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More information on donors requested

Dr Kirsty Horsey

Progress Educational Trust

03 June 2002

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[BioNews, London] In the wake of last week's recommendation from Baroness Mary Warnock that the law be changed to allow children who are conceived using donated sperm to trace their biological fathers, a High Court action has begun in the UK in which a woman and a child born from donor insemination claim they have a right to know more about their biological fathers.

Joanna Rose, a 29-year old Australian woman, and an unrelated woman acting on behalf of her six-year old British child who cannot be named for legal reasons, want access to non-identifying information about their biological fathers and the establishment of a voluntary contact register. They also want more information about future donors to be collected and stored. Their lawyer told the court last week that having the information would save them from 'anger, frustration and hurt'.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act of 1990 provides that children born following the use of donated sperm can, at the age of 18, receive information about the donor which includes their height, hair colour and race, for example. But the provision only applies to people born after the Act came into effect, so Ms Rose is not entitled to receive this information. She has discovered that records relating to her conception have been destroyed.

Lawyers in the case are asking whether Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights is applicable to the offspring of donors, saying that it, now brought into UK law by the Human Rights Act of 1998, guarantees the right to form a personal identity. They are also asking whether Article 14, an anti-discrimination provision, can be used to argue that donor's children should have the same rights as adopted children to trace their genetic parents.

© Copyright Progress Educational Trust

Reproduced with permission from BioNews, an email and online sources of news, information and comment on assisted reproduction and genetics.

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Date Added: 03 June 2002   Date Updated: 12 September 2004
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