DOH working on provision to stop accidental incest

By Angelica Oung  /  STAFF REPORTER

Fri, May 11, 2007 - Page 2

The Department of Health (DOH) is drafting a regulation that would allow grown-up test-tube babies to know if they are biologically related to the person they are about to marry.

Test-tube babies conceived from egg or sperm donors do not know the identity of one of their biological parents. If the draft to a provision deriving from the Assisted Human Reproduction Act (人工生殖法 ) passes, their potential spouses could obtain special dispensation to obtain the household registry copies of all their relatives to six degrees of relatedness.

Those records could then be submitted to the Bureau of Health Promotion (BHP), which would double-check the list against the name of the egg or sperm donor.

In order to protect the identity of egg and sperm donors, couples would receive no information beyond whether or not they were related.

Although in theory the provision would solve the potential problem of close relatives marrying because of the unknown maternity or paternity of some test-tube babies, it could be that many won't even know they have that option.

"There is no law compelling parents to inform their children that they used an egg or sperm donor," said Wu Shiow-ing (吳秀英), deputy director general of the BHP, yesterday. "Many decide not to tell their children."

The check for relatedness is voluntary.

"It is up to the individual couple whether they want to take the chance," she said.

There are three others provisions in the draft which deals with different aspects of the Assisted Human Reproduction Act. They relate to the compensation of egg and sperm donors, the establishment of sperm banks and the qualification criteria for fertility centers.

According to a DOH official, the draft will be forwarded to the Executive Yuan for final approval.

Should the Executive Yuan approve it, the provisions are predicted to go into effect at the end of next month, Wu said.