Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Call for Papers: Global and multidisciplinary perspectives on unregulated sperm donation

See the call for papers here.

About this Research Topic

The aim of this Research Topic is to provide a forum for the sharing, exploration, and discussion of unregulated sperm donation, with a special focus on global experiences of unregulated sperm donation and multidisciplinary perspectives on its personal, cultural, and social significance and implications.

Unregulated sperm donation – also known as ‘private’, ‘known’, ‘informal’, ‘self-arranged’, ‘DIY’ and ‘non-clinical’ donation – involves obtaining sperm from a known donor (friend or family member) or from an unknown donor via informal networks, an advertisement, a ‘connection website’ or social media platform. Unregulated sperm donation is distinguished from regulated sperm donation in that it takes place outside of a clinic and involves intracervical insemination performed by the recipient or their partner, or through sexual acts with the donor. Unregulated sperm donation has traditionally entailed donations from friends, family members, or informal self-insemination networks comprising known and/or anonymous donors. In recent years, however, there has been an increase in individuals obtaining sperm from donors met online. The size of the online unregulated sperm donation market is unknown; however, our environmental scan of online sperm donation sites estimates that there are more than 350,000 recipients on over 60 English-language websites and social media pages around the world.

Being able to start and build a family is frequently seen as personally, culturally, and socially important. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, for example, describes the family as the “fundamental unit of society”. For many people, sperm donation is critical in achieving this goal, particularly for single individuals, individuals in same-sex relationships, and because of male infertility in mixed-sex relationships. The unregulated route to sperm donation – whether by a known donor or a donor met online - can be easier, cheaper, more accessible, and offer more choice than the regulated, clinical route; however, it can also be associated with complex health, legal and social implications. For example, unregulated donors might not be screened for sexually transmitted infections or genetic conditions, and in the UK, if the recipient is unmarried, then the unregulated donor would be the legal father, irrespective of what is agreed between the recipient and donor or what is recorded on the birth certificate.

We live in an increasingly globalized world; however, the ways in which unregulated sperm donation is understood, represented, practiced and experienced, and its significance and implications, are likely to differ across geographical, cultural, economic, and political contexts. Perspectives on unregulated sperm donation among people living in poverty, in low- and middle-income countries, or in indigenous communities, have particularly been unrecognized and overlooked. This collection offers an opportunity to amplify the voices of marginalized groups and to provide a more holistic perspective on unregulated sperm donation.

We welcome a diversity of submissions that present cutting-edge and innovative scholarship from international contexts and at the intersections of multiple disciplines (e.g., psychology, sociology, anthropology, medicine, philosophy, ethics, law, criminology, history, human geography, social policy). Submissions might include (but are not limited to): Original Research, Systematic and Narrative Reviews, Data Reports, Community Case Studies, Case Reports, Theoretical Perspectives, Methodological Papers, and Opinions. The goal is to showcase the breadth of theoretical, methodological, and empirical work in this field globally.

Suggested areas include:
• Lived experiences of unregulated sperm donation from the perspective of recipients, donors, their partners, or donor-conceived children, and changes to their quality of life;
• The personal, cultural and social contributors to, and impacts of, unregulated sperm donation, such as poverty and marginalization, healthcare and legislative policies and regulations, the availability of donors and reproductive technologies, societal and cultural norms for gender, sexuality, conception, and parenthood, or family and social support;
• Self-insemination networks;
• Online sperm donation communities of practice;
• Kinship and extended families within unregulated sperm donation and the lived experiences of donor siblings;
• Unregulated sperm donation and intersections with gender, race, class, sexuality, relationship status, religion, (dis)ability, age, and other social inequalities;
• Historical and cultural representations of unregulated sperm donation;
• The regulatory, bioethical, and legal implications of unregulated sperm donation;
• Health, community, and criminal justice responses to harms within unregulated sperm donation;
• ‘Fertility tourism’ within the context of unregulated sperm donation;
• Cross-national comparisons and longitudinal research into unregulated sperm donation;
• Theoretical perspectives on, and methodological approaches to, unregulated sperm donation;
• Unregulated sperm donation in low- and middle-income countries;
• Complex or mixed sperm donation journeys, entailing both the unregulated and regulated routes, or obtaining sperm from online sperm banks for home insemination;
• Healthcare professionals’ or other professionals’ or community leaders’ experiences of supporting recipients who have taken the unregulated route, such as midwives and doulas.

Keywords: Sperm donation, donor insemination, known donation, self-insemination networks, online marketplace, recipients, donors, donor-conceived children, donor siblings, assisted reproduction, infertility, LGBT+, reproductive justice, global, multidisciplinary

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