By Zave Fors
I am a donor-conceived person. This means that my mom went to a fertility clinic with a sperm bank and was artificially inseminated to get pregnant. As a single mom, she felt this was her only option. She elected to use an anonymous sperm donor.
Anonymous donation is very strict, capitalistic, and based in part on eugenics. Only neurotypical, height/weight proportional, college educated, usually 5’10” or taller, “normal” biological males are allowed to donate. This created a system that selects only middle/upper-middle-class white males of an incredibly specific caliber. It created a binary of “these are males who are worthy enough to make children” and “these are not worthy males.” Any type of neurological or physical difference disqualifies a man. I cannot even donate because I’m too short. This is selective breeding to create humans of a particular appearance and genetic makeup. This is eugenics.
Anonymous donation also means that children are born into a conditional existence. I am allowed to live, but I give up all rights to the entire paternal side of my biology. This means I get no medical history, no pictures, no communication, no information on my biological father.
I was forced to live by an agreement that I had no say in. Why? Because the fertility industry is run like a business and anonymity increases the supply side of the supply/demand need for human creation. We mass produce people like a product and then deny them basic human rights and dismiss their inherent human curiosity. It is my right to know where I come from, who I am, why I am the way I am, and who my bio family and ancestors are. That info should never be systematically taken away from me.
There are no regulations in the US around limiting the amount of people conceived through one donor. In my case, I could have up to 1000 half-siblings. I don’t know who they all are or how many I have. I went to high school with a half-brother and didn’t even know until years later. Due to the quantity of siblings and the fact that many donor conceived people aren’t aware that they’re donor conceived, I have to worry about accidental incest. Dating is hard enough without having to genetically screen all my Tinder matches.
I had to grow up confused and alone in who I am. I had no media, books, articles, friends, or support groups to turn to for guidance or support. I was artificially created. And I was put into the world without any resources and denied access to half of who I am. No one else has to live under a contract they didn’t sign in this way.
We talk about designer babies and cloning as if these mechanisms aren’t already happening As a donor-conceived person, I am living proof of these concepts already at play. Anonymous sperm donation is wrong. Using more than 5-10 samples from one donor is wrong. Denying donor-conceived children access to support networks or spaces to express their emotions, on top of denying them their biological history, is wrong.
My intention behind this post is to raise awareness of a rarely-talked about, obscure system and the deeply traumatizing and unethical sides to it. Tens of thousands of people are created through this process every year and most people don’t know a single thing about it. We are playing God with human life and it needs to stop.
Some of my own suggestions/demands:
**1) Non-anonymous donation only. The rights of the children to our own biological history are more important than the number of parents getting samples.
**2) No more than 5-10 samples per donor. We are people, not products.
**3) Education and training for parents on how to create space for kids to express their confusing and complicated emotions through productive dialogue.
**4) Age-appropriate books, support networks, documentaries, and access to therapy for donor-conceived people as they grow up. I didn’t understand who or what I was and I didn’t have the language to explain what I felt or needed.
**5) Ethics evaluation of donor selection and eugenics. Why are there so few biological males of color? How does a college degree relate to DNA? What are we deciding about people with autism, dwarfism, people who are blind, deaf, or encompass any other type of biological diversity?
Although I can only speak to sperm donation, many of these issues extend beyond and into all areas of the fertility and reproductive processes.
If we are not careful we will become a species based on artificial selecting of traits. We will create manufactured humans who are genetically engineered to meet parental and societal needs, rather than allowing natural life.
Why is this technology reserved only for the wealthy?
This is not science fiction. This is right now. Get educated.