Reversed sperm-donor disclosure ruling a 'setback,' plaintiff argues
Published Wednesday, November 28, 2012 9:09AM EST
A 30-year-old woman fighting for an end to anonymity in sperm and egg donation says she’s disappointed by a B.C. court’s decision to overturn a ruling that was in her favour.
The British Columbia Court of Appeal reversed a decision Tuesday that sided with Olivia Pratten, who has always wanted to know the identity of her sperm donor father.
Pratten had sued the province hoping to amend its Adoption Act, which allows records related to sperm and egg donation to be destroyed after six years. But this week, the Court of Appeal stated that there’s no legal right for the offspring of donors to know their biological parents.
The ruling was dubbed a “setback” by Pratten, whose own father’s donor records were destroyed by a Vancouver clinic six years after her mother was inseminated.
“I was disappointed, but I’ve always known that this was likely to go to the Supreme Court of Canada,” she told CTV’s Canada AM on Wednesday. “Yesterday was a small setback, but we continue with the process.”
Pratten’s lawsuit had asked the province to throw out the B.C. Adoption Act of 1996, and guarantee that doctors maintain donor records in their entirety so the children of donors have the option of accessing them once they’re adults.
The court’s original ruling did not reverse promises of anonymity for parents who donated under the 1996 Act, but did eliminate barriers for children born after the judge’s ruling.
In the view of the Government of British Columbia, which is named as a defendant in the lawsuit, the court cannot make such a major policy decision. Lawyers for the defendant also argued that any decision would be too hasty as a court case involving the province of Quebec challenging the Assisted Human Reproduction Act is still before the Supreme Court of Canada.
Along with her lawyers, Pratten has tried to push back against a common argument suggesting that ending anonymity for sperm donors will lead to a decrease in the number of donations.
She said this argument has proved false in countries such as Australia and Sweden, which still had sperm donors, but did experience an initial decline in donations.
“It’s a red herring when people say that. What happens is a different type of donor emerges,” said Pratten, who characterized those donors as more mature, likely to have their own families.
She added that reversing anonymity for sperm and egg donors might also lead to changes in family law, with donors free from any financial obligations associated with child-rearing.
“If somebody doesn’t like that, at the time they go to be a donor, then they don’t donate. No one’s forcing anyone to be a sperm donor,” she said.
With files from The Canadian Press