There has been much discussion lately regarding the propriety of compensating women to donate their eggs. Australia represents the other side of the coin as they prohibit any financial remuneration to a man or woman donating their gametes. The result of these restrictions? A dire sperm donor shortage that has left a country with a population of more than 21,000,000 people, with less than 30 sperm donors:
In Australia, it is illegal to have a commercial (buy or sell) arrangement for human tissue, including sperm, eggs and embryos, so would-be parents rely on donations.
Michael Chapman, a senior fertility specialist with IVF Australia, said that over the past few years, the number of sperm donors had dwindled from over 100 in Australia to less than 30, largely due to changes to the law governing anonymity.
All sperm donors must agree to provide identifying information so that the child can contact them once they reach 18 — a change that has been gradually brought into force over the past three years in all states.
And doctors cannot bring in sperm from overseas that has been donated anonymously. Chapman said that about 15 percent of all sperm donations in Australia came from overseas.
However, some clinics in Australia import up to 80 percent of their sperm supply from the United States, which is legal as long as the person is not anonymous and not paid for supplying the sperm.
IVF Australia only uses local donors because it believes using overseas donors may make it difficult to track down fathers in the future. But it has an 18-month waiting list, which is too long for most women aged over 38, Chapman said.