Lowering the age limit of access to the identity of the gamete donor by donor offspring: the argument against
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In the U.S. a parent has a fundamental right to raise their child as they see fit, but this not an absolute right. Parents must act in the best interest of their child. The right to know your genetic identity is supported by ethical principles and existing legal frameworks. Denying individuals access to their genetic information violates their autonomy, privacy, and dignity. Lack of access to genetic identity information from birth also significantly increases the likelihood of physical and mental health issues.
Medical history and genetic makeup play an essential role in identifying health risk factors. An accurate medical history provides relevant information to the genetic information stored in our DNA. Family health history is a significant factor in determining the likelihood of developing certain diseases we carry in our DNA. Family medical history includes the types of health conditions family members have been diagnosed with, age of diagnosis, and relevant environmental or lifestyle factors. Common health conditions often included in a family medical history are heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, and mental health disorders.
A thorough understanding of medical history can help identify early signs of conditions that may otherwise go undetected. People base their health habits on their parents’ medical history which could, if incorrect, lead to medical conditions that might have been prevented, delays in diagnosis, or unnece...Show More
I thank Dr. Pennings for his thoughtful work. There are, however, further critical points to be considered when designating any arbitrary age by which a donor conceived person (DCP) can learn the identity of his/her donor. Although I agree that outcome research needs to be conducted on DCP stratified by the age at which they specifically learn their donors identities, the existing research on adoption, which parallels many of the ethical and humanistic aspects of donor conception, largely supports the idea of open adoption, where all parties are knowledgeable of the others at birth. According to one recent review, contact with the birth family results in substantially more positive outcomes for adoptees (Smith et al, 2020). Research has also shown significantly greater benefit for the adoptive parents and birth mothers in terms of satisfaction with the adoption process and post-partum adjustment in open adoption (Ge et al, 2008). This study also indicates positive experience in the new kinds of relationships created through open adoption, and the authors extend the implications of their findings to reproductive technologies such as donor conception as well.
The practicalities of enforcement of a designated age where DCPs might be permitted to learn their donor's identities also must be addressed. DCPs learning the identity of their donor through commercial DNA testing prior to the designated age is only one consideration. A second ethical dilemma would b...Show More
There seems to be a disconnect between Dr. Pennings and the decades of reporting of actual experiences of parents, donors and donor-conceived people.
The first argument is that there is no evidence that a change in age will increase the total well-being of donor offspring as a group.
There is plenty of published research and years of anecdotal evidence. We invite Dr. Pennings to read not only the research, (https://indd.adobe.com/view/ac2a0b99-f67a-4768-bf8c-c48af5aeebaf) but also the reported experiences of more than 86,000 over the past 22 years on the www.DonorSiblingRegistry.com website. Many thousands of these donor-conceived people (DCP) have connected with their biological parent (donor) long before the age of 18. Many more DCP have made their stories public in hopes of shining a light on the innate human desire to know who and where we come from. Many formerly anonymous egg and sperm donors who have connected with donor children have participated in research and have also made their stories public. Additionally, several dozen egg clinics, agencies, and lawyers have been writing the Donor Sibling Registry into their parent-donor agreements for many years, connecting donors and parents right from pregnancy/birth. This is an extremely popular and successful program empowering donors and parents to decide the depth, breadth,...Show More