By Simon Caldwell THE GOVERNMENT'S proposals to give test-tube children the right to track down their genetic parents has been given a broad welcome from Church and bioethical groups.
The initiative, which would give information on sperm and egg donors to people conceived by 1W treatment, is expected to be outlined in a consultation paper in the autumn.
It could mean that test-tube children will be given the same rights to trace biological parents as those conceived naturally and given up for adoption.
It has already met with some hostility — largely from fertility specialists and clinics, which fear a decline in potential donors, and by scientists like Lord Winston, who has taken up their cause.
But the measure had overwhelming support from groups who believe children have a right to know their genetic parents. Dr Helen Watt of the Church-run Linacre Centre for Health Care Ethics said: "I think it is a very welcome development because it will help people to see that the donor is also a parent and it may help people to think twice about the donation because they're producing a child who is very likely to want to know them."
Jim Richards, director of the Catholic Children's Society (Westminster), said he was delighted by the move.
He said: "Up to now too much debate has been led by adults putting their own needs first.
"Of course, one is concerned for couples who cannot conceive, but this should never be at the expense of the denial of basic rights."
"There are many parallels here with adoption, where the adopters are not related to the child. We argue for openness and truth between adopters and child, believing that it is only on that basis that a successful family can be built He added: "The secrecy that so often surrounds IVFconceived children means that a family is built on a deception.
"New legislation will remove this, as did the change in law in 1975, giving adult adoptees the right to information.
"Moreover, this change did not lead to a decrease in adopters and adoptees have, almost invariably following counselling, handled the information with great sensitivity."
Josephine Quintavalle of Comment on Reproductive Ethics said it was an "excellent idea".
She said: "Anything that is focussed on the rights of the child in this area as opposed to the rights of parents is to be welcomed.
"Children have the rights in these situations and parents have the obligations."