And I use the word "product" to highlight the fact that the FDA has filed a "cease manufacture" order against him.
Although sperm is neither a food nor a drug, the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research regulates those who traffic in it, enforcing frequent and comprehensive tests designed to curb the spread of communicable diseases and genetic disorders. Historically the agency has focused only on traditional sperm banks, not private donors, but Trent was unprecedentedly public about what he was doing. When the FDA first contacted him, he had naïvely signed a piece of paper confirming that he was “an establishment.” In August 2010, using that as a pretext, the FDA sent three agents to his house, where for several days they interviewed him and copied his records. Trent had by then made 340 donations to some 46 different recipients. The scrutiny was time-consuming and stressful; he didn’t have a lawyer and worried than he might land in prison.I'm sure that, after this high-profile article, the FDA will back off. But let's talk about the legal issues here. Does Arsenault have a right of privacy in his relationship with the couples he assists? "He describes himself as a 'donorsexual,' with all of his libidinal energy channeled in service of others." Consider that he has 15 — and counting — children through this activity, which had deep religious and emotional meaning to him:
By November, the FDA determined that Trent wasn’t screening for diseases nearly often enough, and it issued its cease-manufacture order. Trent replied that he wished to contest it. He wasn’t charging money, as he explained, and he was helping people. He knew that he was celibate, that he was disease-free, and that he took extraordinary measures to safeguard his DNA. He considered his relationship with his recipients to be “intimate.” Why should the government regulate what he was doing, when anyone, with who knew what health issues, could walk into a bar and have a one-night stand? A government-accountability public-interest group, Cause of Action, agreed, seeing the FDA action as a ringing example of regulatory overreach, and filed a brief on Trent’s behalf. “We questioned him as to the parameters of his relationship with recipients,” Amber Taylor, the chief counsel for Cause of Action, says. “We took away that he’s a very generous, helpful person who sees people in need who could not have children without some form of assistance, who are often lower income or underserved by the fertility-medicine industry.” Trent is currently awaiting a decision by the FDA on whether to grant him a hearing, and in the meantime, the cease-manufacture order has been suspended.
Many of the recipients who have successfully become pregnant have maintained contact with Trent; the lack of anonymity has always been part of his appeal. They send him ultrasounds and arrange to have Trent meet the child. He has a bag ready to go containing his own old toys, which he gives away, and items he uses to observe childhood development....Quite aside from whether he has a constitutional right of privacy with respect to these intimate relationships, why does the federal government have power over his activity? Because it regulates the sperm bank business and this is like the way it can regulate growing one marijuana plant even one that isn't intended for the commercial market? But marijuana is a commodity, and — as the Supreme Court said in Gonzales v. Raich — "the regulation is squarely within Congress’ commerce power because production of the commodity meant for home consumption, be it wheat or marijuana, has a substantial effect on supply and demand in the national market for that commodity."
Trent sits at his desk and pulls up Facebook, where he clicks through photographs of many of his biological children....
Even if he were to stop donating—which he would do immediately if, for instance, he learned that one of his children was autistic or had another genetic problem—Trent says he would stick with his extreme health regimen. “I want to be alive for the children. They will want to know about me. It may not be until they turn 18, or later in life, that they decide they want to meet me, so I want to be in a good capacity to meet them.”
Be it wheat or marijuana... or sperm?