A Child’s Rights-London Times Article

Makes me wonder whether the fertility industry here in the US will ever consider a donor conceived child’s rights and interests before their own ($$), their clients’ (to have a child) or their donors’ (to remain anonymous).

From The Times
January 15, 2008
Whose body is it anyway?
Two thorny problems, organ donation and records of parentage, have
clear solutions
Libby Purves

….On the other issue of physicality and authority I find myself on quite
the other side. Lord Alton of Liverpool raised last week the
importance of providing every child with an honest record of its
parentage, whether they were naturally conceived or by donor. One
reason is to avoid accidental incest, where the offspring of donated
sperm or ova meet and are unknowingly attracted. Adopted children now
have the right to know their genetic parents: donor children have no
such guarantee. Lord Alton and others say that the “right to lineage”
means that on a full birth certificate there should not be lies or
omissions. The certificate, he suggests, could be in two forms to
protect privacy – a short form (probably soon online) for applying for
passports or licences, and a full one for the individual only.

I find that I am with him all the way. For many years, sperm donors
often lightly regarded their role as providing a sort of baking soda,
to help some unknown woman get a bun in her oven. With the new
understanding of DNA, the ability of women to donate eggs, and an
increasing popular interest in genealogy, attitudes have distinctly
changed. Sperm donors lost anonymity in 2005, despite protests. Yet
still families are able to conceal the very fact of donation from
their children, leaving it off the birth certificate and not telling them.

This happens, don’t doubt it: whether out of embarrassment or
possessive affection, sometimes the information is not given to the
child early, and it becomes increasingly difficult to raise as he or
she grows older. However well meant, this is a serious breach of a
child’s rights. Phil Willis, MP, chair of the parliamentary committee
on the subject, puts it with brutal directness: “If parents want to
deceive their children, that’s their decision. But it is our view that
the State should not be complicit in that.”

If, as some families will angrily say, “We’re the loving parents, it
isn’t important”, then why hide it? I have heard it argued, by one
father in this position, that it would make children dream and
fantasise destructively about their biological parent – but every
child does a bit of this anyway. The foundling fantasy is common-
place. At 4, I used to go on about my “real mother and father” who
lived down the garden with a character called the Wicked Step-Driver.
Tell a child early, in fairytale terms, and it should not be
difficult. Hide it and you violate a basic right. And to forestall the
other old-school protest – yes, OK, women have indeed told lies about
paternity for centuries. That doesn’t make it honest.

So I find myself with Lord Alton in saying the State should enforce
this honesty on families, even against their inclination…


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