Sperm donors spurt to a halt
By Dan Perry
Calling all males: stroke your thing for bling - thanks to
new government legislation, this may be your last chance.
Bill C-13, or the Assisted Human Reproduction Act, is currently
in its third reading in federal Parliament. The bill, if passed,
will outlaw the payment to sperm donors for their little soldiers
and also brings new licensing regulations for donor clinics.
The implementation of the new laws could have negative repercussions,
however, as altruistic donors are much harder to find than
paid donors, said Carole Craig, administrator and clinic manager
at IVF Canada. The bill also includes provisions for the identification
of the donor.
"[Donor clinics will be] looking for altruistic donations
and donors willing to have their identities revealed [once
the proposed legislation is passed]. American donations may
decrease - most men who participate do so with the expectation
that their identity will not be revealed to anyone," Craig
Though the bill would prohibit payment for sperm donations,
it would still allow donors to be reimbursed for any costs
incurred in the donation, such as travel or screening, according
to Francine Marseau, a senior policy analyst at Health Canada.
"I think the policy behind [the bill] is not new. It
started with the Royal Commission's report on new reproductive
technologies, [which] recommended the non-commercialization
of the reproduction of women and men," Marseau said.
Valter Feyles, a specialist in reproductive endocrinology
and infertility and director of in-vitro fertilization at London
Health Sciences Centre, said research is currently underway
at LHSC in this area.
Feyles reported that 150 to 200 cycles of donor-sperm inseminations
take place every year. "In order to maintain continuity
of service in the case that the legislation passes, we have
to look at an alternative way of recruiting entirely altruistic
gamut donors," he added.
"The spirit of our present research on altruistic gamut
donation is to look at possible, viable alternatives for the
future (to the present's), in the case that the bill is approved
and the present situation will need to be adapted," Feyles
The reduced compensation could cause problems, Feyles said,
adding it could leave only two types of donors: "altruistic
donors [or] no donors at all."
Craig also said she feared a potential shortage in donor-sperm. "If
this legislation passes, as it stands now, fewer men will participate
in donation. [The legislation is] going to drive this underground
and couples who need sperm will get it in underground clinics,
where the donors aren't screened properly," she said.
Both IVF and LHSC import sperm form the United States, Feyles
said, adding at this point LHSC is able to manage its patients
without recruiting donors at home.