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18 September 2012

Australia: The ‘Time to Tell’ campaign, donor-linking and implications for clinical practice

From Journal of Law and Medicine.

The authors note that the State of Victoria in Australia was one of the first jurisdictions in the world to introduce legislation regulating donor conception. Under the Infertility (Medical Procedures) Act 1984 (Vic), donor-conceived people, aged 18 years and over, parents of children under 18 years, and donors gained the right to apply for the release of identifying information about each other recorded in a Central Register. As a result of this and subsequent legislation, services providing donor treatment were obliged to change clinical practice relating to recruitment of donors, counselling of donors and recipients and recordkeeping.

Since this legislation was introduced in 1988, over 5,000 donor-conceived children have been born and in 2006 the first 100 of these children reached the age of 18. The Victorian Infertility Treatment Authority (ITA) conducted a public education campaign to provide information and support to people affected by the legislation.

This article describes clinical practice changes prompted by legislation, the ‘Time to Tell” campaign and the service model developed for linking parties on the donor registers. The Victorian experience demonstrates that laws allowing the parties involved in donor conception access to information about each other must be accompanied by changes to clinical practice, public education about the implications of the laws, and services to meet the needs of those seeking information relating to donor conception and those contacted as a result.

Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority, PO Box 16123, Collins Street West, Melbourne, Victoria, 8007, Australia.

Donor conception legislation in Victoria, Australia: the “Time to Tell” campaign, donor-linking and implications for clinical practice. Johnson L, Bourne K, Hammarberg K. Journal of Law and Medicine. 2012 Jun;19(4):803-19.

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