Anonymity What do other countries do?
There is no single universally accepted best practice internationally for offering donor-conceived children access to information about their genetic origins, according to Dr Donna Lyons of Trinity College Dublin’s school of law.
Some countries allow the release of information once a child reaches a specific age; others permit release based on the “sufficient maturity” or “best interests” of the child.
In Ireland the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 requires clinics to collect information when acquiring donor sperm or eggs, such as the donor’s name and address. They have to provide this information for use on the proposed “national donor-conceived person register”, which will also contain information about the child and the intending parents.
Once the child has reached 18 he or she will be able to access information from the register about the donor and any siblings.
These provisions in the Act have not yet come into force; the Department of Health says this will happen by the end of the year.
Dr Lyons says 10 European countries and two Australian states have banned anonymous donations. In Norway and Finland, donor-conceived children are entitled to donor information at the age of 18. But Austria provides access at 14, the Netherlands at 16 and Germany, in principle, at “any age”.
In contrast, Spain, France, South Africa and the Czech Republic enforce anonymity when donors provide eggs and sperm. In South Africa, for example, a child born through artificial insemination may access medical and genetic information, but not identifying information, about their donor.