Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


I can't concieve of a better use for anonymity

There’s a fascinating little sidebar article in the Economist (4 August 2007), “Misconceived:”

Now that anonymity is no longer possible, there has been a huge decline in the number willing to donate. So more patients travel for treatment to countries where anonymity is still legal. If this new proposal is implemented, it may give such “fertility tourism” a further boost. It may even compound the problem that it purports to solve and encourage parents to reveal still less.

4 comments on "I can't concieve of a better use for anonymity"

  • David Brodbeck says:

    It’s a difficult question. You’re weighing the donor’s desire for anonymity against the offspring’s need to know their genetic history when making health care decisions, or even when making their own reproductive decisions. (If you were conceived from anonymously donated sperm, can you be *sure* your wife isn’t really your half-sister?)

  • Adam says:

    David, really? Doesn’t my DNA have the same information in it? Prediliction to A, B and C? As to checking if someone is your half sister, I suspect that the paternity testing companies actually handle questions much closer to “are Alice and Bob closely related” than “Is Alice Bob’s daughter?”

  • David Brodbeck says:

    Doesn’t my DNA have the same information in it? Prediliction to A, B and C?
    Yes, but in most cases we don’t know how to extract it. There are a lot of diseases we know are hereditary that we haven’t isolated the genes for yet.

  • Mangoboy says:

    This fight has been happening on the adoption front in Ontario recently, with the provincial government granting the right to adopted children to know who their biological parents are. I don’t like the trend, personally.
    As the article states: “To some, what is at issue is the same as in adoption: a fundamental right to know one’s genetic origins.”
    Where does such a right come from? Doesn’t it sound like people are claiming the right to someone else’s information?

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