Donor conception law for sperm and egg donors

two pearsIf you are providing your eggs or sperm to someone as a donor to help them conceive, it is important to be clear about where you stand legally.

Donating through a UK licensed clinic
If you donate through a licensed clinic in the UK, the clinic will have to follow rules set down by law and by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority which provides its licence.  This includes screening requirements and a cap on the number of families who can conceive with your eggs or sperm.  

Information about you, and the outcome of any treatment using your eggs or sperm, will be kept on the HFEA's Register of Information.  You have a legal right to ask whether any children were conceived with your eggs or sperm (and if so their sex and year of birth) but you do not have any right to contact your offspring or their parents.

The children conceived with your eggs or sperm can access information about you from the register (although identifying information about you will not be released until they are over 18).  It can be very important to donor-conceived people and their families to have good quality information, so you should take care over the information you provide and any pen sketch or goodwill message you write. 

Find out more about how UK law regulates donor conception at fertility clinics.

Donating through home insemination
If you are a sperm donor and you donate via home insemination, these rules do not apply.  There is no cap on how many families you may donate to and no requirement for you or your sperm to be screened. There is also no formal record-keeping of the donation so you will need to think through carefully what arrangements you make (if any) to allow any child you help to conceive to have information about you.

Known donation and co-parenting arrangements
The law on known donation can be complex.  You might not intend to have any ongoing involvement with any child conceived; or you might be looking to have a peripheral or substantial role or even to share parenting.  It is important they you and your recipient to ensure you have matched expectations, and it is sensible to prepare a pre-conception agreement to crystallise what you have agreed.  Find out more about planning a known donation arrangement.  It is also important to understand what legal status you will have, since this will dictate whether you could be held liable for child support and inheritance claims (find out more about legal parenthood for sperm donors and co-parents and legal parenthood for egg donors/providers).

Disputes sometimes arise in known donation situations, typically either about child maintenance or about care arrangements for the child and the level of involvement and contact the donor/co-parent should have.  Find out more about known donor disputes.