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21 years of the Progress Educational Trust (PET), informing debate on assisted conception and genetics

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EVENTS

Being: The Donor-Conceived Perspective

Progress Educational Trust
John Zachary Young Lecture Theatre, Ground Floor, Anatomy Building, Bloomsbury Campus, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT
28 February 2013
This public event was organised by the Progress Educational Trust (PET) at University College London, and was supported by the Wellcome Trust. The event formed part of the PET project 'When It Takes More Than Two' (which launched with the preceding event 'Giving: The Gamete Donor Perspective' and continued with the event 'Receiving: The Recipient Parent Perspective').
A podcast produced by James Brooks, in which he interviews members of the speaker panel about the themes of the event, can be listened to using the player below or alternatively can be downloaded by clicking here (.mp3 13.8MB).
A synopsis of the event proceedings (by Cait McDonagh) can be found on PET's BioNews publication here.
The event focused on the perspective of those who are conceived from donated sperm or eggs, and saw a panel of experts debate questions including the following.
Are people entitled to know that they are donor-conceived? (Their parents are under no formal obligation to inform them, even now that entitlement to donor anonymity has been removed.) What impact does how and when someone discovers that they are donor-conceived have upon them?
What are the ramifications for donor-conceived people of the recent High Court ruling that permitted two sperm donors in a same-sex relationship to apply for contact with their biological children, conceived through a known donation arrangement with two different lesbian couples?
Is there a point at which it should be the prerogative of donor-conceived people, rather than the prerogative of their parents, to decide who is and is not informed of the fact that they are donor-conceived? If so, then when does this occur and how?
To what extent do donor-conceived people constitute a coherent group with collective needs and interests? Who can legitimately claim to represent these interests? What are the differences in needs and interests between people who were donor-conceived before and after the removal of entitlement to donor anonymity? What other important distinctions might be made between different donor-conceived constituencies?
What is the impact upon donor-conceived people of discovering that they have (in some instances, an enormous number of) genetic half-siblings, in the form of the children of the donor who conceived them and/or other people who were conceived with that donor's gametes? Should the tracing of half-siblings be encouraged and facilitated? How best to do this, now that donor codes can no longer be disclosed as they were previously?
What support will be provided to the first generation of donor-conceived people legally entitled to initiate contact with the relevant donors? Who will provide this support, and how will it be funded? What options are available to those who were donor-conceived prior to the 1991 formation of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority?

Speakers:
Dr Tabitha Freeman
Research Associate at the University of Cambridge's Centre for Family Research
Christine Gunter
Coordinator of UK DonorLink
Kevin Moore
Donor-conceived person
Jess Pearce
Donor-conceived person

Chair:
Eric Blyth
Professor of Social Work at the University of Huddersfield, and Cochair of the British Association of Social Workers' Project Group on Assisted Reproduction

Case study:
It's just always been there, I've never known any different: Oliver's story

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