Mark Steyn, in this excellent interview with Chuck Colson, touches on the story of a man whose "donated" sperm has "fathered," at last count, 150 children. The whole interview is worth a listen but discussion of the deterioration of the family starts at about 14 minutes in:
The idea, for a start, that this man, who left a smidgeonette of genetic material that he gave to this particular girl and to 149 other boys and girls, is a father, and that that's what a father is, you know, a few fluid ounces in a test tube; to read that story for anyone who had come from mid 20th century America . . . he would think he'd landed on Planet of the Apes, he was in some alternative universe.Brave new world indeed. For the children and for society, anonymous sperm "donation" creates complications which would have been apparent to anyone willing to spend five minutes thinking about it. From the NYT article:
Now, there is growing concern among parents, donors and medical experts about potential negative consequences of having so many children fathered by the same donors, including the possibility that genes for rare diseases could be spread more widely through the population. Some experts are even calling attention to the increased odds of accidental incest between half sisters and half brothers, who often live close to one another.Some "donors" are feeling exploited. To be honest, it's hard for me to work up a lot of sympathy for a guy who masturbates into a cup for money, and without a care for what happens afterwards. It doesn't strike me as a manly way to behave. But anyway:
“My daughter knows her donor’s number for this very reason,” said the mother of a teenager conceived via sperm donation in California who asked that her name be withheld to protect her daughter’s privacy. “She’s been in school with numerous kids who were born through donors. She’s had crushes on boys who are donor children. It’s become part of sex education” for her.
Critics say that fertility clinics and sperm banks are earning huge profits by allowing too many children to be conceived with sperm from popular donors, and that families should be given more information on the health of donors and the children conceived with their sperm. They are also calling for legal limits on the number of children conceived using the same donor’s sperm and a re-examination of the anonymity that cloaks many donors.
Sperm donors, too, are becoming concerned. “When I asked specifically how many children might result, I was told nobody knows for sure but that five would be a safe estimate,” said a sperm donor in Texas who asked that his name be withheld because of privacy concerns. “I was told that it would be very rare for a donor to have more than 10 children.”Perhaps the article is referring to the subject of the story linked to by Ann Althouse. Ben Seisler, a law student at the time of his many "donations," professes not to have thought it through. He looks back and says, "I dunno. I guess I was dumb." His fiancee thinks he was selfish. Click for video.
He later discovered in the Donor Sibling Registry that some donors had dozens of children listed. “It was all about whatever they could get away with,” he said of the sperm bank to which he donated. “It is unfair and reprehensible to the donor families, donors and donor children.”
Ms. Kramer, the registry’s founder, said that one sperm donor on her site learned that he had 70 children. He now keeps track of them all on an Excel spreadsheet. “Every once in a while he gets a new kid or twins,” she said. “It’s overwhelming, and not what he signed up for. He was promised low numbers of children.”
The NYT article ends with some good questions:
Experts are not certain what it means to a child to discover that he or she is but one of 50 children — or even more. “Experts don’t talk about this when they counsel people dealing with infertility,” Ms. Kramer said. “How do you make connections with so many siblings? What does family mean to these children?”
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