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Canadian Court Reverses 2011 Decision on Sperm Donor Disclosure

For years, Olivia Pratten wanted to know the identity of her sperm-donor father. Her search for information hit an abrupt dead-end when she learned that the fertility clinic her mother had used destroyed the records, in keeping with the rules of the B.C. College of Physicians and Surgeons.

In 2008, Pratten filed a class-action lawsuit against the province of British Columbia on behalf of donor-conceived children, arguing they have just as much right to know about their biological parents as adopted kids. Her suit called for a ban on the destroying of records and the requirement that all sperm donors in B.C. be identified.

The B.C. Supreme Court agreed with Pratten in a May 2011 ruling, and gave the province 15 months to amend its Adoption Act.

But that decision was overturned last week by the province’s Court of Appeal, which ruled that it’s not Pratten’s constitutional right to know her biological past. The ruling said:

There are many non-donor offspring who do not know their family history or the identity of their biological father because of decisions taken by others, or because of the circumstances of their conception.

However desirable it may be that persons have access to information about their biological origins, Ms. Pratten has not established that such access has been recognized as so ‘fundamental’ that it is entitled to independent constitutionally protected status under the Charter.

Pratten now plans to take an appeal all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Should Anonymous Sperm Donors Be Allowed?

Countries such as Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, Britain, Switzerland, Australia, and New Zealand have banned anonymous sperm donors.

In Canada, where I live, anonymous donations are allowed but donors can’t be paid. That means the number of donors in Canada is small. My wife and I purchased sperm from a bank across the border in the United States.

In our mandatory counselling session at the clinic, we were given the option of choosing open or closed identity donors. Though the counsellor said she was neutral on the topic, it was clear she was guiding us towards open.

I’ve always assumed that banning anonymity would result in fewer men becoming donors. But when I went searching for some statistics about it, I came across this from the Donor Sibling Registry, which says the opposite is actually true: sperm donation tends to go up once identity is mandatory.

How do you feel about anonymous sperm donors: yea or nay?

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