05 January 2007

Sperm Donors' Rights

Note from the LuapHacim, 11/14/2012: The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect my current beliefs and convictions. Even if they do, I would almost certainly express them in different words today. Time changes people, and I am not exempt. Nonetheless, because of its historical value, I will not modify or remove this post. It tells you (and me) something important about where I've been. Read on at your own peril.

There's a dispute over reproductive rights in my home state. USA Today has the story:
A case before the Kansas Supreme Court has become a key test of the rights of sperm donors who want to be involved with their offspring over the objection of the children's mothers.

The dispute, which has drawn national attention, involves a single woman, identified in court papers only as S.H., who gave birth to twins in May 2005 after being inseminated with the sperm of a friend, identified as D.H.

After the mother made it clear that she did not intend to share parenting, D.H. sued to establish paternity. He lost in a trial court because of a Kansas law that says the donor of sperm provided for artificial insemination is not the legal father of the child unless the donor and mother agree to it in writing.

The major question in the case is whether requiring such written agreements in cases involving sperm donors known to the mother, not anonymous donors from sperm banks, violates the donor's constitutional rights as a parent. Like Kansas, many states have legal hurdles for donors seeking parental status.

This is a fascinating debate to me because it illustrates something I have long observed: Americans are insane when it comes to biological genealogy.

I'm not using "insane" hyperbolically here. Let's think about the issue at stake: this woman's friend (one can only assume it's "ex-friend" now) let her have some of his sperm (a substance which is quite common, easily replaceable, and readily available through any number of willing, though certainly not as safe, outlets) so she could become pregnant. Nine months later, out pop the twins, and he suddenly demands co-custody? What is he thinking? And why is his reasoning OK at all in this country?

His role is that of a drone. He has no rights. "Donate" comes from a Latin word, "donare," which means to present. The Oxford English Dictionary says "donate" is a transitive verb meaning "To make a donation or gift of; hence, vulgarly (in U.S.), to give, bestow, grant." There is nothing in that definition that implies a return of any kind. He gave her his biological material, and that should be that.

This sounds suspiciously like a role-reversal of the stereotypical girl-gets-pregnant-to-hook-her-man routine. If anything, it's less acceptable this way around, since he did none of the actual work of having the babies.

If he wanted to have children, he should have given his sperm to someone who wanted him as her baby-daddy, not as her biological donor.


Unknown said...

I agree. Men should not be given equal parenting treatment in the case of donation.

LQ said...

What an odd situation. How many men out there would see this as a dream-come-true?

It seems to me that the only possible argument D.H. could have is that there was a misunderstanding as to what kind of involvement he would have with the product of his donation (if you will). The article doesn't really touch on that idea; all it says is "However, when the donor and the mother know each other, different expectations and legal complications can arise." Indeed. However, I think it's safe to say that unless the man played an active role in the twins' prenatal care (which I somehow doubt, but I'm in a bit of a cynical mood at present), I think it should be clear what the original plan was. I'm equally perplexed as to what this guy is thinking...