Informal sperm donation: examining the significance of MacDougall v SW and others

Bethany Armitage
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Bethany Armitage


An article by Beth Armitage has been published on and is accessible to users with an appropriate Lexis account.

‘MacDougall, 37, went ahead with the private donations despite knowing he suffered from Fragile X syndrome, an inheritable, incurable condition which can lead to low IQ and developmental delay.’

‘A judge has taken the rare step of naming an online sperm donor who fathered 15 children despite knowing he had an incurable genetic disorder.’

These two newspaper quotes following the publication of the case MacDougall v SW & Ors (sperm donor: parental responsibility or contact) [2022] EWFC 50 highlight the reasons why this case garnered such interest from the general public.

Although these quotes seek to exaggerate certain elements and at times misinterpret the judgment provided by Lieven J, it is clear by the sheer number of internet responses when typing in ‘MacDougall sperm donor’ that this case caught the attention of the wider public and news outlets from across the globe.

This article seeks to consider why this case raised such interest in the general public and the legal basis in which the court determined to name the father, Mr MacDougall.

The full article will be published in the December edition of Family Law.

Written by Bethany Armitage