By Matthew Eppinette, CBC New Media Manager
I am happy to report that three months after its release, Anonymous Father’s Day has now sold in nearly a dozen countries. I suppose this isn’t surprising given the international scope of anonymous sperm donation.
For example, in the Australian state of Victoria, a parliamentary committee has recommended that donor-conceived persons should be told the identity of their biological parent, even if the sperm donor was originally promised anonymity. Current law, according to The Australian,
prohibits donor-conceived children before July 1, 1988, from having access to any information about their donor parent. But people conceived after January 1, 1998, have unconditional access to this information. Those conceived between 1988 and 1997 can only access information with the donor’s consent.
In anticipation of a backlash from donors who wish to remain anonymous, the committee also recommended that donors be given an enforceable option to not be contacted by their donor-conceived children. The thinking seems to be that at least people will have access to important medical information, even if they are not able to meet their donor parent.
The ultimate concern driving the committee’s unanimous recommendation is “the rights of the child.”
Such retrospective access would be a first. This recommendation applies only to the state of Victoria, but there is much hope that the recommendation will become law in the whole of the country. The government must respond to the committee’s recommendation and report in six months, and we will be closely monitoring events there.
Meanwhile, in the Netherlands, a couple is using the sperm of the husband’s father to create their child. An MSNBC article points out:
The child produced from this union of egg and sperm would have a “father” who was his biological half-brother, and a “grandfather” who was his biological father.
The opinions of ethicists who have weighed in range from “ethically high-risk” to “too bizarre for the child’s sake.” For its part, the almost-anything-goes American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) indicates that arrangements like this are generally, but not always, acceptable. Typical.
Finally, Olivia Pratten’s lawsuit in British Columbia continues to work its way through the Canadian court system. While Olivia’s records have been destroyed, she is working to give donor-conceived persons access to their birth records on par with the access adoptees have under Canada’s 1996 Adoption Act.
In reading about these international cases, I couldn’t help but think of the key insight that Diane Allen offers in Anonymous Father’s Day: “If we are going to have these technologies, then they need to work first and foremost for the people they directly affect. And although that can seem like it’s the patient, in reality it’s really the children who are being born.”
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For more information visit AnonymousFathersDay.com
“The great virtue of Anonymous Father’s Day is that it asks us to examine a practice many simply take for granted. Focusing on the thoughtful and thought-provoking comments of three people who were themselves conceived by means of anonymous sperm donation, this documentary invites us to think about the well-being of those who had no say in the process—the children conceived as part of someone else’s reproductive project. Because they should not and cannot be taken for granted, neither can the practice that helped to produce them.”