Monday, September 11, 2006

"Sperm Banks and Social Issues: Are We Going to Lead or Follow"

On Saturday, September 9, 2006, the American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB) at their National Conference within their Reproductive Council Session included a subsession titled "Sperm Banks and Social Issues: Are We Going to Lead or Follow". The importance of this session cannot be understated because unless the Donor Conception community becomes politically active this organization along with the ASRM will most likely and does dictate how the industry will be self regulated absent national and local legislation. The long term is the protection of our children's rights and that means either forcing these organizations to accept our positions or to work with them to an agreeable set of regulations that are realistic.

Addressing the 30 or so Sperm Bank directors that attended was Mikki Morrissette, the author of Choosing Single Motherhood, and a Choice Mom herself of two donor conceived children. I first met Mikki at the 2005 Donor Conception seminar hosted by the Infertility Network. Mikki's own comments subsequent to her addressing the AATB can be found here at her new blog Choice Mom.

The agenda for the AATB session stated:

“At the conclusion of this program, participants should be able to identify critical social issues that will affect sperm banks in the area of public expectations by donors, recipients and donor children (i.e. release of donor identity to children, fascilitating donor-child contact, national archive for donor records, national donor registry for gamete donors and children, standards and guidelines to allow gay donors to become sperm donors beyond the known donor category).”

With all the media coverage in the last few months to two years the industry is beginning to take notice and unless they present themselves as both consumer and donor conceived friendly they risk outside regulation. But this risk is only tangible if the donor conception community increases the pressure and starts to make more noise before the banks come up with their own plans. The key to success may be working together and the fact that they invited Mikki to speak is an encouraging step.

For many there is an inherent mistrust of the cryobanks and that to go forward the banks will need to earn back the goodwill they desire from the community that relied on their assertions. But we must first bring ourselves to the table or rather first ensure the issues dictate that all sides are required to be part of the process and not decided only by one constituency.

The door is beginning to open let's not let it close in front of us.

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