Blyth, Eric (2008) Donor insemination and the dilemma of the “unknown father”. In: ) Umwege zum eigenen Kind Ethische und rechtliche Herausforderungen an die Reproduktionsmedizin 30 Jahre nach Louise Brown. Universitätsverlag Göttingen, Gottingen, Germany, pp. 157-174. ISBN 978-3-940344-46-5

As has been the pattern worldwide, the provision of donor insemination (DI) - and
subsequently other forms of donor conception - in the UK has traditionally been
characterised by withholding the identities of donors and recipients and of donors
and their donor-conceived offspring from each other. Furthermore, recipients of
donor gametes were frequently advised not to tell anyone, including their children,
of their recourse to donor conception.1 Inter-related factors promoting such practices
• the dubious legal and moral status of donor conception (including explicit
disapproval from several major world religions) – with consequent concerns
about the impact on the child and other family members if knowledge of
donor conception became “common knowledge”.2
• suspicions about sperm donors’ personality and motivation.3
• recipients’ ambivalence about the use of donor conception – especially DI.4
• uncertainties about the impact on the child of knowledge of the circumstances
of their conception (or assumptions that such knowledge would be
• uncertainties about the donor’s legal or financial responsibilities towards the
child and to protect them from unintended/undesired contact or responsibilities.
• uncertain legal status of the child – and fears of prosecution/conviction for
falsification of birth registration information.7
• stigma associated with male infertility in particular and families desires - and
the opportunity - to “pass as normal”.8
• potential consequences of the parents’ imbalanced genetic relationship with
the child and fears of the child’s rejection of the non-genetic parent.9
• fears of unwanted intrusion by the donor in family affairs.10
• initial reliance on fresh sperm, requiring management of the geographical
and temporal proximity of donor and recipient.11
• parents’ uncertainties about the timing and method of telling their child and
the lack of information to give the child, making “not telling” – at least superficially
- an easier option.12
• physicians’ concerns about their potential exposure to critical external scrutiny,
including risk of claims of unprofessional/illegal practice.13
• need to maintain donor services in the face of the assumed adverse impact
of disclosure on supply.14

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