Sperm donor kids seek rights

by Peter Magee on March 3, 2011

Peter MageeChildren conceived by sperm donation often  face identity problems when they grow up because of a lack of information about their genetic heritage.

The problem was highlighted in the Brisbane Courier Mail late last year which reported on a man, now 36 who was conceived by sperm donation. After becoming a father himself, he feels that his missing genetic identity has left a big gap in his life.

Unfortunately situations like this pose dilemmas that have no quick and easy resolution.  On the one hand, it is very arguable that a person should have information about their heritage; however, the donor’s privacy needs to be considered.

The Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) has been amended to recognise developments in relation to assisted reproduction , including provisions as to who is defined as a parent in situations where a child is conceived this way. It had been recognised at this level that legislative changes were required to provide some structure for families and others who are affected by such donations.

Anonymity, however, may have been the condition under which the original sperm donors made their donations.  Accordingly, it seems unfair to now force their disclosure in these circumstances.  Arguably, however, a person should be entitled to at least know their medical history, for example in light of certain inherited genetic conditions.

With these procedures and advances in medical technology, whilst extremely beneficial on the one hand, these ethical issues will no doubt increase in the future.  At least, by requiring disclosure of the medical historyof the donor, the law may have made a step forward in this debate and provided some framework for a national registration database.

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