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Surrogacy only a problem if commercialised – gynaecologist

Anonymous gamete donation crucial to programme

Surrogacy – where a woman carries another woman’s foetus in her womb until delivery – was only a problem if it become commercialised, Mark Sant, a gynaecologist with a special interest in infertility, told Parliament’s Health Committee yesterday.

He described the cases of two of his patients who had gone to Greece for surrogacy: one had a heart disease that would lead to her death if she became pregnant, and the other had a congenitally absent uterus.

On the topic of gamete – egg or sperm – donation, Dr Sant said that research had extensively assessed the psychological adaptation of donor children, and found it to be comparable to that of children born naturally or through IVF.

Prospective donors would have to reconcile themselves to the possibility of being sought out by their biological children against their own wishes

He warned that banning anonymous donation would destroy any donation programme, as it meant that prospective donors would have to reconcile themselves to the possibility of being sought out by their biological children against their own wishes.

The Health Committee was hearing presentations of speakers representing the Life Research Unit and Sallux, who were in Malta for a conference on the topic of proposed changes to the Embryo Protection Act.

The speakers, including Joanna Rose and Esme Weigmen-van, discussed various aspects of surrogacy and gamete donation.

Dr Rose, herself born through an IVF procedure made possible by sperm donation, spoke of herself as being “conceived in secrecy,” and described the “anguish” of fellow donor offspring. 

She said that it had taken her years to understand what it meant to be conceived through gamete donation, and she had eventually written a doctoral thesis intended to critically examine sperm donation practices and associated legal, ethical, and genetic problems.

Dr Rose described a contradiction between the attempts to safeguard genetic continuity whenever possible in IVF procedures, which focussed on the parents, with the complete disregard of this principle in gamete donation.

Children born from gamete donation, she said, should have the right to find out who their biological parents were, and they should have access to their medical histories.

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