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Kerala rules on donor conception birth certificate requirement

23 August 2021
Appeared in BioNews 1109

Requiring a sperm donor's name to be recorded on children's birth certificates may breach privacy laws, according to the High Court of Kerala in India.

A pregnant woman who conceived using donor sperm filed a petition to the court, as forms to register the birth required the father's name to be disclosed. She does not know the donor's identity and India's Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill, 2020 states that a donor's identity cannot be revealed.

Justice Sathish Ninan said in his judgment 'Having conceived through ART [assisted reproduction] procedure, the identity of the sperm donor cannot be disclosed except in circumstances as may be compelled for, under law. It falls within the realm of the "right of privacy".'

Justice Ninan also ordered the state to provide forms without a field for the father's name for single women who had conceived as a result of fertility treatment and recommended that statutes and procedures should be changed to reflect the evolving methods of conception and parenthood.

'The right of a single woman/unwed mother, to conceive through ART procedures having been recognised, it is for the state to provide appropriate forms for registration of births and deaths of children born through such procedures.'

He reasoned that leaving the field for the father's name blank would draw attention to the fact that the child was born outside marriage, violating the privacy and 'affect[ing] the right of dignity of the mother as well as the child.'

The ruling follows a 2018 decision by the High Court in Madras, which also held that single mothers who had become pregnant through fertility treatment should not be compelled to reveal the details of the father when registering the birth. 

Whether donor-conceived children should be able to access identifying information about their donor remains a contentious issue, and rules surrounding donor anonymity vary around the globe. 

Prior to 2005, sperm donors were able to remain anonymous in the UK. Since then, children conceived via sperm donation in the UK have had the right to access the donor's identifying information after reaching age 18. 

21 September 2020 - by Dr Yvonne Collins 
Donor conception was the focus of the event Known Unknowns: The Pros, Cons and Consequences of Known Donation, held online by the Progress Educational Trust (PET), the charity that publishes BioNews, in partnership with the University of Manchester...
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The Progress Educational Trust (PET), which publishes BioNews, held a public event in London to discuss direct-to-consumer genetic testing in relation to donor anonymity...
13 May 2019 - by Louise Johnson 
It has been over two years since world-first changes to donor conception laws were implemented in Victoria, Australia, allowing all donor-conceived people to learn their sperm or egg donor's identity...
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