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Potential Consequences of Sperm Donation

Are the Kids All Right? 5 Potential Issues With Sperm Donation

The Kids Are All Right may have provided a glamorized look at what goes down when kids meet their awesome, and handsome, sperm donors, but what happens in the real world? Without a doubt, sperm donors have given many families unable to reproduce an invaluable opportunity, and it's been a positive process for thousands of families all over the globe. But as The New York Times points out, new concerns are popping up about the psychological implications and scientific consequences of sperm donation.

It may seem like a cut-and-dried, streamlined process today, since the first child was conceived through sperm donation in 1978, but unfortunately this is not the case. Unlike many other countries that rely heavily on sperm donation to help out families with infertility, there are no legal restrictions regarding the number of kids that can be conceived through a single sperm donor in the US. And since the science is all relatively new, there's no way to know what can happen in the future. Without more regulation, here are five potential consequences and concerns we should understand.

  1. It could seriously affect the gene pool. Without the regulation of the number of kids fathered by a single donor, certain rare diseases could spread more widely through the general population. There's no way to know how far this reaches, since many families don't want to disclose that their children are products of sperm donation.
  2. It can increase the chance of incest. Since many of the kids with the same donor often live close to each other, and sometimes attend the same schools, greater chances of unintentional incest between half sisters and half brothers have been recorded.

Read on for three more potential consequences of sperm donation.

  1. Sperm donors have no concept of how many kids they're going to have. Although other countries, including Britain, France, and Sweden limit how many children a sperm donor can father, there is no such limit in the United States. In some circumstances, donors have no idea that more than 150 kids are sometimes resulting from their donation!
  2. There's no info for how this will affect the child emotionally. This is new territory. When experts counsel people about infertility, they rarely bring up the issue of what it would mean for a child to discover that they're one of many children with the same father.
  3. By trying to protect kids' privacy and secrecy, it's been difficult to initiate regulation. Some parents never tell their kids they're the product of sperm donation. Others simply worry about their kids being stigmatized. But without this information, or a full list of kids on file, regulation for donations has been a difficult process.

Some countries have totally abolished anonymity for donations, but the US hasn't gone that far. However, in Washington state, recent legislation was passed guaranteeing kids conceived from sperm banks access to their donors' medical histories and full names (unless the donor specifically opted out) once they're 18. Do you think this is a step in the right direction?

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