Reproductive technology has made a huge impact on society, exposing many long-standing, unresolved anomalies in our values and traditions. Access to medically assisted reproduction is particularly controversial, raising medical, legal and ethical issues. The 1980s saw increasing demands across several jurisdictions for clear legal rules, the hope being expressed in Canada that "the law may reflect the community's level of tolerance; but...also stretch or fashion it in the interests of a worthy goal." The Canadian Law Reform Commission recommended that, with regard to donor insemination, "protection for the traditional family should not be incorporated in legislation" and that "access should be limited only in terms of the cost and scarcity of resources", selection not being based on "family status, sexual orientation and so on". This paper attempts a comparative examination of UK legislation on reproductive technology in this light, with particular focus on the rationing of access to donor insemination.
Do heterosexual parents of young children following oocyte donation (OD) and sperm donation (SD) tell or intend to tell their offspring about the way he/she was conceived?
Following successful treatment with oocytes or sperm from identity-release donors in Sweden, almost all heterosexual couples intend to tell their offspring about the way he/she was conceived and some start the information-sharing process very early.
Although the Swedish legislation on identity-release gamete donors has been in effect since 1985, there is a discrepancy between the behaviour of donor-insemination parents and the legal intention that offspring be informed about their genetic origin. The present study contributes data on a relatively large sample of oocyte and sperm recipient couples' intended compliance with the Swedish legislation. DESIGN AND DATA COLLECTION METHOD: The present study constitutes a follow-up assessment of heterosexual couples who had given birth to a child following treatment with donated oocytes. Data collection was performed during 2007-2011; participants individually completed a questionnaire when the child was between 1 and 4 years of age.
The present study is part of the Swedish Study on Gamete Donation, a prospective longitudinal cohort study including all fertility clinics performing gamete donation in Sweden. For children conceived via OD, 107 individuals (including 52 couples and 3 individuals) agreed to participate (73% response). For children conceived via SD, the response rate was 70% (n = 122 individuals, including 59 couples and 4 individuals). Mean age of participants was 34 years (SD 4.4) and they reported a high level of education.
The majority of participants (78%) planned to tell the child about the donation, 16% had already started the information-sharing process and 6% planned not to tell their child about the donation or were undecided. Many were unsure about a suitable time to start the disclosure process and desired more information about strategies and tools for information sharing. Agreement on disclosure to offspring within the couple was related to the quality of the partner relationship. BIAS AND GENERALIZABILITY: There is a risk of selection bias, with gamete recipients preferring secrecy and non-disclosure declining study participation. The results may be regarded as partly generalizable to heterosexual couples with young children following treatment with gametes from legislatively mandated identity-release donors in an established donor programme.
Study funding by Merck Serono, The Swedish Research Council and The Family Planning Fund in Uppsala. No conflicts of interest to declare.
In 1985 the Swedish government introduced legislation that required all semen providers to furnish identifying information on themselves which would then be made available to their biological/provider offspring when they are deemed to have 'sufficient maturity'. The purpose of the legislation was to protect the child's rights and needs. The aim of this paper is to examine the degree to which semen providers have considered the implications of their decision to donate upon their three families; their birth family, the family they form with their partner, and the recipient family.
Thirty semen providers from two Swedish clinics were sent self-completion questionnaires collecting both quantitative and qualitative information. The initial response rate was 100%. Questions requested demographic information; the degree to which semen providers had consulted with or advised their partners, family, existing offspring and acquaintances about their semen donation; views and attitudes of semen providers towards donor offspring, anonymity, information sharing, payments to semen providers, community acceptance of DI and semen providers, experience of donation, recruitment/screening procedures.
Almost all respondents had told their partners that they were providing semen, however, a much smaller proportion had told their birth families. Almost two thirds of semen providers were positive or very positive about the prospect of meeting their offspring at some time in the future, with older men expressing more enthusiasm.
The findings suggest that semen providers have only partially considered and addressed the full implications of having semen provider offspring. The age of semen providers could be influential in determining some attitudes and views.