Why There is No Right to Know One’s Genetic Origins

  • Heather Draper


In June 2004, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 was modified to lift gamete donor anonymity from April 2005. This change also includes embryo donation and egg-share arrangements. The UK is not the only country to remove donor anonymity. Sweden changed its law in 1985, Austria and New Zealand in 1992, Victoria (Australia) in 1995 and The Netherlands in 20001. Pressure for change seems to come from several quarters. Family law in the UK, even prior to the introduction of the Human Rights Act 1998, had been moving towards the view that children’s welfare interests include knowledge of their genetic origins (Wallbank 2004). The announcement by the Department of Health Minister Melanie Johnson, reinforces this notion and suggests others:

Donor-conceived people have a right to information about their genetic origins that is currently denied them, including the identity of their donor … donor people should not be treated so differently from adopted people … The interests of the child are paramount. We live in an age where … our genetic background will become increasingly important … information about their genetic origins … is rightly theirs.2


Genetic Origin Human Reproduction Genetic Connectedness Gamete Donation Birth Mother 
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© Heather Draper 2005

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  • Heather Draper

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