Private donors…no thanks!

Bio-News is always a good read every week.  Anyone interested in reproductive medicine or genetics should subscribe…and it’s free too.  The weekly Commentaries are often quite a provocative takes on topical subjects and the one on Monday was no exception.   In it a private sperm donor writes attempting to put the advantages of using a private (unregulated) donor against receiving donor sperm via a licensed fertility clinic.  I make no secret of the fact that I found the article both sleazy and creepy.  My ‘yuk’ response was stimulated right from the beginning when he stated, “Donations are conducted at home using artificial insemination or intercourse”.  Intercourse, you mean the donor has sex with the recipient?  I thought this article was supposed to be about the advantages for women and children in using a private donor, but here we have men offering sex to women they have no intention of maintaining a relationship with.  Just who’s interest is this supposed to be in?   And how do you explain it to the children?

Then there is the supposed advantage of having far more personal information than you would get in a clinic.  But get this, “”You can’t form a judgement about who you do or do not fancy by reading a cursory profile”.  Just what is this about fancying?  This is a sperm donor not a life partner and fancying just shouldn’t come into it.  He then goes on to say, “Partner choice is not something which can be shortcut by the ‘pick a card, any card’ approach of clinics.  This is the main reason to reject clinics.”

Any woman in a heterosexual or probably also a lesbian relationship would laugh out loud at these arguments.  She has a life partner she fancies and wishes to have a child with.  She needs the means to become pregnant, preferably sperm from a donor whose basic characteristics fit with looks within her and her partner’s family and values she feels comfortable with.  The only real appeal might be to a single woman, who really would have liked a life partner to have a child with, and might be lured at a vulnerable time of her life into having sex with a man who might or might not stick around for her child to know.   No commitment, no paper-work, or only something that any court could overturn.  Nothing here to change my mind about advising people to avoid free donor websites like the plague.


About oliviasview

Co-founder and now Practice Consultant at Donor Conception Network. Mother to two donor conceived adults and a son conceived without help in my first marriage.
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2 Responses to Private donors…no thanks!

  1. APD says:

    As the author of the article critiqued above, I feel it’s only appropriate to respond. I will however ignore the personal insults and focus only on the the criticism of my article. I nevertheless hope that Olivia will remove her post and express her views in a more measured and appropriate fashion, befitting her status within the DCN.

    I personally am both a clinic and private donor. Therefore everything which is said about me as a private donor also applies equally to my clinic donations – because it’s the same genes. If I’m not fit to be a private donor, then I’m not fit to be a clinic donor, either. This largely serves to reinforce the arguments I made in the original article. Whatever Olivia’s reasons for a personal dislike of me, the clinic process wouldn’t have given enough information to make that decision. However, as a private donor she would have ample chance to rely on her gut feeling to guide her choice not to use me. I’m very glad to give potential recipients the chance to reject me, or any other donor, on clear and positive grounds.

    The opinions expressed in Olivia’s post seem in part to stem from a rejection of NI as a donation method. That’s very much a red herring, as NI is the exception and not the rule for private donations. However, some women find the AI process invasive, unnatural and unpleasant and therefore opt for NI. What a woman chooses, and finds easier to tell her children, is entirely up to her. Recipients should be supported throughout the donation process whatever their choices. Sadly, the above post suggests that that any woman who using a private donor should be very careful about engaging with the DCN, as there appears to be a clear bias against private donor conception – especially by NI. This is saddening, especially in the absence of alternative support networks.

    The central argument I made for using a private donor is one of choice. I used the shorthand of ‘fancy’ to describe the process of choosing who to reproduce with. Maybe that was an unfortunate choice of word, but my argument is still entirely valid. Shortcutting the process of choosing a biological partner by using a clinic exposes recipients and children to significant risks. I’ve no particular concerns with the actual donation being done in a clinical environment – and I’ve never argued against this. For clarity: it’s the clinic selection process, not the donation process, which I have a major problem with. If Olivia has concerns about in-home donations, she’s perfectly free to suggest that people use a clinic to perform the insemination from a private donor. That’s a expensive, slow and invasive way to perform the process, but there is a logical argument which can be made for advocating this.

    The arguments she raises against using a private donor per se simply do not hold up. Far from being a laughing matter, private donations are a serious and considered choice made by many women who reject clinic donors for a variety of reasons. Often, private recipients are former clinic patients frustrated by the impersonal process and restricted information on donors.

    Instead of being legally-shaky, private donations are actually specifically considered in statue. For women in civil partnerships or marriages, there is full legal protection when using a private donor, and for cohabiting couples there is the option to adopt after birth. However, the single-parent demographic is the only one for which a proper legal foundation is sadly never available. Despite the suggestion above, many single recipients aren’t looking for a surrogate partner. They’re often perfectly comfortable using a donor in exactly the same way as women in relationships.

    As a final thought: if Olivia had selected her donor at a clinic, she could have ended up with me – and I’m sure she wouldn’t like that very much! It’s always best to know who you’re using…

  2. oliviasview says:

    Andrew: I won’t be removing my post. This is a personal blog that does not always reflect the views of DC Network (as I state in my introductory description). I have been happy to accept your comment as a right of reply to my opinions.
    PS: My donor was never important to me. My children are.

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