JZ Young Lecture Theatre, Ground Floor, Anatomy Building, Bloomsbury Campus, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, UK
24 January 2013 – 6.30pm-8.30pm
The Progress Educational Trust project ‘When It Takes More Than Two’, supported by the Wellcome Trust, seeks to clarify public and professional understanding of donor conception by focusing on the different parties involved. This second event in the project will focus on the perspective of the recipient of donated sperm or eggs, and is free to attend, but advance booking is required. If you email Sandy Starr at firstname.lastname@example.org then he will add you to the attendee list.
• What traits do gamete recipients prefer in a donor, and what are the scientific facts about the heritability of such traits? Does preferring a tall donor (height is a widely preferred donor characteristic) or deprecating a red-haired donor (the world’s largest sperm bank closed its doors to red-haired sperm donors in 2011 due to a reported lack of demand) actually give recipients any assurance as to the height and hair colour of their children?
• What of more complex characteristics, such as intelligence and personality? The extent (if any) to which such qualities are heritable is a highly contentious, and yet these same qualities frequently form the basis on which donors are marketed. Donor profiles provided by clinics also include such details as pierced ears, choice of car and favourite pet – can a choice of donor made on such grounds be meaningful, and if so how?
• To what extent is it necessary or desirable to seek a ‘matching’ donor, whose looks resemble those of the recipient couple (at a generic level such as skin colour)? Is this important to avoid inviting questions about a child’s provenance, or should we aspire to put such thinking behind us? Are such questions rendered moot by the limited availability of sperm and egg donors in the UK, which can make matching difficult or impossible?
• Following donor conception, what are the challenges (if any) involved in raising donor-conceived children? Is it always incumbent upon parents to inform their children of the fact that they are donor conceived, in line with official support for the principle of openness? In what circumstances might parents inform family, friends, colleagues or teachers of the fact that their children are donor-conceived? And what if this is disclosed inadvertently?
• What are the specific challenges (if any) faced by non-traditional families, which involve same-sex couples and/or co-parenting arrangements, when it comes to donor conception? What is the impact on such families of being less readily accommodated by established social conventions and institutions? And is this changing?
• Dr Nicky Hudson
Senior Research Fellow at De Montfort University’s School of Applied Social Sciences
• Olivia Montuschi
Cofounder and Practice Consultant at the Donor Conception Network
• Sue Moore
Senior Fertility Counsellor at the Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust’s Assisted Conception Unit
• Professor Marcus Pembrey
Founding Chair of Trustees at PET and Emeritus Professor of Paediatric Genetics at University College London’s Institute of Child Health
• Caroline Spencer
Co-Active Coach and Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapist at Successfully Single
• Juliet Tizzard
Head of Policy and Communications at the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority and former Director of PET
Article: 22nd January 2012 www.progress.org.uk