Home' LOTL : January 2006 Contents 24
THE DECISION ON WHETHER TO TRY
TO CONCEIVE WITH A KNOWN OR
ANONYMOUS DONOR WILL DEPEND ON
A LOT OF EMOTIONAL AND PRACTICAL
FACTORS. BY JENNI MILLBANK.
Firstly, it is important to note that whether
a donor is known or anonymous, he is
not a legal father as long as the baby is
through assisted conception. It does not
matter whether assisted conception takes
place through a clinic or with a syringe at
home. Sperm donors do not have rights
as a parent nor do they have liabilities,
such as child support. Conversely, no
matter what your intentions or agreement
with the donor is, if you conceive through
intercourse, then he will be a parent.
In NSW there are several non-discriminatory
fertility clinics that lesbians can access,
although only a limited number of them have
stores of anonymous donor sperm.
• Simple no-strings attached option.
• You can decide your family form and
begin trying to conceive without needing to
negotiate roles and responsibilities with a
• You do not need to be concerned about
conflict with a donor in later years, or
other complications such as his family
• Sperm is tested and frozen so is very safe.
• If you do have fertility problems they
should be diagnosed early on in the process.
• It can be costly. Some clinics will define
you as ineligible for Medicare rebates
if you haven’t been trying to conceive
• Many clinics have inflexible medical
protocols about tests and treatment. So it
is not a process you have much control
over (you can’t just pay and take the sperm
home the way they do in The L Word).
• NSW does not have a central donor registry
or a system for donors and children to make
contact later in life if they want to.
• There are limited numbers of donors
to choose from and often very little
information on which to base your choice.
Women may choose a known donor
because they want the option for the
child to meet and know their biological
father, or because they wish to avoid the
medicalised model of a clinic.
• A lot of current psychological literature
stresses children’s right and need to
know their biological origins. (Although
note that much of this movement is
based on the experiences of children
who were adopted or born through
assisted reproduction where their
families concealed the truth from them).
• Extending your potential support
network may be a big help to you caring
for the child.
• Trying to conceive in a low cost low-
tech environment like your own home
may be more relaxing.
• There may not be the right man for you
(eg in his intended level of involvement
and role) or he may not agree.
• Whatever agreement you come to about
his role, expectations and circumstances
can later change.
• You need to be confident that your
donor is in good health and agrees to a
• Even though a known donor is not a
legal parent he can still apply for and
be granted contact by the Family Court,
because the Court has the power to do
this for any person “concerned with the
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