A court in The Hague has ordered a 41-year-old Dutchman, Jonathan Meifer, to stop selling his sperm to fertility clinics around the world. Meifer is suspected to have fathered between 550-600 children who would be step-brothers and step-sisters – raising the risks of inbreeding and incest.
Meifer risks a fine of $110,000 each time he is convicted of distributing his sperm to father children anywhere in the world.
The Dutchman was first ordered to stop donating his semen to clinics in the Netherlands in 2017 after it was discovered that he had fathered more than 100 children. But rather than stop, the man took to sending his sperm to fertility clinics abroad and to directing clients whom he advertised his services online.
The court also ruled that he must provide a list of all clinics to which he had sent his sperm abroad, and he must order them to destroy his sperm stored in their freezers. One of the fertility clinics he used to send his semen abroad is a Danish sperm bank called Cryos.
Judge Thera Hesselink said she “prohibits the defendant from donating his semen to new prospective parents after the issuing of this judgment” and that Meifer must not contact potential parents “with the wish that he was willing to donate semen…advertise his services to prospective parents or join any organization that establishes contact between prospective parents.”
According to Dutch laws, a sperm donor should not father more than 25 children in 12 families. But Meifer allegedly deceived women into thinking he had not fathered as many children. Judge Hesselink said the hundreds of children the man has around the world will be haunted by the fear of potentially marrying one another and passing on undesirable traits.
“The point is that this kinship network with hundreds of half-brothers and half-sisters is much too large,” the court said. “All these parents are now confronted with the fact that the children in their family are part of a huge kinship network, with hundreds of half-siblings, which they did not choose.”
In 2019, a Dutch fertility doctor was indicted for impregnating more than 60 women with his own sperm and fathering more than 50 children without their knowledge and consent.