Sperm donation: The mediation of kinship and identity

Rose, Joanna S. (2004) Sperm donation: The mediation of kinship and identity. In 2nd National Conference on Mental Health of Persons Affected by Family Separation, 14-15 October 2004, Brisbane, Australia.


The subject matter for this paper is an analysis of donor insemination practices in relation to kinship, in particular for the offspring. It argues that the practice introduces flexible and fractured notions of paternity and identity which are ill-considered and potentially problematic; for the offspring and for paternity in its biological and social unity. Further, that when the focus of donor conception includes the equal consideration of not just the couple wanting access to this as a 'service' but the broad circle of other people who are affected by it, sperm donation rests on unstable assumptions of compliance in terms of contractual inclusion or exclusion from kinship.

The model to be explored in this paper is adapted from a model of biotechnology as a media (Suderland, 2003), exploring four phases of mediation, that of; alienation, translation, reconceptulisation and absorption. The aim is to show how sperm and the kinship value attached to it is mediated by the clinics. Thus the identity of the off-spring, and paternal kin is also mediated; a type of 'service' argued to be inappropriate and disrespectful of the significance of biological relatedness.

Through this format I hope to show that what is represented as rightful in the appeasement of the pain of infertility is a practice that rests on biased and inadequate justifications. Further, that with this form of reproductive intervention we are witnessing yet another form of family separation with likely adverse affects on mental health for those affected by it.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 738
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: No
Keywords: donor offspring, paternity, ethics, sperm donation, mediation, kinship, identity
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > SOCIOLOGY (160800) > Social Change (160805)
Divisions: Past > Research Centres > Centre for Social Change Research
Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > QUT Carseldine - Humanities & Human Services
Copyright Statement: Copyright 2004 (please consult author)
Deposited On: 10 Feb 2005 00:00
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2010 12:23

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