An Oakland woman has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its guidelines regarding sperm donations--guidelines she argues are unconstitutional.
"Jane Doe," who is in a relationship with another woman, filed the suit after FDA regulations prohibited her from attempting to become pregnant via artificial insemination without an intermediary such as a sperm bank. Instead, Jane wanted to use the sperm of a trusted friend and involve him in her child's life.
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But according to FDA guidelines, all donors must go through a medical intermediary and undergo expensive and time-consuming medical tests before each conception attempt, even if several are required. In the end, each attempt can cost up to $2000, and is highly regulated by the intermediary.
Though Jane's attorney, Amber Abbasi, admits that the regulations may be well intentioned, she argues that the costly procedures and government intervention smack of unconstitutionality.
"When you are regulating private decisions between two individuals in a non-commercial context that have to do with something so intimate and personal as whether they want to have a child together, then the FDA regulations should not apply," said Abbasi in an interview with Fox News.
Abbasi pointed out that there are no such requirements when heterosexual couples have sex, though the risks are the same. Furthermore, she argues, the current regulations can put women in an uncomfortable situation.
"[Jane Doe] does not want to be forced to engage in sexual intercourse with a male partner to conceive a child, even though such a male partner would not be subject to FDA-required screening and testing and other FDA-mandated donor-eligibility requirements," wrote Abbasi in the suit.
The FDA regulations exist largely to ensure safety during sperm transmission. But Abassi argues that the shortsighted requirements have fostered some unacceptable consequences.
"We don't think the FDA's intentions are bad--they are trying to protect the public from communicable diseases," she wrote in a statement. "But this is literally stepping between two people who have agreed to have a child; the FDA should not regulate that."
Jane Doe isn't the first Bay Area voice to speak out against the FDA donor regulations.
In December, Fremont man Trent Arsenault was served with a cease order from the FDA after donating his sperm free-of-charge to families in need, successfully creating 14 children.
"I'm helping people in need," Arsenault told The Huffington Post. "I'm not running a business here. It's just helping childless couples have children."
But the FDA regards any donor--even a close personal friend--with the same regulations as a commercial sperm bank.
"Essentially, the FDA is trying to define a personal relationship and regulate individuals' intimate decisions," said Abassi in a statement. "These actions grossly exceed the reach of the FDA's regulatory authority. If unchecked, it could set a dangerous precedent for the future."
See more on Trent Arsenault's struggle below: