Tag Archives: conception

What do you know about the sperm bank industry?

Sperm banking is a huge industry that has been around for decades but one that is relatively loosely regulated in the U.S.

Here are some things to know about the industry:

HOW MANY BABIES COME FROM DONATED SPERM?

While anecdotal evidence might suggest that the use of sperm donors to conceive a baby is rising because of improvements in technology and its popularity among lesbian couples and single women, there is no way to know for sure. No federal agency or professional organization tracks the number of children born from sperm donations.

The last time a count was done was in 1988 by the now-defunct U.S. Office of Technology Assessment, said Rene Almeling, a sociology professor at Yale University who has done extensive research on sperm and egg donation.

WHAT THEY TELL YOU

Sperm banks generally tell clients about a donor’s family medical history; physical traits like hair color, eye color, height and blood type; some educational and professional information; and some personal social preferences.

Additional information that might also be available for some donors, possibly for an extra fee, includes childhood and adult photos, audio interviews and other personality attributes.

Much of the information comes from surveys that the donors fill out.

WHAT IT COSTS

It depends on the sperm bank and various options the recipient can choose from. Georgia-based Xytex Corp., one of the bigger players in the industry, provides free profiles with basic information including medical history, genetic testing results, physical traits, and limited educational and professional background. There is a tiered pricing structure to see more extensive information.

A single unit of sperm from Xytex costs between $395 and $795, depending on a variety of factors, including the method of insemination the recipient plans to use and whether the recipient wants her child to have access to the donor’s identity once the child turns 18.

DONOR ANONYMITY

Sperm donors are generally anonymous when the recipient buys the sperm and is inseminated. Some sperm banks, including Xytex, allow a donor’s identity to be disclosed with the mother’s permission once the child turns 18. The child could then use the information to seek out a relationship with the biological father, or simply contact the donor with questions about family history.

DONOR REQUIREMENTS

Donors are screened over a period of four to six weeks. The screening generally includes a blood test, a genetic test, a physical and collecting sperm samples. Donors are asked to provide three generations of family medical history, including mental health, as well as some social background and preferences.

Because of the expense of screening, donors are frequently asked to donate once a week for at least a year. To keep up their sperm count, they’re advised not to engage in any sexual activity for at least 48 hours prior to donating, to try to limit alcohol consumption and stress, and to exercise regularly and eat healthily. If the sperm count is too low, the sperm bank will throw out the sample and the donor won’t be paid.

North Dakota lawmakers vote to ban all abortion, even to save mother’s life

North Dakota lawmakers moved Friday to outlaw abortion in the state by passing a bill defining life as starting at conception.

The bill is one of a series of anti-abortion measures the Republican-controlled Legislature has passed this year despite critics’ insistence that they are unconstitutional and violate a landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing abortion until a fetus considered viable, which is usually at 22 to 24 weeks.

The North Dakota House approved the bill 57-35 Friday, sending it voters likely in November 2014. The Senate approved it last month.

The so-called personhood measure bestows human rights on fertilized human eggs. Efforts to pass similar measures in other states have failed, but anti-abortion legislation has had strong momentum in North Dakota this year with lawmakers introducing a slew of measures aimed at closing the state’s sole abortion clinic and challenging the 1973 ruling.

Meanwhile, a group of Republican lawmakers in North Dakota believe their state has gone too far in interfering with women’s reproductive rights. The Huffington Post reports that the group will join protesters on Monday at a Stand Up for Women rally in Bismarck.

Abortion remains one of the most divisive issues in the United States. Four decades after the Supreme Court ruling, known as Roe v. Wade, a series of court decisions over the years have narrowed its scope. Lawmakers in multiple states have followed up by making abortions more difficult to obtain or imposing restrictions on providers.

Before the North Dakota House voted on the personhood bill, the Legislature had already passed measures that would ban abortion as early as six weeks, or as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detected, and because of genetic defects such as Down syndrome. Together, those bills would give North Dakota the strictest abortion laws in the nation.

Abortion-rights activists have said that if Gov. Jack Dalrymple signs any of them into law, they will fight them in court.

The threat of costly litigation may be less of a deterrent in oil-rich North Dakota than in other states, however. Booming oil production has helped the state avoid the kind of budget cuts seen elsewhere and left it with comfortable surpluses.

Lawmakers’ Friday agenda also included other anti-abortion bills, including one outlawing abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy based on the disputed premise that at that point, fetuses feel pain. Lawmakers passed another measure that requires a doctor who performs abortions to be a physician with hospital-admitting privileges.

Many of the North Dakota bills are modeled on legislation from other states.