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.
2. 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).
3. 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. Many prominent ethicist, researchers and lawyers support the current ban on payment (e.g. Paying Surrogates, Sperm and Egg donors goes against Canadian Values; Stop the Commercialization of Surrogacy). We believe that when payment is involved in the exchange of eggs, sperm, or surrogacy services, it commodifies the people that are produced. Similarly, the World Health Organization recommends a ban on the payment for blood and organs in order to protect the quality of donations and to prevent exploitation of donors.
“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.
4. Require records to be kept for 100 years
Recent AHRA regulations published in Canada Gazette 153, no. 13, will require fertility establishments to only keep donor sperm or egg records for a mere 10 years. This is woefully inadequate for ensuring the protection of the health and well-being of donor-conceived people.
Under this regulation the donor conceived person will have no way of knowing the medical history of the donor if the recipient parents have not retained the records, or if the donor-conceived person only finds out the truth about his or her conception after the age of 10 years old. By contrast, Germany requires records to be kept for 110 years, and Canadian adoption records are required to be retained for 100 years. We believe that 100 years is an appropriate target for record keeping.
Non-identifying donor conception records should also be centralized in the event that establishments cease operating, and to facilitate access to records by donor-conceived people. There should be no minimum age limit on when donor-conceived people can access their records.