The German parliament has just approved a legislative text to create a central registry between sperm donors and female recipients. By 2018, every individual over age 16, conceived by artificial insemination with donor will have the right to access their ancestry file. The records will be kept on file for 110 years.
Approximately 1200 children are born in Germany every year through in vitro fertilization with gamete donors, and only about 20% of these parents ever reveal their origins to their children.
It can be difficult to explain to a young person that they were conceived by assisted reproduction via a sperm donor. Fathers diagnosed as being sterile might feel uncomfortable sharing this intimate fact with their child. The association, “Spende Kinder”, counts a hundred young German members, all born from sperm donors. Anne, the young director confides: “Many fathers “in dire straits” might be apprehensive revealing the truth for fear of being rejected by their child”. In the same association, another young girl, Nina, had the opportunity to meet her donor, which gave her the “feeling of being liberated, as if she had just been released from prison”.
Several ethical issues are involved in gamete donations. A recent news report left a strong impression on the public when two young British best friends discovered they had the same father.
Since its foundation by children born from donors, the French Association Anonymous Assisted Reproduction denounces the misuse of anonymity. They congratulate Germany on this recent decision, while lamenting that France is still lagging behind on this issue. French law protects the anonymity of donors and even the requests filed by children at an adult age, are refused on a regular basis. Thus in November 2015, the Council of State refused Audrey Kermalvezen’s request for information on her biological father.
In 2008, her husband published « Born from Unknown Sperm », since his own biological father was also a donor, thereby highlighting the feelings of injustice that certain individuals experience in this situation.
Although the Biomedicine Agency continues to campaign for anonymous gamete donations as if assisted reproduction was innocuous, current developments prove that some children feel that donor anonymity is unfair and frustrating. With the emergence of associations to help search for biological fathers and the growing interest in discovering one’s family history via current medical research, ensuring donor anonymity appears to have a limited time-span. Nonetheless, the original discomfort these children experience will not completely disappear just by identifying their sperm donors.
Alliance VITA calls for intensifying infertility research, particularly to prevent male infertility. Women should also be better informed on their own fertility which decreases with age, since the mother’s age is the main reason for requesting ovocyte.