Gamete donation and parental responsibility

J Appl Philos. 2003;20(1):77-87. doi: 10.1111/1468-5930.00236.


Unlike surrogacy and cloning, reproduction via gamete donation is widely assumed to be morally unproblematic. Recently, a number of authors have argued that this assumption is mistaken: gamete donors, they claim, have parental responsibilities that they typically treat too lightly. In this paper I argue that the 'parental neglect' case against gamete donation fails. I begin by examining and rejecting the view that gamete donors have parental responsibilities; I claim that none of the current accounts of parenthood provides good reason for ascribing parenthood to gamete donors. I then argue that even if gamete donors do have parental responsibilities for 'their' children, it is not clear that they treat these responsibilities too lightly. I conclude the paper by examining the wider question of just what kind of responsibilities gamete donors might have towards the children that they have a role in creating.

MeSH terms

  • Directed Tissue Donation
  • Female
  • Germ Cells*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Moral Obligations*
  • Ownership
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Parents*
  • Reproduction / ethics*
  • Tissue Donors / ethics*