SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 24 (AP)--Anonymous sperm donors don't have an unlimited right to privacy and can be forced to testify in legal proceedings, the California Supreme Court ruled. Without comment, the high court on Wednesday unanimously upheld an appellate court decision demanding that an anonymous sperm donor, identified only as Donor 276, testify in a lawsuit against a Culver City sperm bank.

According to a lawsuit by the parents of an 11-year-old Santa Barbara girl afflicted with a kidney disorder, the anonymous donor was allowed to give sperm even though he had a family history of kidney disease. The family claims the girl, Brittany Johnson, was one of hundreds of children potentially conceived with sperm from Donor 276. An appeals court said in May that the donor must testify in the case.

"The problem has been that there is no law on the books dealing with to what extent the privacy of an anonymous sperm donor, similar to an anonymous couple giving up a baby for adoption, is able to retain when there are competing claims in a case of compelling state interest," said the child's attorney, Walter Koontz.

Attorneys in the case said the ruling could affect other privacy issues, even undermining anonymity in adoption proceedings. "The decision is saying the state has a duty and great interest to see that truth comes out in all litigation, and that that interest is bigger than the interest of a private person's anonymity, whether it was contractually provided for or not," said Gary Bostwich, an attorney representing the donor.

A representative of the sperm bank, California Cryobank, did not return repeated phone calls. But the bank's attorney has said such a decision could scare away donors.

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