Should Children Have a Right to Know Their Biologicalparents?

Topics: Assisted reproductive technology, Law, Artificial insemination Pages: 7 (2500 words) Published: January 15, 2011
With particular reference to children born following donor insemination and adopted children, critically explore the extent to which it can be said that the law currently recognises that all children have a right to know who their genetic parents are. In 2008 there were around 708,111 live births in England and Wales alone, of these births many will not be brought up by their biological parents. Whether the child is adopted from birth and brought up by none biological parents or conceived via donor insemination, more and more children are growing up having no contact with their biological parents. It’s a rising issue to consider whether or not children should be able to know who their real parents are and what the law around this area suggests. It is very difficult to determine whether or not children should have more rights to know their genetic upbringing or whether such information would be deemed unnecessary. Such a sensitive area rise many advantages in enabling more rights yet provides many valid arguments in why increasing such rights could have very negative consequences. The law doesn’t pay much recognition to a child’s right to know their genetic parents in general. However in terms of children born from assisted reproduction, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority Regulations 2004 states that all children born following donation can access the donor’s name, the donor’s date and town of birth, the appearance of the donor and if given a short statement made by the donor. This information is now accessible for all children born after April 1st 2005. Before then a child could only gain access to certain information which would either contribute to a medical condition or discovering whether they were related to a person they wished to marry. Although this change is now available children still have to wait until they reach 18 years of age before the information is accessible. Clearly meaning the law at present lies that children are brought up with no knowledge of their genetic origins. The change in the law was gained from ensuring children knew their genetic origins, in Rose v Secretary of State for Health it is said that children had a right to know their sperm donor fathers as part of their right to respect their private and family life, but the question as to whether a the donor’s rights to private and family life could affect those of the children when their identity is revealed. If a child is to learn of their assisted reproduction there are options available to assist them in discovering more about their genetic parentage, the problem lies in how and if a child should be made aware of the details of their conception. Maclean and Maclean state, ‘keeping secrets in assisted reproduction-the tension between donor anonymity and the need of the child for information’ Unlike children born following donor insemination, adopted children have greater options in discovering their birth parents and have a lot more rights. Adopted children can access birth certificates; under s 79 of the Adoption and Children Act 2002 its essential records are kept to enable children to trace their birth information. The birth certificate would give individuals their mothers name and details of their birth, adopted children can also gain information via adoption agencies where further information can be given at their discretion. When gaining information through adoption agencies however, private information or information involving other parties may result in the information not being shared. A final method of an adopted child discovering their genetic parents is using the Adoption Contact Register where birth families and relatives and the adopted children can register and hopefully be linked. Children who are adopted are able to access information leading them to find factual evidence on their genetic parentage but again like children born following donor insemination the issue lies in the child’s right to be informed of...

Bibliography: Bainman, A., Legal Journals Index Arguments about parentage, C.L.J. 2008, 67(2), 322-351 [Cambridge Law Journal]
Publication Date: 2008
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