Entries in Artificial Insemination (2)


Woman Anonymously Sues FDA for Right to Free Sperm

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(OAKLAND, Calif.) -- An Oakland, Calif., woman and her long-term female partner wanted to start a family.  But she didn't want to have heterosexual intercourse, nor did she want to use a medical intermediary -- like a sperm bank or doctor -- and pay a fee to get pregnant.

Instead, she wanted to use a free sperm sample from a man she had chosen, and inseminate herself.

However, Food and Drug Administration regulations state that "any establishment that performs one or more manufacturing steps" for donating sperm samples -- from producing a sample, having it analyzed, storing it, to providing it to a recipient -- must register with the agency and get tested for communicable diseases that may be transmitted through artificial insemination.

These regulations may also apply to uncompensated donors, like the one she and her partner sought out.

After the recent cease order issued by the FDA to Trent Arsenault, a free sperm donor from Acampo, Calif., ordering him to stop "manufacturing" and supplying couples with sperm who are seeking to get pregnant, the woman wanted to err on the side of caution.

As a result, she is suing, under the name Jane Doe, the commissioner of the FDA and the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, claiming its regulations violate her rights to privacy for telling her how she should be allowed to conceive a child.

"This means the FDA can reach into your bedroom and tell you how to procreate," said her lawyer, Amber Abbasi, chief counsel for regulatory affairs at government accountability advocacy organization Cause of Action.  "The FDA taking the position that donors, even when there's no commercial element, are 'an establishment,' just like a sperm bank and have to register.  This is a serious burden on the reproductive freedoms of both the recipient and the donor."

Abbasi said her client wanted to obtain fresh donor sperm from an individual she selected and implant it herself in a process known as intracervical artificial insemination -- injecting the semen into her cervix -- using a syringe, which does not require medical supervision.

According to the lawsuit, Doe felt it was important for the biological father to be present in her child's life, if he or she so desired.  Doe did not want to visit a sperm bank for an anonymous sample, a process noted to be "costly and burdensome" for couples looking to get pregnant.

Doe had selected a donor and did a review on his personal and medical history before attempting to conceive through intracervical insemination, said the suit.  She did get pregnant, but she miscarried.

Doe wants to try again, but is concerned that "her choices of conception partner and method of conception are directly barred by FDA regulations," and is worried she will be charged with a federal crime if she opts to get pregnant in the way that she wants to, according to the lawsuit.

Doe's suit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on July 2.  Abbasi said the FDA has not responded, and no court date has been set yet.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Did Sperm Bank Founder Father 600 Children?

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- A British sperm bank founder who guaranteed his customers sperm from "above-average" donors apparently made good on his promise by secretly using his own sperm, and may have fathered as many as 600 children in the process.

Austrian-born biologist Bertold Wiesner and his wife, Dr. Mary Barton, created the London-based Barton clinic in the early 1940s. By the time the clinic shut its doors in the 1960s, the couple had used artificial insemination to help infertile middle- and upper-class couples produce about 1,500 children. Dr. Barton said in the 1950s that she and her husband guaranteed that "all donors were drawn from intelligent stock" and no donors were accepted unless they were "a little above average."

Wiesner died in 1972 and his wife died ten years later. Dr. Barton destroyed all the clinic's medical records before her death. The couple had supposedly used sperm donations from their family friends to impregnate clients, with an attempt to match the physical characteristics of the clients.

DNA tests conducted on 18 people conceived at the clinic between 1943 and 1962, however, found that Wiesner was the father of 12.

According to reports in the British media, one of Wiesner's biological offspring, David Gollancz, has established contact with 11 other children produced with Wiesner's sperm. Gollancz told London's Sunday Times that Wiesner could have provided at least 20 samples per year over the life of the clinic, meaning he could have fathered 300 to 600 children.

"Using standard figures for the number of live births which result, including allowances for twins and miscarriages," said Gollancz, "I estimate that he is responsible for between 300 and 600 children."

In 1990, the British government placed a limit on the number of families that could receive sperm from the same donor. Information on the identity and medical history of the donors is now stored in case it is desired or needed by the children produced via the sperm.

Wiesner's practice of secretly using his own sperm is now outlawed, in part due to the danger that two of his offspring might meet unknowingly and have children of their own.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio