Israel’s Sperm Clinic Crisis

by Rachel Baker on March 21, 2014

There are several challenges causing this crisis and it doesn’t really seem like there is one easy fix.

The problem isn’t in the emergency ward, it’s upstairs—in Rambam’s fertility clinic, and more specifically the sperm bank. Stocks have run dangerously low. Nationwide research suggests the problem is endemic and that all of Israel’s 15 sperm banks could close if more semen doesn’t start arriving soon.

Part of Israel’s semen crisis is the dwindling number of donors. Media speculation about whether their anonymity will always be guaranteed has scared them off, according to Professor Daphna Birenbaum-Carmeli, a medical anthropologist who works across town from Rambam, at Haitha University’s nursing school. In recent years, the religious establishment, obsessed by the genetics of their Jewish congregation, has called for anonymity to be lifted. They want to prevent mamzerut or illegitimate children.

“Nobody is expecting new laws to open up the sperm bank records retrospectively,” she explains, “but the talk about disclosure means its getting harder and harder to find donors to come forward.

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