B.C. court strikes down anonymity for sperm donors


Vancouveró Globe and Mail Update


A B.C. court has struck down part of the provinceís adoption act as unconstitutional, following a legal challenge by a woman conceived through artificial insemination who wanted to learn more about her anonymous, biological father.

Olivia Pratten sought to have B.C.ís Adoption Act declared unconstitutional because it allows adopted children to obtain records about their biological parents, an option that is not available to people conceived from donated eggs or sperm.

In a ruling released Thursday, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Elaine Adair agreed sections of the act violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Justice Adair said excluding donor offspring from the benefits and protections of the act creates a distinction between donor offspring and adoptees, two groups who she said can experience similar struggles.

ďIím really happy. Itís the end of donor anonymity in B.C. Itís the first time this has happened in North America. Itís a landmark decision and itís about time,Ē Ms. Pratten said in a phone interview.

Justice Adair suspended her ruling for 15 months to give the province time to re-craft the legislation.

Ms. Pratten, 29, was conceived through sperm donation and her parents supported her desire to learn more about her biological father. Ms. Prattenís mother learned her husband was infertile from complications of bladder surgery, and a Vancouver doctor used artificial insemination to impregnate her.

When the mother returned to the doctor asking for information about the donor, the doctor refused to hand it over. He later said it had been destroyed after the requisite six years. Ms. Pratten and her mother filed affidavits saying they didnít believe him. In Thursdayís ruling, the judge disagreed, saying she believed the records had been destroyed.

The B.C. government had argued that while Ms. Prattenís desire to learn more about her biological father was understandable, her constitutional rights had not been violated.

The B.C. government also expressed concern about what a ruling in Ms. Prattenís favour might mean for the privacy rights of donors who thought they would remain anonymous.