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There's a Boston man. He's a lawyer. His name is Ben Seisler. He has over 70 children, by his calculation.
As a law student, Seisler donated some of his sperm to help defray law school costs.
Now, that's not entirely unusual. Seisler's tall. Good looking. Athletic. At $150 dollars a donation, and the guarantee of anonymity, things didn't seem very complicated.
But then, in 2005, things did get a bit complicated. And Seisler himself is the one who stirred things up. He'd read an article about the Donor Sibling Registry — a website that helps children born via sperm or egg donation find their biological family members.
Seisler logged on and put in his donor number. He found that he may have a lot of kids. The situation makes for a watchable reality documentary special. He's the subject of a new reality TV show set to air on the Style channel next week, "Style Exposed: Sperm Donor."
But what's Seisler's story really exposes is the very thorny landscape that's now emerging as a generation of young people, raised on the internet, with Facebook-fueled notions of what should and shouldn't be private. These donor-conceived young people want information about their biological fathers.
As Seisler's story shows, the fertility business is a billion dollar industry that's almost entirely unregulated in the United States.
Should donors be allowed anonymity? Should there be a limit to how much money donors receive, or the number of times they donate? And, in the Internet age, how much should donor children be allowed to know about their true genetic backgrounds?
- Debora L. Spar, president, Barnard College; author, "The Baby Business: How Money, Science, and Politics Drive the Commerce of Conception"
- Liz Coolidge, coordinator, Alternative Insemination Program and LGBT Family and Parenting Services, Fenway Health
- Boston Globe: Who's Your Daddy?
This program aired on September 21, 2011.
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