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Move to legalise egg donation and surrogacy in Germany

19 August 2019
Appeared in BioNews 1011

A member of the German Bundestag parliament has called for Germany's laws around assisted conception to be liberalised.

Katrin Helling-Plahr and her colleagues in the Free Democrats Party (FDP) want the Bundestag to legalise non-commercial Surrogacy and egg donation, as well as granting single parent and LGBT families access to fertility treatment.

'The Embryo Protection Law is a thing of the past and must be reformed,' Helling-Plahr told Tagesspiegel newspaper.

Germany's law governing surrogacy and gamete donation is the Embryo Protection Act 1990, which has not been updated when Germany introduced civil partnerships for same-sex couples in 2001 and same-sex marriage in 2017.

With marriage equality, same-sex couples also won the ability to adopt children (only married couples may adopt) but laws around assisted reproduction have failed to catch up.

For lesbian couples, even when married, the woman who is not the birth mother cannot be recognised as the child's parent from birth. The sperm provider must sign legal documents giving up parental rights, and then the mother's spouse must adopt the child through a process designed for the adoption of step-children. In contrast, a man whose wife conceives using donor sperm will be recognised as the child's father from birth. 

Surrogacy remains illegal in Germany – including criminal sanctions for clinicians who inseminate or transfer an embryo to 'a woman who is willing to leave her child permanently to a third party after birth'. This affects both heterosexual and same-sex couples, but the effect falls disproportionately on gay males.

Egg and embryo donation are both illegal, and the proposals call for it to be legalised on the same terms as sperm donation.

Helling-Plahr has expressed her support for all family forms, including single parents, blended and LGBT families. She has called for reforms so that up to four adults can have parental responsibility for a child, so that the realities of some modern families can be reflected in law. 

The reforms, especially regarding surrogacy, are opposed by the organisation Spenderkinder which represents donor-conceived people in Germany. 

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Der Tagesspiegel (in German) |  12 August 2019
Germany debates legalising egg donations and surrogacy
The Local Germany |  13 August 2019
Rethink Family
Katrin Helling-Plahr |  22 October 2021
14 June 2021 - by David O'Rourke 
Single French women and those in same-sex partnerships will be able to access IVF and other fertility treatments...
26 June 2017 - by Claudia Brügge and Dr Petra Thorn 
The German government has passed a law that will regulate the right of donor-conceived people to access their biological origins...
19 August 2011 - by Dr Petra Thorn 
Germany is said to have one of the most restrictive legislation in the area of assisted reproductive technology (ART) treatments. In contrast to the UK, both oocyte donation and surrogacy are prohibited by the Embryo Protection Act. Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) has only become permissible as of July this year – it can now be carried out if the child will be born with a severe genetic disease, or if the embryo is so severely impaired that the pregnancy...
9 May 2011 - by Nisha Satkunarajah 
A child born to a surrogate mother in India has been refused German citizenship despite the intending German parents being named on the birth certificate....
28 June 2004 - by BioNews 
BioNews reporting from ESHRE conference, Berlin: According to a study undertaken by German researchers, current legislation in Germany is 'out of step' with public attitudes towards the use of preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), egg donation and surrogacy. All of these assisted reproduction procedures are currently prohibited in Germany, but the...
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