Shifting to a model of donor conception that entails a communication agreement among the parents, donor, and offspring

BMC Medical Ethics 23 (1):1-11 (2022)

Abstract

BackgroundSome persons conceived with donor gametes react negatively when they found their birth via donor conception. They request access to information about and seek to communicate with the donor. However, some countries mandate donor anonymity. Other countries allow donor-conceived persons to access donor information, but they can only use this access if their parents have disclosed donor conception to them. We investigated a thorny issue of donor conception: whether donor conception should be shifted from an anonymous basis to a non-anonymous basis.MethodsWe review the issues and concerns regarding donor conception. We then consider the impact of direct-to-consumer genetic testing on donor conception, as well as the influence of donor conception on offspring’s identity and the potential of different types of donors. To discuss the future policy of donor conception, the policies on the anonymity of gamete donors were investigated using publicly-available documents in 15 countries.ResultsThe aim of mandating donor anonymity is to protect the privacy of the donor and intended parents. However, the diffusion of direct-to-consumer genetic testing may make it impossible to maintain anonymity. Birth via donor conception shapes the offspring’s identity, and the donor may further influence the development of offspring’s identity through communications. It remains important to disclose donor conception to donor-conceived offspring and to provide them with donor information. However, that information might be insufficient for some donor-conceived persons. Here are benefits to having open-identity donors and known donors. Such donors can make an agreement with the parents regarding future communication with the offspring, although both sides should respect privacy. Subsequent counseling for all parties involved can result in better tripartite communication agreements.ConclusionsIn sum, ethical and practical issues that complicate donor anonymity are driving a shift to non-anonymous donor conception, in which all parties come to a communication agreement. To pave the way for such a donor conception system, transitional measures can be put into place. For countries that already adopted non-anonymous donor conception, ensuring the communication agreements is important to protect the rights of parents, donor, and offspring.

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