This seminar is now available on DVD from our store.

Getting It Right: Putting Ethics at the Core of Gamete Donation Practice

Oct 4, 2008. Toronto, Canada.

Topics & Speakers

Topics include presentations by donor offspring, parents & former donors as well as:

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Why Are Ethics Central and Crucial But Too Often Ignored?

Phyllis Creighton, MA. Historian; bioethicist; former member of Health Canada's Advisory Committee on Reproductive & Genetic Technologies; and the author who first drew attention in Canada to the problems of anonymity and secrecy, and the identity needs of offspring in her 1977 book, Artificial Insemination by Donor: A Study of Ethics, Medicine, and Law in our Technological Society. Former research associate, Faculty of Divinity, Trinity College, University of Toronto. Peace & Justice activist in Science for Peace, and the Anglican Church of Canada.

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Sperm & Egg Donation Practices in Canada

• Heather Brooks, RN. Canadian Services Coordinator, Outreach Health Services Inc. (Canadian distributor for Xytex)
Dr. Alfonso P. Del Valle, MD, FRCS (C). Medical Director, Repromed - The Toronto Institute for Reproductive Medicine. Dr. Del Valle became interested in the field of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility while in training in Internal Medicine. He acquired Board Certification in Internal Medicine in 1981 and in Obstetrics & Gynecology in 1985 at the University of Toronto. Dr. Del Valle did post graduate training in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at Yale University where, under the mentorship of Dr. Frederick Naftolin, he developed a keen interest in research and innovation in the field of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. Dr. Del Valle has authored numerous scientific publications and presented his data nationally and internationally, and is often quoted in the media and invited to lecture locally and abroad. Aside from his numerous academic and scientific achievements. Dr. Del Valle's main interests are in the area of InVitro Fertilization, egg donation, and surrogacy, as well as aspects related to male infertility. Member of the Canadian Fertility & Andrology Society, the Society of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists of Canada, the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, the European Society of Human Reproduction & Embryology, the Society of Cryobiology, and the American Association of Tissue Banks.

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Ending Donor Anonymity: What Next?

Eric Blyth, BA, MA, PhD, CQSW. Professor of Social Work, University of Huddersfield, United Kingdom. Visiting Professor, Department of Applied Social Sciences, Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Researcher, author and policy consultant to governments, professional and patient organizations. Editor and contributor, Truth & the Child 10 Years On: Information Exchange in Donor Assisted Conception and Third Party Assisted Conception Across Cultures: Social, Legal & Ethical Perspectives (available from the Infertility Network. Click on 'Store'). Former editor, Journal of Fertility Counselling. Co-editor, British Journal of Social Work. Co-chair, British Association of Social Workers Project Group on Assisted Human Reproduction. Eric will discuss the similarities and differences among systems for accessing donor information in jurisdictions that enable a donor conceived person to learn the identity of their donor. He will also provide an update on the expected changes regarding access to information in the United Kingdom following implementation of the new Human Fertilisation & Embryology Act (including new provisions for offspring to access information about their half siblings, and for donors to obtain information about their offspring).

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Why Canada’s Parliament Kept Donor Anonymity in the Assisted Human Reproduction (AHR) Act

Alison Motluk, MSc. Freelance journalist (CBC radio, Globe & Mail, New Scientist, etc) has written and broadcasted about the scientific and social issues surrounding assisted human reproduction, including the story of the boy who found his anonymous sperm donor using only his saliva and the internet, a story about the Donor Semen Archive (run by Dr. Kirk Maxey a speaker at this symposium) which analyzes DNA from semen vials, syringes and offspring so that offspring have access to information about their donors and siblings, and a two-part radio documentary for CBC Radio Ideas, Brave New Family, about the new relationships that have come about as a result of sperm donation. She is currently working on another radio documentary, exploring the meaning of "mother" in the age of technology. As part of her work for a chapter in a forthcoming book, she has interviewed current and past members of parliament, along with medical professionals and others, in an effort to discover why Canada's current human reproduction law (the AHR Act, 2004) continued the policy of gamete donor anonymity. Her talk will try to shed some light on this question.

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LGBT Perspectives on Donor Insemination & the Assisted Human Reproduction (AHR) Act

Rachel Epstein, MA (Sociology), PhD candidate (Education).
Rachel has been doing community organizing, education, research and activism related to LGBTQ parenting for 17 years, coordinating the LGBTQ Parenting Network at the Sherbourne Health Centre (Toronto) since 2001, teaching Dykes Planning Tykes, a course for lesbian/bi/queer women who are considering parenthood for more than 10 years. Mother of a donor-conceived 16-year-old.

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Telling & Talking to Children about Donor Conception

Olivia Montuschi, co-founder, Donor Conception Network. Manager of the Telling & Talking and Preparation for Donor Conception Parenthood Workshops. Funded by the United Kingdom Department of Health. Mother of 2 young adults via anonymous sperm donation.

