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Parents backed in donor conception

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Parents who use egg or sperm donations to have children should have the right to decide when or if to tell their children about their conception, experts said.

The Nuffield Council on Bioethics said the state should not intervene to ensure people find out about their origins.

A new report by the group of experts rejects ideas of interventions such as mandatory declarations on birth certificates.

Rhona Knight, a GP and the chairwoman of the Nuffield inquiry, said: “In recent years there has been a culture shift - advice from professionals has gone from the extreme of never telling to always telling. We think it is usually better for children to be told, by their parents, about their donor conception, and if parents do decide to tell them, then earlier is better.

“You can understand why some people would view knowledge of and about their biological origins as an automatic right, but families are not just about individuals - they are also about relationships.

“What we have tried to do is to balance out the views and interests of all those involved - donor-conceived people, their parents and donors. We don’t agree that the decision of what and when to tell should be taken completely out of parents’ hands. There are better ways of supporting people through these complex situations.”

In its new report, the council called for fertility clinics to step up levels of counselling for donors, prospective parents, new parents and donor-conceived people.

Around 1,500 people are born in the UK each year following donor-assisted conception and more than 35,000 people have been conceived this way since regulation was sorted in 1991.

 

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