Australian donors split over past change in anonymity law

People who donated sperm and eggs before 1998 in one Australian state were able to remain anonymous, but potential new laws could have changed that. A recent study found those donors were split on the idea of possible contact from their donor children. Victoria, Australia introduced legislation to ban anonymous sperm and egg donation in 1998.
“This means that donor-conceived children who were born after 1998 have a legal right to access information about their donor,” Karin Hammarberg told Reuters Health by email. Hammarberg is a postdoctoral research fellow at the School of Public Health and Preventative Medicine at Monash University in Melbourne.

It was also suggested that the government change the law to allow everyone conceived through sperm and egg donations to find information about their donor – including pre-1998 donors who thought they could stay anonymous, she said.

But before deciding, the government wanted to ask people who donated in the past how they would feel about no longer being anonymous, and reached About half of the donors who rejected the recommendation were themselves willing to supply information to their donor offspring. They suggested the compromise of persuading donors to voluntarily release information to donor-conceived people. Many of them also thought parents should be encouraged to tell their children about their donor conception, and some thought it should be required.

It’s impossible to know if the views of these 42 donors represent the views of all Australians who donated eggs or sperm before 1998, the researchers noted. In August 2013, the Victorian government considered the survey findings. Although acknowledging the right of donor-conceived people to have information about their donors, the government decided identifying information should only be released with a donor’s consent.

“The balancing of donors’ and donor-conceived people’s rights requires utmost sensitivity. All over the world, increasing numbers of donor-conceived people are reaching adulthood. Of those who have been told that they were conceived with the help of a donor, some are likely to have a strong wish to know the identity of their donors,” Hammarberg said.

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Article: 23rd December 2013 www.reuters.com

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