Ethical Problems with Ethnic Matching in Gamete Donation

Hane Maung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Assisted reproduction using donor gametes is a procedure that allows those who are unable to produce their own gametes to achieve gestational parenthood. Where conception is achieved using donor sperm, the child lacks a genetic link to the intended father. Where it is achieved using a donor egg, the child lacks a genetic link to the intended mother. To address this lack of genetic kinship, some fertility clinics engage in the practice of matching the ethnicity of the gamete donor to that of the recipient parent. The intended result is for the child to have the phenotypic characteristics of the recipient parents. This paper examines the philosophical and ethical problems raised by the policy of ethnic matching in gamete donation. I consider arguments for the provision of ethnic matching based on maximising physical resemblance and fostering ethnic identity development. I then consider an argument against ethnic matching based on the charge of racialism. I conclude that while the practice of ethnic matching in gamete donation could promote positive ethnic identity development in donor-conceived children from historically subjugated ethnic minorities, it also risks endorsing the problematic societal attitudes and assumptions regarding ethnicity that enabled such subjugation in the first place.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Medical Ethics
Early online date8 Dec 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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