Danish sperm banks want end to ban on home insemination

Women should be allowed to inseminate themselves at home with screened sperm they have procured from a sperm bank, according to three of Denmark's sperm banks who want to see an end to the strict legislation that bans this.

Danish sperm bank Cryos
File photo of Danish sperm bank Cryos in Aarhus. Cryos is one of three Danish sperm banks that are calling for an end to the ban on home insemination. Henning Bagger / AFP

According to Cryos International, European Sperm Bank and SellmerDiers, more women are contacting private sperm donors to avoid being treated at fertility clinics, Danish daily Jyllands-Posten reported.

“We have a vision to help women have the children they want, and we think the law pushes women into a market where neither the women nor the children are helped,” Helle Sejersen Myrthue, director of Cryos International told the paper. 

A new law came into force in July 2018, preventing sperm banks from sending sperm directly to private addresses so that women could inseminate themselves at home. 

According to the Tissue Act, insemination must take place in approved fertility clinics, hospital wards, or by authorised health staff.

Jyllands-Posten reported that the ban had created a market for the private exchange of semen on closed internet forums and groups on Facebook, for example.

The sperm banks are concerned about this as such sperm would not screened for hereditary diseases, for example.

But Bugge Nøhr, chief physician and head of clinic at the Fertility Clinic at Herlev Hospital said women should also be aware that they are twice as likely to conceive when insemination is carried out a clinic rather than at home.

The Ministry of Health has been discussing the proposal with sperm banks and the Danish Patient Safety Authority (Styrelsen for Patientsikkerhed), but a number of matters need to be considered before the ministry will move forward with it, the paper reported.

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How will Denmark’s health reform change country’s health services?

Junior doctors will spend more time in general practice during their training and 25 new local hospitals will be opened under a new health sector reform announced on Friday.

How will Denmark's health reform change country’s health services?

An agreement for the reform was presented by the government on Friday with the backing of a parliamentary majority.

The deal had been delayed with the Covid-19 crisis among the obstacles which drew out its completion.

It provides for 6.8 billion kroner of spending on the Danish health service over the next eight years, Health Minister Magnus Heunicke told media on Friday.

“We have an agreement for a health reform that will support local health services. Many parties are with us. (The deal) could not have broader support,” he said.

Parties on both sides of Denmark’s political aisle are in agreement over the deal, with Martin Geertsen, health spokesperson with the opposition Liberal (Venstre) party, calling it “a good little deal”.

“Does this agreement solve all the challenges faced by the Danish health service going forward? No. Certainly not. It’s a good little deal. It’s a step in the right direction,” Geertsen said.

The health spokesperson with the left-wing party Red Green Alliance, Peder Hvelplund, likewise characterised the reform as a small but positive step that does not solve all of the problems within the health system currently.

In an earlier version of the deal, proposed by the governing Social Democrats, up to 20 local hospitals – around the size of extended, large health centres – were proposed. The location of the centres that will be opened or built under the reform is not clear at the current time.

The new, local centres could potentially be located in former hospital premises.

The government also proposed a form of compulsory service which junior doctors would have to complete as part of their training, involving working for an experience GP. This will be undertaken as part of doctors’ studies under the terms of the reform.

This means that young doctors will spend an extra six months working at GP surgeries and spend less time at hospitals.

Earlier health proposals by the government related to additional restrictions on tobacco and alcohol sales do not form part of the agreement announced on Friday.

Negotiations over those proposals will take place separately, Heunicke said.

“Next week we will open negotiations on the remaining elements relating to prevention (of smoking and excessive alcohol consumption). It was the right thing to do to split things up because we got this broadly-supported agreement,” he said.