Identify Sperm Donors? Risks May Outweigh Benefits

Medical history often crucial to children, but repository could discourage donors
By Victoria Floethe,  Newser User
Posted Jan 27, 2009 8:01 PM CST
Access to medical information has become a major issue as scientists learn more about the hereditary aspects of disease.
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(Newser) – Mindful that genetic profiling helps diagnose disease, US fertility clinics are looking for a way to give donor-conceived children access to their fathers’ medical records—without imperiling the industry, writes Cheryl Miller in Reason. A US registry appears imminent, though transparency laws in Europe have resulted in a huge drop in sperm donors. There are now barely 300 sperm donors in Britain, forcing many families to look overseas.

“I just think that I have a right to my history,” laments one woman, who hopes records may help diagnose her sickness and prevent her from passing it onto her kids. But Miller writes that mandated registries aren't the answer. "What’s needed is not blunt government decrees but discretion and delicacy, a way to balance, not eliminate, the conflicting interests involved," she says. "Stamping out the sperm banks in the name of protecting their clients would be throwing the baby out with the bathwater.” (Read more sperm bank stories.)