Oh, what a tangled web we weave!
Blog Post by Corinne Heather Copnick - Oct.31.2008 - 10:54 pm
A landmark lawsuit has been launched in Vancouver, B.C. this week. ("Sperm donor wants to know who's got his genes," by Robert Matas, www.globeandmail.com, Oct. 31, 2008).) While Dwight Jones, 64, the subject of the newspaper article, is featured as a donor of 300 to 400 sperm samples who now wants to meet the kids he fathered some thirty years ago, what is really at issue is whether children of anonymous sperm donors should have the same right as adopted children to know the identity and medical and social history of their biological parents. Children of of sperm or egg donors involved in the lawsuit are seeking a court order to force physicians to keep medical records of donors indefinitely. Meanwhile the B.C. Supreme Court has issued a temporary injunction preventing doctors from destroying medical records until the legal issues are settled. That ought to dry up the pool of sperm donors in British Columbia! It will likely force B.C. women seeking sperm to import foreign sperm, which in turn will slim the chances of obtaining medical records in the future. Most reputable sperm banks in the U.S. do offer sperm recipients extensive donor profiles containing genetic and medical histories. But the histories are not kept indefinitely, and most sperm is "donated" (the donors are paid for their sperm contributions) on condition of anonymity. The Vancouver newspaper article occasioned a flood of online comments. Some raised the dilemma of agreed-upon privacy versus the children's need to know. (Take a look at my book Cryo Kid--Drawing a New Map, www.cryokid.com to find out what happened when my donor-conceived grandchild's father found her and eight of her half-siblings across the U.S.).Unless they know the donor personally, most women who use sperm donors sign confidentiality agreements that agree to donor anonymity until the child is eighteen, when the child may request a meeting, and the donor may or may not accede. The agreements usually release the donor from any legal and financial responsibility for the child. Yet recent court decisions (one in New Mexico, one in Australia) have ruled that these contracts are not enforceable. Donors are now scared of being sued for child support if they become active in a child's life. Medical histories and donor sibling registries are the biggest concerns, the latter partly in order to prevent the small but possible risk of incest. One online poster asks if blood donors should have the right to know which life their blood saved, but my favorite among the many online comments posted (from Coburg, Ontario) was a variation on poet Walter Scott's famous lines: "Oh what a tangled web we weave/when first we practice to conceive."
Born in Montreal, Canada, and now living in Los Angeles near her children and grandchildren, Corinne Heather Copnick, C.M., M.A., is a multi-talented writer and performer. Her career in the arts has spanned radio, television, film, and stage. For several...
Corinne’s Favorite Books
Somerset Maugham, Of Human Bondage. Ray Kurzweil, Spiritual Machines; Singularity is Near.