The Donor Who Dared To Say Don't

You wouldn't sell or give away your kids, would you? So don't donate your sperm!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Victorian donors retain right to find their children

Government rejects bid to restrict donor contact


Carol Nader
December 18, 2007

SPERM and egg donors will still be permitted to initiate contact with children they helped conceive, after the State Government rejected the recommendation of a report it commissioned that the law be overthrown.

In Victoria, anyone who donated sperm or eggs that were used in the conception of children born from July 1988 onwards can apply to the Infertility Treatment Authority for information about the child.

Once the child turns 18, the authority is required to write to them, requesting consent to release identifying information to the donor.

But there are concerns that people who are not aware of their genetic origins would face possible trauma upon learning of their history. Studies have shown only about a third of parents tell their children how they were conceived.

The first people affected by the law turned 18 last year. The authority launched a public awareness campaign, encouraging parents to tell their children and offering support.

The Victorian Law Reform Commission in its report argued it would be "intrusive and unenforceable" to legally oblige parents to inform their children of their genetic origins.

It recommended that only children be allowed to initiate contact, but donors should have a 12-month period to apply for information. It said donors should be encouraged to tell authorities if they became aware of a genetic condition that might have been transmitted and the information would be passed on.

The Government last week announced it would make surrogacy available and ease restrictions on single women and lesbians to access fertility treatment. But it won't accept the commission's recommendation about sperm and egg donors' access to information.

A spokesman for Health Minister Daniel Andrews said: "There have been a number of changes over a period of time in this area. To change the laws again would be confusing and destabilising."

Melbourne IVF clinic medical director John McBain has been trying to persuade the Government to repeal the law and intends to write to Mr Andrews.

Dr McBain said by refusing to change the law, the Government was effectively frightening people into telling their children about how they were conceived.

The authority has so far received fewer than 10 applications from donors requesting information about children who have turned 18. Chief executive Louise Johnson said donors making the applications to date had been sensitive.


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