Analogies to Adoption in Arguments Against Anonymous Gamete Donation

Kimberly Leighton

in Family-Making

Published in print July 2014 | ISBN: 9780199656066
Published online August 2014 | e-ISBN: 9780191757099 | DOI:

Series: Issues in Biomedical Ethics

Analogies to Adoption in Arguments Against Anonymous Gamete Donation

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In discussions of donor-assisted conception, a right to know one’s genetic ancestry has been invoked to capture the harm of anonymous gamete donation. Defenders of the view that someone who was donor-conceived has a “right to know” commonly invoke an analogy to adoption to support their argument. This chapter challenges the basic claim of the analogy: that adoption and its effects on adoptees can provide a “lesson” on how information should be handled in donor-assisted conception. The author questions the underlying assumption that the meaning of and desire for information in both cases is morally equivalent and criticizes how these arguments ultimately use adoption to show the value of genetic relatedness. The analogy they invoke geneticizes adoption by rendering what it means to know or not know one’s origins in adoption in specifically genetic terms. The consequences of this geneticization are harmful to adoptees and reflect the bionormative view that families should be genetically related.

Keywords: adoption; analogy to adoption; anonymous gamete donation; assisted reproduction; bionormativity; bionormative concept of family; biologic bias; donor-assisted conception; ethics; genetic identity; geneticization; genetic origins; right to know

Chapter.  12597 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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