Since the law tends to lag behind medical and biotechnological advances, it is up to all of us to advocate for human rights, especially those that invoke the principle of the welfare of the child.
If you are a person conceived as a result of assisted reproduction, a recipient of a gamete (egg, sperm, embryo) donation, a donor, a family member, a physician/psychologist/social worker/nurse/lawmaker or simply a concerned citizen, this site is for you.
As you probably know, in Israel, gamete donor anonymity is sacrosanct. Consequently, the children/adolescents/adults conceived as a result of sperm, egg, or embryo donation are unable to access information about their donor or even about other families conceived with the help of that donor. They are denied contact with their half-siblings when this is mutually desired by both parties.
In numerous countries, including the UK, Holland, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, New Zealand, four states in Australia, and Canada’s British Columbia – anonymous gamete donation has been outlawed. This means that gamete donors must be willing to be identified when the child or children born as a result of their donation, reach a certain age (anywhere from 14 to 18, depending on the country), and wish to learn their origins and trace their roots. This change reflects an increasing awareness to the child’s right and need to have roots and trace his or her origins and ancestry.
Until Israel catches up with those countries that place the welfare of the child first (before the parent’s right to procreate, since after all, they can adopt a homeless child) there are a few things that can be done immediately.
- supporting the offspring in their efforts to make mutual consent contact with each other – for those that want to
- supporting offspring and their families in their right to updated medical/genetic information regarding the donor and his or her family
- supporting offspring, families and donors in making mutual consent contact – for those who want to
- helping offspring avoid accidental incest – by allowing them to know who their half-siblings are
These goals can be achieved via using an existing mechanism already in place for educating, connecting and supporting donor families – the DONOR SIBLING REGISTRY (DSR), which exists since 2000 and has already connected 13,175 people who wished to be connected. Israeli individuals and families are encouraged to become life-long members, since it may take more than one year to find and connect with others in their donor families. The more Israelis sign up, the greater their chances of finding each other. Don’t wait until you see a posting for your clinic, as others may also be waiting, and then you may not find each other. It is not necessary to reinvent the wheel and create another mechanism, unless the government decides to do this, following the UK’s example.
To date (May 17th, 2016) 35 Israelis have found their half-siblings via the DSR, and 113 Israeli families have registered. Be the next one!
In order to make this online search more effective, the Israeli offspring and their families, as well as the donors need to be given their unique, non-identifying donor code.
This message needs to be communicated to all those concerned, including politicians, lawmakers and health policy makers. They need to understand that both donors and recipients, as well as the children/adolescents/adults born as a result of gamete donation must be able to find each other if and when they want to, and that in order to do this effectively, they need to be issued a non-identifying donor code, to be used when embarking on a search for one’s donor family e.g., via the Internet search engine provided by the Donor Sibling Registry.
Even if your child is still young, and you have no way of knowing whether or not he or she will want to contact their half-siblings or donor, make this possible for him or her, should they want it. Remain open to this eventuality, and sign up now. Work towards there being unconditional access to information in Israel, so that those who desire it can search for their donor families.
We’d love to hear from you – you are invited to contact us via the Contact Form and share your thoughts regarding reproductive medicine and human rights via the Blog page. Let us know what you’d like your children’s future to be, and what you are prepared to do to achieve this.
Even if you are not on Facebook, please visit our Facebook community page and keep informed with respect to various ongoing issues via our media news feed. We appreciate “Likes” – don’t be bashful.
Unfortunately, silence = discrimination.
COPYRIGHTRuth Shidlo, PhD and Israeli Donor Families (2011). Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this website’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ruth Shidlo, PhD and Shorashim: Israeli Donor Families with appropriate specific direction to the original content.
- כל הזכויות שמורות לד”ר רות שידלו ו – Shorashim: Israeli Donor Families