Book Review: Regulating Reproductive Donation

Several times each month, we are pleased to republish a recent book review from the Canadian Law Library Review (CLLR). CLLR is the official journal of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries (CALL/ACBD), and its reviews cover both practice-oriented and academic publications related to the law.

Regulating Reproductive Donation. Edited by Susan Golombok, Rosamund Scott, John B. Appleby, Martin Richards, and Stephen Wilkinson. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016. xii, 382 p. Includes bibliographic references and index. ISBN 978-1-107-09096-5 (hardcover) $143.95.

Reviewed by Jennifer Walker
Head Librarian
County of Carleton Law Association
In CLLR 43:1

Few topics meet at the intersection of ethics, politics, religion, sociology, and law quite like reproductive health. Indeed, reproductive health care is an emotionally sensitive area for many: the people undergoing these procedures; the people who will eventually be born of them; and, seemingly, society at large. This highly complex subject is examined from almost every possible angle in Regulating Reproductive Donation.

Derived from a workshop held at the University of Cambridge Centre for Family Research with participants from diverse fields of study, the book presents a series of essays that discuss a number of topics related to reproductive donation. The essays are collected in four parts. Part One, International, Cross-Border and Global Issues, opens the book with a look at some of the larger topics with regard to gamete donation. Questions of legal parentage, international donation and surrogacy, and the environmental impact are all covered. Part Two, How Many Children Per Donor?, examines one of the oldest concerns with regard to gamete donation. Finally, parts three and four switch the focus onto gamete donors. Donors: Experiences, Motivations and Consent looks at both egg and sperm donors in three very interesting chapters, while the final part, Information about Donors: The Interests at Stake, looks at how parents choose donors, what donor information is or should be made available, and how families feel toward and about their donors.

From a legal literature perspective, there have been few works dedicated to this topic from Canada. While this book does not present an exhaustive examination of reproductive donation and care in this country, Canadian legislation and practice is touched upon brie y, offering a comparative look at the situation here versus abroad. As many of the chapters focus primarily on the United Kingdom, this book serves as an excellent discussion and analysis of the myriad topics related to reproductive donation more generally, rather than a treatise examining Canada specifically.

Where this book excels is in weaving together a multi-disciplinary examination of this constantly evolving topic. Each chapter approaches a new facet of the conversation surrounding reproductive donation and looks at all the strands—personal and political—that make up these delicate issues. Most often, the authors land on a compassionate and evidence-based response to the questions that remain. The organization and bibliographic features of this work create a book that is easy to read and provides a suitable starting place for further research. The division of the book into larger themed sections directs the reader to a broad topic, while the chapters themselves are organized in a clear and detailed way that leads the reader to the finer points. Each article is complete with a bibliography, in which relevant legislation and case law are listed separately. A comprehensive index concludes the book.

Overall, Regulating Reproductive Donation is an incredibly interesting read from start to finish. This book would be a suitable addition to an academic legal collection, but also a worthwhile read for legal counsel working in this area to better understand the nuances and intricacies of reproductive donation.

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