16 July 2012
ByAppeared in BioNews 665
A Californian woman is suing the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) over its sperm donation policy.
The woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, is in a same-sex relationship and wants to conceive a child using a friend's sperm by home insemination. FDA regulations, however, require all sperm donors – including both those who donate through clinics and privately - to undergo medical tests, which the plaintiff claims restricts her freedom to have children.
The lawsuit, filed by the campaign organisation Cause of Action on the woman's behalf, states this requirement is unfair because heterosexual couples do not have to undergo costly and time-consuming tests before they have intercourse. The lawsuit also claims the FDA is controlling what should be a private matter and the rules are 'unconstitutional to the extent that they operate to regulate noncommercial, sexually intimate choices and activity'.
The FDA requires all sperm donors to undergo urine and blood tests within the week of each donation, even informal or private donations, effectively treating non-commercial donors the same as fertility clinics and sperm banks, Cause of Action argues. Each infectious disease test ranges from $250- $500 and a physical examination costs around $300.
Cause of Action's chief counsel for regulatory affairs, Amber Abbasi stated: 'If there are donors like this who are not charging as a service, and not service as a business, the FDA should not be intervening'.
'This means the FDA can reach into your bedroom and tell you how to procreate. The FDA [is] taking the position that donors, even when there's no commercial element, are ''an establishment'', just like a sperm bank and have to register. This is a serious burden on the reproductive freedoms of both the recipient and the donor', she said.
However, other commentators have supported the FDA's efforts to ensure sperm donations are safe. Dr Mitchell Rosen, director of the University of California at San Francisco Fertility Preservation Center, said: 'What the FDA is trying to do is protect the people, that's their job'.
'From a medical perspective, you don't want to infect another individual, that would be the worst scenario you could possibly imagine', he said.
Abbasi countered that the concern is the FDA's overreach into private lives. 'We don't think the FDA's intentions are bad -they are trying to protect the public from communicable diseases', she said, 'but this is literally stepping between two people who have agreed to have a child; the FDA should not regulate that'.