Father fights same-sex couple for access to daughter

Last Updated Tue, 14 Sep 2004 07:52:56 EDT

MONTREAL - A one-year-old girl is at the centre of a court battle in Montreal between a lesbian couple and the child's biological father.



The man is asking the court for access to the girl and for the right to have his name on her birth certificate. But the two women say he was simply a sperm donor and they are the child's legal parents.

The man says he was always more than just a sperm donor. He says he and the child's biological mother had dated for year. He says they had gone to see a fertility specialist together, had planned a baby together and it was always understood he would be an involved father.

He maintains that the mother's lesbian partner didn't want a child and yet her name appears on the birth certificate.

An earlier court ruling gave the father a temporary right to visit the girl three times a week. Now he wants to make the right to access permanent.

The case could have an impact on other couples who rely on sperm or egg donations to have children.

It could also test the parental rights of same-sex couples, says Diane Labelle, who represents gay and lesbian organizations in Quebec. She says it is important for people to have firm agreement on their parental roles before conception.

"In this case, when you do not have a letter of intent it becomes very murky when you try to work it out," said Labelle.

But there are more than just the legal rights of parents at stake. Medical ethicist Margaret Somerville says her principal concern is the child. "I'd rather start from the rights of kids. Does the kid have a right to know who its father is? I think it's wrong to create genetic orphans."

The case will be back in Quebec Superior Court on Tuesday.

The two women and the father had tried to have the media excluded from covering the case because it involves a great deal of personal information. But the judge acknowledged that there is a lot of public interest in the case.

So far the only restriction placed on the media is not to identity any of the people involved.

Written by CBC News Online staff