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Limebite 12/22

Proposed changes to South Australian Donor Conception Register laws

The South Australian Government is proposing to the amend the Assisted Reproductive Treatment Act 1988 (Act).

In 2021, the Act was amended to establish a Donor Conception Register (DCR). However, donor-conceived people are still prevented or restricted from having access to information about their genetic parents.

The current proposed amendments seek to provide safe and respectful access to the DCR and ensure its effective and optimal functioning.

The proposed amendments seek to allow donor-conceived people information about their donors. This is in response to some donor conceived people reporting a sense of ‘lost identity’ upon discovering they are not biologically related to their parent(s). There are also compelling arguments in favour of having access to information concerning a biological parent’s medical history, particularly as people age.

The move to allow donors access to information about people born as a result of their donation is in line with the general move from secrecy and anonymity to openness and disclosure in donor conception across Australia. Donors may wish to pass on relevant heath information to their biological children or simply know if their genetic material was used to conceive a child (or children).

The proposed Bill will:

  1. provide all donor-conceived people over 18 years of age with the right to access identifying information about a genetic parent (donor) with retrospective effect and the ability to seek information about donor-conceived siblings.
  2. provide donors with the ability to seek information about people born as a result of their donations.
  3. ensure that genetic relatives can share important medical and genetic information.
  4. provide options for inclusion of donor information on birth certificates.

Currently, four Australian states also have legislation that governs access to information concerning donor conception: Victoria[1], Western Australia[2], New South Wales[3] and South Australia. While each State’s legislation has a slightly different approach, each aims to allow donor conceived people to obtain information about their donor and any biological siblings.

Submissions are being received on the proposed changes until 6 December 2022. Watch this space for further developments.

This legislation will be important for practitioners who work in Assisted Reproductive Technology to bear in mind when working with patients and ensuring they are aware of the implications of the personal information being accessible by others.

[1] Assisted Reproductive Treatment Act 2008 (Vic).
[2] Human Reproductive Technology Act 1991 (WA).
[3] Assisted Reproductive Technology Act 2009 (NSW).
This publication constitutes a summary of the information of the subject matter covered. This information is not intended to be nor should it be relied upon as legal or any other type of professional advice. For further information in relation to this subject matter please contact the author.