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    Slate: Are Sperm Donors Really Anonymous Anymore?

    Slate has an interesting story about how improved DNA testing has made it more difficult for sperm donors to remain anonymous:

    In an age of sophisticated genetic testing, the concept of anonymity is rapidly fading. With some clever sleuthing—tests that can track down ancestral origins, donor numbers, and bits of biographical information—parents and offspring can find out the donors. “With DNA testing and Google, there’s no such thing as anonymity anymore,” says Wendy Kramer, the founder of the Donor Sibling Registry. “Donors are choosing anonymity because they’re not educated,” adds Kramer. “If they were properly educated on the consequences, then many would choose not to donate.” […]

    Sperm banks are not bound by the FDA to do genetic testing of donors, but if they were, these new tests could offer a way for donor offspring to learn not only about their ancestry but about origins of specific genetic traits that could be linked to disease.

    They also challenge the long-cherished idea of donor privacy. Most sperm banks now offer identity-release sperm, which means that donors have agreed to let their offspring contact their donor when they turn 18. But the great majority of donors still prefer anonymity, and profits hinge on ensuring it. College students are lured by the promise of easy money for doing what they would do for free. Few banks advertise—or even counsel their donors—that one day this easy money could result in dozens of children who might be curious about their genetics and ancestral routes, and a genetic family that could rival the size of one on Big Love. […]

    Some sperm banks are changing their policies for fear that anonymous donors might withdraw from the program and hurt their bottom line. Cryos International, a sperm bank based in Copenhagen, Denmark, that claims to be the largest bank in the world, has started to offer a new program that it’s dubbing “Invisible Donors.” It’s a system where donors can offer very few registered characteristics so they will be more difficult to track, and the bank keeps track of them by fingerprints instead of donor number.

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