One Man Fathering 150 Children? Why Sperm Banks May Be Unethical

Choose your sperm donor from an online catalog listing his race, SAT score, hair and eye color. Big business has taken over family making for sperm donors and receivers. This is cause for concern as the selection “pool” is made up of these certain select members and they donate weekly and are paid for their “work”. These donors can be chosen by multiple clients and thus create many more possible half-siblings across the country who may never know their sisters and brothers — which has ramifications that have not been thought through thoroughly.

Dr. Rene Almeling, an assistant professor of sociology at Yale, is the author of Sex Cells: The Medical Market for Eggs and Sperm (University of California, 2011), soon on the Babbidge Library shelves. The books description reads:

Unimaginable until the twentieth century, the clinical practice of transferring eggs and sperm from body to body is now the basis of a bustling market. In Sex Cells, Rene Almeling provides an inside look at how egg agencies and sperm banks do business. Although both men and women are usually drawn to donation for financial reasons, Almeling finds that clinics encourage sperm donors to think of the payments as remuneration for an easy “job.” Women receive more money but are urged to regard egg donation in feminine terms, as the ultimate “gift” from one woman to another. Sex Cells shows how the gendered framing of paid donation, as either a job or a gift, not only influences the structure of the market, but also profoundly affects the individuals whose genetic material is being purchased.

Find additional background at One Man Fathering 150 Children? Why Sperm Banks May Be Unethical | Sex & Relationships | AlterNet.

Looming behind any scenario in which millions of women shop for DNA from among millions of strangers based on characteristics such as looks, education, attainment, culture and class is the specter of eugenics: the pseudoscience — popular in early 20th-century America and Nazi Germany and elsewhere — of improving human populations via marriage restrictions, sterilization and selective impregnation. We don’t practice eugenics in this country anymore. Or do we? Is it the flipside of death panels?

What do you think?

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