Kansas case highlights unique legal issues for sperm donors
BY AP Wire Service
Friday, January 04, 2013
1/04/13 at 3:54 AM
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A state law being used by Kansas officials trying to force a sperm donor to pay child support is outdated, the man's attorney argues. But experts agree that he put himself in a precarious legal position by getting involved in a lesbian couple's do-it-yourself artificial insemination.
Kansas law states that a sperm donor is not the father of a child if a doctor handles the artificial insemination. But the law does not specifically address the donor's rights and obligations when no doctor was involved.
That was the case in 2009, when William Marotta answered an online ad for a sperm donation for Angela Bauer and her then-partner, Jennifer Schreiner. The three signed an agreement that they believed severed Marotta's parental rights, and Schreiner became pregnant.
But because they didn't go through a doctor, the state argues, Marotta is the legal father and should be responsible for $6,000 in public assistance Schreiner received to help care for the child. The state also wants him to pay child support, although neither woman seeks money.
"I don't fault the state for this," said Corey Whelan, who runs workshops for lesbian couples interested in having children through the New York-based American Fertility Association. "I don't think this is a homophobic issue. I think this is a financially driven issue."
Whelan said her group has a practice of advising single women who want a child to work with doctors and attorneys. She said avoiding professionals is "a buyer-beware proposition."
But money can be a factor. Artificial insemination generally isn't covered by insurance and usually costs between $2,000 and $3,000, said Steve Snyder, chairman of the American Bar Association's group on assisted reproduction technology.
"It is happening a lot," Snyder said. "Go on amazon.com - home insemination kit, $29.95. A lot of LGBT couples use them. I have a lot of cases involving those types of kits."
That sets up a tricky legal situation, said Dr. Ajay Nangia, an associate professor of urology at the University of Kansas Hospital.
"The problem is the guy exposed himself to a situation that made him potentially liable because he had no legal protection," said Nangia.
Marotta, 46, is trying to get the case dismissed. A hearing is scheduled for Tuesday.