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For individuals and couples struggling with infertility, using donated eggs or sperm may be an option to start or add to their families. However, intended parents of color and those who are Caucasian have vastly different options when it comes to evaluating and selecting donors’ profiles.
Intended parents who choose to narrow donors’ profiles first by race and select a white egg or sperm donor generally have the luxury of continuing to narrow the field of potential donors by such characteristics as height, weight, educational history, medical history, and more. For intended parents of color, choosing a donor whose race and skin tone matches their own may well be the only criteria they get to apply. That’s because there is a significant disparity in the number of donors of color compared to donors who self-identify as Caucasian.
The true extent of the problem is difficult to quantify, as there is not a national, searchable database for donated eggs or sperm. Instead, people must choose cryobanks and conduct their own searches using each bank’s available data. A recent Insider article documented the struggle of one black woman, Keesha. When Keesha searched the donor pool at the cryobank she and her husband chose, and filtered the results looking for African-American donors, they had a total of two results from which to choose.
There are several potential reasons behind this racial disparity in sperm and egg donation. Some argue that the problem is that most sperm and egg banks are located in neighborhoods that are primarily white. There is also speculation that racial mistrust in sperm and egg donation is rooted in the shameful history of using minorities in medical research against their will. Other possible contributing factors include cultural judgment about infertility and a lack of awareness about the issue. Attempts by some cryobanks to reach out to minority communities through social media marketing have been largely unsuccessful to date.
This leaves some intended parents with having to choose between a donor whose skin color matches their own, or a white donor whose other characteristics more closely match what the intended parents want.
At The Surrogacy Law Center, we help protect the rights of those involved in assisted reproduction. Contact us today to learn more.