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Several weeks ago, Guido Pennings, a Belgium ethicist, claimed that children conceived by third party reproduction (such as donor insemination) do not benefit from disclosure. He wrote an article in Human Reproduction, one of the most-read academic journals in the field of assisted human reproduction (see here) and he summarised his article for BioNews (see here). Pennings is known for favouring a so-called „double-track policy“ in which donors decide whether they prefer to be anonymous or identifiable for offspring and intended parents select a donor according to their preference. He is also known for favouring anonymity.

Together with a large group of internationally respected colleagues, we showed that he misinterpreted scientific evidence. In addition we found it very troubling that he thought that counsellors should train parents to „build a coherent and easy to maintain story“ around their conception that does not reveal the use of third party reproduction – in other words, help parents to lie.

Our commentary on this article will be published in Human Reproduction and we hope that many will not only read Pennings‘ article but also our commentary and those of Susan Golombok and Lauri Pasch, Jean Benward, Joanna Scheib and Julia Woodward which are likely to appear in the same edition.

We also replied to his short article in Bionews:

Professor Guido Pennings‘ provocatively entitled BioNews commentary ‚Donor children do not benefit from being told about their conception‘ (see BioNews 900) purports to highlight the shortcomings of existing research supporting a pro-disclosure agenda, and castigates counsellors and researchers who advocate parental disclosure. Pennings‘ commentary follows up and repeats much of the contents of his longer paper published in Human Reproduction to which we and 35 other researchers, professionals and members of the donor conception community from around the world have since responded. (click here for more)


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