Lauren Guy interviewed by ITV Meridian News on donor conception rights
20 October 2023
Director Lauren Guy, specialist in surrogacy, donor conception and fertility law and modern families, spoke to ITV Meridian News this week about how a change in the law in 2005 is now impacting the rights of sperm, egg and embryo donors. Lauren touched on the following key considerations during the interview.
Conception via sperm, egg or embryo donation
A child might be conceived using a sperm, egg or embryo for all sorts of reasons, including infertility, surrogacy and single parents creating a family. It is important to understand what rights donors and the children conceived using their donation have.
What are the rights of sperm, egg or embryo donors?
The donor is not the legal parent of the child and does not have parental responsibility. They have no right or obligation to be part of the child’s life.
What are the rights of children conceived through donation?
Before 2005 donors had the right to anonymity, and children conceived with the help of a donor could only make a request for non-identifying information about the donor, such as ethnicity, or any relevant medical history, after they reached the age of 16.
Since 2005 children can still request non-identifying information from the age of 16, but significantly they can also now request identifying information about the donor from the age of 18. Identifying information includes their name, date of birth and their last known address. This means that donors need to be prepared that children who were created as a result of their donation might request information once they reach 18 and try to get in touch with them. The first children who were born as a result of donation after the law changed in 2005 are turning 18 this year, so the first disclosures are being made this year.
Thanks to changes in society and advances in technology, these children would arguably have a good chance of tracing their donors without the 2005 change in the law in any case, thanks to the various ancestry websites that are available. Even if the donor themselves has not registered for these websites, there is a strong chance that one of their relatives may well have done.
Anyone donating sperm, eggs or embryos since 2005 should think carefully about how they would feel should a child contact them in the future. There is no obligation on a donor to have a relationship with a child born from their donation, but some might consider whether there is a moral obligation to help a child understand where they come from.
Note – when this article uses the word ‘donor’ it refers specifically to unknown donors who donated gametes through an authorised clinic in the UK.
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