Bioethics News

Irish IVF industry slams donor disclosure proposals

Proposed legislation in Ireland which would ban anonymous donation of eggs and sperm has come under fire from the IVF industry. In a hard-hitting op-ed in the Irish Times, Dr John Waterstone, vice president of the Irish Fertility Society, has called upon the Oireachtas (parliament) to scupper the assisted reproduction regulations of the Children and Family Relationships Bill.

“The proposed piecemeal assisted reproduction legislation [he says] is unacceptably proscriptive. The register it proposes represents an intolerable intrusion into the lives of subfertile couples and stigmatises them and their children.”

Furthermore, IVF clinics would lose business as prospective clients would seek treatment in countries like Spain, the Czech Republic and the United States which offer the option of donor anonymity.

When Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald introduced the new proposals which would require clinics and hospitals to provide details of donors and children to a national donor-conceived person register, her focus was the welfare of the child. “The key issue is to enable a child to know his or her identity. As a result anonymous donation will be prohibited.”

Obviously the ways that the government and the IVF industry see the issue are completely different. While the government’s focus is the right of a child to know his or her genetic heritage, Dr Waterstone frames the question simply as a matter of parental options in making a commercial transaction. The parents’ rights trump the child’s rights:

“The belief that a donor-conceived child has a right to identify and meet the donor, which supersedes the rights of the parents to autonomy and privacy, is obviously arbitrary … I am neither for nor against donor anonymity because both positions are acceptable.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.