Danish sperm bank: Sperm donor is not a father


Northern Europe


Sperm stored in test tubes. Photo Saeddonor.com

The Danish sperm banks have a shortage of donors to meet the demand for sperm. Therefore, they launched a campaign to attract more men. However, the action is controversial.

"Let's talk about it" is the name of the social media campaign. The goal of sperm bank Born, that is behind the action, is to remove the taboo on sperm donation and give it a greater place in the social debate, Kristeligt Dagblad writes. In addition, the sperm bank wants to increase its databank with sperm by attracting more donors to meet the huge need for Danish sperm.

However, the campaign also assures potential sperm donors that "as a sperm donor you will not become a father" and "your children will not have siblings because you help a childless couple". And these sentences are the reason for the controversy and upheaval about the campaign.

One of the critical people is Leif Vestergaard Pedersen, the chairman of the Danish Ethics Council. "It is a problem that information is produced that you, as a sperm donor, are not the biological father because you are [a father]. And you may also risk being confronted with it socially", he says to Kristeligt Dagblad.


Children may want to find their biological father because they feel attached to him and want a relationship, Leif Vestergaard Pedersen warns. "That is why you can't just say: "I'm not [a father]." You are. You cannot close your eyes and ears to it."

Former Ethics Council chairman Gorm Greisen agrees with his successor. "Of course, you become a father in a biological sense when you donate sperm", he stresses. Sperm donors may think that the word father has a different meaning and does not include them, but "they cannot decide that", he says. Only the children conceived with donor sperm are decisive in this issue, he points out.

According to Gorm Greisen, some donor-conceived children find their origin a big deal. "They want to trace their biological parentage and know their roots", he says. Therefore, "there are more parties to this trade or campaign than that are usually in other commercial contexts."


The CEO of the Born sperm bank, Marlene Stensballe Vium, does not agree with the critique, even though she is not surprised by it. "We believe that the modern term father is about being dedicated to being a father. When you are a donor, you are the biological parent of the child." The CEO sees a clear difference between the terms "father" and "biological parent": "For me, a father is someone who is there on the first day of school or when the child loses his baby teeth. But he is not necessarily the child's biological parent."

The website of Born reads that sperm donors do not have guaranteed anonymity. Currently, children do not have access to the donor's full name if the donor does not want that. However, legislation can change, the website points out.

Nevertheless, Leif Vestergaard Pedersen does not see this information as sufficient. "With the help of new genetic technologies, you have a considerably high probability of being able to find your biological father or biological family. Therefore, it is not about legislation alone", he says to Kristeligt Dagblad.


Marlene Steensballe Vium from Born disagrees. "We cannot guarantee anonymity, and we make a point of explaining that. The campaign was created to create some awareness. Once the person comes to us, we give him the necessary advice."

Leif Vestergaard Pedersen is not reassured. "They run the of getting someone to be a sperm donor who is not fully aware of the dilemmas that can follow on top of that."



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