A friendly sperm donor is a costly one

Discriminatory treatment in the sperm and egg donor industry has attracted widespread criticism from politicians, fertility clinics and gay rights organisations

For prospective parents put off by the idea of obtaining sperm from a stranger via a sperm bank, the alternative of using a donor from one’s circle of acquaintances is an expensive affair. To have the donor certified, recipients must pay up to 50,000 kroner. The same goes for egg donors.

The fertility clinic Storkklinik, which inseminates the most women annually in Denmark, said that the hefty expense puts the gay community in an unjust position.

“The problem particularly affects lesbian couples and means that parenthood is no longer an option because of the massive bill,” Lilian Thykjær Jørgensen, a nurse and deputy manager at Storkklinik, told Politiken newspaper. “That is unreasonable and discriminatory treatment.”

In typical circumstances, a donor is tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and screened for genetic illnesses, a cost footed by the sperm banks because they earn the money back by selling the donor’s sperm to numerous women.

But if the couple finds their own donor, he is considered an outsider under current legislation and the sperm banks won't pay for the screening of a donor who won’t be used again, leaving the couple to pay the steep costs.

”That is completely discriminatory towards homosexual couples,” Søren Laursen, a spokesperson for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual organisation LGBT Danmark, told Politiken. “It’s a massive problem that we have worked on for a long time. The law interprets the donor as a person who is not part of the family, which is completely wrong.”

One of the principal issues is down to the wording in EU legislation regarding tissue, which states that a donation of reproductive cells between a man and a woman can only by deemed private if they are “in an intimate relationship with one another".

“The legislation is heteronormative. It is based on a man and a woman being partners and having children together. That should be changed,” Laursen said.

But the EU won’t be entertaining the notion of a ‘known donor’ in the near future.

“We will not agree to an introduction of the ‘known donor’ term because the risk is the same as a donation from a stranger. If a known donor is wanted then a risk evaluation would be required,” Frederic Vincent, a spokesperson for the EU’s health commissioner, told Politiken.

Meanwhile, the health minister, Astrid Krag (Socialistisk Folkeparti), has asked the health authorities Sundhedsstyrelsen to look into whether Denmark can interpret the existing rules in a manner that will relax the demands associated with ‘known donors’.

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