Journal of Bioethical Inquiry

, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 369–379

Donor Conception Disclosure: Directive or Non-Directive Counselling?

Original Research

DOI: 10.1007/s11673-015-9686-9

Cite this article as:
Raes, I., Ravelingien, A. & Pennings, G. Bioethical Inquiry (2016) 13: 369. doi:10.1007/s11673-015-9686-9


It is widely agreed among health professionals that couples using donor insemination should be offered counselling on the topic of donor conception disclosure. However, it is clear from the literature that there has long been a lack of agreement about which counselling approach should be used in this case: a directive or a non-directive approach. In this paper we investigate which approach is ethically justifiable by balancing the two underlying principles of autonomy (non-directive approach) and beneficence (directive approach). To overrule one principle in favour of another, six conditions should be fulfilled. We analyse the arguments in favour of the beneficence principle, and consequently, a directive approach. This analysis shows that two conditions are not met; the principle of autonomy should not be overridden. Therefore, at this moment, a directive counselling approach on donor conception disclosure cannot be ethically justified.


Counselling Ethics Donor conception Secrecy Disclosure 

Copyright information

© Journal of Bioethical Inquiry Pty Ltd. 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Bioethics Institute Ghent (BIG), Department of Philosophy and Moral ScienceGhent UniversityGentBelgium

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