Submission to Inquiry Into Matters Relating to Donor Conception Information

On 24 February 2022, the Legislative Assembly agreed that the Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee inquire into and report on the rights of donor-conceived persons to access genetic information about their donors.

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Submission to Inquiry Into Matters Relating to Donor Conception Information

On 24 February 2022, the Legislative Assembly agreed that the Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee inquire into and report on the rights of donor-conceived persons to access genetic information about their donors. This is a submission to the inquiry into matters relation to donor conception information.

Parliament’s Donor Inquiry Opening Words

I want to thank the Committee for inviting me to give evidence today. I want to acknowledge the traditional owners, the Jagera and Turrbal people. I come here wearing a number of hats — as a lawyer who specialises in this work, as a lecturer in ethics and the law in this field- but most importantly as a parent through egg donation.

My husband Mitchell and I have been fortunate to undertake surrogacy in Queensland with the assistance of two extraordinary women, our egg donor and our surrogate – and the assistance of two Queensland IVF clinics. We also had the assistance of:

  • As required under the National Health & Medical Research Council, Ethical Guidelines and the RTAC Code of Practice – an ANZICA counsellor who provided donor counselling to our egg donor, Mitchell and me.
  • As required under the Surrogacy Act, before entering into the surrogacy arrangement, – an ANZICA counsellor for our surrogate, Mitchell and me.
  • As required under the Surrogacy Act, an assessment undertaken by a third ANZICA counsellor for a surrogacy guidance report after our daughter Elizabeth was born

We have embraced the principle in the Surrogacy Act of promoting openness and honesty about Elizabeth’s birth parentage. She is entitled to know, as is everyone else, about where she has come from. It is a fundamental human right.

Elizabeth goes to daycare. Of the 100 plus families at the daycare centre, our family is the only one which hastwo dads. At the age of 18 months, Elizabeth recognised that, and started calling Mitchell Dad and me Daddy.

Mitchell and I have commenced telling Elizabeth in an age-appropriate manner, where she has come from, and we will continue to do so. It is a case of show and tell, not hide and seek.

On balance, I believe that it is important for there to be retrospective transparency for pre2004 donations – but if that occurs, officials should be writing direct to the donors and to the parents before notifying the children.

Ideally, there should be a national donor registry. It would be an improvement in Queensland if there were a State donor registry to be run either by the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages or by Queensland Health. I have nothing against Queensland Health, but believe that the Registry is remarkably efficient, responsive, self-funding on a user-pays basis, low cost and is a natural fit.

I would hope that there would be legislative and administrative measures enabling a Queensland central register to connect with those interstate, so a donor conceived adult can search in one place and have available to them the records of all.

Queensland IVF clinics have gone from a secret squirrel-type model where children have not been told where they have come from, to mandated transparency. Queensland now leads the world with the quality of IVF and donor transparency, but retrospective transparency and a State central register would be even better.

To access the submission, download the paper here.

 

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