Advocacy

The Donor Conceived Alliance of Canada wants to see policy that prioritizes the welfare of donor-conceived people. Specifically, we want to see the following:

  1. Ban anonymous gamete donation

We believe that anonymous gamete donation is wrong on several counts: 

  • It is wrong to purposely create people who are denied knowledge about their medical, cultural and genetic identity.
  • It is wrong for a government, doctor, private business or organization to withhold personal information about a person from that person.
  • The right to know one’s identity is also enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Canada is a signatory. 
  • The claim that the fertility industry can offer anonymity to sperm and ova donors is deceitful. With the explosion of consumer DNA testing it has become relatively easy for most donor-conceived people to identify their biological parent(s) (sperm / egg / embryo donors), even if the donors themselves never have their DNA tested.

We want to see governments and the fertility industry formally recognize that “anonymous” gamete donation should no longer be offered or promised to prospective sperm and egg donors.

For more information regarding the views of donor-conceived people on anonymity, please click here.

  1. Set a limit on the number of individuals created per donor

Many fertility clinics have guidelines for the number of people that can be created per, but these guidelines are rarely followed, or, in our opinion, are too lenient regarding the permitted number of half-siblings created. For instance, Xytex sperm bank in the U.S. can supply up to 60 families worldwide with the same donor, and multiple children can be conceived with the same donor per family. This approach results in some donor-conceived people having dozens or hundreds or half-siblings.

Many countries including New Zealand, Britain, and the Netherlands, already restrict the number of children born to one gamete donor.

Canada, however, does not.

Discovering that one has dozens, potentially hundreds, of half-siblings can feel dehumanizing. Many donor-conceived people also want to be able to have relationships with their half-siblings once they’ve been found, but making and maintaining dozens of relationships with half-siblings can be overwhelming, or simply not feasible. Donor-conceived people want to see a conservative limit on the number of people that can be created per donor.

A recent informal online survey by the advocacy group We Are Donor Conceived suggests this number should be under five people (selected by 48% of respondents) or between 6 and 10 people (selected by 42% of respondents).

  1.  Maintain the ban on the commercialization of surrogacy and payment of gamete donation.

We want the Government of Canada to maintain criminal penalties for violations of the Assisted Human Reproduction Act (S.C. 2004, c. 2) including paying gamete donors. We believe that when payment is involved in the exchange of eggs, sperm, or surrogacy services, it commodifies the people that are produced. We see this in the language that is often used when purchasing gametes. For example, one 36-year-old egg recipient describes choosing an egg donor as being overwhelming and asks, “How do you intentionally choose the fate of your child? Do you prioritize health, talents, looks or skills?” This language is objectifying and legalizing payment for gametes will further contribute to our commodification.

“Paying donors creates a marketplace where donors become vendors, parents become customers, and donor-conceived individuals become products. This is a dangerous practice and contrary to Canadian values.” – Erin Jackson, donor-conceived adult and creator of the advocacy group We are Donor Conceived

  1. Establish a Canadian donor conception registry.

A Canadian donor conception registry should be established to allow information about donors to be maintained and available to donor-conceived people who request identifying and non-identifying information about their donors. A donor conception registry could potentially be used to allow donor-conceived siblings to find each other, or for donors to find their genetic children, if the donor-conceived people elect for such forms of contact.

Quebec’s 2008 legal challenge to the AHRA quashed plans for a stand-alone national donor registry. We believe that provincial donor registries should be mandated and this information should be searchable through a Canada-wide system. Since the provinces regulate healthcare they would join the registry and, rather than having a federally-coordinated registry, the registry would be Canada-wide in scope.

The nationally-coordinated kidney registry (“Living Donor Paired Exchange” program) provides a precedent for this approach.

5.  Document information about assisted reproductive technology on birth certificates.

Donor-conceived people have the right to know that they were donor-conceived. Having this information on birth certificates will make it more likely that they will know the truth about their conception. Ideally, we want to have the biological parent(s)’ name(s) in addition to the legal parent(s) name(s), or at the very least to have a “donor-conceived” annotation on birth certificates.

We argue that there is a strong case for reform in this area to avoid lack of parental disclosure, deception by the state, and to obtain an accurate record of genetic parentage.