This week an advertisement appeared on Dutch TV for IVF Spain, a fertility clinic offering treatment with anonymously donated sperm and eggs: something which has been banned in the Netherlands since 2004.
It is not the first time that IVF Spain has directly targeted the Dutch market. Their website is fully translated into Dutch (as well as German, French and English), they advertise the use of anonymous gametes prominently, and they regularly hold meetings in the Netherlands for people interested in their services.
For Donorkind – the Dutch organisation representing donor conceived people – it is unacceptable for IVF Spain to advertise services which are illegal in the Netherlands. Everyone has the right to their genetic history. Knowing where you come from, and your medical background, is not a trivial point. It is an essential part of every person’s identity.
Donorkind therefore immediately took action. Together with the Donor Detectives we contacted many organisations and people in the Netherlands: politicians, the press, the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, the Advertising Standards Association and the Children’s Ombudsman.
We expect any company advertising in the Netherlands to respect Dutch law, rather than offering ways to get around national legislation. Furthermore, it is important for prospective parents to realise that the promise of anonymity is merely an illusion.
In the current age of direct-to-consumer DNA tests (which are only growing in popularity), donor conceived people can discover how they were conceived with relative ease. If not told the truth by their parents at an early age, this discovery can lead to an identity crisis for donor conceived people and cause tension within the family.