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Lesbian couple have sperm donor removed from birth certificate

22 August 2011
Appeared in BioNews 621

An Australian court has ruled that a lesbian couple can have the name of the sperm donor removed from their child's birth certificate.

The child was conceived using one of the women's eggs, and donated sperm, in 2001. Since then, the couple have separated. The case arose from the desire of both women to be named as legal parents on the birth certificate.

The donor, who cannot be named for legal reasons, explained: 'With the current [Australian] law, you can only have two legal parents'. This meant that for both women to be named on the birth certificate, the donor's name had to be removed.

Expressing sympathy for the donor, who had maintained contact with the child, Judge Stephen Walmsley explained that Australian law gives the birth mother's former partner the status of legal parent. Regardless of the donor's relationship with his daughter, there was no formal agreement for his name to be listed as her legal father.

According to the BBC, this is the first time a name has been forcibly removed from a birth certificate in Australia. The case has led to suggestions from both Judge Walmsley and the donor that the law should be rethought to allow for three parents to be listed on a birth certificate. Judge Walmsey said, 'the case highlights the inadequacy of laws dealing with multi-parent families'.

Changes to laws governing the use of names on a birth certificate have a precedent. In 2007, a Canadian court allowed the addition of a third name onto a five-year old boy's birth certificate to allow for the mother's new partner to have legal status as parent.

However, while the donor father in this case is said to be devastated at the decision of the New South Wales court, Janet Loughman, principal solicitor of Women's Legal Services in New South Wales, said 'not being listed on the birth certificate is not a barrier to known sperm donors having a relationship with a child'.

Australian court rules sperm donor not parent
AFP |  17 August 2011
Australian sperm donor loses fight with lesbian couple
BBC |  19 August 2011
Man who donated sperm to lesbian friends denied further access to child after couple split
Daily Mail |  17 August 2011
Sperm donor name on birth certificate would save pain later, says judge
Sydney Morning Herald |  18 August 2011
Sperm donor speaks about being cut from birth certificate
ABC |  18 August 2011
Stroke of a pen cuts sperm donor's life with his child
Daily Telegraph - Australia |  19 August 2011
17 February 2014 - by Patricia Cassidy 
A three-month-old baby has become the first child in British Columbia, Canada, to have three legal parents on their birth certificate after new legislation came into force last year...
30 April 2012 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
Thirteen vials of sperm are to be divided between two women after their relationship ended, a Canadian court has ruled. It ruled the sperm should be treated as property and divided between the former couple as other joint assets were upon separation....
20 February 2012 - by Dr Rebecca Robey 
The state parliament in New South Wales (NSW), Australia, is considering whether sperm and egg donors' details should be mandatorily recorded on their children's birth certificate....
20 February 2012 - by Natalie Gamble 
The family court has been making law on known donors, with a number of recent disputes between known sperm donors and lesbian mothers...
19 December 2011 - by Ayesha Ahmad 
Lesbian parents in South Australia who conceive through IVF can now both be registered on their child's birth certificate, after a new law passed to recognise female, same-sex couples as the co-parents of babies came into effect....
8 August 2011 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
The UK's High Court has awarded legal parenthood to a deceased father of a child born through a surrogacy arrangement in India....
8 August 2011 - by Professor Naomi Cahn and Wendy Kramer 
The largest study to date of donor-conceived people has just been published in Human Reproduction. Its findings show the need to address two different effects of anonymous donating: first, when should children find out that their parents used donor sperm or eggs; and second, should children ever find out the identity of their donors?...
27 June 2011 - by Professor Naomi Cahn and Wendy Kramer 
The fertility industry in the US state of Washington will be transformed in late July 2011, when a new law to recognise rights of donor-conceived people comes into effect. Under the changes, anyone who provides gametes to a fertility clinic in the state must also provide identifying information about themselves and their medical history...
31 May 2011 - by MacKenna Roberts 
A widow has been granted possession of her late husband's sperm in an 'exceptional' Australian court ruling last week...
23 May 2011 - by Sarah Pritchard 
Anonymous egg and sperm donation will no longer be permitted in British Columbia (BC), Canada, after a donor-conceived woman, Olivia Pratten, took the provincial government to court to argue that its adoption laws discriminated against individuals such as herself....
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