The British cartoon above give me the willies the first time I saw years ago it, and it does still. I tracked it down after reading legal commentary on a nightmarish incident in Canada.
Canadian couple Angela Collins and Elizabeth Hanson chose a sperm donor for their planned child who claimed a 160 IQ, a neuroscience PhD, and a perfect medical history. After their child was born, they learned the surrogate father’s name though an error by the sperm bank, and discovered that Dad had lied: he never graduated from college, was a convicted felon, and had a history of schizophrenia. His sperm bank profile picture was also a fake; I’m guessing he really looked like the guy in the cartoon.
Other than that, he was fine.
There is a lawsuit against the sperm bank, naturally, and attorney Ellen Trachman performs an excellent analysis of the legal and policy implications here. She concentrates on the ethical duties and policy balancing applying to the sperm bank, in this case a company called Xytex Corp. Among her observations:
- Xytex probably followed the industry standard. Sperm, egg, and embryo donation banks and agencies are remarkably unregulated area, and, incredibly, not required by statutes to confirm the information provided by their donors.
Obviously they should be required to tell their sperm’s purchasers that, and knowing this, any couple that accepts sperm without confirming what they are getting is irresponsible. Buy the Mystery Surprise Box, and you can’t complain about what’s inside.
- Implementing regulations that require sperm banks to be held to a certain standard of care when screening their donor applicants would help, but also vastly increase the cost of the process. “With every additional layer of scrutiny, the cost of the process rises, the lawyer writes. “For adoption, these measures have caused costs to skyrocket.”
- The problem can be addressed with the use of so-called “known donors,” that is, known to the recipients, so they can do their own checking.
“Known donors means” known recipients too, though, and such donors may try to assert parental rights to the child, or fear that they will be be forced to pay child support.
- She writes, “Maybe cases like Xytex’s will convince quality banks to emerge that tout their strict background checks and confirmation of their donor profiles. We can always hope the industry will improve on its own. On the other hand, the stakes may be too high to rely on it.”
Very interesting. I, however, would like to know what should be done to the fraudulent cur who engages in such a horrible act of betrayal.
This revolting conduct approaches the magnitude of rape: it is falsely inducing consent to an intimate bodily invasion with a child resulting. “Yes,” in such a case, would be “Hell, NO” without the misinformation. One solution would be to have every sperm donor sign a document making his anonymity contingent upon his representations about his personal characteristics, history and health being accurate. If they are ever shown to be false in any material way, the donor should be prosecuted for fraud, and if a couple is induced by his lies to create a child, this should be a crime all by itself, a felony, and one with prison time and financial obligations attached.
Any couple entrusting the genetic make-up of a child they well be responsible for loving and caring for to the DNA of someone they have never met is engaging in reckless and irresponsible behavior; the cartoon shows why. Since the system is guaranteed to attract unethical donors, however, ethics can’t be relied upon to protect the desperate, naive and gullible. “When ethics fails, the law must step in,” and this is an a example where strict laws are desperately needed.
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