Sperm Donation Questions Answered by a Fertility Lawyer

By Melissa Salfi, Vancouver fertility lawyer, collaborative family lawyer

What is Donor Insemination?

Donor insemination is a fertility procedure that involves transferring sperm obtained from a sperm donor into a woman’s reproductive tract at the time of ovulation by means other than sexual intercourse. It is used to help achieve fertilization and ultimately increase the chance of pregnancy.

What is a Donor Agreement?

A Sperm Donor Agreement, is a binding contract between a sperm donor and an individual or a couple that sets out the parties’ intentions in anticipation of donation, including their legal rights and obligations. In its most basic form, it is a legal arrangement between a sperm donor and a person wishing to be inseminated. However, the agreement can also be between the sperm donor and donor’s spouse on the one hand, and the birth mother and co-parent on the other hand. It can also be between a donor and intended parents who are using a surrogate.

Why do I need a Donor Agreement?

Sperm donor agreements protect the legal rights of all parties. If you choose a known sperm donor instead of an anonymous donor, it is important to make sure you protect yourself with a sperm donor agreement prior to donation. Without a sperm donation agreement there is a risk that child custody and parenting time could be sought by the sperm donor. There is also a risk that the recipient could seek child support from the sperm donor.

A sperm donor agreement allows you to be sure that the expectations around the conception, pregnancy and upbringing of the child are agreed upon by all parties and clearly articulated. This can for instance include the donor’s sexual activity, disclosure of medical history, medical testing, confidentiality and social media, the future relationship and contact with the child, and ownership and future use of any leftover frozen sperm.

It is very risky to use a boilerplate sperm donor agreement from the internet as these templates are not tailored to your unique circumstances and do not take into account the legal developments in an area of law that is rapidly evolving. The agreement might therefore be incomplete, based on legal principles that are outdated, or include terms that do not apply to your case. There is also a risk that the agreement will not be enforced if challenged in Court if the agreement was not properly executed or if the parties did not obtain Independent Legal Advice.

Who uses sperm donation?

Sperm donation is popular among lesbian couples, single women who choose to conceive with the help of a sperm donor, and heterosexual couples struggling with male infertility (e.g. a male partner who is sterile or has a low sperm court) or where the male partner is a carrier of a genetic disease or disorder.

What methods of Artificial Insemination are available?

  1. Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) involves placing sperm directly inside a woman's uterus during ovulation. The sperm is washed and concentrated to facilitate fertilization and then deposited into the uterus using a catheter (a very thin flexible tube). Superovulation therapy is typically employed to stimulate the woman’s ovaries an increase the number of eggs available.

    This is the most common form of artificial insemination, and is performed by a medical professional at a fertility clinic.

  2. Intracervical insemination (ICI) involves placing unwashed sperm into or very close to the cervix during ovulation. From the cervix, the sperm swim up into the uterus and travel into the fallopian tubes where they can fertilize the woman's egg(s).

    This fertility procedure can be performed in a medical setting or at home.

  3. Intravaginal insemination (IVI) involves placing unwashed sperm into the vagina. This is most commonly performed as an at-home insemination.

These techniques are very different from In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) which involves retrieving a woman’s eggs and fertilizing them in a laboratory setting, outside of the woman’s body. After fertilization, one or more of the embryos (fertilized eggs) are inserted into the woman’s uterus. IVF may use a couple’s own eggs and sperm, or donor eggs and sperm.

How do you obtain Donor Sperm?

Donor sperm can be donated by a known donor such as a friend or acquaintance, or from an anonymous sperm donor through a sperm bank.

Don’t take the risk

Without a clear and well drafted sperm donor agreement, the rights to child custody, access and child support may be in question. This can create many problems that could land everyone in a family law dispute in the courts.

The Fertility Lawyers at Crossroads Law can help ensure that you are legally protected by setting out your intentions, legal rights and obligations in a comprehensive Donor Agreement. Contact our Vancouver or Calgary fertility lawyers for more information and your free consultation.

The information contained in this blog is not legal advice and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject. The information provided in this blog is for informational purposes only.