Sperm Donation: Ethical Implications and Controversy

Undergoing sperm donation is not a decision to be made lightly. Likely, you will come to it only after serious thought and deciding that it truly is the best course of action for you. Nevertheless, you should be aware of some of the ethical implications and controversy surrounding the procedure.

Ethical Implications

Some people, for ethical or spiritual reasons, do not like the idea of fertility treatments at all because they put the process of childbirth into a laboratory under human supervision and are sometimes--but not always--done outside the confines of marriage. Sperm donation is among the most frequently performed fertility treatments on single women and gay women, simply because they don't have a male partner with whom to have a child. However, donation is also used to help heterosexual couples, both married and unmarried, conceive, particularly when infertility issues lie primarily with the male.

If you do not share any of these objections, you should be aware that you and your child may face this bias because of your decision. An open and non-confrontational attitude when dealing with people who look down on you, or assume things about you for electing to undergo sperm donation, will help you weather the ethical implications. You and your child may benefit from counseling if necessary.

Controversy When the Donor Is Known

It's natural for many children, adopted and conceived alike, who do not know one or more biological parent to seek more about their biological histories and perhaps want a connection with their biological families. If you have selected a friend or a family member of your partner for your donor, opening up a connection with your child's biological father may be possible, but you should try to guide your child not to expect that the biological father will have more of a relationship than he is willing to have. This is particularly the case if he made it clear during the sperm donation that he wants his relationship to be minimal, as harsh and controversial as that may seem.

Anonymity Controversy

If you chose an anonymous donor through an agency or your fertility specialist, it may be impossible for your child to ever reach out to his biological father. Much of the controversy surrounding the procedure concerns its effects on children who are unable to form that connection with a biological parent. However, similar controversies exist in the adoption process, too, when one or both biological parents choose to remain anonymous. Nevertheless, you should be prepared for your child to potentially struggle with this fact, and steer him to counseling if needed.

While it's true that you shouldn't let other people's opinions about sperm donation stop you from conceiving a child with this fertility treatment, you should be aware of the ethical implications and controversy of the procedure, simply because it will affect your child as he grows older. Being open and honest and reassuring your child of your love will help you and your child weather any of the negative aspects, but it will not necessarily be an easy process.


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