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Summary of Aims
We assert that people have a moral right to know the truth about their personal history. Where the state has custody of relevant information it has a duty not to collude in deceiving or depriving individuals of such information.
It follows that:
- The truth about a donor-conceived person's genetic and social parentage should be recorded on their relevant public documentation.
- In the normal course of events of life it should be impossible for a donor-conceived person to fail to find out that they are donor-conceived.
- The principal legal instrumentality of this should be the person's birth certificate, which should make it clear that donor conception has taken place. The genetic parentage should be recorded on the certificate itself or associated documentation available to the donor-conceived person concerned.
The International Donor Offspring Alliance "IDOA"
IDOA was formed in 2007. It exists to act as an advocate for those conceived through the use of donor gametes: eggs or sperm. It has members from the UK, US, Canada, France, Japan, New Zealand and Australia; they include both donor offspring and those with a professional interest, including academics and social work practitioners.
What we believe
IDOA believes that everyone has the right to know the truth about their own life and that that includes the manner of their conception and the identity of their biological parents. Where the state is involved in providing or regulating donor conception, it must not cause, promote or collude in deceiving people or depriving them of information about their own origins; nor may it discriminate against particular groups in terms of the provision of significant information about their own lives. It follows that the birth certificate of a donor-conceived person must enable them to know the identity of their biological parents.
Listen to the offspring
IDOA is the voice of those who know what it means to be donor-conceived. Our experience leads us to assert that:
- Genetic heritage has objective existence, meaning and value;
- Everyone has a moral right to know about their genetic and biological origin and background;
- Being deprived of that knowledge or deceived about ones origins is painful and damaging;
- Where the state intervenes by supporting or regulating the provision of donor gametes it has a responsibility to establish legal protection for that moral right by ensuring that the people brought into existence by donor conception are not deceived, nor deliberately deprived of information, about their genetic and biological parents.
It is for these reasons that birth certificates must provide accurate information. Our proposals are as follows:
The fundamental proposition is that people have a right to know about their own lives and that that must include knowing who their parents are, including their biological parents - something which has been recognised in the case of adopted people since 1975. That knowledge can only be safeguarded and transmitted if it is recorded. It is not open to recipient parents or anyone else to decide on a child's behalf that it does not need to know or can justifiably be deceived or deprived of information. Requiring that birth certificates record the truth does not impinge on recipient parents' lives in any way but it safeguards information which properly belongs to the offspring. Including the name of the donor as well as the fact of donor conception is the only means by which donor offsprings' rights and their dignity as people can be honoured.
International campaigns for the rights of donor-conceived people
IDOA's Briefing to Parliament
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill gained Royal Assent on 13th November 2008. None of the admendments proposed by IDOA were included.
We have received support from various parliamentarians, including a letter from Mark Simmonds MP.