More couples are turning to the internet in their quest for children. After spending over $14,000 in failed artificial inseminations using sperm sourced by a sperm bank, one such couple went online to discover FreeSpermDonorRegistry.com (now KnownDonorRegistry.com), which offers profiles for men willing to donate sperm for free to thousands of women desperate to conceive. After a couple of months of chatting and emailing with a prospective donor, the couple flew across the country to meet him. After the donor produced the sperm, the husband injected his wife utilizing a syringe.
Private sperm donation is not formally monitored by the FDA, but their official position states that “human cells and tissues intended for donation…are regulated…regardless of whether they are for sale or free of charge.” Online donors can be sanctioned for not complying with federal guidelines, which require a series of STD tests, costing more than an thousand dollars per attempt. One such donor in California was paid a surprise visit by the FDA and could now face jail time as well as a $100,000 fine for failing to comply with these guidelines.
This kind of donation also brings up another concern, the parental rights of the sperm donor. In many states, including California, the husband of a woman who is artificially inseminated is treated in law as if he were the natural father of a conceived child. This special treatment is only when the procedure is completed under the supervision of a licensed physician and surgeon. If women are being artificially inseminated by their husbands instead of by a licensed professional, the special treatment can be bypassed. Additionally, the site used by some as an alternative does include a link entitled Using a Physician under the Legal and Health section, but does not actually provide further information about the legal protections that physician facilitated insemination can provide.