Saturday, September 13, 2008

Troubling Aspects of Assisted Reproductive Technology, Part 2

Chances are, you wouldn't want to date your half-sibling. But what if you didn't know s/he was related to you? If you were conceived with so called "donor sperm," i.e. sperm that your mother had purchased, you would have no idea who your siblings were. And you might have a hundred of them. Or two hundred. Should any one man be allowed to have that many offspring? From a genetic standpoint, it's madness. From an ethical standpoint, it's also pretty crazy. But of course ethics have little if any place here, in the wild wild west of assisted reproductive technology. A young man "donates" (i.e. sells) his sperm, and women and couples from all over the world have the opportunity to buy it. Usually, anonymity regulations prevent purchasers, and their children, from learning the identity of the donor. But as one child said in a recent BBC documentary about the children of donors, "He signed those agreements, I didn't." Recently, thanks to the internet, families that are related by donor have been able to connect, via online registries. This documentary, entitled "The 66 Club" tells the story of one such extended family, and the complexities that surround this new type of relationship, which really has no precedent in modern society. As this is a podcast, I can't post a direct link, but if you go to this page, and scroll down to "The 66 Club," you'll get to it. This is a really interesting podcast series, btw, consisting of documentaries produced by the BBC on a wide range of topics, usually socio/political stories in countries outside the UK. They run about 20-25 minutes long.

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