By admin on January 27, 2021

Adoptees have a Bill of Rights, so we thought donor-conceived people should too.

We borrowed and updated/edited the framework from the adoption community, as adoptees and donor-conceived people (DCP) share many of the same issues and struggles.

Dignity is the right of a person to be valued and respected for their own sake and to be treated ethically. It is of significance in morality, ethics, law, and politics as an extension of the Enlightenment-era concepts of inherent, inalienable rights

Rights are legal, social, or ethical principles of freedom or entitlement; that is, rights are the fundamental normative rules about what is allowed of people or owed to people according to some legal system, social convention, or ethical theory.

Rights are often considered fundamental to any civilization, for they are regarded as established pillars of society and culture, and the history of social conflicts can be found in the history of each right and its development. According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, "rights structure the form of governments, the content of laws, and the shape of morality as it is currently perceived".

These particular "rights" are about being heard, acknowledged, and respected when it comes to an infertility industry that still hasn't included DCP in its policy discussions. Since the beginnings of donor conception, policies have been set to include the rights of the facilities to sell the gametes, the rights of parents to buy those gametes to build their family, and the rights of donors to sell their gametes and to remain anonymous.  But this isn't an equitable situation as the rights of the donor-conceived people are never considered. We believe they should not only have a seat at the policy table but should also be listened to first and foremost.

Mandating 18 years of anonymity only serves the best interests of the sperm banks and fertility clinics. They've continually tried to scare parents and donors into believing that this mandate is in their best interests by telling them nonsense about custody battles and non-existent donor rights and responsibilities. 18 years of forced anonymity is definitely not in the best interests of donor-conceived people. When we connect parents and donors right from pregnancy/birth and early childhood, it's a win-win-win-win for the clinic, the parents, the donors, and the children.

This is a working document that has had encouragement and contributions by DCP, donors, and parents. Suggestions/input from DCP is welcomed and encouraged.

"People actually created via reproductive technology almost never have any say in the legislation that overwhelmingly affects us most of all. Our entire lives are lived in this shadow. This is why our motto is "Never about us without us." WE need to be the ones declaring our rights, and all parents, be they recipients or donors, should support our efforts. I'd add that we have the right to our true and full identity. This might be considered progressive, but I'd also add that we have a right to a relationship with all biological and legal parents from day one.  I understand many people might resist such a proposal, including some DCP, but this feeling may well be conditioned by experience or fear. If people grew up knowing their immediate biological family from the very beginning, it would be totally natural and no one would question, just like no one questions knowing their sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, and grandparents." Albert, a DCP

"I am a donor who, through the DSR, started meeting my bio offspring when they were as young as 3 years old and, in every case, it has been a mutually rewarding and wonderful experience for all involved." — Mike, a Former Donor

"We will relish the hard work ahead. It will not be easy, but it will be worth it. If not for us, for the donor-conceived people of the future and their kin and families. With hard work and collective action, we will make progress".
Tyler, a DCP

Allison, a parent asks," Is there concern that the number of persons interested in making sperm or egg donation could drastically decrease if they must be known?" The answer is probably yes. If all donors were properly educated and counseled about the end of anonymity and the lack of record-keeping that could create 100 kids or more, the number of donors just might decrease. That might be the cost of running a more ethical and responsible donor conception industry.

 The Donor-Conceived People's Bill of Rights

  1. We have the right to dignity [the right to be treated ethically] and respect.

  2. We have the right to know that we are donor-conceived and we have a fundamental right to our full identities, which includes knowing our immediate biological families from day one.

  3. We have the right to an accurate birth certificate reflecting this information. Our birth certificate should list all legal and biological parents.

  4. We have the right to possess all of our donor-conception records.

  5. We have the right to full knowledge of our ancestry, origins, ethnic and religious background, our biological parent’s names, and any pertinent medical, legal, and social details.

  6. We have the right to updated medical and legal histories of our biological parents.

  7. We have the right to not have an indecent number of half-siblings (more than 20, 50, 100, or 200), to know how many half-siblings we have, and to know who they are.

  8. We have the right to be curious about, to search for, and to grow up knowing our biological parents and half-siblings, like all other citizens. These relationships with our biological kin should be treated with dignity and respect.

  9. We have the right to live without guilt toward any set of parents.

  10. We have the right to treat and love all of our parents as one family.

  11. We have the right and obligation to show our feelings about being donor-conceived.

  12. We have the right to become whole and complete people. For many of us, we can't fully understand who we are until we know who and where we come from.

  13. We have a right and obligation to ensure the dignity of all donor-conceived people and to carry our message to all of them and their families and to address this need in the public eye and specifically with the reproductive medicine industry.

By admin on January 24, 2021

How Safe Is It To Have Sex After A Covid Vaccine? Experts Advise Caution

How Cautious will the US and Danish sperm banks be? 

"Though the clinical trials of Covaxin* are still ongoing and safety and efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccine are still under investigation, the drug regulator, Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) has allowed the vaccine to be given to the general public.

However, medical experts have advised volunteers who have participated in Phase III clinical trials of Covaxin to use a condom before having sex for three months.
One of the recruitment criteria for male volunteers with reproductive potentials says, “Use of condoms to ensure effective contraception with the female partner and to refrain from sperm donation from first vaccination until at least 3 months after the last vaccination.”

Experts say that the vaccinators must caution beneficiaries who have reproductive potential to avoid direct sex with partners from 3-12 months after they are vaccinated.
Dr. Prakash Kothari, renowned sexologist, says, “We don’t know the teratogenic effects (abnormal fetal development) of a vaccine as it is too early to investigate that. However, if such a condition has been imposed on the volunteers of the clinical trial, it indicates that there could be a probability. To what extent we don’t know because we have rushed the vaccine without investigating it.”

