What are the risks of sperm donation?

What should a potential sperm donor know before donating?  Do parental obligations arise from sperm donation?  Can a sperm donor be sued for child support?  


 Glenn Cohen is a professor of law at Harvard Law School. He is one of the world's leading experts on the intersection of bioethics and the law, as well as health law.

What are the risks of sperm donation? Brief Transcript

Glenn Cohen: So imagine you're thinking about becoming a sperm donor. What do you have to think about in terms of law?

Welcome to Talks On Law. I’m Glenn Cohen. I’m a professor at Harvard Law School who specializes in the law and ethics relating to medicine. And today, I’m going to talk a little about sperm donation and the disposition of sperm and embryos.

Your first choice is whether to become a known or an anonymous sperm donor. To become an anonymous sperm donor, at least in the United States, you're the most protected from somebody seeking to name you as the father after the fact for child support. Let’s say you instead decide to become a known sperm donor. Maybe there's a friend of yours who's asked for your sperm. What should you do to protect yourself in this circumstance? Well the law varies from state to state. The major things are, if possible, try to donate to a married individual rather than an unmarried individual. Try to have a physician involved because insemination done by a licensed physician is often given more protection than at-home insemination. And try to limit the amount of post-pregnancy contact you have with the child, because there have been cases where by attending birthday parties, forming a relationship with the child, the law has treated you as the de facto parent. Lastly, try to have an agreement reviewed by a lawyer put in place to protect you and declare you not the parent. But know that there have been some states where even though you have this agreement in place, under certain circumstances, they'll still hold you to be the legal father. And I’m Glenn Cohen, thanks for watching Talks On Law.