Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Daughter of sperm donor seeks to know identity of biological father

Neal Hall, Vancouver Sun

VANCOUVER - The daughter of an anonymous sperm donor has filed a legal action against the attorney general of B.C., seeking to change the rules that currently deprive children born by way of "gamete donation" the identity and history of one of their biological parents.

Olivia Pratten filed the proposed class action in B.C. Supreme Court, claiming that the records relating to the identity of the biological parents of an adopted person are preserved, but the records relating to a gamete donor are only required to be preserved for six years.

Once destroyed, a person born by way of a donor cannot get the medical or social history of a donor, and cannot learn crucial components of their identity such as racial, cultural, religious and linguistic history, which may cause psychological distress, the legal action claims.

"The information in the donor records could one day be vital to Olivia's health," the court document says.

"If the donor records are lost or destroyed, that information will be lost for all time and Olivia's health and safety could be compromised as a result."

Pratten, who seeks to have donor records preserved permanently, also seeks to know the identity of her biological father.

"That knowledge would alleviate the psychological distress that Olivia experiences in not knowing her biological origins," the legal action states.

"The differential treatment imposes a disadvantage on the plaintiff and class members, in comparison with those people who are adopted," the court document says.

"Many of the members of the class were conceived by gamete donation because of the physical disability of one of their parents which resulted in his or her infertility," the statement of claim says.

The legal action states those conceived by gamete donation are discriminated against, violating protections enshrined under Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Vancouver lawyer Joe Arvay, a constitutional specialist, is handling the lawsuit on behalf of Pratten and other potential class members.

For more than a decade, Pratten has advocated change in the area of reproductive technologies and was featured in the CBC documentary "Genetic Orphans."

In 1981, Pratten's mother visited a Vancouver doctor, Gerald Korn, now retired, because her mother's husband was infertile; her mother was impregnated with donor sperm through insemination.

The mother informed her daughter from an early age that she was conceived by way of donor insemination.

Pratten says the only information about her biological father disclosed by Korn was that he was a healthy Caucasian medical student who had a stocky build, brown hair, blue eyes and type A blood.


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