The wife of a man who donated his sperm without her knowledge is campaigning for married men to require their spouse's consent for the process.
The woman, who is in her 30s and lives in Surrey with her husband and son, says the possibility any children - of whom there could be as many as 20 - may want to trace their biological father in 18 years' time, would 'almost feel like introducing the offspring of an adulterous relationship'.
She argues that in married relationships, sperm donation should be a decision both parties are involved in; she says in marriage, sperm should be considered some kind of 'marital asset'. In a letter sent to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), seen by The Sunday Times, the woman calls for the guidelines to be changed, particularly in light of laws which allow sperm donation children to trace their fathers.
In 2005 a change to the law made it the child's right to contact the father when they reached the age of 18. If this were to happen, she says this would 'disrupt' family life and 'unsettle' their own child.She says in the letter: 'I would not feel that I could push them away. It is something I would need to explain to our son.
'It is not something I have ever imagined having to encounter. It would almost feel like introducing the offspring to an adulterous relationship,' she writes. A spokeswoman for the HFEA said every clinic is required to offer counselling to men who are considering making a donation; she also said she was not aware of any clinic that doesn't make counseling an integral part of the donation procedure.However, it would be possible, she said, for a man to refuse counselling and give a donation without having had it.
'It's a donor's decision to make a donation, but by law, any clinic thinking about accepting a donor has to offer them counselling... to talk about the implications of donating,' she said.Among the issues discussed would be potential impact on members of the donor's family, if he had one, she said.
However, at present, there is no obligation to involve wives or partners in the decision or to obtain their consent.
In this case, it is not known if the father accepted counselling before he gave his donation.The wife, who is a business owner, argues that in their circumstances, the father was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder around the time of his donation.
She said her husband, who works in the travel industry, was impacted psychologically after the birth of their own child and as a result they postponed plans to have more children.She believes that this affected his decision to become a sperm donor.