Understanding donor conception

Donor conception explained

What is donor conception?

Donor conception is the process of having a baby using donated sperm, eggs or embryos through self-insemination or fertility treatment such as IVF. Sometimes it involves surrogacy, too. Donor conception involves a donor (the person donating sperm, eggs or an embryo) and recipient parent(s) who receive the donation. A child born as a result of the donation is known as a donor-conceived person.

There are legal consequences that result from using donated eggs, donated sperm or donated embryos. Donors, recipients and donor-conceived people all have legal rights and responsibilities under Victorian legislation. For example:

  • Donors are limited to donating to 10 women including any partner or former partner of the donor.
  • The treating fertility clinic is required to keep specific information about those linked through donor conception, and must report all births involving donor procedures to VARTA.
  • Recipient parent(s) will be identified as the legal parents of a donor-conceived child.
  • A donor is not a legal parent of a donor-conceived child. They have no legal rights or obligations to the child born as a result of their donation, or to the parent(s).
  • All children born after 1 January 2010 will receive notification that the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages holds additional information about their birth when they apply for their birth certificate.
  • VARTA’s donor conception registers record details of donors, recipient parents and their children, including both identifying and non-identifying information. Donor-conceived people have the right to apply for identifying information about their donor at 18 years of age - or younger if a counsellor gives approval.
  • Anonymous donation is not possible in Australia.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Whose consent is required prior to donating and donor conception treatment?

The Assisted Reproductive Treatment Act 2008 contains various consent provisions. These provisions relate to issues such as the withdrawal of consent and what happens in the event of death. These are discussed during counselling, before you consent to treatment, and in the forms that you sign.

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