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Australian sperm donors' details could be linked to birth certificates

20 February 2012
Appeared in BioNews 645

The state parliament in New South Wales (NSW), Australia, is considering whether sperm and egg donors' details should be mandatorily recorded on their children's birth certificate.

Under the current law, only the two legal parents of the child can be recorded on the birth certificate but there are concerns that this limits the child's access to details of their biological parents later in life.

Donor information in the state is at present collected on a central register kept by the Department of Health. The NSW Health Central Register includes mandatory information about donors including their full name and address, ethnicity and medical history. Information is collected for children, born as a result of fertility treatment using donated gametes or embryos, conceived after 1 January 2010. Prior to this date such information could be provided voluntarily.

The inquiry is looking at whether this system for record keeping is adequate and if there should be provision for the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages to include donor details on the register of births.

Caroline Lorbach, from the Donor Conception Support Group, commented: 'We believe that all children born through donated gametes should have the right to know how they were conceived and the only way to do that is to have information either on or through their birth certificates'.

The Legislative Assembly Committee on Law and Safety has received more than 30 submissions to consider for the inquiry. These include suggestions that, in order to preserve the children's privacy, the information is 'hidden', enabling the child to use the birth certificate for public identification purposes without possible embarrassment. Secret notes or tags could be attached to the birth certificate indicating that more information is available to the child if they wish to obtain it when they reach 18 years old.

Vicki D'Adam, deputy director-general of the Department of Premier and Cabinet, which put forward one of the submissions, said: 'Options for including donor information on the birth certificate would need to take into account issues of privacy to ensure that donor-conceived children are not stigmatised by being treated differently to other children'.

The inquiry follows a ruling by a NSW court last year allowing a sperm donor's name to be removed from a child's birth certificate, at the request of a lesbian couple who both sought to have both their names included. Judge Stephen Walmsley suggested at the time the law should be reformed to allow three parents to be listed on the birth certificate.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Inclusion of donor details on the register of births (Inquiry)
Law and Safety Committee, Parliament of New South Wales | 
Inquiry into inclusion of donor details on the register of births
Media Release - Legislative Assembly: Committee on Law and Safety |  19 October 2011
NSW Health Central Register
New South Wales Government - Health | 
Sperm donors considered for NSW birth certificates
ABC News |  17 February 2012
Sperm donors' secret details tagged on birth certificates
Daily Telegraph |  17 February 2012
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