"Obligated aliens": Recognizing sperm donors' ethical obligation to disclose genetic information

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Sperm donors' obligations are typically constrained to the immediate circumstances surrounding the donation and to its time frame. This paper makes the case for recognizing an ongoing ethical obligation that binds sperm donors to disclose, in a timely manner, meaningful genetic information to recipients and donor-conceived children. The paper delineates and conceptualizes the suggested (potentially reciprocal) duty and argues that it is not the genetic link between the donor and the donor-conceived child that binds donors by said duty, but rather social responsibility. Accordingly, an original perception of the donor as an obligated alien is suggested and developed. The main thesis of the paper is supported inter alia by a comparison between transmitting infectious diseases and passing faulty genes on to donor-conceived children. The paper also provides an in-depth analysis of the conflicting interests of the parties generated by such an obligation and proposes a model for embedding this ethical duty in a (legal) contractual framework.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-52
Number of pages34
JournalKennedy Institute of Ethics Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Health Policy
  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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