California dukes it out over sperm donor rights
There’s this thing that happens in two-mom families.
While current technology may limit our genetic relationships to our kids to one parent, the non-biological parents’ traits sneak into our children. As though the bonds of motherhood can alter the toughest DNA.
Pictures of my partner at the age of five are the spit and image of our younger daughter. Our older daughter looks like she could be the sister to a niece on my partner’s side. Talk to any two-mom family and they’ll tell you similar stories. Our kids look like both their parents, genetics be damned.
And while sperm donors are usually a necessity on the road to queer mamahood, unless they have an agreed-upon relationship with the offspring donors tend to fade into the background of everyday life. The same is true, I imagine, for two-dad families. Love trumps DNA.
But families are diverse, queer or otherwise and sometimes DNA is given in love. Or sometimes, once donated, is used as a form of control over someone else. Which is why in California, a case prompted by actor Jason Patric has put gay rights and women’s rights groups on both sides of the issue of parental rights for sperm donors.
Let’s start from the beginning. Patric is trying to gain partial custody of a three-year-old child who was conceived using his sperm.
Patric says he donated his sperm to his then-girlfriend, Danielle Schreiber, to conceive their son. He claims the plan always was for him to parent the child. Schreiber, on the other hand, says Patric is a sperm donor.
And – for now at least – California law is on Schreiber’s side. Schreiber and Patric were never married and do not have a written agreement stating Patric’s parental rights. As per the LA Times:
“Under state law, someone who donates sperm through a doctor or sperm bank and who is not married to the woman who conceives is not recognized as the child’s natural father. The only exception is if the couple agreed in writing before conception that the donor was to be considered a parent.”
But a bill by state Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) could grant sperm donors parental rights if, for example, a donor publicly acknowledges a child as his – and has had the child in his home.
Meanwhile, gay rights advocate assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) has succeeded in delaying a vote on the bill until next month. And the president of the California National Organization for Women, Patricia Bellasalma, wrote to lawmakers stating that the bill would potentially “reinstitute male dominance over women, by privileging the male sperm donor’s right to exercise ownership in the child over the reproductive liberty of the mother.”
For the record, I don’t know whether I support this bill or not. Luckily for me, I do not live in California.
But with its usual impeccable timing, Hollywood is bringing us its own take on parenting issues for sperm donors. Vince Vaughn is stars in soon-to-be-released The Delivery Man – a story about a man who fathers over 500 children by sperm donation.
(Which, as Slate points out, is pretty much impossible.)
Let’s just hope that in this movie, the sperm donor doesn’t end up having sex with over 500 lesbian mamas.
Source: LA Times