2016: Making Families

Rarely in our history has the notion of family been so fluid—or so contested.

This year, we focused on the many ways that families can be built in an age of assisted reproductive technology, anonymous sperm donation, increasing acceptance of same-sex relationships, surrogate pregnancy and more. Questions of justice and law arise in relation to some of our most intimate human relationships—and notions of personal identity.

On February 4th, 2016, we convened a conversation about ethics and family-building.

The conversation drew an audience from across the Georgetown campus and the broader DC bioethics community. Physicians and lawyers, chaplains and businesspeople, many whose lives bear the mark of personal experience with medical error, all came to celebrate a semester of student work on the topic of medical error and to engage in a spirited conversation with patient safety experts that delved deeply into its many moral complexities.


Panel: Making Families

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About the Panelists

Mary L. Bonauto, JD

A MacArthur Fellow and Civil Rights Project Director of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), Ms. Bonauto was one of three attorneys who argued in front of the U.S. Supreme Court that state bans on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional—an argument confirmed by the Court’s 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision.

Susan Crockin, JD

Ms. Crockin started one of the first Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) legal practices in the US in 1988, and continues to represent and consult to in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and third party ART programs, donor banks, and individuals around the country. She holds appointments at Georgetown’s O’Neill Institute for National & Global Health Law and Kennedy Institute of Ethics.

Barry Stevens

An award-winning documentary filmmaker and screenwriter who chronicled his search for his own sperm donor in two documentaries, Offspring and Bio-Dad, Mr. Stevens discovered that he likely is one of perhaps 600 offspring of a fertility researcher, who ran a London-based fertility clinic from the 1940s to the 1960s.

Bree (Breeanna) Speicher & Hilit Jacobson

Donor siblings whose search for their sperm donor was documented in a docu-series on MTV in late 2013 called Generation Cryo, Bree and Hilit found each other — through Bree’s investigation and modern donor identification details —and ultimately discovered at least fifteen half-siblings around the country.


Gallery: Making Families

About the Gallery

Each year, we connect our conversation with in-depth student work on the same topic.
For the 2016 event, students and faculty explored cutting edge questions in justice around family building. Information on assisted reproduction such as use of donor sperm, techniques like IVF, new calls for employers to support decisions to adopt, and the recent Supreme Court decision protecting same-sex marriage are highlighted in the 2016 gallery.