Archive for the month: April 2014
Since last August, there is the initiative “network embryo donation”, behind which are mainly reproduction physicians from Bavaria. In addition to embryos, this network also wants to impregnate oocytes that have already been impregnated with the man’s sperm as part of in vitro fertilization and frozen with the couple’s consent for a later fertility cycle (so-called 2-PN cells), but now can no longer be used by the source pair to convey to other recipients. The mediation is allegedly free of charge, but of course the reproductive medical facilities deserve the necessary measures. Whether the further cultivation of such a 2-PN cell for the purpose of the transfer to another woman represents a fertilization forbidden according to § 1 Abs. 1 No. 2 Embryo Protection Act for transfer to another woman, is legally controversial. The legal opinion of the network embryo donation and the medical lawyers Börgers and Frister come to very different results.
What sounds altruistic and practical, apart from the possible legal prohibition, does not do justice to the demands of this form of starting a family and, in particular, the needs of the children who are born from such a situation. We have set out these points of criticism in two letters to the Network Embryo Donation, but unfortunately we have encountered very little understanding. Thus, the network embryo donation seems to commit the mistakes of neglecting the rights of donor children and the family situation resulting from such a donation, which was made during the sperm donation many years long. Therefore, we make this criticism public in the following:
Lack of presentation of the psychological challenges of this way of starting a family on the website
The presentation of the embryo donation (for which we find the term embryo adoption more suitable) on the initiative’s website is currently limited to the mediation process. This gives the impression that only the desire of childless adults for a child should be served – regardless of the needs and requirements of adoption, and especially the rights of children. Adoption as well as any gamete donation not only represent the satisfaction of a desire to have a child, but also a dynamic, unlimited and lifelong process for all concerned.
For this purpose, the network does not write embryo donation on its website and only recommends a psychological consultation. The recommendation of a psychological counseling of the receptionists, without even starting to address the psychological side of this form of family education, is inadequate given the embargo on the dynamics of the family, especially when compared to the comprehensive counseling that is necessarily provided by normal adoption.
From our point of view, a presentation of the psychological challenge of adopting a genetically unrelated child – which is an embryo adoption – is required on the website itself (see, for example, Knobbe, FPR 2001, p. 309 ff.). Such information can not replace expert psychological counseling, which should not only be recommended, but demanded. However, it will give a first clue to interested couples, which is typically to be considered when setting up a family and thus giving the recipients important clues as to whether this type of starting a family is even suitable for them. Such issues include possible tensions due to lack of kinship with the child, the need to educate the child about adoption, the need to address their own infertility, as well as the future situation that the child may be interested in having contact with the genetic parents and has a right to know who they are.
In line with the experience of baby adoption and sperm donation, the parents should be encouraged to openly deal with this mode of procreation towards the child. This is a wording as in the “donor pair” donation, in which reads: “This information is incumbent on the parents of the child” is not fair. Already since the seventies, especially in the field of adoption and in recent years, finally, in the field of sperm donation, an open approach to the form of starting a family, because it has been found that secrecy is not only for parents a heavy burden In particular, it also represents a child’s tutelage that undermines values such as sincerity and the equality of family members. Therefore, from a psychological point of view, the earliest possible education of children is recommended today. The research also shows (see Scheib, Riordan and Rubin, Human Reproduction 2005) that many of the enlightened children would like to get to know the biological parents.
Even if the network embryo donation acts only as a mediator, it can not make the responsibility for such basic information about a family education by embryo adoption (and not just the fulfillment of the desire to have children) by recommending an external consultation, since due to the mediation service interest in such Family education may only be awakened and made possible. Therefore, adequate information should be provided before couples interested in embryo adoption complete the registration forms at all. It is frivolous to postpone this to the point where adoption of an embryo is already becoming acute and fulfillment of the wish to conceive covers other aspects such as the rights of the child and the challenges involved.
Mandatory anonymity between donor and recipient parents
The Embryo Donor Network prescribes the anonymity between donor and recipient parents to avoid the commercialization of embryo donation. From the point of view of donor children, it is to be welcomed that a commercialization of the donation should be prevented. For many of us it is a psychological burden to hear that many sperm donors allegedly decided to make a donation – and thus to our procreation – only because of the “expense allowance”. Nevertheless, we think that the anonymity between donor and recipient parents prescribed by the network embryo donation does not meet the requirements of this form of starting a family and is not necessary to prevent commercialization.
In our opinion, the risk of commercialization exists only if the donor parents can either make the recipient pair or select it by name, because there is the possibility that the donating parents make financial demands for the receipt of the embryo donation.
However, there would be no commercialization if the donor couple could choose the receiving couple based on some non-identifying clues. It is known from adoption research that adopted children are particularly concerned with the reason for which they were delivered and perceive the aspect of a lack of desirability by the birth parents as particularly stressful (see, for example, Martin R. Textor, Open Adoption of Infants, From: Our Youth 1988, pp. 530-536; Rüdiger Haar (2010): Parents under pressure: counseling helpless and overburdened parents). Especially from the point of view of the children, it is therefore desirable that the genetic parents do not give them to anonymous recipients, but think about what kind of family the child should grow up with. This demonstrates that the parents giving birth also care about the future well-being of the child. In any case, for example, Lacey’s 2005 study, p. 1661, in the Human Reproduction journal, showed that the offending parents already regard these embryos as their own, descended from them as a couple, and that they do not want to give away anonymously.
