Due to the easy access of DNA paternity tests and a change in law preventing the anonymity of sperm donors, there has a been a significant drop in the number of donations, leading some to ask if the sperm market is now in crisis.

Before new legislation was passed in April 2005 giving the offspring of sperm donors the right to their information, thousands of men, especially financially strapped students, and were more than willing to donate their sperm. However, faced with the possibility that in years to come a child seeking paternity clarification could confront them, many of these men are now thinking twice before making a donation.

DNA Paternity Test – Legislation vs Shortage

Following this new legislation, when a child reaches the age of 18, they have now have the right to request a DNA paternity test; whether is for peace of mind or to allay suspicions about a parent. Teamed up with the removal of anonymity for sperm donors this has led to a massive drop in the practice of sperm donation, with many donors being put off by the thought of being tracked down by a child years later. For many, the practice of donating sperm is purely for financial reasons, or simply out of goodwill to help infertile couples. These men have no desire to be part of this child’s life and many don’t want to be fathers at all.

Some men do this in their twenties, to help support their study fees, but then grow up to marry and have families. You can see the complications that would arise when, years later, they are confronted by a child claiming to be theirs. The gap between donating sperm and being a father is massive, raising the nature vs nurture debate once more.

However, the rights of the child are now taking precedent, with some even expressing the belief that a child’s biological parentage should be declared on their birth certificates. Surely this will only damage a sperm market already in crisis.

With many donors being put off by the lack of anonymity and the thought of being tracked down by a child years later, it is important to realise the knock-on effects. Whilst it is important for a child to have rights to its genetic ancestry for medical and emotional reasons, it is also important to remember the thousands of infertile couples who will be affected by the reduction in sperm donors.

DNA Tests – The “Right to Know”

Due to the sperm donor crisis, a large debate has emerged, with some arguing that the child’s “right to know” who their biological father is, has more importance than the availability of sperm donors. On the other side, some experts are even suggesting that the idea of genetic ancestry is just a modern day ‘fashionable indulgence’ and that it should have no legal bearing on the practice of sperm donation. It is a fact that a DNA test can reveal truths about a person’s genetic ancestry, but should it be a matter of legislation?

Surely each and every family situation varies, and it should be the responsibility of parents to explain to children the circumstances surrounding their conception. They go on to argue that although the scientific importance of genetics and DNA cannot be dismissed, it is more important to a child to be cared for and wanted by their parents.

Sadly though, the emotional distress and identity issues suffered by many of these children mean that, even without legislation assisting them with information on birth certificates, they will still seek out their biological parents and answer any nagging doubts through the use of a DNA paternity test.