Skip main navigation

How important is biology?

Ethical considerations
Online fertility
Gamete donation
Regulated Vs Un-regulated

Donor conception highlights – and at the same time challenges – our idea of what it means to be a parent. It highlights the biological nature of parenthood, as it involves a genetic link; yet at the same time it challenges how important that link is.

As we saw in this week’s introduction, there are biological and social parents and they are not always the same person. A donor parent may be involved in a child’s life, or later on if they are contacted, but in many cases they are not.

Even so, our notions around parenthood are changing and some believe we are placing more emphasis on our biology today than we ever did.

Consider, for example, the way in which some people might refer to a biological parent as the ‘real parent’. This kind of language is a source of concern for non-biological, social parents, who are the ones actually doing the parenting.

At the same time, new family forms are challenging this narrative and assisted reproduction continues to give new meaning to the debate around the importance of biology.

The way we think of biological parenthood reflects the way we think about ourselves in general. Professor Parry suggests that biology is part of who we are, but not the core of who we are.

This is important because it impacts on our choices with regards to assisted fertility and gamete donation, where the question of the importance of biology and genetic links is brought to the fore.

Questions to consider: Do you agree that the biological parenthood is ‘valorised’ in society? How important is it in your family or your community? Do you think the nature of parenthood is changing, and if so, in what way?

This article is from the free online

Making Babies in the 21st Century

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now