British girl forced to become pregnant with Danish sperm

Ethical council calls for greater regulation after a mother made her teenaged daughter inseminate herself with sperm bought from Danish company Cryos

Aarhus-based sperm bank Cryos has been linked to a tragic case of child abuse after it was revealed this weekend that a 16-year-old British girl became pregnant after being forced to inseminate herself with sperm that her mother bought from the Danish company. The girl was first forced to inseminate herself at the age of 14.

The case has raised questions over whether there should be greater safeguards and regulations controlling the private sale of sperm by businesses such as Cryos.

According to the Guardian, the case was only recently made public although the identities of both the mother and the daughter remain secret. The newspaper reports that the mother had successfully adopted three children but that she had become desperate after her application to adopt a fourth child was rejected.

The mother then coerced her eldest daughter into inseminating herself using sperm – both bought from sperm banks and from a donor who came to their home – between the ages of 14 and 16, at which point the daughter successfully became pregnant.

The mother’s erratic behaviour at the child’s birth alerted the suspicions of social services. A DNA test subsequently proved that the child was conceived using Cryos’ sperm and the mother was eventually sentenced to five years in prison.

Anette Thrane, the chairwoman of the association for the involuntarily childless, Landsforening for Ufrivilligt Barnløse, told Berlingske newspaper that she found it shocking that sperm could be bought for home inseminations.

“I don’t think that it should be possible for individuals to buy sperm,” Thrane said, “We are occasionally contacted by people who are not given permission to use donor sperm because they are on medication or are depressed. This is usually based on a medical assessment in order to protect the child. But I could imagine that if they could just go and buy sperm privately, then they would just go and do that anyway.”

Thomas Ploug from the government’s ethical council, Det Etiske Råd, argues that inseminations ought to only occur via clinics or other medical professionals.

“It’s noteworthy that there are no minimum requirements for buying sperm,” Ploug told Berlingske. “Given that an inability to function as a parent can be used to justify an abortion, we ought to ensure that the people who buy sperm are actually suitable parents.”

But the health minister, Astrid Krag (Socialistisk Folkeparti), argued that while the case was tragic, changing Danish sperm donation rules would probably not have prevented the mother from procuring sperm.

“The mother made her daughter inseminate herself using sperm from a man who visited the home before the mother turned to the sperm bank,” Krag told Berlingske. “But I do think that we need to discuss the issue when the political parties next meet to discuss ethical issues.”

According to media reports, Cryos is remaining silent on the case, likely because of a UK court order to protect the identity of the girl.