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Artificial insemination has been widely practiced for decades, so many of the legal problems have been worked out. The issues of child custody are often covered by statute. There may be questions of malpractice involving either genetic disease or infection. There is also a societal problem because artificial insemination usually involves the rights of four people: the wife, the husband, the sperm donor, and the resulting child. Physicians should know and understand the laws of their states and the standard of care before working in this area.

As in any other area of medical practice, patients should not be given guarantees about the outcome of attempts at artificial insemination. If an unknown donor is used, the patient should understand that the donors are screened for disease, not for social desirability. Reasonable effort is made to ensure that the donor does not carry AIDS or Huntington's chorea; no effort will be made to ensure that the child will be smart or beautiful. Accepting artificial insemination carries most of the same risks as picking out a spouse.

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