Council of Europe and gamete donation: recommendations for lifting anonymity

Publié le : 18 February 2019

The Council of Europe’s Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development has adopted a draft recommendation calling for “the waiving of anonymity for all future human gamete donations”. It will be debated by the Assembly at its next session in early April, and could be legally binding for Member States. It recommends that, in future, “the donor’s identity and the information on the circumstances of the birth” should be disclosed on the child’s 16th or 18th birthday. As regards previous donations, the Commission does not consider that anonymity should be lifted retrospectively, except in cases where the donor has consented to it or for medical reasons.

 

 This report, written by Belgian MEP Petra de Sutter, describes the anonymity principle of gamete donation as a “public health problem” since the person conceived from the donation cannot be informed of the donor’s medical history and there are risks of consanguinity. This is also an ethical issue for the person conceived through the donation, for whom “access to the donor’s identity is an essential component in building his/her identity”. Finally, this principle “is becoming obsolete due to the evolution of genetic technology”.

 

However, the text stresses that “the right to know one’s origins must be balanced against the interests of the other parties involved, i.e. those of the donors, legal parents, clinics and service providers, as well as the interests of society and the obligations of the State”. It therefore recommends that the lifting of anonymity should have no legal consequences on parentage, in order to “protect the donor”.

 

Finally, the Commission calls for the creation of a “national register of donors and donor-conceived individuals to facilitate the exchange of information and to impose an upper limit on the number of possible donations by the same donor”.

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