Sociologist View

Sociologist talks about legal cases involving donor conception

Professor Carol Smart, from the University of Manchester, discusses recent court cases involving lesbian couples who have conceived using sperm from known donors. What judgements are being made and what can we learn from social science research into the experiences of families of donor-conceived children?

Carol Smart is Professor of Sociology at the Morgan Centre, University of Manchester. This video is based on recent court cases and Professor Smart's research project 'Relative Strangers' (with Dr Petra Nordqvist).

Relative Strangers Start: 1 October 2010 (30 months) 
Funder: Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Ref: RES-062-23-1308 
Project team: Carol Smart (Principal Investigator), Petra Nordqvist (Research Associate and Co-Investigator) 

About the project 

This research project explores how heterosexual and lesbian couples who conceive using donor sperm, eggs or embryos negotiate telling parents and relatives about their decision to use a donor. Wider family is often very important in the context of having a baby, and we are investigating how couples feel about sharing information about the process of donor conception with their own parents, in-laws, extended families and of course their children. 

As part of this project we interview heterosexual and lesbian couples, and also grandparents of donor conceived children, about their experiences. We talk to those who have shared information with others, but also those who have decided to keep some things private. We have also commissioned a Directive at the Mass Observation Project, based at the University of Sussex. 

More about the background to the project 

Project news 

Grandparents and their role in the donor conception process 

Part of our research involved interviewing grandparents about their experiences of supporting their adult children through the donor conception process. We have made a short video reflecting on some of the issues grandparents told us about. 

Go to grandparents and donor conception process video