Unintended consequences

Victoria is one of those places that have decided that people conceived through sperm donation have a greater right to know their biological parents than that biological parent has to anonymity, and predictably enough it’s creating problems with supply because there is also a ban on importing, er, gentlemanly fluid. Not into the country, just into the state.

VICTORIA is so short of sperm donors that some women are flying interstate for IVF treatment, prompting calls to ease restrictions on importing sperm.
Fertility doctors say demand for sperm has surged since laws giving single women and lesbians access to IVF were brought in last year, with some patients waiting up to nine months.
The removal of anonymity has also made some men reluctant to donate, and restrictions that mean they can only give sperm to 10 families have also increased the need for more donors.

Now I’m quite sure that these rules and laws were well intended. I’m sure that public health issues were in the thoughts of those who banned imports, and that human kindness was considered when anonymity was scrapped (though considered only for one party), and that simple fairness and possibly even a touch of liberty was the motivation for allowing single women and lesbians to have IVF. But surely, surely someone involved could have noted that the combination of the three was going to push demand up and reduce supply and lead to what can best be described as a black market for wanking, with all the problems that implies.

With just 184 registered sperm donors left in Victoria, fertility doctors say some patients are resorting to DIY inseminations using unscreened sperm, which carries the risk of infection.

Melbourne IVF director John McBain said the regulator was being too strict with the rules.
”The shortage is as bad as it’s ever been and when the wait is so long to get access to a donor it just pushes it underground again and people seek their own remedy using uncounselled, unconsented donors and unquarantined sperm,” he said.
”The worrying risk of that is chronic viral illness infection with either hepatitis B or HIV because a lot of single women tend to source gay men as their donors.

So the combined effect of controlling supply on health grounds is forcing desperate women to unhealthy sources. Oh, great. Give yourselves a fucking pat on the back, you idiots.

Federal laws prohibit paying donors for sperm, although reimbursing costs is allowed.

But payments will be made for sperm and it’s naive to think otherwise. There’s already a black market for breast milk as I blogged last September. Can anyone seriously think it isn’t going to happen with sperm? If there’s a demand someone will supply it, legally or illegally. That’s just how people are.

Fortunately we have the Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority on hand to solve the problem. Oh, wait, no. They’re just explaining why we have to have the bloody problem and put up with it rather than go back to anonymous donations or import sperm from elsewhere in the country or even, such as a clinic in Brisbane, from the USA.

”The guiding principles of the act are that the welfare of persons born as a result of treatment is paramount, and they have a right to information about their genetic parents.
”There would be no regulatory body in the US ensuring that their donor’s details are kept up to date because there is no central register like there is in Victoria.
”There’s a growing body of evidence that young people want to have the choice to obtain information about their donor when they become adults, so it not just the matter of supply.”

Oh, well, fine. It’s not going to solve a damn thing unless a lot more men answer the predictable request for more sperm donors at the end of the article, but I’m sure knowing why it has to be this way will make everyone feel a lot better.


Posted on February 24, 2011, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Unintended consequences.

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