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Anonymous gamete donation banned from fertility clinics under new law

05 May 2020 / legislation Print

Anonymous donor gametes banned from fertility clinics

A new legal framework has been established for registering the births of children who are born as a result of assisted human reproduction involving donated eggs or sperm or embryos.

Part 2 and 3 of the related regulations in the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 were commenced on the May bank holiday.

The provisions will, for the first time, provide a legal framework for registering the births of children who are born as a result of assisted human reproduction involving donated eggs or sperm or embryos.

Birth certs

In September 2018, the Department of Employment and Social Protection confirmed to the Law Society Gazette that the format of Irish birth certificates will change.

At that time, the department said the words ‘mother’ and ‘father’ are expected to be replaced, as appropriate, with ‘parent one’ and ‘parent two’.

Minister Harris said he was pleased to have reached this point.

Milestone

"We have a lot more work to do in this area, I know but today is a significant milestone and an important day.

"I know it means the world to many parents across the country," he said.

Under the new law, the registrar of births will hold ‘additional information’ on donor-conceived children, which may be requested when that child reaches 18.

In tandem, the General Scheme of the Assisted Human Reproduction Bill provides for the formation of a National Donor-Conceived Person Register (NDCPR), a move that was first mooted in section 33 of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015.

The Act contains provisions relating to Donor Assisted Human Reproduction (DAHR) procedures that take place in a clinical setting in the State.

Genetic heritage

Its goal is to protect the rights of children conceived through the use of donor embryos or gametes. It will ensure that they will be able to access information on their genetic heritage in future years.

The details of the parent(s) will be registered on the Irish National Donor-Conceived Person Register.

The details of the parents and any known donor information (in the case where an embryo is formed from one anonymous gamete and one non-anonymous donor gamete) will be registered on the Irish National Donor-Conceived Person Register.

Procedures in the State 

It applies to procedures where the woman who gives birth is also the intending mother and the child is born in the State.

Anonymously donated sperm or eggs will not be eligible to be used in a Donor Assisted Human Reproduction procedure in an Irish fertility clinic after the commencement.

However, where a family wishes to create a sibling for their existing child(ren) using the same donor there is a transitional provision of three years.

In these cases, the transitional period which allows for the use of anonymously donated sperm or eggs is until the 4 May, 2023.

Surrogacy

Surrogacy is not covered under the legislation.

The forthcoming draft legislation in the Assisted Human Reproduction Bill contains provisions for areas including domestic surrogacy and the subsequent assignment of parentage.

The legislation foresees interaction between the registrar of births and the planned NDCPR, where the registrar can see that a child was born as a result of a donated gamete.

This register will hold the donor’s name, address, date of birth, nationality, date and place of donation, and the sex and year of birth of any other children born from the donors’ gametes.

There has been general welcome for the ban on anonymous gamete donation. In future, donors must give active legal consent.

Legal responsibility

However, there is no legal responsibility, or suggested timescale, for parents to inform children about the truth of their biological origins

The act of 2015 has a number of regulations, which relate to the use of donor gametes, embryos, and the families formed using donors in assisted human reproduction. Broadly speaking there are three types of regulations:

  • There are regulations for donors where the donor makes a declaration and signs that they have no parental rights to offspring born from their donation. They consent to the use of their donation in a Donor Assisted Human Reproduction procedure. The donor will also have to consent to their information being held on a National Donor-Conceived Person Register.
  • There are regulations for the birth mother and the other intending parent to make a declaration that they have been informed of their rights and their children’s rights under this legislation. They sign of their intention to be a parent of offspring born as a result of a Donor Assisted Human Reproduction procedure. Intending parents will also have to consent to their information being held on the Donor Conceived-Person Register.
  • There is a regulation which relates to the certification of a Donor Assisted Human Reproduction procedure which allows both intending parents to be named on the birth certificate of a child born as a result of that procedure.

The details of the parent(s) will be registered on the Irish National Donor-Conceived Person Register.

Non-anonymously donated sperm or egg currently in storage in an Irish fertility clinic may be used only if the donor now signs a consent form to allow the collection and storage of their details on the Irish National Donor-Conceived Person Register.

However, embryos formed using anonymously donated gamete/s prior to this, will still be able to be used in a Donor Assisted Human Reproduction procedure in an Irish fertility clinic following commencement of the Act.

At-home insemination

Intrauterine insemination (IUI) at home using non-anonymously donated sperm, will not comply with the new regulations and to have both names on the birth certificate.

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