Page URL:

Parliament supports children's right to know of donor conception

6 August 2007
Appeared in BioNews 419

A UK all party parliamentary committee has recommended that children born through fertility treatments involving donated sperm or eggs should have this information recorded on their birth certificates. The MPs and Peers stated that children have a right to know of their donated biological parentage and believe birth certificate registration of donor conception will encourage parents to discuss their children's true genetic identity with them.

The Joint Committee, tasked with scrutinising the Human Tissue and Embryos (Draft) Bill, felt that because public authorities regulate the provision of fertility treatments, the state cannot collaborate in the deception of children who are not informed of their true genetic identity. Since 2005, UK gamete donors have not had the right to remain anonymous and an individual conceived with the assistance of a donor can, once they reach 18, learn of the identity of the donor. Despite this, many of the 2,000 donor-conceived children born each year in the UK are reported not to be informed of their true genetic identity.

The proposal has been criticised by some as state intrusion on the sensitive and personal parental choice as to if an when to tell their child: 'a bizarre and intrusive solution to a problem that has never been demonstrated to exist', commented Lib Dem MP Dr Evan Harris. Sheena Young, of Infertility Network UK, has cautioned that further discussion is needed and that better patient education to emphasise the importance of truthful disclosure may be more appropriate. It is feared that documenting details of a gamete donor on a child's birth certificate will compromise parental discretion and result in some children discovering the truth too young.

The committee made the proposal despite acknowledging it raises human rights and data protection issues regarding who has access to this information and how it should be policed. Despite this, David Gollancz, an off-spring of a sperm donor, argued in the Guardian last week that every person deserves to know their personal history, not just for medical reasons, but for personal identity reasons on par with a human right. He argued that, whilst parents cannot be legislated to 'behave with moral probity', the current birth certificate laws amount to complicit 'state fraud'. The recommendation is one of many submitted to the Department of Health for consideration by the eighteen members of the Joint Committee following its review of the draft Bill.

Call for children donor awareness
BBC News Online |  22 January 2022
Sperm donor children have right to know
The Daily Telegraph |  22 January 2022
Time to stop lying
The Guardian |  22 January 2022
25 September 2009 - by Dr Caroline Jones 
October sees the enactment of almost the entire Human Fertilisation and Embryology (HFE) Act 2008, including the new disclosure provisions for donor-conceived individuals and gamete/embryo donors. In this commentary I outline the amended disclosure provisions and highlight a number of issues raised by these changes....
1 August 2008 - by Jennifer Readings 
The recent presentation of our interim findings for our study of assisted reproduction families, at the ESHRE annual meeting in Barcelona in July, has generated a large amount of national and international press attention, suggesting a growing interest in the outcomes for children born through assisted reproduction technologies. Gamete donation...
7 July 2008 - by Dr Kirsty Horsey 
BioNews reporting from ESHRE conference, Barcelona:By Dr Kirsty Horsey: Researchers from the Centre for Family Research at Cambridge University in the UK have told the annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology that children born following the use of donor insemination should be told sooner...
6 August 2007 - by Danielle Hamm 
A joint UK parliamentary committee, established to scrutinise the Human Tissue and Embryos (Draft) Bill, has recommended that fundamental changes be made to the Bill before it commences its passage through parliament. The draft Bill will replace the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, which frames the...
6 August 2007 - by Dr Mark Hamilton 
Last week saw the publication of the UK parliamentary report of the Joint Committee on the Human Tissue and Embryos (Draft) Bill. The government is now tasked to respond over the next two months in time for the Bill to be included in the Queen's Speech in November. Certain key...
4 April 2007 - by Laura Witjens 
The National Gamete Donation Trust (NGDT) has never believed that removal of anonymity in the UK caused the decline in sperm donor numbers. As we said in a previous BioNews commentary: 'It is important to remember that, with or without the removal of anonymity, there have never been enough gamete...
to add a Comment.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions

Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.