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Educating, Connecting & Supporting Donor Families;
Long-term Follow-up of Egg Donors

Wendy Kramer, founder, Donor Sibling Registry (DSR), an American non-profit assisting those conceived as a result of sperm, egg or embryo donation to make mutually desired contact with others with whom they share genetic ties. Mother of an 18 year old son via anonymous sperm donation. In the first 9 months of 2008, the DSR website has had 118,000 unique visitors, from 143 countries, and a total of 6.4 million hits. There are now 22,200 registrants, including 900 former sperm and egg donors. Matches have been facilitated between 5,800 half-siblings (&/or donors) including many outside the USA (e.g. 600 Canadian families of which 250 have matched). Hundreds more matches have been kept private. Wendy will also discuss the results of a retrospective study, done by Jennifer Schneider, MD, PhD in collaboration with the DSR, of 155 egg donors who were surveyed up to 22 years later.

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Practical & Ethical Concerns in the Genetic Testing of the Donor Conceived

Kirk Maxey, MD. Founder, Cayman Biomedical Research Institute (CaBRI), an American non-profit which offers both open and confidential DNA analysis for donors and offspring, and is working to reform the human gametic tissue collection and donation industry. Kirk first became interested in helping donor-conceived children after learning of and joining the Donor Sibling Registry as a former donor himself.

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Donated Generation: The Debate Over Anonymity & Open (aka 'Identity Release') Donors

Cheryl Miller, a 2007 Phillips Foundation Journalism Fellow writing on assisted reproductive technology and the American family. Editor, Doublethink magazine. Previously, assistant to David Brooks, political and cultural commentator at the New York Times; deputy director of research at the White House Office of Speechwriting; and associate editor of The New Atlantis  – A Journal of Technology & Society). She has published articles in the Wall Street Journal, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Reason, and the Claremont Review of Books, and writes & blogs for The New Atlantis.

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What Can We Learn from Adoption?

Karen Lynn, Coalition for Open Adoption Records (COAR)

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In addition to the speakers listed above, the following will also be sharing their personal experiences:

Donor Offspring

Searching for My Sperm Donor Father

Kathleen Labounty (USA) is obtaining her master's degree in psychology at Houston Baptist University as she searches for her biological father. She was conceived through an anonymous sperm donor who attended Baylor College of Medicine (USA) in 1981. Beyond this fact, she has no information about that side of her family including her medical history or heritage. To try to find her biological father, she xeroxed 1979-1984 Baylor yearbooks and looked up contact information and recent photographs online for the male graduates. Despite sending out letters to all 600 men from the yearbooks, receiving 250 responses (most of them very kind and many from men hoping she was their biological daughter), and going through 16 DNA tests, she has not yet located him. Kathleen now raises awareness of the needs of donor-conceived people and advocates for identity release gamete donations. In 2007, RESOLVE-The [American] National Infertility Association published her story, “Child of a Stranger” and her meticulous, determined search was chronicled in the 2007 CBC Radio documentary, Brave New Family and also on Houston news. In 2008, Kathleen appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show and was quoted by PARADE Magazine. For more info, see also:

When the Children Grow Up

Karen Clark (USA) found out at 18, after her father had passed away, that she had been conceived through anonymous sperm donation in 1966. However, it wasn't until after she had children of her own and realized that her donor-conceived status affects them as well that she began to actively pursue more information about her biological father's identity. Karen encourages openness and identity release but acknowledges the inherent emotional, social and ethical difficulties involved with the practice of donor conception. Her story was published in the American Adoption Congress newsletter (The Decree - vol. 23, no. 3, 2007) and she has written 2 essays for Voices of Donor Conception: Behind Closed Doors – Moving Beyond Secrecy and Shame (available from the Infertility Network. Click on 'Store'.) Karen spoke at:

The Dangers of Not Telling

Rob Hunter (23, Canada) is a graduate of the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario. He is a successful young businessman, owning a franchised ice cream shop in Kitchener, Ontario. Shortly after his graduation, he discovered very unexpectedly that he had been conceived through an anonymous sperm donor.

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Getting it Wrong: The Human Consequences When Ethics Are Not at the Core of Gamete Donation

Shirley Pratten,  RN (Canada). Co-founder and media spokesperson for The New Reproductive Alternatives Society, Canada’s first and oldest support & advocacy group for donor-conceived families. Mother of a young adult daughter via anonymous sperm donation.

Life as Dad to Donor Insemination Kids

Eric Schwartzman (USA), father of 2 young children via anonymous sperm donation.

Using the Office of the Information & Privacy Commissioner of Ontario to access medical records

Marilyn Weisdorf, MSW, RSW. (Canada).

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