Tag Archives: UK

Sperm Donation, Then and Now

I am digressing from my current topic for a moment because these two stories, both from The Telegraph (UK) happened across my desk (screen?) this morning.   One is a story of sperm donation some time ago, the other is quite contemporary.

Then:   Bertold Weisner and his wife, Mary Barton, ran a fertility clinic in London starting in the 1940s.   Two men conceived at the clinic (Barry Stevens and David Gollancz) made a movie about the clinic.  They discovered that Weisner used his own sperm at the clinic with alarming frequency.   Indeed, they estimate that Weisner had between 300 and 600 offspring.   Continue reading

Can There Really Be A UK Donor Sperm Shortage If There Are More Sperm Donors?

If you look back over the past several years you’ll find some posts about a reported shortage of sperm donors in the UK.   These were generated after I read repeated news stories about this problem.   (I linked to some of those stories in my 2010 post.)

Now the popular explanation for the sperm shortage was that in 2006 UK law changed and essentially abolished anonymous sperm donation.  The identity of sperm donors is now to be made available to any children born via that donation when the children turn 18.   The story you’ll find consistently in the media is that the loss of anonymity caused the sperm donor shortage.

But that’s just not the case–though somehow this doesn’t seem to be news.   Continue reading

Gender and Gamete Providers: A Counterstory Or What Happens When You Treat Men More LIke Women?

A couple of days ago I put up a post about the work of Professor Rene Almeling.  Though I haven’t received the book yet (it is on order) in the interview I linked to she discussed ways in which the appeals made to male and female gamete providers are different and how different treatment throughout the process–beyond the obvious ones–reinforce the differential appeals.  In a nutshell, the appeal to women is centered on altruism while that to men is all about the money.    (It’s really worth reading that earlier post.)   With that in mind, this story struck me as particularly noteworthy.

A bit of background:   You may remember that there are consistent reports of a sperm shortage in the UK Continue reading

Parents But Not Partners?

Here’s recent story from the Telegraph (UK) about people opting to be coparents without being romantic partners.   I’ve written about this before quite a while ago but it’s probably time to revisit the topic and the piece leaves me with several things to think about.   (There’s also the more recent NYT story–one I blogged about earlier this year– that doesn’t quite fit the category but comes to mind.  I’ll come back to that.)

The general idea here is that two people who are friends but not lovers would agree to raise a child together.   Continue reading

UK IVF Lottery–Is It As Bad As It Sounds?

There’s a UK organization called To Hatch that provides fertility treatment advice to people considering the use of IVF.   From the look of the website, a lot of this seems like useful information a discerning consumer would want to have.   To Hatch is a charity and maintaining the website and collecting the information they make available costs money.   You can make an on-line donation if you choose.

But To Hatch recently developed a different fundraising scheme (and I use the word in the British sense to mean “plan”) that has been in the news a bit.   Some call it a baby lottery.   Here’s the deal:  You buy a ticket for 20 pounds, which I think is the range of $30-40.   Each month there’s a drawing. Continue reading

UK Surrogacy II: What Can We Learn From This Mess?

A couple of days ago I wrote about a recent opinion on surrogacy from the UK.  You might want to go read that post first–it’s the first of the two links above, the second being the actual opinion from the case.   I won’t repeat the facts here, but they do bear reading (hence the link to the actual opinion.)  

Also worth noting is information Natalie Gamble added in the comments to the last post:  This is only the second published opinion about surrogacy from the UK, the first being from 2007.   (It might be good to read that if someone can send or post a citation.)

I assume we’ll all agree that the underlying scenario here is not exactly desirable–perhaps even that it is a disaster.   Continue reading

New UK Surrogacy Ruling: Much To Consider When Things Go Wrong

Here’s a fairly recent opinion from the UK involving surrogacy.  If you’d rather not read the actual opinion, there’s a bit of press coverage, but I think the opinion itself is really worth a look.  (To give credit where credit is due, I found this case via The Spin Doctor.  I don’t entirely agree with the analysis of the case that’s posted there, but that’s a different matter.) 

I sometimes think that surrogacy is the most controversial of the ART practices.   It’s a topic that I’ve written about fairly frequently (you can find most of the posts under the tag “surrogacy“), sometimes at length.   Perhaps because it is controversial, stark differences in practices permitted/available in different countries, which means every case must be considered carefully in its own context.    Continue reading

UK Fertility Regulator Abolished

The Human Fertility and Embryology Authority (HFEA) is, as its website says, “the UK’s independent regulator overseeing the use of gametes and embryos in fertility treatment and research.”   But pretty soon it will just be a part of history.  

I noted a little while back that the UK coalition government had proposed abolishing the agency.  Today the government followed through on that plan.  It seems the HFEA is a qaungo (which is a terrific word if ever I saw one) and the government and today was the government’s self-described “bonfire of the quangos”–it announced the abolition of 192 quangos.  This is, of course, all about saving money.   Continue reading

UK Sperm Shortage Explained?

For many months I’ve been puzzling over repeated reports of a sperm shortage in the UK.  Generally (as you’ll see if you look at some of my earlier posts) the shortage is attributed to a change in UK law that ensures that those conceived with third-party sperm can learn the identity of the provider when they turn 18.  As I wrote in January, what’s perplexing is that the statistics released by the HFEA do not appear to bear out the assertion that the number of men providing sperm has dropped since the law changed.  

At last, someone has offered an explanation.  This comment from The Guardian suggests the real problem is that most of the sperm available is not being used.   For the moment, I’m just going to link to this, because I’m so gratified that someone else was bothered by this.

Brief News Round-Up from the World of ART

There are a several recent news stories that have been open in tabs on my browser for too many days.  (This is the modern equivalent of laying on my desk, I think.)  I thought I’d lump them together here to at least get them out into the world of the web.   I’ll only attach a few brief thoughts for each, but of course, I can always add more later.   I think they all probably tie back to earlier discussion here and I’ll try to link to that. 

First, from Spain comes this story of global surrogacy gone awry.   A Spanish gay male couple employed a surrogate in California.   The surrogate gave birth in Los Angeles and the two men were recorded as parents of the child.  This is proper under California law.   But surrogacy is not legal in Spain.   Under the law of Spain the woman who gave birth is a parent and the men who commissioned the surrogacy are not.   (If the woman is married, her husband might also be a parent.)  Continue reading