Tuesday October 26, 2010

Woman Seeks Identity of Anonymous Sperm-Donor Father

By Patrick B. Craine

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, October 26, 2010 ( – In a case showing the painful consequences faced by children conceived through artificial reproduction, a British Columbia woman is petitioning the courts to find out the identity of her father, an anonymous sperm donor.

“It’s really about having larger society recognizing that we have rights and needs,” said Olivia Pratten, 28, in an interview with the Globe and Mail. “Because for as long as this practice has been going on, the child has been the last person who’s been thought about.”

The Canadian Press journalist, who began her legal battle two years ago, wants the B.C. Adoption Act amended so that doctors are required to keep permanent records on sperm and egg donors so their children can access them once they turn 19.

Pratten’s lawyer, Joseph Arvay, argued before the B.C. Supreme Court on Monday that his client has a “fundamental” right to know the identity of her biological father. He said Pratten – and the thousands of others conceived by anonymous donors – should be given the same rights as adopted children.

Arvay said the current system treats Pratten as a “second-class citizen,” and shows the province’s “wholesale abandonment” of equality, according to Postmedia.

The province had tried to have Pratten’s suit declared moot, on the basis that her mother’s fertility doctor claims he destroyed her file years ago, but the B.C. Supreme Court disagreed in a decision this month.

Gwen Landolt, national vice president of REAL Women Canada, said this case illustrates how important it is that children be conceived through the loving union of mother and father. “The child has every right, as the Declaration of the Rights of the Child has said, to know its past, and its forefathers, and where it comes from,” she said. “The child needs a mother and a father, and needs to know what he or she is.”

Landolt noted that this is why adoption laws have been changed in provinces like B.C. and Ontario to make information about biological parents accessible to adopted children.

“The difference, of course, with adoption is that you have a difficult situation of a child without both parents, so you try to rectify it by putting the child into an environment where the child will have both parents,” she explained. “But here, with new medical technology, we are creating a child in an impossible situation.

“We’re not trying to make the best of a difficult situation, we are in fact creating a difficult situation,” she continued. “The child should be created in the relationship of a marriage between a man and a woman, because children are not objects, they’re not chattel. They’re human beings with dignity and respect.”

The trial, which is said to be the first of its kind in North America, is expected to last a week.

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