Thanks to Above the Law for this:

Jonathan Jacob Meijer, a 41-year-old Dutch musician, may have merely been doing a kind and generous act when he first started donating his sperm to help hopeful parents. But where does generosity become creepy? And when does the creepy become unlawful?

lawsuit was recently filed against Meijer, who is allegedly a serial sperm donor, by the Donorkind Foundation, a Dutch organization advocating for the interests of donor-conceived children, their parents, and prospective parents. The lawsuit alleges that Meijer has admitted to fathering over 550 children through his prolific sperm donating activities but that the real number is likely between 800 and 1,000. The lawsuit also enters new legal territory, arguing that Meijer caused tangible harm based on an increased risk of incest and inbreeding.

Repeat offender. Meijer has hardly been discreet about his prolific sperm donation numbers. Back in 2017, after several complaints, the Dutch Ministry of Health located at least 102 of Meijer’s offspring as a result of his donations through multiple clinics. This was despite Meijer having an agreement with each clinic that he was not donating elsewhere and despite agreeing that his donations were under the professionally established limits of no more than 25 children. As a result, Dutch clinics blacklisted Meijer. But despite the country-wide clinical ban, Meijer continued to donate through numerous sperm banks in other countries, as well as through private donations directly to recipients.

Eva’s story. One of the plaintiffs in the case, going by the name of “Eva,” describes her decision to become a single mother at 33. She opted to find a donor directly, because clinic waitlists for sperm donors were several years long, and because, ironically, she was concerned with scandals involving fertility clinics, after a notorious case of a deceptive doctor using his own sperm on patients. Further, Eva describes how it was important to her that her child be able to know who the donor was, and be able to communicate with him in the future.

Eva signed up with a website called One Wish. Before long, Eva received a message from “Jacob” (Meijer). Meijer wrote that his donation history had resulted in about 10 children in 10 years, that he was fan of the guidelines of no more than 20 to 25 children in total, and that it was important to him that all of his offspring know exactly who he was so that they did not experience emotional loss. After chatting with Meijer and meeting with him, Eva decided that he was the right fit. Several donations and home inseminations later, Eva became pregnant and gave birth to her son in 2018. About a year later, Eva discovered the truth about Meijer — that he had repeatedly lied to her, and was, in fact, a prolific mass donor.

Eva confronted Meijer by WhatsApp, where he eventually admitted to lying, but said that “the other donors aren’t honest about their numbers either.”

Dutch Serial Sperm Donor

Harm of mass donation. The complaint describes many of the harms caused by Meijer’s excessive donation activities, including the risk of inbreeding, incest, and negative psychosocial implications. The complaint references a number of studies, including a growing body of literature, indicating that a large number of offspring per donor is harmful. The literature generally indicates that a reasonable limit on sperm donation is no more than 10 families per donor. The complaint also notes that the risk to future generations remains, given that Meijer’s descendants may unwittingly marry their cousins, uncles, and aunts.

The ask. The complaint does not ask that Meijer be punished for his fraudulent activity, spend time in prison, or pay damages for the harm he has caused. Instead, it demands that Meijer be absolutely prohibited from donating to new prospective parents, that he provides a list of clinics he has already donated to, and that he writes to these clinics with the request that any stored samples be destroyed.

The exception. Despite the request to bar Meijer from further donations, it does include a limited exception. The complaint carves out from its request for relief a ban on Meijer donating to parents already with children, or currently pregnant with children, from Meijer’s donations, and wishing to have additional children who are fully genetically related to each other.

For those who follow the podcast I co-host, we had an unknowing recipient of Meijer’s sperm on for an interview a few years ago. “Laura” received sperm from a Danish sperm bank which assured her that it strictly followed government-set limits. Of course, Meijer had lied to the sperm bank about his previous donations and many, many offspring. Laura found out after the birth of her child that her newborn likely had more than 800 half-siblings. Laura described Meijer’s threats that were echoed in the complaint. If a parent questioned or criticized his prolific donations or deceptive behavior, Meijer would cut off all communication with the parent and their child.

Despite this, Laura and her wife very much wanted a second child, and felt it better for their first child that he not be in this unusual situation alone (if that’s the right word).

The significance. American assisted reproductive technology legal expert Professor Jody Madeira notes that if this lawsuit is successful, it will be the first time a serial donor has been held accountable for his unorthodox and unethical donations. “This sends a message that donors cannot pursue their personal donation desires in ways that contradict clinic and public policy.”

Readers may wonder why Meijer has not already faced severe legal consequences for his deceptive activities. But, of course, we have seen comparable situations in the United States, with doctors using their own sperm to impregnate their patients, and, when the truth comes out, facing minimal legal consequences.

If the complaint succeeds, it will be one signal that the tide is turning on holding deceptive donors accountable for their misconduct.

NY Post article

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