A WOMAN conceived with the help of a sperm donor has taken a rare legal step to find out the identity of her biological father.
In a case that could affect thousands of donor-conceived families, Kimberley Springfield has asked a tribunal to overturn a bureaucratic decision that no action be taken to help identify the donor.
Her case comes as state and federal parliamentary inquiries due to report in the coming months consider donor conception and the rights of donor-conceived people to gain access to identifying information about their donors.
In submissions to both inquiries, Ms Springfield, 26, whose sister and at least four half siblings were conceived with her biological father's sperm, said she had suffered mentally, emotionally and physically from being denied knowledge about her family since she found out how she was conceived five years ago.
''I cannot fathom going through life never knowing where I have come from, my ancestry and my identity,'' Ms Springfield wrote. ''Every day I look at the faces of people around me and wonder: 'Could you be my father, my half sister, my half brother, my grandparent?'''
Ms Springfield was born before 1988, when sperm donors were completely anonymous. The identity of her donor is not recorded on the voluntary register of donors kept by the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages.
In Victoria, where Ms Springfield lives, those born between 1988 and 1997 have the right to access information about the donor if the donor agrees and only those born after 1997 have an absolute right to information.
Ms Springfield has asked the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to review the registrar's decision to deny her recent request that they seek the donor's identity from a medical institution and then write to the donor advocating the purpose and benefit of the voluntary register.
Peter Hanks, QC, for Ms Springfield, said the Assisted Reproductive Treatment Act stated that ''the registrar may from time to time publicise the establishment and purpose of the voluntary register''. He argued this provision needed to be read together with a part of the Births, Deaths and Marriages Act dealing with the registrar's general functions.
A Senate inquiry into donor conception in Australia, due to report next month, has heard from many parents, fertility specialists and counsellors who have called for national laws to establish a compulsory national donor register.
Article: 27th January 2011 The Sydney Morning Herald www.smh.com.au
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