Sperm donor websites are increasing in popularity with many people searching for a sperm donor or co-parent online. Are they a health risk or a personal choice which could benefit the future of any future children?
There has been a lot of bad press recently in light of the two businessmen Nigel Woodforth and Ricky Gage, charged for not having a licence to procure gametes. The pair acted as ‘sperm brokers’ aiding in the transport and testing of sperm. They enabled anonymous donation and put women’s health at risk by organising health screening. This has brought to the attention the increased popularity of sperm donor websites which effectively connect donors and recipients looking for sperm.
Sperm donor or co-parenting websites are not required by law to be regulated, as long as they are simply bringing people together, not acting as intermediaries in the way that the two recently convicted were doing. When a site is purely a connection service a women is able to make her own choice about whether she wishes to protect her heath and legal rights by taking the donor to a regulated fertility clinic, or whether she feels that there is a level of trust sufficient for them to obtain the necessary health screening tests themselves, through a clinic, GP or GUM service. After which recipients may decide to choose home insemination as a method of conception. This later option is more applicable to co-parenting situations whereby the donor and recipient have got to know each other over a period of time and there are legal co-parenting agreements in place before proceeding.
Women wish to have choices about how they will conceive and should they not have the freedom to make those choices without regulatory constraints. The emphasis should therefore not be about removing such choices, but instead about educating individuals so that they are fully informed about any risks they are taking, enabling them to make better informed decisions, which are right for their personal circumstances and their potential child.
There has been a social and cultural shift in recent times, towards women wishing to meet a known donor. Some may say this is because of high fertility costs, or maybe the ‘shortage of donors’ or could it be that women are actually thinking of their children’s future and that they would far rather personally meet a like minded individual, who is happy to stay in touch as an ‘uncle type’ figure, rather than for their child to always long to meet an unknown donor as they grow up. There has been much research and evidence which has shown that children who know the identity of their donor and know the truth about their conception from an early age are more secure with their identity as they become adults.
The change to the anonymity law, is a good thing for donor conceived children allowing them to trace the identity of their donor at age 18, however we are still to really discover the effect this will have on the thousands of children who may be wanting to meet their biological father in the future. They may find that the donor is simply not interested in being contacted. There is also the worry that the donor may not be the kind of person the mother would wish for their child to meet, after all, she may have only received basic details such as height and eye colour, by which to choose her donor originally. There is also the real concern of genetic attraction which especially affects parents and children who have never met before adulthood. The effect of this could be potentially catastrophic.
When these effects do come to the forefront in the year 2023, 18 years after the new law was introduced in 2005, will it be decided that children where better off not really getting this information? Would it not therefore be far better for donor conceived children to have known of their donor from the beginning?
So what is the answer, surely to give people the option of finding a known donor or co-parent and for the authorities to work together with sperm donor websites to ensure that enough information is available to their users regarding health screening and the legal implications allowing the ability for them to source accessible and affordable fertility treatment?
A spokesman for the HFEA has pointed out that it is the health risks of not using a fertility clinic which concerns them most. Therefore they are advising people to only use sperm donor websites which direct their users to a licensed clinic, ensuring that complete health screening is completed and that a record of the donor’s name is kept on file.
Pride Angel the leading worldwide connection site primarily aimed at the gay and lesbian community is the only website dedicated to providing quality information regarding health screening and fertility law. Erika co-founder of Pride Angel stated ’all our profiles are continually screening to ensure users are not offering ‘natural insemination’ or requesting an ‘anonymous’ donor. Nor is payment for donations allowed to be offered or requested.’ ‘We also offer email support for users requiring help and further information.’ ‘Users should never consider using a donor who offers natural insemination, even if they offer artificial insemination as well. The health risks of such ‘promiscuous’ donors is too great’.
‘We have had so many people thank us for the service we provide, without which co-parenting arrangements would not happen and many lesbian couples and gay men would not have the chance to experience the joys of parenthood.’ says Erika
For more information regarding finding a co-parent, health screening and fertility law visit www.prideangel.com