Belgium is facing a dearth of donor sperm with prices rising out of hand as demand from same-sex parents combines with stigma and an antiquated legal framework, French daily Le Soir reports.
The cost this year of a batch of sperm for artificial insemination is over €500 in authorised centres for medically-assisted procreation (PMAs) – and not reimbursed by normal medical insurance.
With a success rate of around 10%, the mounting demand and ever-tightening controls have left practitioners wondering “how we’re ever going to manage – we’ve hit an impasse,” in the words of Annick Delvigne, head doctor at Belgian clinic CHC MontLégia, close to the Dutch border near Maastricht.
The problems are many – Scandinavian sperm banks that traditionally made up for Belgium’s shortfall are furnishing fewer vials since the Covid controls. Candice Autin, the head of Brussels CHU St Pierre clinic’s PMA, also fears of a more general shame about the whole process.
“Who do you know who has told you they have donated sperm,” she said. “Blood, sure. But not sperm. There’s no public-opinion problem with single-sex parenthood, or single parenthood – but nobody asks how that happens!”
PMAs are not allowed to advertise, whereas today they are “overrun by demand from homosexual and celibate women,” warned Delvigne. “That’s not what this was about when I started, it was about treating infertile women.”