14 March 2011
ByAppeared in BioNews 599
An Australian Senate Standing Committee has published a report calling for widespread updates to the law governing donor conception, including greater monitoring of compliance among clinics and practitioners and the development of new forms of oversight to support the current regulatory framework.
The Senate's Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee report calls for the standardisation of donor conception law across Australia with the introduction of regulation in Queensland, Tasmania, the Northern Territory, and the Australian Capital Territory where no such legislation currently exists.
It recommends legislation should include a minimum requirement that donor anonymity be prohibited, a cap on the number of families a donor can assist, the right of the donor-conceived to identifying (and non-identifying) information about their donor and siblings, as well as more general welfare protections.
It further calls upon the Australian Government to give consideration to monitor private donor conception arrangements through the creation of a national register or, at the least, state and territorial registers with consistent content and access arrangements. The arrangements would enable donors to discover identifying information about those conceived via their donations as well as the data on donor and siblings for those who are donor-conceived.
The Committee recommends the creation of voluntary registers for those involved in private arrangements and the provision of DNA data banking facilities to enable donors and the donor-conceived to be matched where identifying records are otherwise destroyed or absent. A moratorium on the destruction of records is recommended as an interim measure pending the development of new, consistent, long-term storage plans for records across Australia.
The proposals to reform clinical oversight includes the creation of an 'ombudsman-type mechanism or health complaint commission' for donor-conceived individuals and those taking part in assisted reproductive technology procedures.
Further suggestions include a ban on imported gametes except where it is difficult to obtain gametes from a person of the same ethnic background; a limit of four families for the provision of donations from a single individual; the standardisation of consent forms for donors and the inclusion of donor information on all birth certificates.
The Committee writes it hopes the report 'will assist in raising awareness in all states and territories about the issue of donor conception, particularly in those jurisdictions that do not have legislation regulating donor conception practices'.