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Tuesday, 9 July, 2002, 09:24 GMT 10:24 UK
Should sperm donors be anonymous?
The public is in favour of giving the children of sperm donors more information about their biological parents, according to a survey.
More than three-quarters of people questioned in the poll thought children born using donated sperm or eggs should have a right to know their genetic history at 18.
The poll, commissioned by the Children's Society, found almost two thirds felt donor children should have the same rights to know their biological parents as adopted children.
It comes as the government considers whether to change the 1990 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority Act.
Do you feel that children conceived through the use of donated sperm have a right to the same information as those conceived naturally? Or is there a risk that there would be a reduction in donations if anonymity was removed?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
Trying to satisfy the rights of everybody is probably contradictory. Should a child who wants to know have more or less right than a perfectly normal and altruistic donor who does not wish his identity to be revealed? Perhaps we should just solve it by abandoning the process and accepting that those who can't produce either eggs or sperm just cannot procreate and that there are no absolute rights associated with these problems.
If the donor gave his sperm on the promise that his private details would not be disclosed, then that promise should be enforced. He has fulfilled his part of the bargain and the other parties should fulfil theirs in return.
Please... The point of the whole exercise is to produce offspring. If you don't want any, then don't donate. As a male, I find it beyond comprehension why some people think they can produce children and then vanish. Children are a privilege. In cases of whose rights supersede, I will always side with the child.
Neil Ridulfa, Philippines
In the US, which is the most litigious country in the world, this could open up the sperm donors to legal liability for child support payments and other financial burdens. All the responsibility and none of the fun. I know I won't be donating any.
Dorothy Graley, UK
I don't think that the right to know the real father has anything to do with the anonymity of the sperm donor. It is human nature for any child to want to know who his or her real father is.
As a child of donor insemination, I concede that this is a tough issue. To simply make a black and white judgement is both rash and impertinent. However, I can say there is a biological need to know your parents. People who have been born with relationships to both parents simply take their own situation for granted. Remember the children of today, they are the adults of tomorrow.
They had exactly the same debate here in Finland a month or so ago. They came to the sensible conclusion that no one would donate sperm unless they could remain anonymous. The overriding factor being that if they weren't anonymous, they could be chased down for benefit payments by an unscrupulous mother who they have never met.
Would you want to donate sperm with that possibility looming over your head? The keyword in this debate is "donate". People are "donating" not for the very small monetary payment you get from donating sperm, but to help those who couldn't conceive otherwise. If they cannot remain anonymous, you will see very few people wishing to donate their sperm.
It's been suggested that the possibility of being contacted by the children conceived as a result of sperm donations would bring out more mature donors who've really thought through what they're doing. That's no good! Couples who need sperm donors need young and healthy sperm, not middle aged sperm as this is likely to be a cause of their problem to start with. I fear that the availability of donor sperm is going to get as bad as the availability of donor eggs if sperm donors face being named. The only information that should be available to the recipients of donor sperm is medical information. This information should preferably be kept up to date in the future so as to provide the child with a full medical history.
Several of my friends and myself have donated sperm. The only reason I did it was because it would help people like my brother and his wife (my brother can't have kids) without making me morally or financially responsible for any child that might result. The thought that a child that was conceived using my sperm would contact me when he/she was 18 is terrifying. What if I was married with kids? What effect would that have on my family? These things are best left anonymous.
Yes!! It is a fundamental right of every child to know where he/she came from. A child needs a mother and a father. Advocates for gay rights in adoption take note!
When there are so many unwanted children in the world, it seems ridiculous that sperm donors should be needed. I would prefer to see them banned as I can see no good reason why we should continue to add to the population of our already overcrowded world.
Yes, sperm donors should remain anonymous.
The furthest that should be gone is that a child could make an application through a trusted third-party for their father's identity, but unless the father responds in the affirmative, then they cannot be told the identity. There should also be a limit on the number of applications allowed, to prevent harassment.
Think of all the students that did it for the money. I certainly wouldn't want someone turning up on my doorstep claiming to be my son/daughter - and probably wanting financial support too!
If sperm donations were not anonymous, then I certainly wouldn't donate.
What a great way of cutting down on the supply of sperm donors!
Craig Scandrett, UK
I do not think it matters, as long as any change is not retrospective, leading to men who donated on the understanding of anonymity suddenly being contacted by their biological offspring.
This is a difficult one. On the face of it, the donor should have the right to remain anonymous, but what of the child's wishes on reaching 18? I think donors should have the right initially to remain anonymous but with the clear understanding that the child will have right of access to all relevant data about his or her biological father on reaching 18. If a donor has any reservations about this, or what his feelings might be in 18 years time, he should not be allowed to donate.
Yes and no. I think sperm donors should be traceable by banks to research medical information that might prove crucial to their biological child's health, but I do think they should remain anonymous unless both parties (donor and resulting child) agree that they want a relationship. Men donate sperm for various reasons, but they never donate sperm because they want a biological child turning up on their doorstep 20 years later saying, "Hi Dad!"
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