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States allowing sperm donors' identities to be released

Sperm Bank Lawsuit
Posted at 10:19 AM, May 10, 2022

The use of fertility treatments is increasing in the United States.

These types of births rose more than threefold from 1996 to 2015, according to the Pew Research Center. Now more kids born through sperm or egg donation could be getting the option to know the person who made that donation.

A growing number of states are allowing the identity of those donors to be released if the donor-conceived child asks for it at age 18.

That's unless the donor opted out.

A bill Colorado lawmakers are considering would make the state the first in the country to require it.

If it passes, supporters think this bill could set a precedent for other states.

“As there's more openness as the technology makes it easier for people to find out that their legal parents are not their genetic parents, there is increasing interest among donor-conceived people to have access to this information,” said University of Virginia family law expert Naomi Cahn.

Cahn said the industry is already changing in response to requests from parents-to-be. An increasing number of sperm banks are letting them choose donors who are willing to let their identity be known.

"The reason that it's really important from my own research and over the years from other scholars is that kids want to know about where they come from about their origins about who these people are they're not looking for dads they are not looking for they're looking for information,” said expert Rosanna Hertz.

But it isn't the case for everyone. Hertz has found in her research about a third of donor-conceived kids say they're really not interested.

One concern is that eliminating donor anonymity would compromise donor privacy.

“The promise of anonymity is elusive,” Cahn said. “Yes, a clinic can promise not to reveal that information, but that then doesn't mean that that someone who engages on this genetic testing won't then find the donor and perhaps reach out.”

Critics also say not being able to stay anonymous could lead to fewer people wanting to be donors. Other countries that require this haven't found that to be the case.

But people have asked to be paid more. The bill in Colorado also sets limits on the number of families who can use the same donor.

Other countries do this but no other state currently does. Some sperm banks have tried.

“Particularly around the social issues of the kids have donor-conceived kids connecting with one another they're half-siblings,” Hertz said. “There's just too many, too many, to me too many for the donor to get to know and it just becomes overwhelming all the way around.”

She believes donors would feel more comfortable having their identities released if they knew how many kids they could be connected to.