Gov. Jared Polis on Tuesday signed a landmark bill that will make Colorado the first state in the nation to give donor-conceived individuals the right to learn their donor’s identity when they turn 18, and access that person’s medical history before that.
The “Donor-Conceived Persons and Families of Donor-Conceived Persons Protection Act,” which takes effect Jan. 1, 2025, also caps the number of families that can use a specific donor and will require sperm and gamete banks to permanently maintain a donor’s records and regularly update their medical history. The minimum age to donate will be raised to 21.
“This is groundbreaking,” said Jody Madeira, an Indiana University law professor and expert on fertility law. “We’re really not sure what these bills should look like ideally, but we have one now.”
The U.S. Donor Conceived Council, the first nonprofit organization in the United States formed and led by donor-conceived people, said “history was made” Tuesday.
“More than a million people in the United States have been created via sperm and egg donation with little consideration to their future needs or interests, including learning the identity of the person who contributed half of their DNA and having access to accurate medical information,” said Erin Jackson, president and CEO of the organization, in a statement. “With the passage of this bill, the industry can no longer ignore our voices.”
The law, while novel in the U.S., brings Colorado up to speed with Australia and the many European countries that have eliminated anonymous donations for sperm and eggs.
The signing comes just weeks after a Grand Junction jury awarded nearly $9 million to a host of families who sued a fertility doctor after learning decades later that he used his own sperm to impregnate his patients.
The case of Dr. Paul B. Jones led lawmakers in 2020 to pass a law making it a crime for doctors to use their own sperm without their patients’ permission. But these rare cases of fertility fraud, while sensational, only account for a tiny fraction of donor-conceived individuals, who say they also deserve to know their DNA makeup and medical history. [Denver Post]
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