• Kyodo

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A maternity clinic here has revealed that five babies have been born in the past three years by artificial insemination using sperm donated by the fathers of the husbands.

The Japan Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology rules that eggs and sperm used in artificial insemination by donors be given anonymously to protect the privacy of the donor, and Thursday’s revelation of these cases may stir controversy.

Atsushi Tanaka, director of the clinic, said the sperm of a husband’s father has been used only in cases where the man is sterile and the couple had expressed a strong desire to do so.

“The donors feel sorry about their sons’ sterility, and we believe they have absolutely no intention of telling anybody the baby’s identity. We do not think our conduct constitutes any offense against the rules designated by the medical society, as the anonymity of the donors is maintained,” Tanaka said.

According to Tanaka, there are quite a number of couples who wish to maintain the husband’s family line and refuse to use the sperm of strangers.

Tanaka said he recommended using the sperm of the men’s fathers only to couples really wanting to pursue this method. He said nine couples in the past three years chose that option.

Tanaka said the sperm of the husbands’ fathers is preferred to that of a sibling as he thinks there is “a possibility that the identity of the donors would be leaked if a brother’s sperm is used.”

There are some people opposed to egg and sperm donations by siblings because of the potential for emotional complications later on.

However, Tanaka, who is a member of the Health and Welfare Ministry’s committee on fertilization technology, has long been promoting the idea of allowing husbands’ fathers to be donors.

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