In particular, however, after the donation was successful, there is no reason for the anonymity prescribed by the network embryo donation. Even with sperm donations, some seed banks now allow contact between donor, recipient parents and the child if the donor agrees or even wishes to do so. This is in the best interests of the child because the child is not left in the dark about his or her descent until adulthood and gets the feeling that they are interested in contact in spite of being released by the genetic parents. Also, only through this is an earlier contact with the possibly existing biological siblings possible for the donating parents. If the giving parents find such a contact too difficult, they should at least be given the opportunity to make anonymous contact.
However, the anonymity between donor and recipient parents prescribed by the network embryo donation, even after the donation, contradicts in particular the normal adoption practice. Here the donating parents can indicate themselves whether they want an open, a half-open or an incognito-adoption. In an open adoption, after adoption, the contact between the giving and receiving parents is made possible. In semi-open adoption this contact takes place under the supervision of the Youth Welfare Office. Only with an incognito adoption, the adopted child can only learn who the genetic parents are from the age of 16 and make contact with them.
There is no reason for the anonymity prescribed by the Network Embryo Donation, even under aspects of the law of maintenance. In terms of family law, the situation after embryo donation does not differ from that after sperm donation. There are contractual possibilities of minimizing the risk of claiming the genetic father after a possible successful paternity challenge of the child in the context of a debt of the requesting father.
Only in the pdf documents provided on the website, such as the “donor pair”, is there any indication that the donation anonymity proclaimed by the network embryo donation can not apply to the child. This should already be clarified on the website in order to avoid the impression that anonymous donations are possible in Germany.
Non-applicable information about the right to knowledge of ancestry
Finally, the representation of the right of the child born of an embryo donation to knowledge of his descent on the website of the network embryo donation is not applicable. There, in the “donor-couple disclosure form”, it says: “The child born of the embryo donation has the right to know his genetic descent of the father (..). Thus, the anonymity between the legal entities can be repealed later by the child. “
This is legally incomplete. The right to knowledge of genetic ancestry does not only refer to the right of the child to know who the genetic father is. If genetic and social motherhood diverge, there is also a right of the child to information about the person of the mother. § 1591 BGB, according to which the mother is always the woman who gave birth to the child, is merely an allocation rule in a simple law that constitutional law can not modify.
Not true is the statement in the information sheet “wish parents” that the begotten child can challenge the paternity of the wish father, this desire but should be abusive and therefore unfair. A paternity challenge of the child according to § 1600 Abs. 1 Nr. 4 BGB is permissible if there is no genetic relationship between father and child. From our association, several members have challenged the paternity of the legal father. A special motive for this was not required by any court and the challenge has nothing to do with the knowledge about the descent (so also the judgment of the Higher Regional Court Hamm from 6.2.2013).
Conclusion: So not – rules to ensure the best interests of the child required
For these reasons, we can not recommend to a couple who have stored corresponding impregnated ova in a reproductive medical facility to make them available for adoption via the network embryo donation. We would also like to have a legal clarification as to whether the network’s activity is permitted at all. The Embryo Protection Act clearly wants to prohibit motherhood from falling apart into a genetic and an expecting mother. Even if the network only takes advantage of a gap in the Embryo Protection Act, rules are needed to ensure the best interests of the child, so that reproductive medicine does not decide, as it does now, what it considers appropriate for the families and the people it creates.
Review of the book “Kinder machen” by Andreas Bernard
Three weeks ago, the 500-page book “Kinder machen” by SZ journalist Andreas Bernard was published. Two of our members were interviewed for the book, and our club is also a bit more detailed in it. The four chapters are devoted to the history of conception, sperm donation, surrogacy and egg donation, and most recently in vitro fertilization. It is a cultural-historical investigation – reproductive medicine is placed in the context of how little one has known for a long time about human reproduction, what is intriguing, and how much has changed in the last century, and especially since the late 1970s. A larger part of the book refers to the US, where egg donation and surrogacy, which are banned in Germany, have been approved and a large, almost unregulated reproductive market has developed.
The book is well written and will certainly be fun to read for anyone interested in reproductive medicine and wanting to know more. Andreas Bernard portrays encounters with reproductive medicine, sperm bankers, donor children, a surrogate mother and parents. He takes the factual perspective of a cultural historian and also remains in the representation of ethical problems in this approach.
From the perspective of the donor children would be a deeper discussion of the ethical problems – how does the suppression of the third on the resulting families, what is actually the importance of genetic descent, what causes the payment of the “donor” – desirable, but may not fit the cultural-historical approach. However, it also becomes clear how little child welfare is in the focus of reproductive medicine. It’s just about helping parents have a child who is increasingly under pressure to try everything possible. In the same way, it is shown that many reproduction physicians are not able to perceive the people begotten with their help as subjects with their own rights, feelings, and desires. Andreas Bernard also describes in detail the suppression of the “third party” by the parents, which is especially recommended by German reproductive medicine doctors.
