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The Removal of Donor Anonymity in the United Kingdom: The Silencing of Claims by Would-be Parents

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Ilke Turkmendag Brunsnes


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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. The main consequence of this reform has been an acute shortage of donors. However, little has been heard from those most directly affected, would-be parents. It is not clear to what extent they have chosen to remain silent or have been silenced by exclusion from the public realm of debate. This article reports the findings of a qualitative study of an online support group for people undergoing donor conception. These suggest that would-be parents feel intimidated from publicly voicing their concerns about the impact of the donor shortage. However, their understandings of welfare and kinship are very different from those of the policy elites responsible for this legal reform. Their reluctance to mobilize around these partly reflects the variety of ways in which they can avoid the impact of this legislation. The new disclosure policy has increased subterfuge rather than openness.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Turkmendag I, Dingwall R, Murphy T

Publication type: Article

Journal: International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family

Year: 2008

Volume: 22

Issue: 3

Pages: 283-310

Print publication date: 01/09/2008

ISSN (print): 1360-9939

ISSN (electronic): 1464-3707

Publisher: Oxford University Press


DOI: 10.1093/lawfam/ebn008


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