Please donate to take a French case on donor anonymity to the European Court of Human Rights

L’association PMA : Procréation Médicalement Anonyme (PMA), the French organization of donor conceived persons, calls for donations to take a legal action to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg.

PMA supports the basic, fundamental and universal right to access to one’s origins (to get information about your ancestry, biological parents and siblings). In France, donor conceived persons are without rights: donors have an absolute right to anonymity, it is a crime to reveal the identity of a donor, the donor may not even waive his anonymity out of his own will, and private DNA tests are forbidden (for more information about France see our country report).

Audrey Kermalvezen, a lawyer who specializes in biotechnology and member of PMA, was conceived by a sperm donor in 1979. In 2010, Audrey initiated a legal action in France in 2010 with two requests :

  • getting access to non-identifying data (number of her siblings, medical data, possible death of her genitor)
  • that the French hospital where the sperm donation took place asks her genitor (the sperm donor), provided that he is still alive, if he agrees to reveal his identity.

On 12 November 2015, the Conseil d’Etat, the highest French administrative court, dismissed Audrey’s claim. In its judgment, the court found that the anonymity of sperm donors, as provided by French law, is not incompatible with the European Convention on Human rights, and that the rule of anonymity meets the objective of protecting the donor’s private life.

Audrey and PMA now intend to take her case to the European Court of Human Rights. Such action is only possible every possible legal instrument at national level has been exhausted. The chances of a success are not too bad: The right to know your genetic ancestry is protected by the European Convention on Human Rights as part of the respect for private life in Article 8. In the Godelli case, the ECHR decided that the Italian law on anonymous adoptions violated Article 8 of the Convention because adopted persons did not have access to any information about their mother and birth family that would allow them to trace some of their roots, while ensuring the protection of third-party interests. Also, Italian law did not attempt to find a balance between the competing rights of adopted persons to find out their origins and the mother’s interests in remaining anonymous, but blindly preferred the latter.

The practice of anonymous gamete donations is similar to the Godelli case, as donor offspring cannot obtain any information about the donor, neither identifying nor non-identifying. In addition, donor offspring cannot ask the donor if he or she is willing to waive his or her anonymity. (Read more about the impacts of international law on the practice of donor conception)

A judgment by the ECHR banning absolutely anonymous sperm donations would affect all member states of the European Convention on Human Rights. Additionally to France, Belgium, Spain and the Czech Republic still provide for anonymous donations. A success would be a huge leap forward for all donor conceived persons and their right to know their genetic origins.

To be able to fund the action, PMA and Audrey ask for donations to be able deposit an action before 12 May 2016. Audrey and PMA say that even 5 or 10 Euros would help them, so please support them, if you can. Thank you for your help.