German Supreme Court: Children of Any Age Have Right to Access the Identity of Their Anonymous Sperm Donor

The German Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that children of any age (one of the children in this case was 12!) had the right to access the identifying information of their anonymous sperm donor, a major step towards ending sperm donor anonymity in the country. The court rejected the notion of a minimum age on behalf of children, but did require that it be shown that the child requested the information. News reports also suggested that the court indicated that “the private life of the donor must be taken into account,” but not reading German I can’t confirm what the Court meant in this regard (though I suspect the Court was being itself somewhat vague and uncertain). It has been estimated that there are currently 100,000 German citizens fathered by sperm donors with an additional 1,500 to 5,000 born each year.

There is a definite trend in rejecting sperm donor anonymity across the world that continues to gain steam. For reasons I have expounded elsewhere, I think the argument for ending anonymity, and its reliance on best interests of the resulting child reasoning, is problematic. But in other work I have also examined whether increasing compensation for sperm donation may increase the number of men willing to be non-anonymous donors.

(H/T Pablo De Lora)


I. Glenn Cohen

I. Glenn Cohen

I. Glenn Cohen is the James A. Attwood and Leslie Williams Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and current Faculty Director of the Petrie-Flom Center. A member of the inaugural cohort of Petrie-Flom Academic Fellows, Glenn was appointed to the Harvard Law School faculty in 2008. Glenn is one of the world's leading experts on the intersection of bioethics (sometimes also called "medical ethics") and the law, as well as health law. He also teaches civil procedure. From Seoul to Krakow to Vancouver, Glenn has spoken at legal, medical, and industry conferences around the world and his work has appeared in or been covered on PBS, NPR, ABC, CNN, MSNBC, Mother Jones, the New York Times, the New Republic, the Boston Globe, and several other media venues. He was the youngest professor on the faculty at Harvard Law School (tenured or untenured) both when he joined the faculty in 2008 (at age 29) and when he was tenured as a full professor in 2013 (at age 34).

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