How is Egg Donation Treated Legally?
The following information is the Sims IVF interpretation of legal advice that we received regarding egg donation. It is not a substitute for legal advice regarding your own particular circumstances or planned treatment. We recommend that you obtain independent legal advice if you plan to embark on treatment under the EDE Programme.
- Gamete (Egg or Sperm) donation is legal and constitutional under Irish law. Gamete donation began in Ireland as sperm donation. It has been available in Ireland for over 30 years. Egg donation became available in Ireland in 2000. There has been no adverse case law to date.
- Under Irish law, the rights of the donor are protected up until the act of donation occurs. After that takes place, the law protects the recipient’s rights.
- If a donor tried to track down a child, she would have to overturn a number of points of law:
- The fact that legally the mother would be interpreted as the birth mother under Irish law.
- The fact that the donor would be in breach of the Data Protection Act 1988, whereby information relating to the child or the commissioning parents cannot be given to others without their consent.
- It would be a breach of contract law – because the donor gave up her rights to the egg and to any born child.
- It would also be a breach of the constitutional rights of the recipient couple. Under the McGee verdict 1973, a couple have a constitutional right to expand or limit their family as they wish. This legislation results in four specific legal protections for a recipient. A donor is informed very clearly that when they donate, they give up all rights to the eggs and to any children born of those eggs. Equally, they have no responsibility for such children.
- If you are located outside Ireland and the UK, then the laws of your jurisdiction will apply.
Other legal aspects to consider
- Currently, under Irish law, donors are allowed to remain absolutely anonymous.
- Also under Ukrainian law, donors are allowed to remain anonymous.
- This differs from UK law, where in 2005, the right to anonymity was removed. This led to a shortage of donors for both sperm and eggs in the UK.
- While it has been recommended in the past that Ireland should follow the UK example, this would only apply in prospect, not retrospect and it would take some years to enact the legislation in this country. It is unlikely to affect couples in the foreseeable future.
Informing your Child
The important thing is that if you are a prospective parent, under an egg donation programme, it is important to give careful consideration to the decisions you will have to make when it comes to informing your child or not. You may find that you change your mind over time.
You and your partner will get the opportunity to discuss this issue and many more during your counselling sessions.