A Dutch sperm donor with hundreds of children must immediately stop donating sperm, the court in The Hague ruled on Friday. Jonathan M. (41) says he has about 550 children.
The summary proceedings were filed by Stichting Donorkind, a nonprofit organization that advocates for people whose biological parent was a donor, and a mother who has a child conceived with M.’s sperm. They wanted M. to immediately stop donating sperm and an overview of all the clinics worldwide where M. donated. The sperm still in storage should be destroyed, except if it was already reserved for parents, they demanded.
“According to guidelines at clinics, a donor can donate for a maximum of 25 children or 12 families to prevent inbreeding, incest, and psychological problems for donor children,” the organization said earlier when it filed for an injunction preventing the man from continuing to donate his sperm. He has violated these rules by donating sperm to 13 clinics in the Netherlands and abroad, but also by reaching out and making contact directly with prospective parents.
Jonathan argued that he has a legal right to parent children and should be allowed to continue. Instead of it being considered strange, he said that his approach to parenting children should be viewed as “an entirely new concept.” He has also created an online platform where his biological children can voluntarily decide to get to connect with their siblings, or interact with their biological father.
Donorkind has also argued that the mass donation by one person was also psychologically damaging for mothers. Some of them said they were led to believe that the donor, Jonathan, did not donate his sperm frequently and now feel as though they have involuntarily taken part in “a strange social experiment.”
“At its core, this case is about conflicting fundamental rights. On the one hand, the right with regard to the privacy of the parents and the donor children, protected by Article 8 of the [European Convention on Human Rights], and on the other hand, the same right of the donor,” the court said in a statement.
“The Court in preliminary relief proceedings is of the opinion that the interests of the donor children and their parents outweigh the interest of the donor in continuing to donate sperm to new prospective parents in the event of a ban on donating sperm to new prospective parents.”
According to the court, M. deliberately misinformed the parents of the donor children about the number of children he had already fathered as a donor because he knew this information would affect their choice. “All these parents are now confronted with the fact that the children in their family are part of a huge kinship network, with hundreds of half-siblings, which they did not choose,” the court said. The court considered it plausible that this could have negative psychological consequences for the children. “It is, therefore, in their interest that this kinship network is not extended any further.”