Forum: Allow those born from IVF donation also to contact genetic parents

I read with great interest that the Government is considering establishing an adoption registry that will enable adopted children to trace and contact their birth parents in the future (Adoption register to facilitate contact between children, birth parents being considered, May 29).

To know, acknowledge and connect with one's birth parents and to embrace one's own family heritage are basic human rights. It is crucial to the development of one's own personal identity and place in the world.

Moreover, because many diseases that manifest later in life, such as breast cancer, have a genetic basis, the right to know one's own family medical history is crucial, as such vital health information can be potentially life-saving.

Besides adopted children, the Government must also consider the same legal rights for the offspring of sperm, egg and embryo donation.

It is anticipated that in the coming years, there will be more children born from in vitro fertilisation (IVF) donations in Singapore, with increasing utilisation of new assisted reproductive technologies here.

Currently, the import of frozen sperm and eggs from commercial banks overseas is permitted for IVF treatment of some infertile patients in Singapore.

Furthermore, with social egg freezing being permitted here from 2023, it is anticipated that there will be an accumulated surplus of unused frozen eggs available for donation to infertile women. Indeed, overseas studies have confirmed that most women who freeze their eggs do not eventually use them.

Hence, to maintain legal and ethical consistency, the Government should also establish an IVF donor register to enable the offspring of sperm, egg and embryo donation to trace and contact their genetic parents and/or siblings, if laws are enacted to establish an adoption register for such purposes.

This would be more consistent with international standards. More countries have abolished IVF donor anonymity, in growing recognition of the psychological problems and identity issues faced by donor-conceived offspring.

In line with this, the Ministry of Health must ensure that all prospective IVF donors consent to their identity being released to their future genetic offspring, as well as ensure rigorous counselling to prepare them psychologically for future possible contact.

Alexis Heng Boon Chin (Dr)

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