16 Nov 2023
The Council has set up a Working Party to consider the ethical issues raised by the disclosure of information about genetic origin in the particular context of families created through assisted reproduction using donor gametes (egg, sperm or embryos).
Donor-conceived children may not have genetic links with one or both of their social/legal parents. Their parents may, or may not, choose to tell them that they are donor conceived, and they are likely to have only limited information about the family medical history of their donor(s).Donor-conceived children conceived after 1 April 2005 are legally entitled at the age of 18 to be informed (on request) of the identity of their donor and hence, if they wish, to seek to make contact with the donor and potentially with any unknown siblings. Donors are entitled to find out the number, sex and year of birth of any children being born as a result of their donation but receive no other information unless that child, on reaching adulthood, makes contact.Access to information about a donor-conceived child’s genetic origins raises a number of ethical questions. These include both how the sometimes conflicting interests of all the various parties involved in donor conception may properly be balanced; and what role the state, the public sector, or health and social care professionals more generally should be expected to play in what is often seen as the private domain of the family.The Council will publish a report on this issue, making policy recommendations where appropriate, in spring 2013.Find out more