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What happens when sperm and egg donors lose the right to anonymity?

In the UK and New Zealand, people conceived using donated sperm, eggs or embryos who turn 18 this year will be able to learn the identity of their donors – but it is unclear how many will want to


25 January 2023

Parents playing with a baby

Telling children they were conceived using egg or sperm donations can be difficult

Mint Images Limited/Alamy

Dozens of people conceived using a donated egg, sperm or embryo in the UK will receive an unusual birthday present when they turn 18 this year, as they gain the right to learn the identity of their previously anonymous donor.

The UK is one of only a handful of countries to ban anonymous donors. A change in the law on 1 April 2005 guaranteed people who were donor-conceived after that date the right to information about their …

Source link In recent years, governments around the world have been reassessing sperm and egg donation policies with an emphasis on the right to anonymity. Consequentially, numerous countries are combating the ideologies surrounding the practice of allowing anonymous donation with the potential for donors to find out the identity of those whom they have donated to. Most recently, the High Court of England and Wales have highlighted the legal preparations proposed to remove the anonymity of both sperm and egg donors in all instances of assisted fertility procedures. This raises the question, what happens when sperm and egg donors lose their anonymity?

The subject of donor anonymity and associated ethical concerns have been a topic of vital discussion in the medical world for many years. There are particular questions as to why some countries choose to allow for the anonymity and the potential repercussions that could arise when removing such a choice. Confidentiality and the right to anonymity can be linked to respecting donor autonomy and avoiding any discrimination on the part of those accessing donor information.

On one hand, removing donor anonymity could pose a conundrum for any future siblings that come from a shared conception – their interests and rights must be respected. It has been found that hospitals, in the UK and elsewhere, can fail to implement suitable checks to ensure that related individuals are not being assigned the same donor source. Additionally, removing anonymous donation is also argued to bring a wider discussion to the fore in regards to donor care. It must be noted that a donor’s well-being may be quality that is overlooked if steps are not taken to ensure that the donated information is taken seriously and not left unexplored.

Yet, with that being said, the potential for individuals to access information about their donor may be incredibly beneficial. Taking away donor anonymity will allow for those receiving donor sources to learn about their biological parentage and any hereditary illnesses, thus allowing for accessible preventative healthcare. It is also argued that removing the rights to anonymity can assist to de-stigmatise donor conception and provide a sense of closure.

Though governments and medical organisations must prioritize protecting donor’s anonymity, it is clear that there are tangible benefits to removing such a right in order to ultimately protect and benefit the donors themselves. The repercussions of such a decision – both internally and externally – must be taken into consideration but the benefits of changing a system that has been largely unchanged for decades may prove to be a wise move. It is expected that discussions surrounding the topic of donor anonymity are far from over, as governments and medical organisations grapple to come to a conclusion.

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