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Artificial Insemination

ARTIFICIAL INSEMINATION

The process by which a woman is medically impregnated using semen from her husband or from a third-party donor.

Artificial insemination is employed in cases of infertility or impotence, or as a means by which an unmarried woman may become pregnant. The procedure, which has been used since the 1940s, involves injecting collected semen into the woman's uterus and is performed under a physician's supervision.

Artificial insemination raises a number of legal concerns. Most states' laws provide that a child born as a result of artificial insemination using the husband's sperm, referred to as AIH, is presumed to be the husband's legal child. When a child is born after artificial insemination using the sperm of a third-party donor, referred to as AID, the law is less clear. Some states stipulate that the child is presumed to be the legal child of the mother and her husband, whereas others leave open the possibility that the child could be declared illegitimate.

Artificial insemination has grown in popularity as infertility becomes more prevalent and as more women opt to become single mothers. Eighty thousand such procedures using donor sperm are performed each year, resulting in the births of thirty thousand babies. By 1990 artificial insemination was a $164 million industry involving eleven thousand private physicians, four hundred sperm banks, and more than two hundred fertility centers.

The practice of artificial insemination is largely unregulated, and secrecy surrounding the identity of donors and recipients is the norm. Surveys of parents indicate that most do not plan to tell their children the circumstances of their births. This raises ethical questions about the right of an individual to be informed about his or her heritage. People who inadvertently discover they were conceived through artificial insemination often experience distress and feelings of confused identity. Many doctors compound the problem by failing to keep records on the identities and medical histories of donors.

The legal minefield created by artificial insemination continues to erupt with new and unprecedented issues. In 1990, Julia Skolnick sued a fertility clinic and a sperm bank for negligence and medical malpractice, charging that they mistakenly substituted another man's sperm for that of her late husband. The woman, who is white, gave birth to a child with African American features, and DNA analysis confirmed that her husband, who was also white, could not have been the child's father. In another case, Junior Lewis Davis sued to prevent his ex-wife, Mary Sue Davis Stowe, from using or donating fertilized embryos the couple had frozen for later use. The Tennessee Supreme Court held that individuals have "procreational autonomy" and have the right to choose whether to have a child (Davis v. Davis, 842 S.W.2d 588 (Tenn. June 1992). Arthur L. Caplan, former director of the Center for Biomedical Ethics at the University of Minnesota, commented, "In this case, the court said that a man cannot be made to become a parent against his will." The Davis case raises the question of the right of a sperm donor to prevent the use of his sperm by specific individuals.

Serious health questions also surround the issue of artificial insemination. AIDS, hepatitis, and other infectious diseases pose risks to women undergoing the procedure and their potential children. Although the American Fertility Society recommends that donors be tested for infectious diseases, the guidelines are not binding. In fact, some doctors merely request that donors answer questions about their health history and sex life, and only a handful of states require testing. This casual approach to donor screening can lead to disaster. In 1994, Mary Orsak, of Downey, California, sued the Tyler Medical Clinic, in Westwood, California, for negligence when she discovered she was HIV-positive as a result of artificial insemination with donor sperm. In at least six other cases, HIV transmission through artificial insemination has been confirmed.

Other legal pitfalls open up as technology makes artificial insemination more sophisticated and more available. Now that sperm can be frozen for future use, a woman can be impregnated at any time, even after her husband's death. In 1990, Nancy Hart and Edward Hart, of Covington, Louisiana, anticipating that Edward might not survive his bout with cancer and knowing that chemotherapy might leave him sterile, decided to place a sample of his sperm in a New Orleans sperm bank. Edward died in June 1990. Three months later, Nancy underwent artificial insemination using his sperm, and on June 4, 1991, their daughter Judith was born. Under Louisiana law (L.S.A.C.C. Art. 185), the state would not acknowledge Edward as the child's father because she had been born more than three hundred days after his death. As a result, Nancy was unable to receive social security survivors benefits for her daughter. She sued both the state of Louisiana and the federal government. In June 1995 Administrative Law Judge Elving Torres ruled that the Social Security Administration (SSA) must pay Judith a $10,000 lump sum and $700 per month in survivor's benefits. According to Torres, the dna evidence presented to him proved that Judith is Nancy and Edward Hart's child.

