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AID and the law
  1. D J Cusine
  1. Department of Private Law, University of Glasgow


    The present state of the law is unsatisfactory. The exact effect on the marriage of the parties has not been decided although in English law if artificial insemination by donor (AID) takes place without consent that would appear to be a ground for divorce since 1969. The law regards a child born as a result of AID as illegitimate and draws no distinction between the case where the husband consents and where he does not. Theoretically, an offence is committed if the birth entry is falsified, presumably in cases where the husband consents. The AID child, like any other illegitimate child, has rights against the natural parents, but he is in a worse position than most illegitimate children, in that he may not have any information about his father.

    It is now possible to freeze sperm and so preserve it over longer periods. All the problems associated with AID are present also when sperm is preserved in banks, but if the law is in an unsatisfactory state in relation to AID this is even more true in relation to sperm banks. The main criticism of the Feversham Report (1960) could be that it recommended, broadly speaking, the `status quo' but scientific progress has now overtaken and left the Feversham findings well behind. What, therefore, is required is a full consideration of the subject of AID and, on the basis of that, some statutory code regulating all its aspects.

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