The donor anonymity debate flared up again in Australia this week, as controversial retrospective donor laws came into effect in the state of Victoria.
The new Victorian legislation, effective as of last Wednesday, allows donor conceived children to access information about their biological father, even where the donor has requested anonymity. Donor children can apply to a central registry, the Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority (VARTA), to access the name, date of birth and donor code of their male blood-parent. The amendments are an Australian first, and overhaul previous protections for donor fathers who donated sperm anonymously before January 1 1998.
The laws have been heavily criticised, with Vice-President of the Australian Medical Association Tony Bartone saying that we risk undermining the integrity of consent procedures: "All patients must feel confident that when they see a doctor and undergo a medical procedure their privacy will be upheld, both now and in the future."Yet some suggest that provisions in the law to prevent donor children from contacting their male blood-parent are sufficient to protect the rights of donors. Editorial staff from The Age wrote on Tuesday that “the rights of the child have been appropriately updated without compromising the rights of the donor.”
Parramatta is just 20 minutes west of the BioEdge office. It’s not a city which has made a huge mark on the world, although not long ago an ISIS-inspired teenager shot dead a police employee and ended up dead himself. It has a lot of historic buildings from the colonial era, surrounded by high rise office buildings, drab shops and a huge park.
A few weeks ago the park hosted Tropfest, billed as the world’s largest short film festival. The crowds watched the films on huge screens as they picnicked on the grass. I was amazed that the winner was a 7-minute film about euthanasia, “The Mother Situation”. With excellent acting and snappy dialogue, it is a brilliant black comedy. Three adult children are delighted to hear that their mother wants to be euthanised – but then she changes her mind.
The director, Matt Day, says that it is not an anti-euthanasia film, but I haven’t seen anything which illustrates more vividly the danger of elder abuse. Sure, it’s absurd and a bit unrealistic but it sends a powerful message. Check it out.
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