April 18, 2024

Putting a price on American sperm

Nearly a third of donors would stop if anonymity were removed

A number of Western countries have banned sperm donor anonymity, but not the United States. However, many people insist that children have a right to know who their biological father is, putting the sperm donor industry under pressure to defend anonymity.

What if the US adopted the UK model, under which children could find their fathers once they turn 18? An immediate result would be a decrease in the number of donors, as most sperm donors do not want the responsibilities and commitment of fatherhood – especially if it involves money.

In an article in Journal of Law and the Biosciences Professor Glenn Cohen, of Harvard Law School, and representatives of US IVF clinics have calculated the market impact of removing anonymity in the US. After Sweden removed anonymity in 1985, the number of annual new donors dropped from 200 to 30. However, in the US Cohen and his co-authors say that a large number of donors would refuse to donate and that market forces would force the price up:

… 28 per cent of sperm donors at a large US sperm bank would refuse to participate if anonymity is prohibited. Among those who would continue to participate, the typical donor would demand a premium of anywhere from $40 to $102 over what they are currently paid. Our findings suggest that such a change would have a significant, but perhaps not insurmountable, effect on the supply of sperm in the USA should the law change.   

Creative commons
sperm donation