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EDITIONS
Friday, 23 August, 2002, 14:53 GMT 15:53 UK
Doctors back sperm donor register
sperm
Donor sperm is given on an anonymous basis
Sperm donors should be given a choice whether or not to remain anonymous, says a group representing fertility clinic doctors.

Replying to a Department of Health consultation on the future of sperm and egg donation, the British Fertility Society said that information should be given to any children only where the donor had given permission.

However, it said it also supported the idea that existing children of anonymous sperm donors should be given more information about their fathers - provided it did not identify them.


We do not believe that the time is yet right for a radical change to lift anonymity in a universal manner

British Fertility Society
The names of sperm donors, as well as certain information about them, already has to be lodged with the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority.

Children currently have the right to certain details - but not the identity - of fathers, but only once they have reached 18 years of age.

This came into force only in 1990, so the earliest that a child will receive information like this is in 2008.

Court action

Recent court cases have seen a woman born before the 1990 change seek to receive this information, and a child asking to receive the information prior to her 18th birthday.

The High Court will rule on these cases once the government's consultation exercise is over.

British Fertility Society chairman Dr John Mills acknowledged that donor anonymity was a controversial subject.

He said: "While there are areas of general consensus there is also some disagreement particularly over the question of donor anonymity.

"The BFS view is to avoid a position that is resistant to change and to adopt a progressive and informed approach."

New register

Their strategy would involve the launch of a register of donors, which would not only record necessary information to be released to children, but also whether the donor wanted to remain anonymous.

Doctors have warned that any threat to remove anonymity would severely cut the number of willing donors.

The BFS response says: "We do not believe that the time is yet right for a radical change to lift anonymity in a universal manner, as, in the society's view, the majority of donors are not ready for such a change."

Instead, it suggested that some donors should be allowed to remain anonymous while others voluntarily released their names to their children.

"It is acknowledged that it introduces the potential for conflict within families, as some offspring may consider that their rights have been infringed by a decision made by their parents and donor excluding them from information that was available to other donor offspring."

See also:

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