Lawsuit seeking info on sperm donor begins in B.C.
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Monday, October 25, 2010 9:27PM EDT
A lawsuit began Monday in B.C. Supreme Court that could have major implications for Canadians conceived through anonymous sperm and egg donors.
Olivia Pratten, 28, who was conceived with the help of an anonymous sperm donor in Vancouver, is suing to have the B.C. Adoption Act declared unconstitutional, because it denies the children of sperm and egg donors access to information about their biological parents yet still gives that same right to adoptees.
Pratten hopes the lawsuit will compel the province to introduce legislation that would require donor records to be permanently maintained so that they can be accessed by offspring when they turn 19.
The current rules in B.C. state that doctors have to keep such records for only six years after the last contact with the recipient patient. After that, they can be destroyed.
Pratten, who now lives in Toronto, first filed a class-action lawsuit on the matter in 2008. She later agreed not to have the case certified when she was granted a temporary injunction from the B.C. Supreme Court preventing the further destruction of donor records, pending a final decision in her case.
Pratten, who has long been an advocate for the rights of donor children, has noted the disparities between the rights of adoptees and others conceived the way she was. She has said that all she wants is for the children of egg and sperm donors to have the same rights to access records as adoptees.
B.C., along with Ontario, Alberta, Newfoundland and the Yukon have enacted laws that allow adoptees to access information about their birth parents when they turn 19. Manitoba enacted legislation that opened records for new adoptions in 1999, but all those that occurred earlier are closed. The remaining provinces have created voluntary registries only.
Pratten has said that her parents, now separated, support her legal action and her desire to learn more about her biological father.
She has said that while she has a father whom she loves, she still has questions about her biological father. All that she knows of him was that he was a 5-foot-10 medical student with blue eyes and A-positive blood type.
Pratten's court action names the province of B.C., as well as the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia as defendants.
The province applied to have the case dismissed, arguing that records for Pratten's sperm donor father no longer exist and that the case is "moot." But earlier this month, the Supreme Court of B.C. ruled the trial could go ahead.
"This is a serious matter, and the plaintiff and others are directly affected," Justice Miriam Gropper wrote in her decision. "The province has not demonstrated that there is a better avenue for Ms. Pratten and others like her to address these issues."
"I am satisfied that Ms. Pratten has public interest standing, and potentially direct interest standing, in the event that the records she seeks do exist."
With files from The Canadian Press