Should Sperm Donors Be Paid? a Survey of the Attitudes of the General Public
Gould, Gwyn W.
Cameron, Iain T.
Human Reproduction. 1998 Mar; 13(3): 771-775.
Gamete donation in assisted reproduction is an accepted treatment option for certain infertile couples. Traditionally, men donating spermatozoa have been paid a nominal fee, whilst women donating oocytes have not. The issue of payment for sperm donors has recently attracted attention following the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority's (HFEA) suggestion that such payment may be withdrawn. Prior to the final meeting of the HFEA working party which is examining this issue, here we report the results of a survey designed to solicit opinion on whether sperm donors should be paid, to identify social or other factors which influence this opinion, and to examine the influence of financial incentive on potential donors. We surveyed 717 individuals in three distinct groups: the general public, students (potential donors), and infertility patients (potential recipients). The majority of the potential donor group (students) was in favour of paying sperm donors, as were infertility patients. In contrast the general public was not. The opinion of the general public on this issue was influenced by their prior knowledge of whether donors were paid: those of the general public favouring the payment of sperm donors had a prior awareness that such payments were made. Although not in favour of paying sperm donors, the general public overwhelmingly approved of the use of donated spermatozoa for the treatment of infertile couples, and thought that ways should be sought to increase the availability of donor spermatozoa for the treatment of infertility and for research purposes. Within the potential donor group (students), the majority indicated that financial reward was an important factor which would influence their decision to donate spermatozoa. As the majority of both the potential recipients and potential donors feels that sperm donors should be paid, perhaps the views of these groups should carry significant weight when the decision whether or not to withdraw payment is taken. This is especially the case in view of the fact that the majority of the general public is in favour of the use of donated spermatozoa for the treatment of infertile couples.
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