How Germany's new Sperm Donor Registry Act is internationally progressive
Claudia Brügge and Dr Petra Thorn,
02 July 2017
German Association for Families after Donor Insemination (DI-NETZ), German Society for Fertility Counselling (BKiD)
For decades, Germany has been nationally and internationally regarded as a country with little regulation regarding third-party reproduction: treatment with donor sperm and donor embryos (egg donation is forbidden). Recently however, the German government has passed a law that will regulate the right of offspring conceived by donor insemination (DI) to access their biological origins.
In Germany, as in many countries, it has been difficult for donor conceived people to obtain information about their donor from clinics. In many cases, children conceived through sperm donation had to take legal action, as legislation clarifying the documentation period was only introduced in 2007. Prior to this, there was no legislation mandating a minimum period of documentation storage, and many clinics only kept records for 10 years.
In 2018, the Sperm Donor Register Act (SaRegG - Samenspenderregistergesetz) will be introduced. As a result of this Act, clinics will have to ensure that the data about the donor and the mother is supplied to a central register and documented for a minimum of 110 years.
Alongside SaRegG, the German Civil Code will be adapted. In §1600 d (4) of the Civil Code, it will be regulated that in the case of medically assisted donor insemination, the 'sperm donor cannot become the legal father of the resulting child'. This had been an area in which Germany's position differed from many other nations: in the regulatory vacuum, the sperm donor faced the risk of becoming a legal parent of the child conceived with his donated semen.
In other countries, the exclusion of the donor as a legal parent may have been considered necessary so that men are willing to donate. In Germany, this important step was long disputed. Many constitutional concerns were expressed that these offspring could be – in contrast to other children – hindered in determining their genitor as their legal father.
The new Act is in itself a major step forward. However, some aspects can also be regarded as particularly progressive from an international perspective:
The influence and the ongoing oral and written submissions of German lobby associations such as the DI-NETZ, BKiDand Spenderkinder (an organisation of adult offspring), have played a significant role in these debates.
There are some issues that we believe will require more debate and convincing, and will hopefully be addressed once the Act has been adopted. These include:
We have worked in the field of Assisted Reproductive Technologies in Germany for over 15 years. Although this Act is not as comprehensive as it could be, it is with great joy and relief that we can finally welcome legislation clarifying the most essential aspects of donor insemination.
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