Effective January 1, 2019, Washington state became one of the first states to pass legislation granting donor conceived children potential gain access to information about their donors. Washington’s Open Identity Donation Law recognizes the independence and privacy of donors, while balancing donor-conceived children’s right to access information about their genetic background and desire for identifying information.
Like California’s law on donor disclosure, the law provides the donor to declare their preference for anonymity at the time of the donation. A licensed gamete bank or fertility clinic must provide the donor with information about the choice on identity disclosure and obtain his or her declaration which shall be either witnessed or notarized. This declaration indicates either the donor's agreement to disclose their identity upon the child's request once reaching 18 years of age or the decision not to disclose their identity to the child. It must be noted that the donor who signed a declaration to disclose their identity may withdraw the declaration at any time. Should the donor not revoke their decision to be anonymous, the donor-conceived child may still obtain non-identifying medical details.
The Washington law grants donor-conceived children the right to request their donors' identifying information and medical history upon reaching the age of 18 from the donor’s fertility clinic or gamete bank. "Identifying information" includes a donor's full name, date of birth, and addresses (both permanent and current). "Medical history" includes information about the donor’s present and past illnesses, as well as social, genetic, and family history relevant to the donor's health which was disclosed to the clinic at the time of the donation.
A licensed gamete bank or fertility clinic is required to collect the donor's identifying information and medical history at the time of donation. Should a clinic or gamete bank fail to maintain the donor's choice of whether to disclose or remain anonymous, the clinic must disclose the information that it has collected to the donor-conceived child. If the clinic or bank receives gametes from another facility, they are required to gather and maintain information such as name, address, telephone number, and email address.
Parties to gamete donation should consider the emotional and developmental implications of anonymity on donor conceived children. The Washington law does not necessarily change the outcome of parties who request anonymous donations. It does however, give the donor an option to change their mind regarding their decision to be anonymous to donor conceived offspring.
Your lawyer should explain the choices regarding open and closed gamete donation as well as any disclosure laws that a state may have. As lawyers licensed in Washington, we can offer you guidance with the complexities of gamete donation contracts.
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