The removal of donor anonymity in the UK: the silencing of claims by would-be parents

Turkmendag Brunsnes, Ilke (2009) The removal of donor anonymity in the UK: the silencing of claims by would-be parents. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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From 1 April 2005, UK law was changed to allow children born through gamete donation to access identifying details of the donor. The decision to abolish donor anonymity was strongly influenced by a discourse that asserted the 'child's right-to-know' their genetic origins. Under the current regulation, if would-be parents want to receive treatment in the UK, they have no option but to use gametes/embryos from identifiable donors. For a majority, this also means that they will be on lengthy waiting lists due to the donor shortage. Interestingly, the voice of would-be parents - those who would be most affected by a contraction in donor supply and would carry the burden of informing children of their origins, should they so choose- were not heard during the donor anonymity debate or thereafter.

Adopting a social constructionist approach, this thesis studies removal of donor anonymity as a social problem and examines why would-be parents remained silent during the public debate. There are two major steps taken: first, examining the donor anonymity debate in the public realm through media presentations, and secondly investigating would-be parents' reactions through ethnographic studies: a virtual ethnography study and interviews.

The accounts of a sub-group of would-be parents reveal that having a donor-conceived child constitutes a permanent charge of deviance against the family. Many would-be parents were reluctant to raise their voices during the donor anonymity debate because they did not want to be exposed to publicity. Their reluctance to mobilise around pressing claims against the removal of donor anonymity reflects the variety of ways in which they can avoid the impact of this legislation.

The thesis concludes by underlining the importance of having an informed public debate about the disclosure policy, and of developing mechanisms to protect both would-be parents' and of developing mechanisms to protect both would-be parents' and donor offspring's interests.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Dingwall, R.W.J.
Murphy, M.T.
Keywords: Human artificial insemination, social aspects, law and legislation, Great Britain
Subjects: H Social sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > Institute for Science and Society
Item ID: 11715
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 16 Dec 2010 15:46
Last Modified: 20 Dec 2017 06:25

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