Britain and France think it's a good idea to set a limit on how many babies can be made from one sperm donor's... donation. Why? Maybe to avoid the situation we've got in the US, the NYT reports: incest alert!
The Times states, frankly, that nobody really knows how many children are conceived via artificial insemination. "Some" estimate it's as high as 60,000 per year. Which is great! It means people who couldn't otherwise have children, have children. Which is nice. But the sperm industry is booming, which means those who sell it can lose sight of who's buying. Sheer volume can make oversight extremely difficult.
This is troublesome, when hundreds of kids all suddenly have the same father—and are likely living nearby. One artificially-inseminated mom shares her worry:
"My daughter knows her donor's number for this very reason," said the mother of a teenager conceived via sperm donation in California who asked that her name be withheld to protect her daughter's privacy. "She's been in school with numerous kids who were born through donors. She's had crushes on boys who are donor children. It's become part of sex education" for her.
Yuck. Aside from the obvious gross factor of half siblings having sex on a large scale, there are serious health concerns that go along with inbreeding—rare genetic disorders can rear their ugly phenotypic heads. The gross factor's also not to be ignored, especially given the psychological damage it could do to kids when they realize the high school sweetheart they've been boinking has the same father.
So what do we do? Stricter regulations mean a government eye on the conception of children, which might spook some. But letting the donor industry go unchecked could have health and social consequences way down the line sure spooks me. An extreme in either direction is a little sci-fi dystopian, but I'd prefer we err on the side that doesn't involve gene mutations and incest. [NYT]