The UK's Department of Health is to review the legislation covering the information available to people conceived through egg, sperm or embryo donation. Currently, such children born after the 1990 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act will be able to enquire if they were conceived through embryo or gamete donation once they reach the age of 18 (or at age 16 if they are planning to marry). But they will not be given any details of the donor involved, unless the law is changed.
The review will consider several options, including allowing 'donor offspring' access to non-identifying information such as hair or eye colour. It will also consider releasing details of the health records and medical history of donors, and giving donors the opportunity to make their name and address available to any future offspring on request. A spokesperson for the Department of Health stressed, however, that any change in the law would not be retrospective.
The civil rights group Liberty claim that failure to disclose information about donors could breach a child's right to family life, under Article 8 of the new Human Rights Act. But doctors and some infertility support groups are concerned that a loss of anonymity would discourage potential donors: 'The supply of donors would immediately stop if they thought a donor child could walk up to them and say 'Daddy, daddy' and have some claim on them' said Clare Rayner, patron of the National Egg and Embryo Donation Society. But she added that providing details about the donor's medical history was just 'common sense'.