Monday, December 04, 2006

The Rights of Sperm Donor Dads.

There is currently a case in Kansas in which a non-anonymous sperm donor is seeking the right to have a relatiionship with his twin children.
The suit, set for arguments before the court Monday, concerns a Shawnee County man who donated sperm to a friend. The woman underwent artificial insemination and delivered twins in May 2005. The man argues that he always intended to act as a father to the children. No agreement was put into writing, however, and a judge later decided the man had no rights as a father.
Kansas law currently denies parental rights to sperm donors, unless they have a written agreement with the mother.
Kansas law denies parental rights to sperm donors unless they have a written agreement with the mother specifying that they will act as father. The 1994 law was designed to protect children conceived through artificial insemination from frivolous custody disputes, as well as to safeguard donors from child support lawsuits.
This makes sense, only if the intent of the law is to protect the anonymity of the donor. But I have argued that laws of this kind, which make the sperm donor a "legal stranger" to the child, are bad law. The law is actively assisting people who want to create a barrier between a child and her natural parents. This is the state assisting people's worst impulses, and in the process, undermining the most basic social institution, the family. Look at this particular woman's reasoning :

The unmarried woman, who, like the donor, is identified only by initials in court documents, argues that she never intended to share parenting with the man. She chose the man, whom she had known for 10 years, because of his good medical history.

“He is a donor only,” wrote the woman’s attorney, Susan Barker Andrews. Andrews argued that the man should have put his intentions in writing if he wanted to be a father.

The burden of proof is on the father who wants to be a father, rather than on the father who wants to "opt-out" of fatherhood.
What public purpose is served by creating an artificial barrier between the father and his child? I can think of no legitimate public purpose. If a woman wants to create a child without a marital relationship, she is free to try and do so, as the woman in this case evidently did. But why should the state assist her? It would be much better public policy to try to bind parents to their children and to each other, rather than to assist the destruction of those very natural bonds.
This new creation of the state, the unit of mother, child and deliberately absent father, requires the assistance of the state for its very existence.

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