Have your say on the ART Act amendments

Have your say on the ART Act amendments

The South Australian Government is currently considering amendments to the Assisted Reproductive Treatment Act 1988 (the ART Act) and we think it's important that you are aware of these proposals so you can have your say.

 The proposed changes are:

  1. To provide all donor-conceived people with the right to access identifying information about their donor
  2. Ensure the Donor Conception Register (DCR) can operate retrospectively to include historical donor conception information
  3. Ensure all donor-conceived people have the option to have donor information included in their birth certificate
  4. Ensure the effective operation of the DCR

While we believe the proposed amendments are well-intended, they could result in significant unforeseen consequences for South Australians seeking fertility services. In particular, we believe that these changes will severely reduce access to donor eggs and sperm, which are already in short supply.

 

These are our views on each proposal:

  1. To provide all donor-conceived people with the right to access identifying information about their donor

    We strongly support the rights of donor-conceived people to know their genetic origins.  Effectively, all donors from 2004 onwards and many prior to that have already consented to disclose their identifying information. However, we also have to weigh up the rights of the donors who were promised anonymity several decades ago, and who have not consented to disclose their identity. We would prefer to see an opt-in or opt-out scheme that would allow donors the option of maintaining their anonymity.

  2. Ensure the DCR can operate retrospectively to include historical donor conception information.

    We support the retrospective operation of the DCR where records are available and donors have consented to have their identifying information on the DCR. Unfortunately, some early records from the 1970s and 1980s are simply not available.

    We have assisted donor-conceived people who have requested historical information whenever we are able, and we support transferring the information available to the DCR, provided the donor has consented to this.

    For many years we have sought consent and facilitated introductions between donors, donor-conceived people and their siblings, and are happy to continue to do so until the Donor Conception Register is fully operational (and beyond if required).  
  1. Ensure all donor-conceived people have the option to have donor information included in their birth certificate

    While we understand the intention of this amendment, we believe it could have the unintended consequence of reducing access to donor treatment in South Australian clinics, thereby driving patients towards unregulated donor sperm networks and potentially unsafe practices.

    Men and women donating sperm or eggs altruistically to strangers via a clinic may be reluctant to donate if they are required to agree to have their name on the birth certificate, in case of child support/family law/estate issues in future. Even though Family Law in SA currently precludes this, there is a perception that this too could change retrospectively, or be overridden by Federal Laws.

    We do not object to having an option for adding donors’ names to birth certificates when the child achieves maturity, provided the donor consents to this. Importantly, however, it must not become a condition of donating.
  1. Ensure the effective operation of the DCR

    We fully support the principles of the Donor Conception Register. All donors have consented to have their identifying information available for the register since 2004, and a very large number of donors prior to that have also consented.

These are complex topics and it's important that everyone's views are considered,  so if you:

  • are a donor-conceived person;
  • have donated eggs or sperm in the past or are contemplating doing so in future;
  • have had donor treatment with a fertility clinic or are planning to in the future;
  • believe that all SA patients in need should be able to safely access donor sperm and eggs;

then please visit https://yoursay.sa.gov.au/art-act-amendments and have your say before June 21st as it is important that everyone's voice is heard.

If you would prefer to comment directly to us as part of Flinders Fertility’s submission, please send your comments to: donor@flindersfertility.com.au by 18th June 2021.