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social sciences

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Artificial Insemination  
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A sperm donor may be classified as a donor or as a father. The former is generally anonymous and relinquishes all parental claims and responsibilities, while the latter is known to the mother and assumes parental responsibilities. Similarly, a surrogate mother, impregnated through artificial insemination, may or may not wish to be involved legally or emotionally in the rearing of the child to whom she gives birth.

While most donors recruited by sperm banks are anonymous and legally relinquish parental rights and responsibilities, a few sperm banks allow children, with the consent of the donor, to initiate contact with their genetic father at a specified age.

Sponsor Message.

When the sperm donor is known--as in cases where individuals such as a gay man and a lesbian (or a gay male couple and a lesbian couple)--decide to co-parent a child, it is very important that all parties be clear as to the legal obligations and consequences of the co-parenting arrangement. Since alternative families are not acknowledged in most jurisdictions, co-parenting may carry with it considerable legal risks.

Other issues involved in artificial insemination include health considerations, such as access to the donor's medical history and genetic heritage, and the emotional impact on the children of artificial insemination of not knowing their fathers or growing up in non-traditional families.

Vern L. Bullough

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social sciences >> Overview:  Children of GLBTQ Parents

Over three decades of research has repeatedly shown that children of glbtq parents are no different from their peers reared in heterosexual families; recently queerspawn themselves have added their own voices to the discourse.

social sciences >> Overview:  Custody Litigation

While the courts of some states have been almost unremittingly hostile to gay men and lesbians involved in custody litigation, others have declared that glbtq parents have the same rights and responsibilities as other parents.

social sciences >> Overview:  Family

Many glbtq people reject a fixed definition of family imposed by society, and instead claim the right to define their own families as they choose.

social sciences >> Overview:  Parenting

Even though glbtq people have been parents throughout history, recent political movements and advances in fertility technology have given rise to a much more visible and self-identified gay and lesbian parents.


Clunis, D. Merilee, and G. Dorsey Green. The Lesbian Parenting Book: A Guide to Creating Families and Raising Children. Seattle: Seal, 1995.

Freeman, Sarah, and Vern L. Bullough. The Complete Guide to Fertility and Family Planning. Buffalo, N. Y.: Prometheus Books, 1993.

Reimann, Renate. "Donor Insemination." Lesbian Histories and Cultures. Bonnie Zimmerman, ed. New York: Garland, 2000. 246-47.


    Citation Information
    Author: Bullough, Vern L.  
    Entry Title: Artificial Insemination  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2004  
    Date Last Updated February 25, 2004  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2004, glbtq, inc.  


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