A shortage of sperm donors has forced a Japanese hospital to stop offering couples a certain type of fertility treatment.
According to doctors at Keio University Hospital in Tokyo, fewer men are willing to donate their sperm once they learn of the increasing legal rights of children globally to contact their biological parents. Donors are reportedly concerned that the Japanese government might recognise donor-conceived children's right to know their biological father.
If this were to happen, Professor Mamoru Tanaka, an obstetrician at the hospital, said it could lead to cases in which donor-conceived children effectively have two fathers. 'It is crucial to establish through legislation a safe and comfortable donor system,' he told the Japan Times.
The hospital had been offering artificial insemination with donor semen to couples since 1948, and conducted around 1500 procedures a year. It is a treatment that is usually sought when the man is infertile. In such cases, the woman is artificially inseminated with sperm from an anonymous donor.
Until recently, the hospital had taken appointments as early as a year in advance, but stopped doing so in August according to local media.
The future of the fertility treatment at the hospital will be discussed in a meeting with external experts in October.