Dr. Kothari says there have been instances in the past where new drugs have caused deformities in the new-borns and such drugs were withdrawn later on.  He adds, “So I suggest that all the population which is in productive age group must be advised and be cautioned to use contraceptive for one year.” 

*Covaxin is not one of the vaccines currently being offered in the US.

2 Other Covid-19 Articles January 2021:

By admin on January 20, 2021

The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”  

                                                                                                    —Martin Luther King, Jr (Quoting Theodore Parker)

"The arc of the [moral] universe may bend toward justice, but it doesn't bend on its own."

                                                                                                    —Barack Obama

2020 marked the Donor Sibling Registry’s 20th anniversary, and we're days away from achieving another milestone: matching 20,000 people with half-siblings and/or biological parents.

I’ve been reflecting on both our successes and our failures in pushing to move the reproductive medicine industry forward in a more ethical and responsible manner, hopefully following an arc of justice.

During the DSR's first few years, we worked tirelessly to convince the sperm banks, egg clinics, reproductive medicine industry, and many parents that disclosing the truth to offspring was necessary and that it should happen early in a child's life. Yet back then, fear and the shame and embarrassment of infertility still overruled honesty in the majority of heterosexual donor families. The industry recommended and benefitted from this silence and shame-based secrecy, and few (e.g., the Infertility Network in Canada) challenged this idea. 

At conferences where we regularly present research that we've published on all stakeholders (egg and sperm donors, parents, donor offspring, donor grandparents, non-bio parents), I've spent countless hours in face-to-face meetings with sperm banks and egg clinics pleading for them to read the research and re-examine their policies. While sperm bank policies haven't changed much, donor families have been evolving. So many more parents understand the importance of early disclosure and a child's right to know about their origins. I now frequently consult with parents who are about to tell their adult children because they just can’t carry the secret any longer, and the guilt over not being honest with their children becomes too much to bear. Even the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) has, in recent years, finally begun to advise early disclosure. And, for around a decade, more than two-dozen egg clinics and agencies have been writing the Donor Sibling Registry into their parent/donor agreements, facilitating contact right from pregnancy or birth. That's progress!

Overall though, the arc of justice can seem to move painfully slow or even seem completely stalled. Sometimes, it even appears to take a few steps back. The recent California Cryobank/Northwest Cryobank threat to fine a parent $20,000 for testing her donor child's DNA and for then connecting on a DNA website with her child's donor family certainly feels like a step back. (The parent, in turn, sued the sperm bank and just last month was paid $75,000 by them to settle out of court.)  I have to believe that antics like this are a last-ditch effort to shut the barn door on a horse that got out long ago. I have to believe that in the long run, we'll someday have a reproductive medicine industry that will set policy based on the needs and rights of the very children they're helping to create. I have to believe that someday the reproductive medicine industry will honor a donor child's right to their genetic relatives, ancestry, and family medical history. 

In the early 2000s, we also began to examine and tackle the issue of donor anonymity, long before DNA testing blew anonymity completely out of the water in 2005. The sperm donation industry still misleadingly sells every single vial of sperm as anonymous, be it for 18 years or forever. Not a single sperm bank will facilitate the early connections that we see happening for egg donation families, and most won't honestly acknowledge or properly educate their clients and donors that anonymity is no longer possible. They refuse to tell donors: if you don't want to be found, don't donate.

We’ve also worked very hard to convince the sperm and egg industries, donors, and parents of the importance of honoring a donor child's curiosity about their half-siblings and unknown genetic parents. At first, this idea was novel and many threw up their hands in outrage, proclaiming a donor’s right to anonymity and denying any importance of a genetic connection. Early on, one LGBTQ organization, the Family Equality Council, proclaimed that "DNA doesn't make a family!" and some parents claimed, “Those people are not your family!” (from the parent of one of my son’s 19 half-siblings). We held our ground as we watched match after match, connection after connection on the DSR have a profound impact on donor offspring, parents, donors, and their families' lives as families were redefined, lives were enriched, and the meaning of family was expanded. The DSR has now facilitated 20,000 of these connections. While warming to the idea of half-sibling connections, many parents still insist that the donor is only a contributor of a cell or a piece of genetic material and has no importance or place in their children’s lives. As more donor-conceived people tell their stories publicly, we see this arc clearly leaning toward justice and a donor child’s right to know about their genetic relatives, their ancestry, and their family medical history. 

We’ve waved our arms for years about the industry's lack of accurate record-keeping, their subsequent inability/refusal to limit the number of children born to any single donor (the largest half-sibling group that we know about is now at 216), and the inability/refusal to update and share medical information among families and donors. Sadly, this arc seems to reach far into the future. It would cost money to retain accurate records, to share and update all medical information, and to then limit the number of children for any one donor. We just shouldn't be sacrificing ethics for money. Money can still be made in an ethically run industry.

While we wait for the reproductive medicine industry to catch up to what thousands of donor families have known for decades, we'll keep giving it our all and pushing for the arc to bend a little more and a little faster. Kudos and thanks to all of our Donor Sibling Registry donors, parents, and donor-conceived people who have been brave enough to tell their stories publicly. Each and every story and testimonial bends the arc a little more, toward a more moral, ethical, just, integrous, and accountable donor-conception world, honoring all stakeholders but putting the needs and rights of donor offspring first and foremost. Reproductive justice should most certainly include justice for donor offspring.