Medical technology now allows recipients of artificial insemination to select the sex of their offspring, which raises still more ethical questions. Some religions condemn this practice as unnatural, although other theologians disagree. Some commentators have even suggested that it is unethical and exploitative to offer expensive, difficult, painful, and frustrating fertility procedures to desperate people when there may be little chance that a successful pregnancy will result.

The legal, ethical, and medical quagmires created by artificial insemination have not deterred thousands of couples and single women from seeking the procedure. Artificial insemination is sometimes the best, if not the only, solution for a person determined to achieve pregnancy.

further readings

Bernstein, Gaia. 2002. "The Socio-Legal Acceptance of New Technologies: A Close Look at Artificial Insemination." Washington Law Review 77 (October): 1035–120.

Goldstein, Karen L., and Caryn H. Okinaga. 2002. "Assisted Reproductive Technology." Georgetown Journal of Gender and the Law 3 (spring): 409–37.

Gunning, Jennifer, and Helen Szoke, eds. 2002. The Regulation of Assisted Reproductive Technology. Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate.

Ross, Jane O. 1999. "A Legal Analysis of Parenthood by Choice, Not Chance." Texas Journal of Women and the Law 9 (fall): 29–52.

cross-references

Family Law; Illegitimacy; Parent and Child; Reproduction.

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Artificial Insemination

Artificial Insemination


Artificial insemination is the mediated use of sperm to impregnate a woman. The term has historically been used in cases where this procedure is done under medical supervision, socially legitimized as a medical treatment for infertility. It has required medical legitimization because in most cases the sperm used is from a man who is not the woman's partner (artificial insemination by donor, or AID). Artificial insemination, likely practiced outside the medical setting for much of history, was first reported in the medical literature by John Hunter in 1790. In the early twentieth century, its popularity grew, and its moral and social implications were debated in both the medical and popular press in the United States starting in 1909, and in Europe by the 1940s. Supporters pointed to the joy of parents who were able to bear children thanks to the procedure. Critics believed that AID was a form of adultery, and that it promoted the vice of masturbation. The Catholic Church objected to all forms of artificial insemination, saying that it promoted the vice of onanism and ignored the religious importance of coitus. Other critics were concerned that AID could encourage eugenic government policies.

As popular concerns about AID faded in Europe and the United States, the demand for donor sperm increased tremendously. In 1953, the first successful pregnancy from frozen sperm was reported, leading to the development of a thriving sperm-bank industry starting in the 1970s and the commercialization of AID. While a 1941 survey estimated that 3,700 inseminations had been performed in the United States, by 1987 U.S. doctors performed the procedure on about 172,000 women in a single year, resulting in 65,000 births. The growing number of AID pregnancies has raised new concerns, and in many places sparked new regulation. Because fresh sperm can be a source of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV, testing of donors and donations has become routine in many clinics, and is required by many local and national governments. In addition, because the privacy of the donor is generally protected and it is physically possible to donate semen many times, in many places clinic policies and/or government regulations tightly restrict the number of times a single donor's semen may be used, in order to diminish the chances of unknowing marriage of biological siblings among AID children.

Legal and social questions surrounding AID in many countries reflect cultural concerns with biological paternity and the maintenance of the heterosexual, married couple as the basis of the family. The Catholic Church and many interpreters of Islam consider AID to be adulterous, and as of 1990, it was banned in Brazil, Egypt, and Libya. Ireland, Is-rael, Italy, and South Africa restricted its use to married couples and many more countries have not approved its use by lesbian couples. While a number of European countries have instituted regulations legitimizing AID children as the offspring of the mother's husband or partner, providing he had given written consent, in many places the law remains ambiguous. While many clinics and some governments deny clinical AID services to single women and lesbians, some feminists have organized to demedicalize AID and provide services to women creating nontraditional families. Debates rage about what to tell AID children about their biological parentage. AID is one of several new reproductive technologies which challenge the "naturalness" and inevitability of identifying social kinship with biological kinship.

