Donor parents may be revealed on birth certificates

Parents who conceal the fact that a child was conceived from donor sperm or eggs could face jail under rules proposed by a committee of MPs and peers.

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In a report into the future of fertility treatment and embryo research commissioned by the Department of Health they argue that the information should be declared on birth certificates to ensure children learn the truth about their creation.

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They believe it would give parents “the incentive to inform their child” at the time and in the manner of their own choosing. But because it is an offence to give false information on a birth certificate, anyone who refused could be fined or jailed for up to two years.

Fertility pressure groups described the proposals as a “blunt instrument” that could do more harm than good.

They say there is a serious danger children could discover by accident that they are not genetically related to their parents by stumbling across the birth certificate.

“The question has to be whether it will benefit children – or give them grief later in life,” said Sheena Young, of Infertility Network UK. “I’m personally more in favour of educating parents about the need to be open with their children and to avoid secrecy.”

Each year, an estimated 7,000 women receive treatment with donated eggs, sperm or embryos, leading to the birth of 2,000 babies.

Under the current rules, anyone over 18 can ask for details about their genetic parents from a register held by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority.

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However, parents have no obligation to tell children the truth about their conception.

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