The NSW government has moved to close a legislative loophole in a bid to allow children born through Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) to access details about their biological heritage.
The amendment bill was sparked by the case of Natalie Parker, who donated embryos to a Sydney woman and was led to believe the transfer had failed. Later, she found photos online of a baby boy she believes is her genetic son.
Dear Carolyn: I am pregnant with a child conceived with a donor egg and my husband’s sperm. I also have a young son. It has been a long, complicated and painful process of secondary infertility, and I was lucky to find an excellent therapist who helped immensely.
Now that I am finally pregnant, I am trying to figure out how, when and whether to disclose. I believe the child has the right to know his or her genetic heritage. Secrecy is not healthy. On the other hand, we have close family members who will treat this child differently than his or her brother and other relatives
A woman born by anonymous donor conception, Dr Joanna Rose, views the Maltese government’s offer to allow those born through the same practice to have access to their genetic parent’s medical history as more of a “token”.
Rose is an activist who works to highlight the plight of those born by anonymous donor conception, resulting in identity issues and medical issues as a result of having incomplete access to the genetic family’s medical history.
Born in the UK, Rose went to university and after she graduated, she was awarded a scholarship to get her PhD on the subject.
Anonymous donor conception is when sperm and/or eggs are donated to an infertile woman seeking to become pregnant through IVF. Parliament is set to discuss amendments to the 2012 Embryo Protection Act which would introduce embryo freezing and tie it to anonymous embryo adoption.
In 2012, I was part of a group named Professionals Against Embryo Freezing that was involved in the amendment of the law regulating IVF, in the belief that helping couples while also safeguarding the human embryo is a good thing.
Are we not in the same situation now with the government proposing further regulations?
The amendments proposed are introducing new concepts which are not in principle part of Maltese society. The law in essence makes the human embryo an object by using terms like adopting and freezing. Although embryo freezing is already part of the law, it states that the case needs to be an exceptional one. If a woman cannot attend the session of implantation due to, for example, illness or an accident, the embryo is frozen until the woman has recovered. Now it will become a choice to freeze them.
I got the truth when I was 16: My mother hadn’t gotten pregnant by an ex-boyfriend. I was, rather, the product of a completely intentional transaction. My father was an anonymous sperm donor.
My mom conceived me on her own at a time when it wasn’t in vogue to do so, and she didn’t tell her siblings or parents what she’d done. The revelation hit me deeply. An introverted, introspective teen, I internalized her decision to hide the truth as my own shame — shame I still feel today.