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Surprising Science

Can FDA Stop One-Man Sperm Bank?

A California man who operates his own sperm donation program by contacting infertile couples on the Web has been told to stop by the FDA because of infrequent STD testing.

What’s the Latest Development?

6-foot-1 blond bird-watcher who plays drums and volunteers at church seeks infertile couples seeking sperm donor. That is how Trent Arsenault touts himself online as he looks for couples wishing to avoid paying the $400-$600 fee a licensed sperm bank would typically charge. Arsenault has donated his sperm over 400 times and fathered 14 children and negotiates using a simple written contract. But when the FDA got wind, they ordered him to stop because he does not comply with STD testing regulations.

What’s the Big Idea?

Licensed sperm banks require that their donors receive STD tests seven days before giving sperm. On his website, Arsenault says he gets tested twice a year. But the LA Times, while saying Arsenault’s service is “off-putting and creepy”, doesn’t believe his threat to public health is large enough to justify government intervention. “This is a decision women are capable of making for themselves,” says the paper’s editorial. What do you think? Does individual freedom trump government regulation in this case?

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