Sperm donor register to be established in SA under new laws proposed by SA-BEST

13 December 2018

A register of sperm, eggs and embryo donors will be established in South Australia under a bill introduced in Parliament by SA-BEST.

SA-BEST MLC and health spokesperson, Connie Bonaros, has introduced a Private Member’s Bill in the Upper House to amend the Assisted Reproductive Treatment Act 1988.

The Bill will give South Australians conceived with the help of a donor the right to information about their genetic parentage.

Connie said the Bill – if passed by both Houses of Parliament – will see a donor conception register centralise all donor and donor offspring records from clinics in SA, something that would be potentially life-altering to thousands of South Australians conceived with the assistance of a donor.

“It is every human’s fundamental right to know who their genetic mother and father are, if they say choose,” Connie said.

“For the majority of us, the answer is as easy as asking our parents,” she said.

“Sadly, for others – including donor conceived people – the task is virtually impossible and has led to hundreds of people unnecessarily suffering decades of anguish and uncertainty not knowing the answer to a question to majority of us take for granted.

“It beggars belief that in 2018 these draconian laws still exist despite successive governments agreeing to a donor conception register for close to two decades.

“The Bill I have introduced aims to bring South Australia out of the dark ages and into the 21st Century – and in line with three other states that have a donor conception register.”

Connie said various reasons were to blame for the current state of flux around donor conception identification.

This included the secrecy around donor conception which has existed for decades; a lack of detailed records; the destruction of records; the scattered nature of records held across multiple locations; and the failure to create a donor conception register in South Australia.

She said South Australians conceived with the assistance of a donor, the assisted reproductive industry and other stakeholders have been calling for better and a more cohesive access to information for more than 30 years.

Various government advisory bodies and committees over the past two decades have openly supported the establishment of a donor conception register – yet nothing has been done.

Connie’s Assisted Reproductive Treatment (Review Recommendations) Amendment Bill 2018 seeks to enshrine in legislation several recommendations made in an extensive review of the current laws undertaken by leading legal health academic, Dr Sonia Allan.

Dr Allan’s review was undertaken early last year at the request of the former Labor Government, which then tabled its response to the report late last year giving in-principle support to Dr Allan’s recommendations.

Parliament was subsequently prorogued for the 2018 state election and the issue has stalled again.

“The very fact that the Marshall Government has not made the establishment of a donor conception register a priority is the reason I have introduced the Bill,” Connie said.

“Donor conceived children - now in adulthood - have waited for far too long,” she said.

“Donor offspring should be able to access identifying information about their donors, to ensure those people have the same right to information about their genetic parentage as those who are conceived naturally.

“Further, my proposed Bill will bring SA in line with three other states - Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia - which operate donor conception registers.

“Access to information by donor offspring about their donors is viewed increasingly as a fundamental human right and as a means of ensuring the welfare and best interests of donor-conceived children.

“Given Labor’s support for the establishment of a state register while in Government, I am confident my Bill will be passed expeditiously by the Upper House before being debated in the Lower House.

“I implore Members in the Lower House to get out in their communities and undertake the appropriate research – by speaking to donor conceived people – before making their decision.

“A state donor register will change people’s lives.”

Infertility Counsellor Amanda Monteith said: “As someone who works directly with donor offspring – trying to help them in their search for information about their donor parents – I am acutely aware of how long and heartbreaking that search can be.

“Having a Donor Conception Register established in South Australia will help so many donor offspring to link up with their donors and to find the missing piece of the puzzle of their identity,” she said.

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