Sperm Donation a Matter of Health, Not Rights

January 01, 2005  ·  Michael Fumento  ·  Scripps Howard News Service  ·  Aids

"You’ve got a right to chicken done right!" KFC ads used to declare. And why not? In this great country of ours, everything is a right. Don’t talk to us about "privileges" and don’t even think about lecturing us on obligations. We just want our rights, even if they interfere with those of others – including their right to life.

Thus we have homosexual-rights activists demanding the FDA rescind a proposed rule that – in order to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS – would bar any man who has had homosexual sex in the past five years from donating sperm. It’s "a policy based on bigotry, says Kevin Cathcart, executive director of the homosexual rights group Lambda Legal. Worse, declares the world’s most-heavily trafficked blogsite Daily Kos, it’s part of a full-fledged "War on Gays."

"It’s becoming clear that homosexuality is the number one enemy of the administration in power," said the just-slightly paranoid Kos writer, suggesting the "war" is being used to "distract Americans from their anti-worker, anti-citizen campaign against regular people in favor of plutocrats and corporatists."

Ah, those darned plutocrats again! Never mind that homosexual rights (or privileges, if you prefer) have actually advanced tremendously during the Bush administration. These include workplace benefits for same-sex domestic partners that often don’t cover different-sex partners, and even official recognition in some jurisdictions of same-sex marriage. Is the FDA proposal really the first station stop towards sending homosexuals back to Auschwitz? Or is it a health measure?

The basis of the proposed rule is that while homosexual males comprise only about two % of the population, they constitute half of all AIDS patients - hence their semen is far more likely to be infected. But as I’ve been writing since 1987, it’s quite difficult to infect a woman with semen via the vagina. If the recipient has no sexually transmitted diseases and her vagina hasn’t suffered abrasions from – how shall we say? – especially rigorous intercourse, the odds drop further.

No, there’s nothing in the Constitution protecting the right to anonymously spread your seed.

Add to this that semen is tested for HIV antibodies just as blood is. Such screening is almost 100% effective, so long as the donor wasn’t infected too recently for the antibodies to form (about 4-6 weeks.)

So we’re not going to significantly curb the AIDS epidemic with this rule. Yet American women have contracted HIV through artificial insemination and the FDA is simply trying to make a small risk even smaller with virtually no added financial costs.

Certainly the proposed rule singles out sexually active homosexual males, but no more so than do blood-screening questionnaires implemented over two decades ago. Nor does it discriminate against lesbians or non-sexually active male homosexuals or lesbians. Moreover the rule is essentially voluntary in that donors can always lie. With the national debt such as it is, it doesn’t make much sense to assign private detectives to sperm donors.

The FDA proposal also doesn’t prohibit homosexual males from becoming "directed" sperm donors. If a woman wants to have the child of a homosexual friend and doesn’t wish to go about it the old-fashioned way, she can request his sperm and a clinic can oblige.

And just exactly what is a homosexual man losing by not being an anonymous sperm donor? He would no longer have whatever satisfaction their may be of knowing there could be kids walking around carrying his genes. But until fairly recently, artificial insemination was quite rare anyway. Believe it or not, the original idea was to enable infertile (and married) women to have children, not to allow males to anonymously spread their seed hither and yon.

Ultimately we’re left with a proposed rule that will protect only a tiny handful of women – and perhaps their babies – from being infected. But the financial cost is virtually nil and nobody can reasonably believe that implementing a voluntary system mimicking one established decades ago is the equivalent of making pink triangles stylish again. If homosexual activists truly consider the FDA proposed rule a battlefield, it shows they’ve already won the war.