Sperm donation laws by country
Sperm donation laws vary by country. Most countries have laws on sperm donation and place limits on how many children a sperm donor may give rise to. Other laws include a prohibition on use of donor semen after the donor has died, or to the payment to sperm donors. Other laws may restrict use of donor sperm for in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment, which may itself be banned or restricted in some way, such as to married heterosexual couples, banning such treatment to single women or lesbian couples.
Restrictions on sperm donations or the ability to obtain IVF treatment in some jurisdictions has given rise to women seeking such donations or treatments traveling to countries which do not impose such restrictions, in a practice called fertility tourism.
Limitations on number of donations
Most jurisdictions have laws that limit the number of children a sperm donor may give rise to. The main reason to limit sperm donations is the risk of accidental consanguinity or inbreeding between donor offspring. In some countries such limits are voluntary while in others they are imposed by law.
Most jurisdictions which set limits on the number of sperm donations do so in terms of number of donor offspring, but some jurisdictions set the limits in terms of "families", to allow for the children of the recipient woman to be true genetic siblings and because consanguinity issues are caught by a country's incest laws.
Most jurisdictions set only local limits, while a number set worldwide limits. Some jurisdictions permit the export of donor sperms, which may not count in the limit on donor offspring, while the import of donor sperm may be subject to local limits.
|Country||Donor payment||Children per donor||Donor anonymity||Allowed recipients|
|Belgium||no data||6 children||varies||no data|
|Canada||No||25 children per population of 800,000||yes||no data|
|Denmark||200–500 DKK||12 children||varies ||Everyone|
|France||no data||5 children||yes||no data|
|Germany||varies||15 children||no||Usually married heterosexual couples|
|Hong Kong||no data||3 children||no data||"Married heterosexual couples with age restrictions"|
|Japan||No||No enforced national limit; guidelines recommend 10 births per donor||Yes||"Legal Married heterosexual couples with age restrictions"|
|New Zealand||expenses||10 families||no||Everyone|
|Norway||expenses||8 children||no||Married or in cohabitation|
|Spain||no data||6 children||yes||Everyone|
|Sweden||300 SEK||12 children to 6 families (2 per family)||no||Married or in cohabitation|
|Switzerland||expenses||8 children||no||Married heterosexual couples|
|United Kingdom||£35 to cover expenses||10 families in UK. Exports subject to national limits||no||Everyone|
|United States of America||varies||No enforced national limit; guidelines recommend 25 births per population of 850,000||varies||Everyone|
There is no limit to the number of children born from each donor, however he/she can only donate to a maximum of six families. Before the law was changed in July 2007, a medical practitioner could make his or her own decision on the maximum. In the late 1990s Belgian fertility clinics (or sperm banks) imported large amounts of donor sperm from other countries and this led to Belgium becoming a 'fertility destination'. However, the Belgian Parliament became concerned about this and, along with the promulgation of the Tissues Directive by the European Commission, the Government decided radically to alter the laws relating to maximum numbers.
There is no upper limit to the number of donor offspring in Canada, but sperm banks generally follow the same recommendations as in the US, i.e. a maximum of 25 offspring per population of 800,000.
The Assisted Human Reproduction Act banned compensation for sperm donors and imposed a bureaucratic system described as "cumbersome" on donors, after which time more than 90% of donor sperm used in Canada comes from the U.S.
However, Denmark also exports semen worldwide, and where it is the limit of the importing country that is followed, or, when there is no such limit, a fixed amount considering that country's total population, in order to minimise the risk of consanguinity.
Through the export it may result in that some single donors have over 100 biological children worldwide who are genetic half-siblings
In France, donations from a single donor may give rise to six families, but there is no limit to sibling numbers.
Single women and coupled lesbians are not permitted to have treatment using donor sperm. Women in these categories therefore seek treatment abroad, particularly in Spain, Belgium and Denmark. Before the changes to local laws in Spain and Belgium which restricted the numbers of children permitted to be born from a single donor, these were the preferred fertility destinations and clinics in these countries frequently bought in sperm supplies from abroad to satisfy demand.
Legislation provides that a donor may not produce more than fifteen children through his donations. The legal position surrounding donations to single mothers and lesbians is still awaiting clarification by the courts. At present a donor can run the risk of paternity proceedings if his donations are used in such cases.
In Israel, sperm donation is mandated by the Ministry of Health. There are 12 authorized sperm banks and hospitals across the country, and 2 more in private research facilities. Only unmarried, healthy men under the age of 30 are allowed to donate sperm, and they are financially compensated for it. Men who want to donate must get to the hospital, pass an interview and blood-checks. They are also prohibited from donating sperm in more than one sperm bank. Finally, anonymity is kept indefinitely; the donor would never receive information regarding offsprings, and vice versa.
Around 1996-97, fertility clinics in New Zealand voluntarily agreed they would only accept donations from non-anonymous donors. The Human Assisted Reproductive Technology Act 2004 legislated that all donations made on or after 22 August 2005 must be non-anonymous.
The law provides that there must not be more than six births per donor. The same law applies to egg donations. Prior to the change in the law in 2008, clinics set their own maximums on the numbers of children produced from each donor. Spain was becoming a destination for fertility tourists, i.e. women seeking to become pregnant through the use of donor sperm and Spanish clinics were purchasing donor sperm from other countries in order to satisfy demand (see Onselling in main article). Many UK women were travelling to Spain at that time to be impregnated with sperm imported from clinics in the UK for example, where there were already controls on the numbers of children which each donor could produce.
The change in the law in Spain coincided with Europe-wide discussions on the use and export of human cells.
Sperm donation is only permitted by anonymous donation. Surrogacy is not allowed.
In Sweden, a donor may give a child to a maximum of six couples. However, each pair may have a sibling in addition. Thus, the limit is 12 children per donor. Nevertheless, the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) recommends a maximum of 6 children per donor.
Artificial insemination by donor was done only if the woman was married or in registered cohabitation, and required written consent of the spouse or partner. This law has now changed allowing single women access to state funded fertility treatment although long waiting lists may prove prohibitive.
In Switzerland sperm donation is only allowed for married heterosexual couples—not for unmarried couples, singles or homosexual couples. A donor may give rise to a maximum of eight children.
The HFEA sets a limit of 10 families within the UK which can be created using the gametes of one donor. However, there is no limit to the number of children which may be born to each such family from the same donor. A donor may set a lower limit and may impose conditions on the use of his sperm.
Exports of sperm from the UK have to be notified to the HFEA. Donors must give their permission for export. Special permission is required from the HFEA for the export of embryos.
Some clinics export sperm and import vials from clinics abroad. They may also exchange vials to enable them to use samples from a wider pool of donors, but they must ensure that the donor does not produce children for more than ten families within the UK. A donor must meet certain criteria to donate as well as being between 18 and 45 years old.
In the United States, there are no regulations governing who may engage in sperm donation. Rather, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and other expert groups (e.g., American Association of Tissue Banks) provide recommendations and guidelines. The ASRM guidelines limit a donor to 25 live births per population area of 850,000, although this is not enforced by law, there is no central tracking, and it has been estimated that only about 40% of births are reported. It is likely that some donors have over one hundred genetic children. Some sperm banks impose lower limits; e.g., the Sperm Bank of California has a limit of ten families per donor, and the Rainbow Flag Sperm Bank has a limit of donor children by six different women.
- Sperm donation
- Sperm bank
- Egg donor
- Donor conceived person
- Fertility tourism
- Artificial insemination
- Reproductive rights
- Third party reproduction
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