In April, 2009, a New York Federal judge ruled that sperm banks can be sued under product liability laws for failing to detect that a sperm donor has a genetic defect. The case clears the way for a 13 year-old retarded girl from PA. to sue New York-based IDANT using sperm with a mutation known as “Fragile X” which caused her to be born mentally retarded.So, if human sperm is officially a product, what does that make the child born via donor insemination? In the future, will parents be able to return their children to the cryo bank if the child does not meet the parent’s specifications, you know, if the child’s not blonde enough or not good enough on the violin? When is that going to start happening?In the absence of any significant federal or state regulation of the Cryo banking industry the threat of lawsuit is a very good thing. But, consider this: this isn’t exactly like a consumer being sold a faulty product, who is somehow injures and then seeks a claim; this is the faulty product itself suing the company that made it (in this case, a her). I don’t think this has happened before. Ever. Imagine a single Toyota Prius suing Toyota for assembling its breaks incorrectly! Owned by the DAXOR CORPORATION. You’ve really got to see their website: http://www.idant.com/ All it needs is some ‘80s David Cronenberg-esque analogue synthesizer and we’re all set. No but seriously. Who would by human semen from a company called IDANT who proudly proclaims: owned by the DAXOR CORPORATION? Also, my life might be at risk for writing this footnote. No, I’m not making this up.
You know, this really cuts to the heart of the issue of being commodified human beings. Where will the line be drawn?? In our society we already do not place value on human life (even that of our own children). How many women abort their children because of finding a genetic defect? Shawn takes this one step further, stating that if a parent can sue a sperm bank for defective products, and the law has essentially put us in the same category as plasma TVs, what's to stop a parent from sending their newborn (or naughty toddler, or uncoordinated child, or rebellious teen -- even one that has brown hair and green eyes instead of blonde and blue, or is not tall enough!!) back to the sperm bank, stating that it was not the product they asked for. If they were told that their donor was a medical student with a 1500 SAT, and their child is flunking middle school, they can say their sperm was defective.
Now, let me point out, there is a difference between donors unconsciously passing along defective traits to their offspring and parents saying their child is defective.
In the court case above, the child has Fragile X syndrome, a hereditary condition (X-linked dominant, however in females it can be partially dominant) where a region of the X chromosome is mutated. The incidence of Fragile X syndrome is statistically higher in males because they only have 1 X chromosome, and thus if their X chromosome is mutated they do not have another one to take on the duties. Females have 2, so when one is mutated the other may be able to function alone. Thus, some females with Fragile X appear normal, while others display symptoms, depending on which X chromosome was inactivated in the cells.
Thus, if the mother of this little girl is not a carrier of Fragile X, then it must have come from the donor. This is a condition that he will pass along to EVERY ONE of his female offspring (but none of the male offspring). Because of this, I think that something needs to be done to stop this from happening. If it takes a lawsuit to make these banks realize that they need to be doing more genetic screening on these donors (as most males with Fragile X disorder are display some of the symptoms - because they only have one X chromosome).
I think that this lawsuit should be less about it being a defective product, because that leads us to a slippery slope of what we're considering the children created through these procedures, and more about the genetic testing of donors. It should be the sperm bank's responsibility to test their donors like they do for STDs, so that nothing harmful is passed on to the offspring. And banks should immediately take a donor's samples off their shelves and remove him from donating, the second they hear word of a possible genetic condition being passed along.
This is the least these banks can do for all they do to harm the offspring. Take responsibility, don't try to hide from the fact it happened, or make lame-ass excuses as to why it may have happened or why this donor slipped through the cracks.
When NY state makes a law that puts donor conceived persons as products, there is no chance of any reform to be made. The government should be trying to de-commoditize us, not make us mere "products" that are under liability scrutiny.
I can picture the future of donor conception.....parents threatening their children that they'll send them back to the bank if they misbehave. This sounds eerily familiar to adoption where adoptive parents can un-adopt a child (also reminds me of that movie Problem Child!!). Is this seriously what our world is coming to?!?!