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I have noted several times that we in the West are becoming rampant public policy promise breakers. Indeed, it is getting to the point that I don’t see why anybody ever believes the promises made in public policy involving intimate issues. They apply until they don’t—and if you are hurt, tough toenails.

Case in point: Sperm donors agreed to share their seed in Canada under assurances that they would remain anonymous. They acted in reliance thereon. They went on with their lives assuming promises would be kept. Suckers! The BC Supreme Court has ruled that promises don’t matter. The very real potential that the former donors’ lives could be destroyed, doesn’t matter. Only the understandable emotional desires of the children so conceived to find their fathers, really count. From the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Story:

The B.C. Supreme Court has struck down provincial legislation that protected the identity of sperm donors. The court also prohibited the future destruction of any records and ordered the province to draw up new legislation in line with the Charter of Rights. Lawyers for Olivia Pratten had argued that the existing rules discriminated against the children of sperm donors, and the court ruled in Olivia Pratten’s favour on Thursday by striking down a section of the B.C. Adoption Act. In the decision, Justice Elaine Adair wrote that the rights of the child must be protected in sperm donation, much like they are protected in cases of adoption in B.C. The ruling gives the province 15 months to enact conforming changes to the B.C. Adoption Act that are in line with the Charter of Rights. Adair found the Act was unconstitutional because it treats adopted children differently from children of sperm donors. Adopted children are provided information about their biological parents, whereas the children of donors are not.

Don’t get me wrong: I don’t really care if sperm donors or birth parents in adoptions can be named.  I can see the virtue in both positions.  But people should be able to rely on the laws and rules in place when they decide these intimate matters.  Thus, if society or the courts determine that anonymity is somehow unjust or illegal, as a matter of societal integrity, grandfather those who relied on previous promises and start afresh. People can then decide their future courses based on the current policy.  But don’t pull rugs out from under people who relied upon laws and promises then in place.

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