This story from the Witherspoon’s Public Discourse is not surprising.
In the new film Delivery Man, Vince Vaughn plays David Wozniak, a man who discovers that he’s the biological father of 533 children—all conceived through his anonymous sperm donations. Now, almost two decades after his “donations” (from which he netted over $20,000), 142 of those children have filed a lawsuit against the sperm bank to reveal his identity. They want to know their biological father, gain access to their medical histories, and discover their roots.
The film is fictional—but it’s not far from reality. In 2011, the New York Timesreported the story of one donor with 150 confirmed offspring.
The rest of the article is about the rights of children and the conflict with the desires of adults. But I want to focus briefly on the donation of ‘gametes.’
In the United States, there’s an open and unregulated market for gamete donation. Unlike Canada and most European countries, which limit the number of times a man can sell his sperm and have mandatory database registries where donor children can access their biological parents’ medical histories, the United States enforces no such regulations.
I am not sure what moral principle requires us to limit the number of times a man call sell his sperm–ONCE you’ve granted him the right to do that in the first place. Siring 5 or 150 children via donation–why limit the quantity?
This raises, to me, the question: If a man can father 150 children by putting his sperm into the wombs of, let’s assume, 150 women, why can’t he instead–for the sake of the children and the issues of rights addressed in the article–place his sperm in the wombs of, let’s say, only 5 women and identify himself as the father AND take another step toward responsibility and create a more stable relationship structure for a) the women b) the children and c) the community by legally marrying all five women?
In another case, if a single man may impregnate 5 single women without impunity, and if the state elects to financially support the single mothers (who do not choose to abort), why wouldn’t the state prefer or at least allow that the man marry the five women and support them and their children? Now, that’s not my idea, but we’ve travelled so far down the road of utilitarianism when it comes to procreation that we’ve lost our way. Nothing that appears around the next bend in the road will surprise me (I hope).