Colorado senators approve bill removing anonymity from sperm, egg donations –

In Colorado, anonymously donating sperm and eggs may soon be a thing of the past thanks to new regulations the state Senate approved on Wednesday.

If enacted, Senate Bill 224 would require that donors agree to have their identity be released to children conceived from their donations when they turn 18. The bill would also increase the minimum age of donors to 21, limit them to contributing to no more than 25 families, and give families access to donor's updated medical records.

This bill is the first of its kind in the U.S., according to Colorado Fertility Advocates.

Everybody should have a basic human right to know their own identity, said Senate President Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder, one of the bill's sponsors. If youre not comfortable with someone finding out who you are, dont give sperm, dont donate your eggs.

Fenberg said the measure builds off of law that allows adopted children access to their original birth certificates at 18, adding that the current anonymity of the assisted reproduction industry promotes fraud.

The industry has been roiled by scandals in the last several years. A Grand Junction fertility doctor, Paul B. Jones, was recently accused of using his own sperm to father at least 17 children with 12 women from 1975 to 1977. The victims said they were told the sperm was from anonymous donors before DNA tests connected their now-adult children to Jones. In April, a jury awarded $8.75 million to the families.

Senators unanimously passed the bipartisan bill on Wednesday, sending it to the House for consideration.

This is not a partisan bill in any way. This is a bill that we in the General Assembly need to look at and protect the citizens of Colorado and ensure their rights are protected, said bill sponsor Sen. Bob Gardner, R-Colorado Springs. There has been a great deal of abuse in this area. We are getting a handle on it. This bill is part of that.

With the rise of commercial DNA technology, such as 23andMe and Ancestry, donor-conceived people can easily, and often accidentally, identify their donors and unknown family members. Similar to the Grand Junction case, an Indiana woman in 2014 identified more than 50 half-siblings through the tests, all of whom were unknowingly fathered by a fertility doctor,Donald Cline.

The proposed bill would require licensing for sperm banks, egg banks and fertility clinics beginning in 2025. The facilities would also be required to maintain updated contact information and medical history of all donors.

Though the bill received unanimous support in the Senate, some industry professionals have spoken against it, claiming the bill violates privacy protections and will push donors to donate in other states instead of Colorado.

There is no protection for the donor, said Betsy Cairo, owner of the CryoGam commercial cryobank in Loveland. The donor has zero input or say in what happens to their future. The recipient or donor-conceived person will have full access to all donor information without any obligation to keep the information private. ... What will stop a donor from being shared on social media even if theyve denied contact?

The bill received significant support from donor-conceived children and their families, as well as from some donors. Organizations backing the bill include the U.S. Donor Conceived Council, We Are Egg Donors, GSMoms and Advocate Genetics.

During public testimony for the bill, donor-conceived people spoke about struggling to contact donors to learn about genetic medical issues. One mother said her donor-conceived daughter was born with a genetic birth defect from her donor that was not reported on the medical record. She said she later found out the medical history was self-reported and never updated.

Jonathan Pollack said he discovered he was conceived by a sperm donor at age 41 after taking a commercial DNA test. When he tracked down his biological father, he learned that he had donated sperm multiple times per week for seven years. So far, Pollack has found 16 half-siblings, but he believes he likely has closer to 100.

That number makes me feel like a science experiment and a commodity, Pollack said. Plus, the risk of accidental incest in a sibling group like mine is a very real concern.

Pollack praised the portion of the bill that would cap the number of families donors can contribute to. The bill originally limited the number to 10 but increased it to 25 as a compromise with the industry, Fenberg said.

In Colorado, there are 42 fertility clinics and four gamete banks, according to the state. Nationally, an estimated 30,000 to 60,000 children are conceived using donors every year.

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Colorado senators approve bill removing anonymity from sperm, egg donations -

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