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Danish sperm donors and the ethics of donation and selection

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Alison WheatleyORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


There has been a great deal of discussion about the ethical implications of donating sperm and of the ways in which donated tissue is presented, selected, and sold for use in assisted reproduction. Debates have emerged within the academic sphere, from donor offspring and recipients, and in broader popular culture, including questions about the commodification of human tissue and the eugenic potential of selecting donors from particular demographic categories. However, the voices of donors themselves on this subject have been largely silent. This paper draws on data from qualitative interviews with men who donated at a major Danish sperm bank between 2012-2013. It argues that many of them are indeed thinking through these complex issues. Donors' approaches to ethical issues fell into two broad 'types': a pragmatic, individualistic approach which focused on more immediate personal consequences, and an ethically-driven approach in which donors considered the impact of donation on offspring and on a wider societal level.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Wheatley A

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy

Year: 2018

Volume: 21

Issue: 2

Pages: 227-238

Print publication date: 01/06/2018

Online publication date: 01/09/2017

Acceptance date: 08/08/2017

Date deposited: 14/08/2017

ISSN (print): 1386-7423

ISSN (electronic): 1572-8633

Publisher: Springer Netherlands


DOI: 10.1007/s11019-017-9797-7


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