Sperm donors: licensed clinics v unlicensed donations

19 Jan 2016

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The issue of unlicensed sperm donors and online sperm donors has once again recently been raised in the media following Simon Watson’s claims that he has fathered 800 children! There are many personal reasons why people seeking to create a family use sperm donors through a clinic licensed by the HFEA or instead an informal / unlicensed sperm donors. There are important legal differences between the two. Anest Mathias, a specialist in fertility law, sets out some of these differences. There are of course, psychological, emotional and practical differences.

Sperm donation through a clinic licensed by the HFEA Online Informal and unlicensed sperm donation
The clinic has a legal duty to offer counselling to the donor, the intended recipient and her partner. There is no legal obligation for any party to consider counselling and any party who wishes counselling will need to obtain this themselves.
The donor and recipient’s identities must be confirmed. It is up to the parties to confirm identities.
The clinic is unable to provide treatment unless account has been taken of the welfare of any child who may be born as a result of the treatment including the need for supportive parenting and of any other child who may be affected by the birth. Neither party is legally obliged to consider the welfare of the child born as a result of the donation or any other child who may be affected by the birth.
If a man donates sperm through a clinic and the appropriate consents are given then he is not to be treated as father. He will have no legal relationship with that child.The donor will be the legal father of the child unless the woman is married or in a civil partnership and the appropriate conditions are met.
The donor will be the legal father of any child conceived through natural insemination “NI” or sex.
The donor will not be financially liable for the child.The donor could be financially liable for child.
If the recipient is in a relationship, even if she is not married or in a civil partnership, she is able to ensure that her partner can become the legal parent of any child born as a result of the treatment. If the recipient is married or in a civil partnership and certain conditions are met then her spouse could become the legal parent of the child.

If the recipient is in a relationship but not married or in a civil partnership then her partner will have no legal relationship with a child born as a result of donation.
If the Mother subsequently forms a relationship and her partner wishes to adopt the child then no enquiries will be made with the donor. If the Mother subsequently forms a relationship and her partner wishes to adopt the child, enquiries will need to be made with the "donor".
Treatment through a licensed clinic is heavily regulated. There is no regulation of unlicensed sperm donation.
The donor will have to be screened in accordance with HFEA requirement; this includes their age, health and medical history provided through a questionnaire and through a personal interview performed by a qualified health care professional. The assessment must screen out those who present a health risk to others such as transmitting diseases and genetic screening. There is no automatic screening for the donor.
A donor's sperm cannot be used to create more than 10 families.There is no limit on how many families a donor's sperm can be used to create.
The child will not be able to have a relationship with the donor before reaching the age of 18 years. The donor could seek a relationship with the child and could apply to the Courts for an order regulating his relationship with the child.
At the age of 16 a donor conceived child will be entitled to certain anonymous information about the donor.A donor conceived child is reliant upon their mother and the donor to obtain information about the donor.
At the age of 18 a donor conceived child will be entitled to the donor's full name, date of birth, town or district of birth and last known address. A donor conceived child is reliant upon its mother having obtained this information.
Children born as a result of treatment are able to apply to the HFEA to ensure that they are not related to a person whom they propose to marry, enter into a civil partnership or intimate relationship. Both children will be reliant upon the correct information having been obtained and provided to them.

If you are considering conception using donated sperm or you have donated or conceived using donated sperm and would like advice then please contact Anest Mathias.

To speak with Anest you can contact her by e-mailing anestmathias@osbornes.net or by calling 020 7485 8811.

 

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