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A committee recommends the waiving of anonymity for all future human gamete donations

“Anonymity should be waived for all future human gamete donations in Europe”, the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development said, unanimously adopting a draft recommendation with a view to a debate in the Assembly’s next session (8-12 April 2019).

The report by Petra De Sutter (Belgium, SOC) underlines that the principle of the anonymity of gamete donors is today called into question because it poses a public health problem (the donor-conceived person cannot be informed of his/her donor’s medical history, and there are risks of consanguinity); it raises the ethical issue of the position of the donor-conceived person (access to the donor’s identity is an essential aspect of identity building), and this principle is becoming obsolete due to the evolution of genetic technology (making it possible for a person to have access to his/her genetic data and therefore to find his/her donor).

However, the committee stressed that the right to know one's origins must be balanced against the interests of the other parties involved, ie those of the donors, the legal parents, clinics and service providers, as well as the interests of society and the obligations of the State.

According to the parliamentarians, the donor’s identity and the information on the circumstances of the birth should only be revealed to the child upon his or her 16th or 18th birthday (ideally by the State), and not at the time of the donation to the family. The committee also stressed that the waiving of anonymity should have no legal consequences for filiation: the donor should be protected from any request to determine parentage, inheritance or parenting claim. Regarding donations made in the past, the committee considered that this anonymity should not be lifted retrospectively, except for medical reasons or where the donor has consented to it.

Finally, it recommended that member States run “a national Donor and Donor Conceived Person Register” in order to facilitate the sharing of information and enforce an upper limit on the number of possible donations by the same donor.

The Committee of Ministers should decide whether these recommendations should ultimately become legally binding, the committee concluded.