Saturday, January 25, 2014

Kansas sperm donor is legal father

The Topeka newspaper reports:
A Topeka man who donated sperm to a lesbian couple is the presumptive father to a baby one of the woman bore and is subject to paying child support, a Shawnee County District Court judge ruled Wednesday.

In her written decision, District Court Judge Mary Mattivi said that because William Marotta and the same-sex couple failed to secure the services of a physician during the artificial insemination process, he wasn’t entitled to the same protections given other sperm donors under Kansas law.

“Kansas law is clear that a 'donor of semen provided to a licensed physician for use in artificial insemination of a woman other than the donor’s wife is treated in law as if he were not the birth father of a child thereby conceived, unless agreed to in writing by the donor and the woman,' ” Mattivi wrote.
This case is getting a lot of publicity as being unjust and anti-father, but I don't have a problem with it. California has similar rules. Whether these are the best rules, I don't know, but it seems proper for the state to set rules on such matters, and the Kansas man would be in the clear if he had followed them.

The man is appealing:
William Marotta, the Topeka man who answered a Craigslist ad from a lesbian couple seeking sperm to conceive a child, will appeal Wednesday’s court ruling that labeled him a "presumptive father" and not a sperm donor.

"We have every intention to appeal," his attorney, Benoit M.J. Swinnen, said Thursday. Swinnen said the decision finding Marotta the presumptive father was a surprise to him, noting the key decision said his client didn't meet the definition of a sperm donor.

"If there is a definition, I haven't read it," Swinnen said. ...

Swinnen questioned whether the timing of the court decision had a political edge to it, noting there was an anti-abortion rally and discussion in the Legislature dealing with changing how Supreme Court justices are nominated and surrogate mothers.

"It begs the question of whether the decision was political," Swinnen said.
Here is that political story:
The chairwoman of the Kansas Senate's health committee marked the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision Wednesday by introducing a bill that would ban surrogate pregnancies in Kansas and invited two women to undergo sonograms in front of legislators.

Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook, a Shawnee Republican who leads the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee, said her bill would mirror prohibition on surrogate pregnancy imposed in the District of Columbia.
Surrogate pregnancy is legal in some states, and illegal in others. In most states, there is a legal uncertainty.

This blog opposes giving judges the discretion to arbitrarily run peoples' lives. Paternity should be decided by marriage licenses, birth certificates, and DNA tests. I do not want some judge deciding five years later whether the man intended to be a father, or whether the lesbians have a happy home, or whatever else would drive the judge's decision if the rules are not followed.

Here is a stranger court decision:
The common legal principles that have been developed by case law to resolve difficult questions of property law within the context of a divorce action are singularly unhelpful in this case. The petitioner clearly owned, prior to the marriage, the egg from which the fetus developed. On the other hand, the respondent impregnated the petitioner with sperm he acquired after the marriage.

[Footnote:] The general understanding is that the female of the human species possesses at birth all the eggs that will ever be available for reproduction. This a very simplified description of the process as only one mature ovum is produced during each menstrual period from an un-matured egg called an oocyte. The male of the species, on the other hand, produces sperm cells each day which mature over a period of about 90 days and, if then not ejaculated, are reabsorbed into the body.
UCLA professor Volokh criticizes this as bad law, assuming that the science is correct. But the science is not even correct. Recent research showed:
Women may make new eggs throughout their reproductive years—challenging a longstanding tenet that females are born with finite supplies, a new study says. The discovery may also lead to new avenues for improving women’s health and fertility.

A woman has two ovaries, which release eggs during her monthly ovulation.

Previous research had suggested that a woman is born with all the egg cells she will ever have in her lifetime.

But in recent experiments, scientists discovered a new type of stem cell in the ovaries that—when grown in the lab—generates immature egg cells. The same immature cells isolated from adult mouse ovaries can turn into fertile eggs.
It seems pretty crazy to try to decide a legal case based on whether certain human cells had divided recently. I am surprised that this case was not severely criticized.


Anonymous said...

He should sue for custody. The lesbians wanna play this game then let him play it. If he's gonna pay, he gets to see the child. Fair is fair.

HeligKo said...

I have followed the case, and all that I have read, the lesbians haven't really played a roll in the attack on this man. Its the state of Kansas that is going after him, because the child received welfare services when the lesbians broke up and the one who had custody was not able to support the child. If the law were to take into account the intent of everyone involved here, they would be going after the ex-partner, not this man.

George said...

When a woman applies for welfare benefits for a child, she is asked to name the father and authorize the agency to sue him for reimbursement. If the lesbian partner were a legal parent, the agency would go after her. So yes, the lesbians played a role in attacking this man because they authorized the welfare agency to sue while they were not supporting the child adequately.