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A sperm bank is in a whole lotta trouble over the race of one of its donors

When you use a sperm bank to get pregnant, part of the process involves careful selection of the right sperm. Ohio mom Jennifer Cramblett and her partner, who are both white, chose Donor No. 380 from Illinois-based Midwest Sperm Bank — a white male. But five months into Cramblett’s pregnancy, it was discovered that there had been a mix-up, resulting in her using the sperm of Donor No. 330, an African-American male.

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Cramblett continued with the pregnancy and gave birth to her daughter, Payton, in August 2012, and last year she sued the sperm bank for wrongful birth. The case was thrown out, but she’s filed a new lawsuit, this time on the grounds of fraud, breach of contract and negligence. In her lawsuit, Cramblett states that the sperm bank’s mistake led to “an unplanned transracial parent-child relationship for which she was not, and is not, prepared” and that she be compensated for her “current and upcoming challenges with transracial parenting.”

The news has sparked accusations of racism, but that’s completely missing the point. Cramblett has said her love for her child shouldn’t let the sperm bank get away with not being held accountable, and she’s absolutely right. By taking action, Cramblett is hopefully going to protect future parents from having to deal with similar mix-ups. It’s clear from her own background (racist family members and an intolerant community that is 98 percent white) that it’s necessary for them to move to a more racially diverse and inclusive area. Why shouldn’t the sperm bank be held accountable for those costs?

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In a similar case recently, a Canadian sperm bank was outed as giving parents the sperm of a schizophrenic man without disclosing that to them. It was only years after their son was born that the parents found out that the donor had been to prison on burglary charges and suffered from schizophrenia and narcissistic personality disorder. They have now filed a lawsuit against sperm bank Xytex Corporation for failing to spot the false claims on his donor profile or to flag his mental illness and criminal record.

Most of the time sperm donation works wonderfully well, but these cases prove how badly it can go wrong when corners are cut or watertight procedures aren’t put in place. How much these parents love their kids shouldn’t be questioned. In the same way as someone would sue for any other breach of contract, they just want the companies who took their money to keep their side of the bargain.

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Image: Robin Chavez Photography

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