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Anonymity for sperm donors under threat

26 July 1999
By BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 18

Health ministers are looking at ways of giving children born as a result of donated gametes the legal right to track down their biological parents. The government has confirmed that it will publish a consultation paper in the autumn on what information should be given to children born of sperm and egg donation.

With in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment using donated gametes now accounting for about 2000 births each year, the issue has become a priority for ministers. Ministers are unhappy with the status quo, but have effectively discounted the possibility of imposing a retrospective change in the law - which would breach the trust of those who donated sperm of egg on the assumption that they would never be contacted by any resulting children. In recent years there has been mounting pressure for a change in the law to end the current system of anonymity for gamete donors. However, fertility specialists are warning that ending anonymity would result in a crisis in recruiting gamete donors, exacerbating existing problems.

The average waiting time for donated eggs at fertility clinics in the UK is between four ad eight years and sperm donors are generally in short supply. Health officials expect a drop in donation levels should the law be changed but they insist that experience elsewhere suggests that fewer people come forward for treatment as well - at least initially.

Supporters of greater rights for children born of donation to trace their genetic parents also point out that the profile of donors changes when anonymity is scrapped, with a shift towards older donors who give for more altruistic reasons.

IVF tracing 'will scare off donors'
The Guardian |  26 July 1999
Privacy fight for test-tube fathers
The Daily Mail |  26 July 1999
Tracing IVF donors 'will be a disaster'
The Daily Telegraph |  26 July 1999
When Daddy is a sperm donor
The Observer |  25 July 1999
27 June 2011 - by Professor Naomi Cahn and Wendy Kramer 
The fertility industry in the US state of Washington will be transformed in late July 2011, when a new law to recognise rights of donor-conceived people comes into effect. Under the changes, anyone who provides gametes to a fertility clinic in the state must also provide identifying information about themselves and their medical history...
25 October 2009 - by Ben Jones 
The American Medical Association has returned the issue of sperm donor screening to the public eye after publishing an article detailing the transmission of a rare and deadly heart defect to nine offspring of a registered sperm donor. The Los Angeles man (42), who is the genetic father of twenty-four children, was given a full medical check, along with tests for infectious diseases and provided a full medical history when he originally donated in the early 1990s but his genetic ...
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