Court keeps sperm donors anonymous
The B.C. Court of Appeal decided Tuesday Nov. 27, 2012 that men who donated sperm in confidence should be allowed to retain their anonymity. (FOTOLIA)
After more than a decade of legal battles, Olivia Pratten was informed Tuesday by the B.C. Court of Appeal in Vancouver that she does not have the legal right to know the identity of her sperm-donor father.
“…(T)he (Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms) does not guarantee a positive right ‘to know one’s past,’” the court stated in its written decision.
“Obviously we’re disappointed by the ruling and will be appealing to Supreme Court of Canada,” said Pratten when reached for comment. “We’ll be filing soon, but I have no idea of the timeline on this”.
The B.C. Court of Appeal decided men who donated sperm in confidence should be allowed to retain their anonymity. Pratten and her lawyer had argued information about her father was “vital to her own health and to ease the psychological stress of not knowing who her biological father is.”
Pratten was conceived in 1982 using sperm from an anonymous donor. When her mother and father consented to the artificial insemination procedure they knew the donor would remain anonymous. She is pursuing the matter on behalf of all other children of sperm donation who wish to know their genetic and cultural backgrounds.
According to court documents, Pratten knows almost nothing about her biological father other than the fact that he “was a Caucasian medical student, who had a stocky build, brown hair, blue eyes, and type ‘A’ blood.” The problem is that “the doctor who performed the insemination procedure no longer has any records relating to it, as those records were destroyed in a manner that complied with the rules of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia.” The rules say doctors are not obliged to keep patient records for more than six years from the last entry in them.
Pratten’s legal counsel Joseph Arvay, following a Supreme Court of Canada ruling last year on provinces having jurisdiction over this matter, said all children have an equal desire and need for knowledge about their parents, including medical history and their cultural and religious identity.
“Barring donor children from accessing information about their genetic background amounts to discrimination,” he said at the time.