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Headlines 30/09/10

Here are my thoughts on today’s headlines. Everything but the titles is written by yours truly.

Mother, daughter strive to discover father’s identity by Neal Hall:

Olivia Pratten, born as a result of artificial insemination, has been trying to get access to the sperm donor’s records for years without success.

Along with her mother, she is trying to get the government to institute legislation that would preserve gamete donor records, and is trying to have the Adoption Act struck down as she argues it doesn’t afford children of gamete donors the same rights as adopted children (with regards to accessing their donor parents’ records).

According to the article in the Vancouver Sun, Pratten’s mother said that a psychology study showed that children of gamete donors learning about their donor parents is imperative to the formation of their identity.

While the issue discussed in the article focuses primarily on whether or not donor records should be preserved for patients’ access, not discussed was the issue of privacy.

I admittedly do not fully know the privacy rights of donors, but the problem isn’t just a legal one: it has moral implications.

It is important that offspring of gamete donors know their donor parents’ medical history, etc., but, to quote the article on what Pratten’s mother said, the point that “offspring of gamete donors have a need to learn about their donor parents in order to be able to properly develop their identity” was compromised 28 years ago when Shirley Pratten decided to use artificial insemination as a means of having a child.

It would seem as though sperm donors, who are donating and not signing up to have a child of their own, should have some privacy rights.

Au contraire, if privacy is a big issue for the donor, there is no obligation to donate in the first place.

The question that should be visited is whether any individual in general has any right to access information on another individual, regardless of parentage, as well as the concept of “parent responsibility:” what defines a parent, what are their responsibilities towards their offspring, and whether or not gamete donation is a no-strings-attached process where the one parent assumes all of the parenting duties.

Police reprimanded for 2005 tethering of drunk teen in cell by Sandra McCullock:

I am including this article in today’s headlines because I remember hearing about the incident when it first happened about five years ago.

An adjudicator ruled this week that two Victoria police officers committed an abuse of their authority when they tethered Willow Kinloch, 15 years old at the time, in a cell, hands cuffed behind her back, and legs tied together and strapped to the door for four hours.

The incident baffled me then and continues to baffle me now: why is it that two fully-grown police officers felt the need to completely immobilize an intoxicated 15-year-old girl? Could they really not handle her between the two of them?

The way they dealt with the situation would suggest that they were dealing with a 250-pound, armed, dangerous and extremely volatile individual. But that simply was not the case.

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