The European Parliament has approved a draft regulation calling for EU controls on breast milk, sperm, and other types of "substances of human origin" (SoHO).(Photo by Diana Bagnoli/Getty Images)


EU ban on payment for sperm, blood and breast-milk donations moves forward


The European Parliament has approved a draft regulation banning payments for breast milk, sperm, blood and other “substances of human origin” (SoHO).

Billed as an attempt to increase safety across the bloc, the ban allegedly aims to ensure that those who are financially disadvantaged within the bloc are not subject to undue pressure to donate their cells and bodily fluids.

Donors can be compensated for any costs accrued as part of their donation, though this also will be subject to strict rules to ensure it does not serve as an incentive to poorer donors.

“This law is crucial to the safety of donors, the well-being of patients, the security of supply and the development of innovative medical techniques in Europe,” said document rapporteur Nathalie Colin-Oesterlé, an MEP with the centre-right European People’s Party.

Cash incentives for the donation of some SoHOs do exist in some EU states, with financial compensation being in place for some forms of blood donation in Germany, Austria, Hungary and the Czech Republic, while sperm donation is paid for in countries like Portugal and Denmark.

Under the draft EU regulation, the control of SoHOs will also be tightened and standardised across the EU, with protections put in place for both donors and anyone born as the result of donated sperm, eggs or other human reproductive material.

While the Parliament has received praise from some centrist and left-leaning lawmakers, others are more concerned about the controlling nature of this legislation, arguing that it would be better regulated at the local level.

Christine Anderson, a German MEP with the ID Group, has long criticised the law, seeing it as an invasion of privacy by Brussels.

“This breast-milk regulation is an example of how the EU interferes in the most private details,” she has previously remarked.

“An EU that tends to barcode and QR code everything and everyone, to measure, control and patronise everything, deserves the resistance of all responsible citizens,” she added.

Commentators outside the Brussels Bubble have criticised the inclusion of embryos and foetuses within the legislation, accusing the bloc of “demeaning the value” of human life.

“Due to the broad wording, it is to be feared that even naturally conceived children who are not yet independently viable in the prenatal stages of development may be subsumed under the term SoHO,” read a joint statement made by Catholic organisations active within the EU.

“The SoHO regulation degrades unborn human life to a mere ‘substance of human origin’ or – depending on its origin – to a ‘SoHO preparation’ equating it [in the regulation] on the same level as skin cells or blood plasma without any sort of differentiation.”