The Right of the Donor to Information About Children Conceived From His or Her Gametes

Inez Raes; An Ravelingien; Guido Pennings


Hum Reprod. 2013;28(3):560-565. 

In This Article

Possible Arguments in Favour of the Donor

As a first step of our analysis, we distinguish between various types of information that a donor could claim.

  1. Basic information: this would include information about the outcome of the donation, in particular the number and sex of the donor offspring.

  2. Medical information: this would involve medical and genetic facts about the donor offspring.

  3. Phenotypic information: this information type would contain a description of the general body characteristics of the donor-conceived children, such as hair and eye colour, length and weight.

  4. Extended donor child profile: this is a counterpart of the extended donor profile and would consist of elements like a personality description, information about the child's interests and hobbies, and perhaps a letter to the donor.

  5. Identifying information: the name and contact details of the donor child. Such information would be given in addition to some of the information types mentioned above.

Whether a donor can claim one or several of these information types depends on two conditions. First, we have to take into account the weight of their interests in obtaining such information. Are these interests related to recognized needs of a person? After all, a mere wish for something does not necessarily point to important needs that must be addressed. Secondly, we must weigh these interests against the potentially conflicting interests of the other parties involved.

We identify five arguments on which donors could base their claim for a right to some type of information about the offspring conceived by their donations:

  • Medical information, in particular evidence of an unsuspected genetic disease, about the donor offspring can be of great importance to the donors' and their own children's health.

  • Donors should be acknowledged for their altruistic behaviour. Basic information is a minimal reward for their donation.

  • General information about the donor offspring should be given as a means to ease the donors' potential concern about and sense of responsibility for the offspring.

  • Basic information can provide an important enrichment of the donors' identities.

  • The open-identity system creates a 'new' type of donor—one that desires contact with the donor offspring. Identifying information enables such contact.

In what follows, we will analyse these arguments and evaluate the weight of the underlying interests.