The ruling came as a result of a law suit brought by a 29-year-old woman who was conceived with donated sperm, Olivia Pratten, a 29-year old journalist who wrote for The Canadian Press that she has always known her records were probably destroyed but that she brought suit to be part of "changing the policies going forward."
To which we say: Hallelujah! to both Prattan and Judge Adair. While adoptees in B.C. have been able to learn the identity of their natural (birth) parents since 1996, children of donor-inseminated parentage had no legal recourse available to them. Today, a woman using donor sperm would get a full detailed social and medical history of the sperm donor, but as long as it is anonymous, the child is still left in the dark as to her parentage. Therein lies the problem.
The issue of privacy, which is the issue in the States today regarding repealing the laws that sealed original birth certificates, was argued by the B.C. Attorney General, saying there was simply no constitutional right for a person to know their origins or genetic heritage while there is a constitutionally protected right to privacy.
The problem with that argument is that one class of people should not be given such constitutional protections when to do so another class of people must be stripped of their rights to grant such protections. To deny anyone knowledge of their biological heritage and identity is law tilted towards the more powerful. It goes against the human need to know where one came from. It is always unjust and unethical. Merely because science allows one to do something does not mean it should be done. Simply because people want to create children, who will be unable to have a history and ancestry of their own, does not make it right.
Judge Adair's writing on this subject should be reading matter for all the legislators and governors considering repealing the archaic laws of the past that deny the adopted their original birth certificates. While noting that anonymous donation might be the choice of many would-be parents who want control over what their child knows, when they know and who might be involved in their child's life, she "concluded that anonymity is not in the child’s best interests," she wrote.
"Strong and positive relationships with social parents do not satisfy or eliminate the desire and need of donor offspring to know where they came from, and their need to know their origins is just as powerful and real as those of adoptees."
We wish to add that Pratton's parents--Mom and Dad--supported her fully and were in court with her every day. Hats off to Dad. "I'm not related to my dad, but he's my dad," Pratton said.
We have written about sperm donor children and the issue of identity before, and republish some of what we said then here:
Do children born of anonymous sperm deserve to know their fathers? Do they have a right to know their fathers?
When a lesbian acquaintance recently became pregnant I immediately wondered who the father was, but it was abundantly clear this was not a question one could ask. But the question nags still: Will the child, conceived and born in the United States, ever be able to know his father--next month, next year, next whenever? Unless the mother is hip to the idea that children need to know not only their maternal heritage--and I'm not nearly close enough to her to know--it's likely that the little boy will grow up with half his heritage missing, a blank where there ought to be connection, data, medical and cultural history, if not love and feelings. She may claim that it is her right to have a child, but what about the child's right to know his father? What about the child of an egg donor to know her biological mother? These are the rights that are being overlooked by the women and men who choose anonymous donors to create a child.
I note here that the judge quoted above is a women; and the records were opened in B.C. to adoptees when a woman--an adoptee, as I recall--was Lieutenant Governor of the province. Do women in power makes a difference? Yes. Yes. And yes. That does not mean all women support the adoption reform movement to open birth records. We have very staunch opponents in every state who are women; we also have opponents to giving adoptees their birth certificates...who are themselves adopted. They may claim they are doing it for the privacy of the birth mother, but I think they are afraid of having the right to their birth certificate and thus make the choice to search, or not search. How much easier to put one's head in the sand and say, I can't because of ...when of course, they could.
And some part of them knows that. --lorraine
See also: Sperm Donor Children Should Have the Right to Their Whole Identity;
and Creating children, no matter how, in the quest to have a family;
and Manless Moms Equal Fatherless Children;
and Baby Farming Hits a Bump in the Road.
Our late friend Annette Baran and Reuben Pannor made the same argument as Judge Adair in their cogent analysis of the issue in Lethal Secrets: The Psychology of Donor Insemination.
Read more on this story at MyTelus.