012–2013. The UK's HFEA only has egg and sperm donation numbers through 2013. (Are they still keeping track?) We can see that the numbers of UK donors has gone UP since forcing/promising (only) 18 years of "anonymity" in 2005. The HFEA notes the reason for the 2013 decrease in local sperm donors: "The number of imports has steadily increased year on year and now forms almost a third of new registrations. Most imported sperm comes from the USA, followed by Denmark. It is important to note that this does not necessarily reflect 'popularity' of donors, but perhaps more their availability. Some clinics reported that they import donor sperm because the cost, time and resources required to recruit donors themselves is too high when there are specialist sperm banks who can carry out an efficient and reliable service."

Year Sperm Donors Egg Donors Year Sperm Donors Egg Donors
1992 375 451 2003 257 1,032
1993 426 528 2004 237 1,107
1994 417 732 2005 285 1,023
1995 414 749 2006 307 803
1996 419 806 2007 355 1,024
1997 343 910 2008 403 1,167
1998 256 943 2009 438 1,202
1999 302 1,120 2010 492 1,258
2000 323 1.241 2011 541 815
2001 327 1,302 2012 631 1,005
2002 288 1,174 2013 586 1,103