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Assisted Reproduction

Gray Market Sperm

The New York Times’ blog looks at the underground market for free sperm:

It’s “the Wild West of sperm donation,” writes Rachel Lehmann-Haupt on the women’s site Double X: men offering their sperm online — often for free — to single women, lesbian couples, couples challenged by male infertility and others who can’t afford the high cost of traditional sperm banks.

Of course, what makes the traditional banks so expensive are the medical screenings and legal safeguards not necessarily on offer from the dude advertising his seed on Craigslist. And so would-be parents who take the cheaper route risk, among other things, less than optimally healthy sperm from donors who could be over the maximum recommended age of 38; or lawsuits from donors claiming paternity rights years later.

What motivates the donors? Some proclaim altruism as their sole end, but you can’t rule out seed-spreading egomania, Lehmann-Haupt writes. And some of these self-giving souls “will agree to a procreative sex rendezvous, which obviously throws into question whether this new fringe of donation is about male prostitution, masked in the language of volunteerism and female empowerment.”


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