France has implemented modifications in the preservation of anonymity for donors of gametes, sperm or oocytes, used by women who undergo assisted reproduction techniques, as of the month of September of the current year.

This means that children conceived using these techniques, in which gametes from anonymous donors have been used, will have greater possibilities in the future of identifying their genetic parents. The current modification includes the possibility that the donor in question can refuse to do so when required by his biological son to reveal his identity, which would leave things as they are now.

The debate on maintaining anonymity for gamete donors is not new. Previously, we have published some related articles in which we underline the conflict of interest that is established between the right to anonymity of donors and that of conceived children to know their parents.

One argument used by those who refuse to reveal the identity of the donors is the risk that this could significantly reduce the number of donors, for fear that their biological children may want to contact them in the future against their will. In addition, although the regulations exclude this possibility, the children could demand some benefit from their genetic parents, of an economic or other nature, a situation that tries to avoid anonymity in the donation.

However, the association PMAnonyme (Non-Anonymous Assisted Procreation) points out that in Sweden or the United Kingdom, where progress has been made in the possibility of revealing the identity of gamete donors, although at first the number of donations fell, it recovered its previous levels or even surpassed them after a while.

The right to know one’s origins

On the other hand, there are children conceived through assisted reproduction with donor gametes. On numerous occasions, it is not enough for them to know the identity of their surrogate mother and they claim their right to identify their genetic parents. This may be due exclusively to the desire to know their origins, although it also includes the possibility of obtaining information on possible genetic disorders that they could have genetically inherited.

Currently, in Spain anonymity is maintained in the donation of gametes, canceling the possibility that the children can get to know the identity of their genetic parents in case they have been conceived with donor gametes. As an exception, identity disclosure may be granted if there are well-founded suspicions that a genetic disease could have been transmitted that would alter the health of the conceived child or condition the establishment of certain future treatments or interventions.

Conclusion

The possibility of disassociating genetic paternity and maternity from pregnant motherhood or adoptive paternity and maternity that assisted reproduction techniques allow, poses bioethical dilemmas that are difficult to resolve, where the interest of the conceived child in knowing its genetic origin should prevail over that of the donors who prefer to remain anonymous to avoid having to establish future links with their genetic children.

The extension of surrogacy has increased the number of cases in which children claim access to the identity of their genetic parents. This right is denied in countries where the law protects the anonymity of the donors involved.

 

Julio Tudela

Bioethics Observatory- Institute of Life Sciences

Catholic University of Valencia

 

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