New child law 'will force more people to go abroad for fertility treatment'
BANNING anonymous sperm donations will make some fertility treatments more expensive and force people to go to clinics abroad, it emerged yesterday,
The Children and Family Relationships Bill will make it compulsory that all donated sperm or eggs will have to be traceable and placed on a donor register.
It means that any child born to a woman as a result of the donation will be able to find out who the donor was when they reach maturity.
Dr David Walsh, director of the SIMS clinic, said if people want an anonymous donation they will have to go abroad to clinics in Spain or Czechoslovakia. The supply will fall as more men will be reluctant to donate if they are told their identity will be recorded.
He said the setting up of a donor register will also add considerably to costs as any kind of regulation is always more expensive.
"We currently offer identifiable and non-identifiable sperm which is imported from Denmark because we have no sperm bank here," he explained. Traditional families tend to opt for anonymous sperm while lesbian couples or single people are more likely to choose a known donor.
"We will continue to offer identifiable sperm donation but it will take longer," he explained.
The clinic has always offered identifiable egg donation where the donor is a sister or a friend and this will be expanded.
Dr Walsh said it is important that the proposed law allow for a period of transition of around two years, which is what happened in the UK.
It would be only fair to people who are in the middle of a cycle and have not yet had embryos transferred, he added.
Prof Simon Fishel of Beacon CARE Fertility said: "We welcome this legislative focus which will bring clarity and increased regulation into the area of assisted reproduction, something which is extremely important and which will help bring certainty to families and children.
Commenting on other aspects of the legislation, Treoir, the unmarried parents organisation, said it supports the Bill but called for amendments to ensure that inequalities relating to unmarried fathers and their children are finally tackled.
Chief executive Margaret Dromey said: "It does not improve the rights of unmarried fathers unless they have cohabited with the mother for the requisite time. The unmarried father of a child will continue to have to resort to the courts if the mother does not agree to sign a statutory declaration for joint guardianship .
"There are fathers who are not co-habiting but are committed to their child."
It is also concern that where a statutory declaration for joint guardianship is signed and mislaid it can lead to a father losing contract with his child. It wants a central register of joint guardianship agreements.
The Children's Rights Alliance said it will give courts more flexibility to grant guardianship. Grandparents will be able to apply for access to children which is important in cases of family breakdown.
Child rapporteur Geoffrey Shannon said it would benefit hundreds of thousands of people including same sex couples who can apply to adopt a child together for the first time, rather than individually.