Sunday, May 12, 2013

Past Donor Assumptions

Currently in Australia there is quite a vocal backlash from the fertility clinics about the possibility of introducing retrospective access for donor conceived people to identifying information on the gamete donors (their biological fathers and mothers). Typically there will be claims that it would be erroneous and a serious breach of trust and perhaps even contract to introduce retrospectivity onto donors who were originally promised anonymity. Whether or not you agree with retrospectivity is not something I wish to debate in this post but rather the assumptions that the clinics are using for their argument.
It is an assumption that all donors who donated under anonymity conditions wish to remain anonymous. Sure some will do but others won’t. A serious problem here is that the donors had NO option when they donated. They were not given the option of ticking a box that said anonymous or willing to be known. Anonymity was mandatory and after speaking to several donors who did donate at the time, quite a few of those have said that they would have been willing to be identifiable if they were given that option. But they simply were not allowed to do so. Currently they are still not being given the freedom to choose as they are not being asked at an individual level whether they wish to remain anonymous or become identifiable.
They also assume that donors do not change their minds over time. Research by renowned donor conception researcher Daniels et al show that many past donors do in fact address their thoughts and emotion in regard to their donation over the course of their lifetimes. Some of them do in fact become more open to the exchange of information when they originally wanted anonymity (certainly not all, but some do).
Additionally they assume that past anonymous donors do not want contact with their offspring. The longest running voluntary register in Australia (Victoria) has more donors on its lists than it does donor offspring. Which I think speaks volumes in itself. This shows that the proportion of past anonymous donors that wish to remain anonymous is not as large as the clinics would lead us to believe.
We are being constantly bombarded by clinics speaking on behalf of donors when they in fact have not canvased the views of those donors. They are making claims based on assumptions without actually speaking to the people they are advocating on the behalf of. Which pretty much is a fail of Advocacy101.
Now what is that phrase about the word ASSUME again? (rhetorical question)