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A reader of the New York Times’  Ethicist column asks if she needs to inform her fiancé about her egg donation:

As a very broke and self-supporting 20-year-old college senior, I donated my eggs in exchange for money. It was a horrendous experience, and I rarely speak about it. Although I assume that some children resulted, I regret my participation and do not wish to know the results. I am now 35, engaged and planning to start a family. Must I tell my fiancé that there may be teenagers walking around with my genetic material? NAME WITHHELD

Everyone preaches the ethical value of honest relationships. In reality, though, we are always editing our own life stories, choosing what to share, in what order, with what emphasis and in what context. No one tells her partner everything; it isn’t possible. . . .

So 15 years ago, you gave up some reproductive cells — to make money, but in the process, to let someone else conceive a child. If you had done it casually, as others donate red blood cells to people who are short on those, then there might not be much to say (at least assuming there is no danger of any offspring someday knocking on your door). I doubt your fiancé would feel he owed you an accounting of every sperm he ever released into the world, whether at a sperm bank or in more convivial settings.


A difficult situation (especially if you have no one to turn to for advice other than the Times ). I can’t help but think of what she must have been told at the time:  post-operation and recovery the donation process should be worry-free. It’s just genetic material. You see the same cavalier attitude in the  Times’  response above (though to his credit, the writer does go on to recommend that she tell her fiancé).

Now instead of approaching the altar with a light heart, she struggles with the realization that somewhere there likely are young boys and girls who have her genetic material—-who are her children—-and who someday may want nothing more than to find out who she is. Tough stuff.

For a variety of reasons, I suspect that sperm donors aren’t as conflicted as egg donors about their unknown offspring. They should be.

Via Marriage Debate .

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