Is the anonymous nature of sperm and egg donation coming to an end?
There is a worldwide trend that favours the right of children who were conceived by assisted reproduction to discover the identity of their sperm and egg donor which is prevailing over the donor’s right to anonymity. There are currently 20 countries around the world where these types of donations are not anonymous or where they have a more flexible system (donation can be anonymous or not).
In 2014 half of Europe’s egg donors were from Spain. According to The Spanish Fertility Society (SEF) sperm donations are used in more than 30% of assisted reproduction treatments.
This fall both the Spanish Bioethics Committee and The Spanish Fertility Society will discuss this matter. Though it seems that the former is against anonymity whereas the latter is leaning towards it.
If this new law is considered, then they will also have to decide whether or not it should be done retroactively. If so, this would disrupt the use of cryopreserved gametes and embryos to consult their donors.
There are arguments on both sides:
- Right to privacy
- In any case, anonymity can’t be guaranteed in this day and age.
DNA technology and Big Data make it impossible to guarantee that the donor can remain anonymous. It’s estimated that in 2 years more than 100 million people will have added their profile to one of the main genetic data banks. Our genetic information includes our family genetic make-up since everyone gets 50% of their DNA from their biological mother and 50% from their biological father.
- However, knowing the donor’s genetic information does not mean that they will have any legal responsibility in the matter. It does not make them a father or a mother
- Eventually, the mindset about anonymity changes and this type of donation becomes just another way of creating a family.
- It will decrease the number of donors
Like it happened in other countries where the donation has stopped being anonymous, donor numbers will decrease at first. Such are the cases of Portugal (where the Constitutional court decided this last year) and the UK. However, after some time had passed it did seem to bounce back and increase again if anything with a different type of donor (older and more sympathetic).
Anonymous donation has worked well in Spain.
- The system in Spain is somewhat flexible
If there is a real need such as there is a serious illness, the child is in danger or a valid legal reason then the donor will be contacted.
- The lack of anonymity could push people to look for treatment in other countries in the so-called “fertility tourism”.