The French Biomedicine Agency (“ABM”) has recently launched a national gamete donation campaign, using a marketing argument prejudicial to the best interests of the child.
According to the “ABM”, despite a significant increase in donations (up 38% between 2015 and 2016) the supply is not projected to meet the pending requests from 5000 infertile couples.
The supply is predicted to decrease even further, due to the plan to abolish donor anonymity, currently being discussed in the bioethics bill. The text states that
“Any person, who has been conceived by a gamete donation, on reaching majority may have access to his donor’s identity as well as his age, occupational status, and country of birth. If the new law does abolish anonymity, donations cannot be accepted unless this information is disclosed.” Therefore, donations are likely to decline since donors will have to meet their responsibility towards any child conceived with their gametes.
Between November 16 and December 6, 2020, the campaign’s catch phrase will be portraying potential donors as generous heroes: “Donating fulfills the hope of thousands of people who want to become parents” … However, another motivation for donating, listed in the campaign’s press kit, is the fact that “the new bioethics law has not yet been enacted; it is under discussion in Parliament. Thus, the current legal guidelines continue to be applicable for gamete donations.” This constitutes an incentive to donate one’s gametes as soon as possible before the law is passed, thus giving precedence to adults’ best interests over that of children.
As predicted by observers of bioethical evolutions, the commercialization of gametes is lurking in the background. If the French government votes to allow ART (assisted reproductive techniques) for single women or lesbian couples, a sharp increase in ART with donors is likely to follow.
Currently France and Belgium both have non-profit sperm banks, based on free donations. However once ART with a donor was authorized in Belgium, the country’s sperm banks could not meet the demand: nowadays commercial sperm banks in Denmark fulfill 80% of the requests.
In this artificial reproduction marketplace, men and women are merely considered as suppliers of raw material (oocytes and sperm) on the assembly line used to manufacture customized babies.
This summer, another step was made in this direction when an amendment was adopted to allow human gametes to be collected and stockpiled by commercial institutions. The Senators are now on the front line to stop this new kind of human commodification.