A new chapter in the Reproductive Revolution. A polyamorous “throuple” in British Columbia has succeeded in a legal battle to have all of their names recorded on their baby’s birth certificate.
Bill, Eliza and Olivia have lived as a “triad” since 2017. The baby, Clarke, was conceived through sexual intercourse between Bill and Eliza. But Olivia induced lactation so that she could care for Clarke and was the first to feed him after his birth. Since then, the three partners and their child have lived an active family life.
In her judgement, Justice Sandra Wilkinson said that there was a gap in BC’s Family Law Act for these “three loving, caring, and extremely capable individuals” and their son. And, as a matter of fact, the law does appear to be inconsistent. Children conceived through sexual intercourse may only have one or two parents on the birth certificate; children conceived through assisted reproduction can have “one or more” parents.
“The evidence indicates that the legislature did not foresee the possibility a child might be conceived through sexual intercourse and have more than two parents,” says Justice Wilkinson. “Put bluntly, the legislature did not contemplate polyamorous families.”
Jason Proctor, of CBC News, commented that this is just the latest ruling in Canadian courts to permit various configurations of three legal parents.
Olivia’s lawyer, Catherine Wong, was “elated” by the ruling. “It’s a sign we’re seeing that the law is actually catching up to the reality of polyamorous families or multi-parent families in British Columbia,” Wong said. “In that sense, it’s a very important case because it recognizes the diversity of families in B.C. and that the law was not working for all families until now.”
In British Columbia, that diversity includes polygamy. The small and aptly-named town of Bountiful is home to two polygamist Mormon fundamentalist groups, although polygamy is technically illegal. A couple of the patriarchs have been found guilty of this crime, but the BC government has generally declined to prosecute.
Although legal parentage was the issue in the polyamorous relationship of Bill, Eliza and Olivia, and monogamous marriage in Bountiful, could legally recognised polyamory become legally recognised polygamy?
Polyamory is becoming A Thing elsewhere as well. This week the New York Times ran a feature by a Finnish woman: “My Boyfriend Has Two Partners. Should I Be His Third? My mind could rationalize polyamory, but my heart rebelled.”
Michael Cook is the editor of BioEdge