Bioethics Blogs

International Differences in Gamete Donor Limits

Khue Tran Minh Hua shows that concerns about consanguinity and intergenerational transmission of genetic disease are not the only reasons for low or high gamete donor limits.

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Over the last three months, I have been conducting research on the ways that gamete donor limits are governed around the world. The increasing use of assisted reproductive technologies raises concerns about whether there should be limits on the number of times one person’s reproductive material can be donated and used for another person’s reproductive purposes.

My research reveals that there are significant differences between countries in the number offspring that can be created from one gamete donor, or the number of recipients that can use gametes from a single donor. For instance, some countries, like the Netherlands, Germany, and India, have high limits, ranging from 10 to 25 offspring per donor, which allows people from these and other countries easy access to reproductive technologies. Others countries have very low limits; in Vietnam and Taiwan, donors can only provide eggs or sperm to one recipient. Still other countries, like Canada, have no legislated limits at all.

International University, Vietnam National University

International University, Vietnam National University

Despite the difference in limits between countries, where there are limits, they are often justified using the same arguments. Professional associations and legislatures making these guidelines and/or laws, state that the limits will prevent consanguinity (i.e., romantic involvement amongst people with common ancestors) and the intergenerational transmission of certain genetic disorders.

Though arguments about consanguinity and genetic disease are used to justify donor limits in the abstract, other practical issues appear to influence the significant differences in donor limits.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.