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The European Union and Beyond

How does Judicial Mobilisation Contribute to Frame Bridging in the Policy Process? The Case of Donor Conceived Children’s Right to Know their Biological Origins in Canada and the United Kingdom

Audrey L'Espérance
University of Toronto
Audrey L'Espérance
University of Toronto

The article draws on post-positivist policy analysis and social movement theory to explore the impact of court decisions in shaping the public policy processes and the discursive construction of access to biological origins as public policy issues in Canadian and British politics. Using the concept of framing, the article discusses the ways in which donor conceived children and their parents framed the issue of parentage in two landmark rulings on donor conceived children (DCC) right to know their origins, Pratten (British Columbia) and Rose (England). The article finds that, despite differences in legal policy legacies between Canada and the UK, there is a common legal and moral frame governing donor conceived children struggles over access to their biological origins. Although working with different legal frameworks, judicial precedents, statutory law and bill of rights, courts reached remarkably similar conclusions about the issue and largely endorsed nearly all of the elements in the legal and moral frame put forth by DCC. Despite similarities in the framing of donor conceived individual issues in the two countries, the article demonstrates that the central difference in the access to origins debate in Canada and the UK concerns the bridging of the moral and/or the legal frame with the dominant medical frame within the broader political process.
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