A sperm donor who may have fathered over 500 children now faces a fine of around $110,000 if he donates again, a court ruled on Friday.
A Dutch court this week heard the case of Jonathan Jacob Meijer, 41, who promised mothers who used his sperm that he would stop donating in order to limit the risk of accidental incest but continued to donate anyway. Eva, the mother who launched the lawsuit, said that Meijer had misled the women.
“In conversations with the donor, many mothers have indicated that he should stop, but nothing helps,” Eva said when she filed her suit. “Going to court is the only way to protect my child.”
Now, a judge has ruled that Meijer, originally from The Hague, must immediately stop donating and must call up any clinic where he has donated and request they immediately destroy his samples.
The court ruled that “the interests of the donor children and their parents outweigh the interest of the donor in continuing to donate sperm to new prospective parents” and ordered a fine of U.S. $110,000 if he breaks the ban, the Evening Standard reported.
The ruling was not delivered lightly, as the court felt it needed to consider “conflicting fundamental rights.”
“On the on hand, the right to respect for the privacy of the parents and the donor children … and on the other hand, the same right of the donor.”
Meijer’s lawyer explained that his client simply had the desire to help parents who could not otherwise conceive a child on their own.
But the judge who heard the case noted that Meijer had breached Dutch law, which allows a sperm donor to produce a maximum of 25 children with 12 mothers. Meijer “deliberately lied” to prospective parents about his donation history.
“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,” the court wrote, stressing the potential negative psychosocial consequences for the children.
“It is therefore in their interest that this kinship network is not extended any further,” the court added.
Eva welcomed the ruling, saying that she hopes it will lead to a ban on mass donation in other countries.
“We must stand hand in hand around our children and protect them against this injustice,” she said in a statement.
When Meijer met with Eva, who chose him as a donor in 2018, he allegedly told her he would stop at the legal limit when he reached it. She later learned that he had hit that limit long before he met her.
Meijer may have in fact fathered as many as 102 children in the Netherlands, which prompted officials to blacklist him from any further donations in 2017. Now living in Kenya, he continued to donate in other countries, including Denmark and Ukraine.
The Dutch Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology urged all sperm banks and clinics to stop using Meijer’s samples after his 2017 blacklisting, but he continued to offer his sperm “under the counter,” according to EuroNews.