See also: Adoption; Conception and Birth; Egg Donation; Fertility Drugs; Obstetrics and Midwifery; Surrogacy.

bibliography

Arditti, Rita, Shelley Minden, and Renate Klein. 1984. Test-Tube Women: What Future for Motherhood? Boston: Pandora Press.

Meyer, Cheryl L. 1997. The Wandering Uterus: Politics and the Reproductive Rights of Women. New York: New York University Press.

Pfeffer, Naomi. 1993. The Stork and the Syringe: A Political History of Reproductive Medicine. Cambridge, MA: Polity Press.

Strathern, Marilyn. 1992. Reproducing the Future: Essays on Anthropology, Kinship, and the New Reproductive Technologies. New York: Routledge.

Lara Freidenfelds

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"Artificial Insemination." Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood in History and Society. . Retrieved December 17, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/children/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/artificial-insemination

artificial insemination

artificial insemination, technique involving the artificial injection of sperm-containing semen from a male into a female to cause pregnancy. Artificial insemination is often used in animals to multiply the possible offspring of a prized animal and for the breeding of endangered species. Prepared semen can be preserved for long periods by refrigeration, and it is frequently shipped over great distances.

The method has also been used in humans, when traditional fertilization cannot be achieved (see infertility). It has become a significant issue in recent years, particularly in debates revolving around surrogate motherhood, in which a woman agrees to bear a child for another couple through the use of artificially inseminated sperm from the husband (see surrogate mother). Legal issues have arisen in cases where the surrogate mother decides, upon the birth of the baby, that she wants to keep the child for herself. Likewise, there have been debates over the rights of sperm donors. Other debates on the subject have centered around the ethics of artificial insemination among humans, with critics decrying the practice as a perversion of science or pointing to the possible abuse of the process for purposes of eugenics. See also parent and child.

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"artificial insemination." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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artificial insemination

artificial insemination The introduction of sperm into the female reproductive tract by means other than a partner's penis. Two categories have been known as AIH (using the husband's sperm — now more appropriately AIP) and AID (using sperm from a donor). Artificial insemination may be proposed by doctors for the treatment of some types of infertility, or when there is a strong chance, of an infant having a congenital abnormality if fathered by the partner. Social, ethical, and legal issues arise with respect to AID for lesbians and also concerning AIP after the death of a partner, since it is possible to use sperm frozen in advance of anticipated demise. The custom in Aldous Huxley's Island, where the semen of great and good men long deceased could be selected from a frozen store is a practical possibility — if a social fantasy.

Stuart Judge


See assisted reproduction; infertility.

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artificial insemination

artificial insemination Method of inducing pregnancy without sexual intercourse by injecting sperm into the female genital tract. Used extensively in livestock farming, artificial insemination allows proven sires to breed with many females at low cost. It has more recently been developed to help infertile humans have children, as in in vitro fertilization (IVF).

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artificial insemination

artificial insemination n. instrumental introduction of semen into the vagina in order that a woman may conceive. The semen specimen may be provided by the husband (AIHartificial insemination by husband) in cases of erectile dysfunction or by an anonymous donor (DIdonor insemination), usually in cases where the husband is sterile.

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artificial insemination

artificial insemination (AI) The deposition of semen, using a syringe, at the mouth of the uterus to make conception possible. It is used in the selective breeding of domestic animals and also in humans in some cases of impotence and infertility. It is timed to coincide with ovulation in the female.

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insemination, artificial

insemination, artificial Introduction of donor semen into a female's reproductive tract to bring about fertilization. First developed for livestock breeding, it is now routinely used to help infertile couples. See also in vitro fertilization (IVF)

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