May 25, 2024

Sperm and egg donors should lose anonymity, says Australian govt report

Contains controversial recommentations

Donor Conception Support Group of Australia Inc. Australian children born from sperm or egg
donation should have the right to track their parents with the help of a
national register, according to a Senate report tabled this week. Labor senator
Trish Crossin said that there was “quite appalling” lack of
legislation in half of Australia’s eight jurisdictions. Tasmania, Queensland,
the Australian Capital territory and the Northern Territory have no laws at all
regarding donor conception practices.

Estimates suggest there are at least 20,000
and possibly as many as 60,000 donor-conceived people in Australia.

The committee
made 32 recommendations, including a limit of four families whom donors can
assist. It found that many children feared inadvertently marrying a
half-sibling, although a sceptical fertility specialist from Canberra said, “there is no
adjective which accurately describes just how tiny this chance really is”.  However, the committee found that donor conceived
people may have up to twenty genetic half-siblings. This hampers their ability
to make “sense of their identity and what ‘family’ means for them”

The committee also stuck to a ban on payment for sperm or eggs, other
than “reasonable expenses” – although it found that clinics differ on how much
this should be.

Like similar reports from other countries,
this one contains some emotional statements from children. One woman said, “I
cannot begin to describe how dehumanising and powerless I am to know that the
name and details about my biological father and my entire paternal family sit
somewhere in a filing cabinet… with no means to access it. Information about
my own family, my roots, my identity, I am told I have no right to know.”

The committee made controversial observations
which will probably meet stiff resistance from the IVF industry. It noted that
accreditation process for IVF clinics seems to have broken down and is not
transparent. It calls for national regulation and suggests that an ombudsman
may be needed. The importation of sperm should be banned – which has already
become a cottage industry. ~ Senate
Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee, Feb 10

Michael Cook
sperm donation