The book relies in many parts on the description of anecdotes and personal encounters and reads in parts more like a reportage. That makes it pleasant to read. However, this involves the problem that encounters with individual representatives such as a surrogate mother or a sperm donor are not representative. Nevertheless, certain insights are often drawn from the book. This approach also applies to the chapter on donor children (from p. 124). The unbiased reader may come to the conclusion that we donor children generally have problems with our mode of procreation in the description of the four individual cases. Only briefly, the term genetic gap is presented, that the real problem is the donor’s de facto anonymity for many donor children.
Clarifications to the legal statements
From our perspective, we must also make it clear that the documentation period for donor data in Germany was not 10 years until 2007 – the professional code for doctors pointed out for years that data must be kept longer, if it must be assumed that there is a reason. In addition, donors in Germany were never allowed to be granted anonymity – and not just according to the current legal situation. This is already indicated by the decision of the Medical Association of 1970, with which sperm donations were no longer judged “not befitting”. Reason for the prohibition of surrogacy in Germany is in particular that the appointment and delivery of a child against payment is seen as a violation of the protected by Article 1 of the Basic Law dignity of the child, because the surrogacy treaty makes it a commercial object (see for example KG Berlin, Decision of 01.08.2013, p. 8).
Updated facts about our club donor children
Some facts in the book about our club donor children are now obsolete or not so. Meanwhile, we have grown beyond 20 members and look forward to being over 50 donor children, in the age range 18-48. There are also male donor children represented in our club – one of our last year, our DNA test even found out who his donor is. Fortunately, there are now more than four media reports per year about us, as can be seen in our News section. Even more than just four of our members express themselves in media reports.
Like “Hannah” some other of us donor children were enlightened as a child. Sarah does not study psychology. The author’s suggestion that donor children are more likely to study psychology because their existence is so difficult (p. 129) is something we think is overburdened. We have as many female doctors as psychologists as members.
One of the demands of our association is presented misleading: we have never demanded to abolish the possibility of contesting the paternity of the social father by us under § 1600 para. 1 No. 4 BGB. We even expressly reject such an exclusion, which is often demanded by the parents, and consider it a violation of the right to knowledge of descent. In the past, as quoted in the following paragraph in the book, we called for the abolition of the possibility of legally establishing the donor as a father. But that is not legally connected with a challenge. If a donor child can challenge, but no one other than father determine, then it is legally fatherless.
On p. 476, with reference to an article in the Tagesspiegel about me from 2007, a photo book with hymnic, blessed lyrics is described, which I should have gotten when moving out of my parents’ house. This is cited as evidence that the genetic gap is made up for in the narrative of family history as a symbolic legitimation of togetherness. However, this depiction was already exaggerated in the original Tagesspiegel article – in fact, it’s my baby album with a narrative about my birth. The lyrics in it are not anthemic, and a baby album has many people my age. Also naturally begotten humans are very often desired by their parents and these want to express the happiness of the birth with a suitable album. However, I often have the impression that parents who receive their children with the help of reproductive medicine, the aspect of the desirability of their children and thus the family history of particular importance.
A worth reading book
All in all, it is a really worth reading book. Very revealing is also the chapter about the German reproductive medicine. I agree with the concluding thesis by Andreas Bernard that the family does not dissolve because of reproductive medicine, but that it accomplishes the integration of third parties and thus an extension of the family concept. Unfortunately, in reality it often stays with a possible family extension. This process often does not take place because parents keep their ancestry secret from a third party or guaranteed (or imposed) on the third anonymity. Therefore, it is hoped that more parents will recognize the benefits of this extended family.
Sarah on April 16 at 22:25 studio guest at ZDF log in
Spenderkinder-Vorständin Sarah was on April 16, 2014, one of the guests at ZDF log in on “Under all circumstances: Is there the right to a child?” The program can be viewed in the ZDF media library.
At the show log in, guests discuss Giovanni Maio, professor of medical ethics, and Matthias Bloechle, reproductive medicine, the theme in a pros and cons constellation. Other guests such as Sarah and the author Millay Hyatt bring in the course of the broadcast new aspects in the discussion. Viewers can actively participate in the program through comments, tweets, chat and voting.
The program runs from 22:25 on ZDF info and can also be seen in the webstream.
The announcement text of ZDF log in:
“Children with 50? No problem. To cheat nature, the dream of many childless couples. But does everything that has to do with medicine have to be done? Are there ethical limits? What is allowed, what is not? What are the consequences of the different methods for women, men and children? Sperm donation, hormone injection, surrogate mother: The business with the desire to have children is booming. Wrong promises or happy ending in the lab? “
3sat culture time on April 10 to make children by Andreas Bernard
In the program Kulturzeit on 3sat on Thursday, April 10, 2014, the book Kinder machen by Andreas Bernard was discussed. In addition to an interview with the author Andreas Bernard there is a contribution to the topic of donor children and our production by reproductive medicine, in which donor children member Stina has a say.
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