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Volume 12, Issue 6 (November 2010) 12, 801–806; 10.1038/aja.2010.60

To name or not to name? An overview of the social and ethical issues raised by removing anonymity from sperm donors

Jennifer A. Burr

University of Sheffield School of Health and Related Research, Sheffield SA1 4DA, UK

Correspondence: Dr Jennifer A. Burr, j.a.burr@sheffield.ac.uk

Received 2 April 2010; Revised 13 May 2010; Accepted 31 May 2010; Published online 12 July 2010.


The aim of this paper is to focus on the ethical issues raised by the removal of anonymity from sperm donors. The increasing currency of a 'right to genetic truth' is clearly visible in the drive to revise the legislation on donor anonymity in Western and European countries. The ethical debate is polarized between the 'right to privacy' of the donor or parent and the 'right to know' of the prospective child. However, it is evident that religious, social and cultural attitudes have an overarching impact on attitudes towards sperm donation generally and anonymity specifically. In Asian countries, the social and cultural heritage is hugely diverse and different from those of the West. This review considers the research exploring the complexity of ethical issues informing this debate, and argues that parent's decisions to reveal donor insemination origins to their children are highly complex and relate to a range of social and cultural attitudes that have not been addressed within the policy to remove anonymity from sperm donors.


anonymity; ethics; disclosure; genetic origins; secrecy; sperm donation

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Asian Journal of Andrology CN 31-1795/R ISSN 1008-682X  Copyright © 2023  Shanghai Materia Medica, Chinese Academy of Sciences.  All rights reserved.