2016 研究助成 Research Grant Program  /  (B)個人研究助成  
(Grant Number)
(Project Title)
Research on Families Formed via Donor Conception
Yukari Semba
Institute for Gender Studies, Ochanomizu University
(Grant Amount)
企画書・概要 (Abstract of Project Proposal)


    Recently Japan has seen the rapid development of assisted reproductive technologies (ART) together with an increase in the age of marriage and childbirth; the demand for ART and the number of children born with ART are increasing yearly. The use of donor conception is also on the increase among couples one of whom has innate or acquired loss of reproductive function. Some local governments have also begun to issue ""partnership certificates"" to same-sex couples, some of whom wish to have children or indeed have already done so by means of donor conception. While the use of donor conception is thus becoming more commonplace, in Japan there is a tendency for families not to publicize such use, a tendency that appears to be particularly strong among heterosexual couples. For that reason, it is not well known how (or whether) information about family formation is being shared with children. The present study therefore intends to explore, through interviews in Japan and abroad, particularly with families formed through donor conception, whether children have been told how they came into being, and in cases where they have, what changes occurred in the family. It is also aimed at making a leaflet for families formed via donor conception, prospective users of such technologies, and society at large in order to disseminate the results of the research and provide information about families' experiences sharing the facts of family formation with children.

実施報告書・概要 (Summary of Final Report)

2016年度研究助成プログラムに採択され、2017年5月より開始した研究プロジェクト(題目:生殖補助で形成される家族についての研究)では、2017年9月にはイギリス現地で、また日本でも2年にわたって各地で生殖医療や養子で子どもを持った親や子どもにインタビュー調査を実施した。そして、2020年2月にその成果として『血のつながりを越えて 提供精子・提供卵子・養子でできた家族の物語』を発行することができた。冊子は一般の人や、特に不妊の問題をかかえていたり、生殖医療で子どもをもった人たちに向けてまとめ、海外編と国内編の二部構成で、全体で21件の血のつながらない家族の事例を紹介した。そして最後に報告者が全体の解説を加えた。
 本研究プロジェクトに関連して、2018年12月8日には第30回日本生命倫理学会年次大会学会(京都府立医科大学)で「理想的な配偶子ドナーとはどのような人か―ニュージーランドと英国でのドナーへのインタビューから―」を報告し、2019年9月には『生命倫理』に投稿した論文「どのような人が理想の配偶子ドナーとなりうるか―ニュージーランドと英国のドナーたちの経験から―」が掲載された(Vol.29 No.1, pp.69-84.)また2019年12月21日に城西国際大学で開催されたすまいる親の会(AIDで子を持った親の会)の勉強会でも、講師として『子どもへのテリングを考える―イギリスの事例から』を報告した。

My research project, “Research on Families Formed by Reproductive Assistance,” was adopted for the Toyota Foundation’s 2016 research grant program. I started the research in May 2017. I conducted interviews with parents who had children by donor conception or adoption and children who were born by donor insemination in the UK and Japan. A booklet, Beyond Blood Ties: Stories of Families Built by Sperm/Egg Donation and Adoption, was published as a research result in February 2020. I hope it will be read by members of the general Japanese public, especially those who have fertility problems or who have had children by infertility treatments. The booklet consists of two parts, one on the domestic situation and one on overseas circumstances, and introduces various experiences of infertile couples, infertile individuals, and donor-conceived offspring together with my comments.
In addition, I gave a presentation called “What Kind of Person Is an Ideal Gamete Donor?: The Cases of New Zealand and the UK” at the 30th Annual Meeting of the Japanese Society of Bioethics held at Kyoto Medical University on December 8, 2018, and published an article titled “What Types of People Constitute Ideal Donor Candidates?: A Study Based on the Experience of Donors in New Zealand and the UK” in Bioethics (Vol. 29, No. 1, pp. 69-84.) in September 2019. I also gave a lecture at the meeting of Smile Oya no Kai (a self-support group of parents and intended parents of donor-conceived children) which was held at Josai International University on December 21, 2019.
My research results show that blood ties were not always important for a stable relationship between parent and child. The number of families without blood ties between parents and children due to donor conception might increase in Japan in the future. I hope that the booklet will contribute to eliminating prejudice and discrimination against those families. I have already distributed more than 200 copies and received many comments from readers. I would like to continue this research, focusing on the perspectives of donor-conceived offspring as the next step.

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