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Do clinicians benefit from gamete donor anonymity?

Lookup NU author(s): Emerita Professor Erica Haimes


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Two groups of participants are frequently omitted from discussions and studies of donor anonymity in assisted conception: the children conceived and the clinicians Providing the service. Past secrecy explains the absence of the children's views, but the absence of a systematic consideration of the clinicians' views is more puzzling. Evidence from the history of donor insemination suggests that clinicians have supported keeping such practices secret, not just for the protection of donors, recipients and resultant children but also to protect their own position from the detailed scrutiny of others who had expressed doubts about the practice. However, the various important developments in both the practice and the regulation of assisted conception in the 1980s and the early 1990s may well have alleviated such earlier anxieties. None the less, a growing willingness by clinicans to consider greater openness in gamete donation may be counter-balanced by the nature of their relationship with recipients, the majority of whom still appear to favour secrecy, and by the wider cultural uncertainty about the physiological and symbolic importance of genetic relationships in the development of the individual. It is concluded therefore that future studies of donor anonymity should include clinicians, in order to explore these questions in detail.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Haimes E

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Human Reproduction

Year: 1993

Volume: 8

Issue: 9

Pages: 1518-1520

Print publication date: 01/09/1993

ISSN (print): 0268-1161

ISSN (electronic): 1460-2350

Publisher: Oxford University Press