Who’s responsible for autistic donor-conceived kids?
after danielle rizzo’s first son and then her second were diagnosed with autism, she has struggled with the how and why. She wondered whether she could have prevented the condition in her second child by putting him on a glutenfree and casein-free diet. did she have her children, born 14 months apart, too close together?
rizzo came to suspect a genetic link involving the sperm donor for both children after finding several other children conceived with the same donor’s sperm who have also been diagnosed with autism or related developmental challenges.
While there is no central database of donors and their children in the U.S., some sperm banks try to mitigate risks of donors passing on genetic conditions by testing them for up to 400 common heritable conditions. but genetic testing is not required and is by no means comprehensive.
One of the biggest questions arising from rizzo’s case is that of legal liability, and how to assign dollar figures to the harm.
a related soul-searching took place in britain a few years ago when britain’s largest sperm bank banned men with dyslexia, autism or adhd from donating. critics accused the London Sperm bank of promoting eugenics and trying to improve the human race through genetic selection.