Tuesday, 29 January 2008

HFE Bill Report Stage (Lords) day 3


Lord Jenkin of Roding

Why do the two representative bodies take such opposing views? The argument of the IDOA, which represents donor-conceived people, that the genetic and biological parents, as well as social parents, should be recorded, is based on six propositions. First, genetic heritage has existence. It is a fact, and has meaning and value in itself. Secondly, everyone has a moral right to know. While it cannot be universally enforced, the state should not connive in abrogating that right. Thirdly, because the state intervenes in assisted reproduction, it has a duty to give legal protection to that moral right and should not deceive the child or withhold information about its genetic parents. The genetic regulations give the donor-conceived child the right to find a donor’s identity, but this is meaningless if many parents continue to conceal the fact of donor conception. Fourthly, the truth must be put in the hands of the offspring for reasons of avoiding consanguinity or even incest. Fifthly, and this is an important fact, falsifying a birth certificate is illegal, so it is discriminatory if the state connives at concealing the fact of donor conception. Finally, only honest and accurate birth certificates would be consistent with the rest of UK law, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and case law under the European Convention on Human Rights.
Lord Jenkin of Roding proposed an amendment that the HFEA should periodically review the system of birth certification. This amendment was supported by Baroness Warnock, Baroness Knight of Collingtree, Lord Alton of Liverpool, Earl Ferrers, Lord Mackay of Clashfern, Baroness Butler-Sloss, Baroness Carnegy of Lour.

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon, speaking for the government, said

this is currently an intractable problem but I assure noble Lords that we will continue to keep under review options about informing donor-conceived people about their conception, including continuing dialogue with the Donor Conception Network about the impact of its work. We will gladly involve noble Lords with a specific interest in this in our future discussions.
and Lord Jenkin withdrew his amendment.