Back from Sweden which did not disappoint with regard to uninhibited attitudes to sexuality. Robert Mapplethorpe’s (wonderful) photographs at the Photography Museum and the National Museum’s exhibition on Lust and Vice were welcome distractions from the dryness of most presentations at ESHRE. But what was disappointing and hard to understand is Swedish parents reluctance to tell their children about donor conception. The famous nordic openness, it appears, does not extend to letting their offspring know about their origins. Sweden was the first country in the world to end anonymity for donors and yet does not promote sharing information with children. The answer to this may be that the end of donor anonymity came about through the campaigning of one maverick doctor. The legislation was passed in 1985 by the government as being ‘the right thing to do’ but without a popular groundswell or any general appetite for a change of culture, unlike the UK where donor conceived adults, parents and others applied pressure for change. Most Swedish fertility doctors were against making donors identifiable and even sought to undermine it by sending women to other countries to conceive (this still happens a lot) and refusing to believe that it would be possible to recruit identifiable donors. Sound familiar?
Things are apparently beginning to change but a social worker we met said she despaired of her colleagues, most of whom could not see any reason for ending anonymity or sharing information with children. Now she is retired she is hoping to start a campaign to promote openness and wants support from DCN. We will be very happy to help.