Colorado will ensure people conceived through egg or sperm donation can find their donors in the future

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Flags fly at half-staff in front of the dome of the Colorado State Capitol while it is illuminated in red light to remember the more than 1,000 people in the state who have died from the new coronavirus, Friday, May 15, 2020, in Denver. Buildings across the state were lighted red to coincide with a moment of silence at 7 p.m. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Starting in 2025, Colorado will no longer allow anonymous sperm and egg donations, under a bill that sponsors say is the first of its kind in the nation. 

Lawmakers granted final approval to Senate Bill 224 on Tuesday evening. It now heads to the governor’s desk — unless he vetoes it, the bill will become law.

The bill also requires egg and sperm banks and fertility clinics to keep records ensuring no single donor is used for more than 25 families in and out of state. Donors must be 21 years of age.

“They need to understand what the ramifications are of making the decision to be a donor and likewise with families, because it really is a three-legged stool between the donor, the families, and then, of course, the child that comes from the donation,” said Republican Rep. Matt Soper, one of the main sponsors of SB-224. 

Democratic Rep. Kerry Tipper, another sponsor, said the goal is to create some safeguards around industry best practices. Supporters said transparency is increasingly important at a time when more people are using DNA testing and ancestry tools that can lead them to discover previously unknown biological relatives. 

“We can't guarantee anonymity and it's very disruptive to donors' lives — to, in 18 years, 20 years down the road, be contacted by some children or a lot of children in some cases,” said Tipper.  “And as well as to the donor-conceived children that didn't know. So this is really best practices for both sides.”

The measure also requires donors to provide medical information that can be passed along to a family who uses that sperm or egg to conceive a child. 

“All the literature shows us that individuals that are armed with information have better emotional outcomes, physical outcomes, and they are more in charge of their destinies, knowing the complete and accurate picture of their genetic background,” said Tipper. 

She and Soper said thousands of people sent letters in support of the legislation. That was something House Minority Leader Hugh McKean said influenced his decision to support the measure.

“A lot of the stuff we get are mass generated emails. These were not. These were people saying, ‘we really need you to know about this information about why this is important,’” said McKean. “This is a bill that may have flown under the radar for me most of the year, but became important because people reached out.”

McKean said he was especially moved by the provision that would allow donor-conceived people to have more information about their medical history on a host of health issues such as cancer.

“We have so much information now that's available from people's medical histories, their family histories and everything else. To not have that is this giant hole, not knowing what you might be susceptible to.”

People have to be at least 18 years old to learn about their genetic donor, so 2043 is the first year a donor-conceived person will have the ability to know who their donor is and could choose to contact that individual. 

The bill cleared the Senate unanimously but in the House, eleven Republicans and one Democrat voted against it. Republican Rep. Shane Sandridge raised questions about whether it could discourage donors in the future if they wanted to remain anonymous.

“It's… going into uncharted ground,” he said. “And one thing that is a disadvantage of that — we can't look at other states and see how they did it and what unintended consequences are associated with this.” 

According to the OVU Surrogacy and Fertility Network, there are 42 fertility clinics in Colorado. A national directory of sperm cryobanks, said there are 4 gamete banks in Colorado.