Should a wife have to consent for a man to be able to donate sperm?

Should a wife have to consent for a man to be able to donate sperm?

A British woman is campaigning for the legal right to veto her husband's choice to donate sperm, it has emerged.

The unidentified complainant says her partner volunteered samples of his semen to a registered clinic after becoming stressed by the birth of their child, reported MailOnline. Disgruntled, the mother-of-one from Surrey has contacted the Human Fertilisation And Embryology Authority, arguing that women across the UK should be able to deny their spouse's free will on the matter - because sperm is a 'marital asset'.

She's wrong.

As a men's rights activist and someone whose mother was a counsellor in Liverpool's British Pregnancy Advisory Service, where I spent considerable time as a boy, I value the importance of choice massively. But it cuts both ways. The old maxim of 'my body, my choice' is one that applies to both genders, not just women.

Whatever a man chooses to do with his sperm - his lineage, DNA and personification of reproductive liberty - is his decision and his alone, regardless of marital status. And given that a man's permission isn't needed for the termination of a pregnancy, I find this woman's plea particularly offensive.

'What a terrible reason to deny somebody the chance of legitimately fathering children: inconvenience' Yes, he probably had a moral obligation to inform his wife, but he certainly didn't have a legal one - and never should he. After all, a woman should never need a man's approval to donate her eggs, whether she is married to him or not.

This man clearly made his decision freely and within the medical world's rigid guidelines. He also never retracted his consent, which is precisely what this issue boils down to. Well, that and spousal control.

This woman claims she's concerned about the psychological effect any children fathered by her husband will have on her. She's equally worried that they might 'disrupt' her family life. But what a terrible reason to deny somebody the chance of legitimately fathering children: inconvenience. Personally, I suspect this woman is angry because she cannot trap her partner. Forever, getting pregnant has been a trump card used by some women in the so-called gender war. But suddenly there's a loophole.

I'm sorry, this is not a reason to change the law; to compromise a patient's right to confidentiality or to deny infertile couples the opportunity to have a family. Not least because men already suffer from insufficient rights when it comes to paternity. Men are regularly denied access to their children (but forced to financially support them), yet - even when they obtain visitation orders via the courts - they rarely get them enforced. Likewise, look at the scores of men who are victims of paternity fraud. The same men who request DNA testing for a newborn, only to be denied it unless the mother consents. Where is there fairness in that?

Last year, in Australia, a man's name was taken off the birth certificate of his daughter - simply because the mother and her female partner wanted to erase any trace of his (crucial) involvement. Stripping men of any more paternal rights would be inhumane. Yes, women face issues over parenthood too - but nobody is trying to marginalise their rights.

Personally, I suspect this woman wants to limit her husband's choice for the sake of control, when - really - she should be asking why he suffered post-traumatic stress in the first place. If this woman is successful in changing the law, where would it end? What other body parts could a partner claim to co-own? Could a man stop a woman from becoming a surrogate mother? Could a woman stop a man from having a vasectomy?

Either marriage is about ownership or it isn't. Personally, I believe it's about partnership. But I'm not sure she does. She has been quoted several times explaining how this situation affected her, but never her husband. That's a bad sign. Yes, it may have repercussions on her - but she chose to marry him, for better and for worse.

I sympathise that his decision may emotionally affect her, but that's life. It doesn't mean we should go changing the law. More importantly, the truth remains the same: a man's body is a man's choice. And I'll throw myself in front of the (future) king's horse if that ever changes.

Article: by Peter Lloyd 28th August 2012

Comment by Erika - Pride Angel:
It is understandable that this lady has her own concerns and fears regarding the unknown possible implications of her husband’s donations. Her fears may reflect her own feeling regarding her husband not wanting more children with his wife, but being prepared to help others.

It is also her concern that the donor children may threaten her own family life if they were to make contact in the future. However in reality this may not affect her family’s life or her children’s, if her husband’s donations are explained to her children in a positive and open manner.

The HFEA have stated that counseling was offered but cannot always be enforced. The key issue here is that men choosing to donate do need to consider the implications and feelings of their family and that good communication in of paramount importance.

However we cannot surely enforce a situation whereby consent from a partner, wife or husband needs to be achieved before donations can be given. It is after all an individual’s choice to give the gift of life.

Posted: 29/08/2012 06:28:17


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