Australia - Is the law failing children of anonymous donors?


Australia - Is the law failing children of anonymous donors?

omething happened over the weekend in Melbourne which has never happened anywhere before in the world. This is the future come home to roost.

For decades, medicine has created miracle babies, while pretending that biology doesn't matter. The time for that pretence is over. Now it's time for the truth.

On Saturday, donor conceived offspring gathered from all around Australia – and some came from overseas – for the country's first National Conference for Donor Conceived People. (We call ourselves 'DC', which is a less socially awkward shorthand for 'people conceived using donor sperm or a donated egg'.) It's the first time in the world that such a gathering has been organised by DC people themselves. You know what that says? The experiment has grown up. Forty years after this industry really got going, we're no longer just donor conceived children. We are donor conceived children, teens, and adults, some with children of our own. Just like adoptees, we want to know who our biological families are, and what our medical history is. We want to know whose genes we have. We have a right to it.

This desire to know the truth shouldn't threaten anyone. We love the people who raised us. They are also our families, and for many of us, they are the most important families we will ever have. But it's utter nonsense to say that donor conceived people have a finite amount of love to give. Finding out you have a lost half-sister doesn't mean you love your other sisters less. And I've been told I could have up to 20 half-sisters to find.

I'm one of the many Australian donor conceived people created under an anonymous donation regime. Anonymous donation has now been outlawed in my state of NSW – but that only happened in 2010. At a national level, there are no laws regulating donor conception at all, and half the states and territories have no laws either. It's estimated that there are around 60,000 donor conceived people in Australia today. No one knows for sure.

Not all donor conceived people want to find their families straight away. Some may need counselling through the process. (Believe me, while living such a distressing mess, DC people already act as counsellors for each other.) Some may prefer written contact to start with. Some may only want family medical history. But the point is that, like adoptees, all DC people have a right to identity. We have the right to know who our family is, whether we choose to make contact or not.

We had no say in the circumstances of our conception, but governments, doctors, nurses and businesses did. They decided, without us, that we were not allowed to know our family. But our biological families are ours by birthright. That should, and must, be respected in law.

Article: 30th June 2015