Paternity and Sperm Donors
Sperm donation is a topic that has divided national and international opinion on both sides of the fence. The act of a man donating sperm creates a situation in which couples with fertility problems raise the child(ren) of the donated sperm. This kind of solution can be a blessing to childless families, but it also often sparks an emotional and moral debate over the role of the sperm donor to his eventual biological child. There is a chance that the child in later life will be confused by the fact that there is a relationship between DNA testing and the father.
Both sides of the issue have compelling points.
One argument considers a children right to see both of his or her biological parents, regardless of other factors. Some people think that the natural connection is stronger than anything that can be created, and that both the parent and child have a right to maintain contact with one another. Nevertheless, this perspective has been challenged by several strong arguments. First of all, in the context of sperm donation, this creates a lot of policy problems. Few people would say that it is a good thing to be able to track down a sperm donor. Sperm donation does not mean that a man has to be a father. For fear that this may disrupt the family unit and hinder the children upbringing, it is best that the sperm donor has no direct link to the child.
Moreover, the influential Hohfeld schema, which is based on a judicial context, suggests that rights correlate directly with responsibilities. What then are the responsibilities of a sperm donor, compared to his rights? There is a genetic link, but there is no paternal link. The sperm donor is already taking care of that part, so he has nothing to contribute aside from his common genetic materials.
The idea is that children should be allowed to grow up with their families and that biological relationships through sperm donation should be kept secret for policy reasons and to prevent problems later in life. However to counter this, why shouldn’t a child’s biological father have the right to contact and access, if not at a distance, with his child? Since the father and child share the same genes, it is possible to use DNA testing to determine whether the child will be subject to the same medical problems or temperament issues. This could be beneficial in treating illnesses.
The issue of sperm donor anonymity and DNA paternity testing.
A sperm donators anonymity could be further jeopardized by a DNA paternity test since it will confirm who the biological father is of the child. Is this right? In a case having national importance we were recently involved with, does a child have the right to compel a sperm donor to give up the right to remain anonymous? When a donor has a family, the disruption to their family should be considered prior to contact. Most donor sites promise that the information on the man donating will be kept confidential. The only time this should be able to be violated is with a court order, and in our opinion, that order only in the even of criminal intent on the part of the donor, or to save the life of the child.
The debate over the rights and responsibilities of the sperm donator in relation to his biological child is going to continue for many years to come.