36-year old sperm donor Trent Arsenault has come under scrutiny from the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) recently due to the fact that his donations while free, are fresh, not frozen.
Sperms banks are regulated by the FDA, which has issued Arsenault’s “one man sperm bank” a cease-and-desist order. According to current FDA regulations, cryopreserved donor sperm can be releaesd for insemination only after quarantine of at least 180 days, and repeat negative testing of the donor for all STI’s (sexually transmitted infections) including HIV. In addition, sperm banks must be licensed by a local board of health or a similar agency. Arsenault’s fresh, unfrozen sperm do not meet these requirements.
No recipients of Arsenault’s sperm have come forward to date as having contracted any infectious diseases nor have any of the families formed through his donations experienced any legal entanglements with the donor. However, for those considering working with a sperm donor, FDA regulations as they currently stand as well as laws governing third party reproduction tin your state of residencemust be known and understood, in order to ensure the highest level of protection for all parties involved. In addition, the guidelines below can provide a framework within which to begin.
First off, sperm can come from either a known or an anonymous donor.
- A known donor is typically a friend or relative.
- Working with a known donor is typically less expensive, since the sperm will not need to be purchased.
- In the case of a known donor, it is also possible to obtain a fresh instead of a frozen sample. Fresh sperm will not have undergone two testings over a six month period of time for infectious diseases, including HIV.
- Sperm donors currently have the option of being anonymous, meaning that they do not wish to have any identifying information about themselves disclosed to any adult offspring which may have been born as a result of their donation.
- Others may choose to participate in the identity release programs that many sperm banks now offer. This means that the donor agrees to allow the sperm bank to release his identity at the request of adult offspring over the age of 18 years old.
- Several registries also currently exist that enable donors and offspring to search for each other, as well as their half siblings.
- Based on current laws and social mores, unknown donors cannot claim any legal rights to the children born through their donation. Buying anonymous donor sperm from a sperm bank is the safest route that lesbians can take concerning potential parental rights issues. Complete anonymity cannot ever be assured, however. The use of increasingly sophisticated internet searches as well as wide spread accessibility to DNA testing have opened up new avenues for those wishing to know more about their biological father, siblings or half-siblings.
When working with a sperm bank you should keep these specific guidelines in mind:
- Cryopreserved donor sperm can be released for insemination only after quarantine of at least 180 days, and repeat negative testing of the donor for all STI’s (sexually transmitted infections) including HIV.
- The sperm bank must be licensed by the local board of health or a similar agency.
- The sperm bank must obtain and present a detailed personal and sexual history of the donor.
- The sperm bank must obtain and present a thorough physical examination of the donor and screen out potential donors who are at increased risk for STI’s.
- The sperm bank must screen for heritable diseases, such as cystic fibrosis.
- In order to limit the number of half siblings that are generated from any one donor, strongly consider working with a sperm bank that controls the number of live births obtained from each donor.
Most importantly, consider working with an assisted reproduction attorney who understands the laws in your state of residence.
Richard B. Vaughn, Esq., International Fertility Law Group
The American Fertility Association, “Building the Family of Our Dreams” LGBT Handbook