[I’m continuing a discussion of potential harms that ought to be considered in determining how/when/whether to use third-party gametes for assisted reproduction. This consideration starts a few posts ago and there are very lively comments if you want to get into that.]
I started this thread by thinking about the harm suffered by (some of) those who identify as donor-conceived and identified four potential harms. I’ve given those names for ease of reference: harms of concealment, medical harm, identity harm and loss of a parent. Then I considered the harm of unwanted childlessness. If you’ll look at that last post you’ll see that I laid this out as “the other side of the equation” but that is, I am afraid, descriptively inaccurate. It presumes that there are two sides.
But if you consider that the topic is the use of third-party gametes, then surely there must be three sides to consider, right? I think there are and so this post is about the potential harms that might warrant concern as you think about the providers of third-party gametes–those often called sperm donors and egg donors. (There’s a long story behind the terminology–the bottom line is that I prefer to call them “providers.”)
Now I’ve been reading and thinking a lot about this subtopic quite a bit recently so there’s lots to say. But for the moment I think I’ll start simply and keep it short.
For women who provide eggs for ART there are some clearly recognized medical risks. That’s one set of harms (or perhaps more accurately, potential harms) to be considered. I’m going to call these medical harms. There are no analogous medical harms to consider for male gamete providers, which is something that might be worth noticing.
Beyond that, perhaps there is some sort of potential harm down the road that might be relevant for all gamete providers–something I’m going to call a regret harm. What I mean here is that it is possible that those who provide gametes for third-party reproduction will come to regret their actions. This is a tricky thing to figure in and likely a controversial one. I’ll include it for the moment on the theory that it is better to lay everything out and then decide which things warrant what kind of weight.
There is certainly more to say about both these things, but for the moment I’ll just set them out and call it a start.