British Columbia

Sperm donor anonymity case opens in B.C. Appeal Court

The B.C. government is aiming to protect the anonymity of sperm donors as it launches a high-court appeal of a ruling last year won by a woman who wanted to know the identity of her father.

B.C. Supreme Court ruled that B.C. law not in accord with Charter of Rights

Olivia Pratten says she believes the B.C. government is stalling for time over its requirement to rewrite the provincial law governing sperm donor anonymity. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

The controversial issue of the anonymity of sperm donors is before the B.C. Court of Appeal on Tuesday.

The provincial government is appealing a lower court ruling last year that struck down the law protecting the identity of donors.

The issue was initially brought before the B.C. Supreme Court by Olivia Pratten — born in 1982 — who wanted to learn more about the identity of her biological father.

At the previous hearing, Pratten testified that the Vancouver doctor who performed the artificial insemination of Pratten's mother told her only that her father was a stocky, Caucasian medical student with blue eyes, brown hair, and type-A blood.

The doctor also told Pratten, 29, who is an editor with Thomson Reuters, that the sperm donor records had been legally destroyed.


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The court ruled in Pratten's favour in May 2011, saying that the law protecting sperm donors’ anonymity discriminated against the rights of the children born by artificial insemination.

Pratten said she's disappointed the B.C. government is appealing the ruling, but she isn't surprised.

"I’ve been told it will probably go to the Supreme Court of Canada and I knew when I got involved with this," Pratten told CBC News. "But it was disappointing."

The court also told the province it had to rewrite the law within 15 months to bring it in line with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Pratten suspects the government is stalling for time.

"Bureaucracy doesn’t like to move fast. This is a delaying tactic," she said.

The appeal is scheduled to last two days.

With files from the CBC's Ben Hadaway