COMMENTARY | A Kansas court case I’ve already opined about has come to a tragic, erroneous conclusion: According to CNN, a sperm donor has been ordered to pay child support by Shawnee County District Court judge Mary Mattivi despite the fact that the lesbian couple to whom he donated his genetic material allegedly waived any and all parental rights and obligations. According to the man’s story, he simply responded to a Craigslist ad seeking a sperm donor…and is now on the hook for many thousands of dollars due to a legal loophole. The loophole is that the lesbian couple did not go through a physician for the insemination.
From my standpoint, this is a political railroading at its worst. The man donates his sperm, it is completely removed from his control, and he is retroactively held accountable for the actions of another. Because the lesbian couple wanted to avoid paying $3,000 a pop for a physician to test the sperm and attempt artificial insemination this man is ordered to pay child support for eighteen years.
Could one imagine the fallout if a state tried to railroad a woman over a technicality like this? Why isn’t this injustice a bigger deal? Even CNN medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen said “he’s the dad; he ought to be paying up.” Would Cohen be singing the same tune if the state of Kansas, based on its belief that the man is the father of the child, took the child away from her lesbian parents and granted primary custody to said father?
That would undoubtedly create a political firestorm.
This Kansas ruling puts a chilling effect on sperm donation and discriminates against men. The man had no idea of this obscure loophole in the law and was not in control of his sperm after the donation – what ability did he have to protect himself from this fate? Something like this, in theory, could happen to any sperm donor. If your sperm, through any method whatsoever, creates a child without intervention by a licensed physician, you are financially responsible.
What if your sperm donation is removed from a sperm bank and is used without a licensed physician present? What if there is an unauthorized sperm swap, as has apparently occurred in Utah? What if something out of a sitcom or novel occurs, like a jilted woman surreptitiously acquiring or keeping a man’s genetic material?
All fifty states should immediately pass commonsense legislation holding men free from such legal and financial responsibility if they had no intent to create a child and could not have, through any reasonable action, prevented the fertilization of the egg. This poor man in Kansas should be allowed to go about his life according to the original agreement he signed with the lesbian couple. Had I ever considered donating sperm that idea would be permanently quashed by this horrifying legal decision. And until suitable legislation is passed, all men should also halt their donations as well.