Thursday, 18 April, 2024
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New rights for UK donor babies as they turn 18

Around 30 young British adults – conceived via sperm or egg donation in the UK in 2005 – will soon be able to discover the identity of their biological parent, with the legal right to request details like the donor’s full name, birth date and last known address.

The new rights come as rising numbers of children are being conceived using the technology, posing a range of challenges for the children, their families and donors.

The UK law removed the anonymity of egg and sperm donors in 2005 and gave children the right to receive basic information about them when they reached 18.

With the first children covered by the legislation turning 18 this month, they will finally be able to access the details of their biological parent, reports The Citizen.

Advances in fertility treatment methods and changing social attitudes have seen an increasing number of donor-conceived children being born – not just to people facing fertility challenges but also same-sex couples and older women.

Initially, the numbers of children who will have the right to know will be small, with just 30 people becoming eligible between now and December this year.

Data from the UK’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) shows that will rise to more than 700 people by the end of 2024, increasing to 11 400 by 2030.

According to the latest available figures from the regulator of fertility treatment and research using human embryos, 4 100 UK births – around one in 170 – were the result of donor conception in 2019.

Some donors remain a mystery

Nina Barnsley, director of the UK’s Donor Conception Network, said many of those eligible to ask for the information might not even be aware of how they were conceived.

When new techniques, like artificial insemination and in vitro fertilisation (IVF), were first introduced some four decades ago, infertility was often a taboo subject and some parents chose not to tell children how they were conceived.

But for many years now, psychologists have advised families to be open with the information as early as possible.

Others might not have realised the significance of the legislation or have other priorities.


The Citizen article – New rights for UK donor babies as they turn 18 (Open access)


See more from MedicalBrief archives:


‘Misconception’ that reproductive cell donation in SA demands anonymity


Pretoria sperm donor father seeks resumption of parental rights


Egg providers changing the way SA thinks about assisted reproduction


French IVF law change may result in shortage of frozen sperm


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