Waldlaw Blog

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

While We're Talking About Kansas

In a decision many of us had been waiting for for many months, the Kansas Supreme Court voted on Friday to uphold Kansas' sperm donor statute against a challenge brought by a known donor. Many states (including Kansas and California) have statutes that state that when a man provides his sperm to a licensed physician for purposes of inseminating a woman who is not the man's wife, the man will legally be a sperm donor and not a father. This means that the donor has no parental rights (i.e. he can't seek custody or visitation of the child) and no parental responsibilities (i.e. he can't be held responsible for child support). The problem arises when women use men they know as sperm donors, and the donors' expectations don't match the law. In the Kansas case, the man sued for custody and visitation, arguing that it had always been the plan that he would have regular, parental conduct with the child. The Kansas statute has a specific "opt out" provision, whereby a written agreement between the donor and the recipient can create a parental relationship between the donor and the child; but in the Kansas case the man and woman had not entered into any such written agreement. Nevertheless, the donor argued that it was a violation of his legal rights to deny him legal recognition as a parent to a child that was his genetic child, that he knew and cared about and was prepared to support. The Kansas Supreme Court voted in favor of sperm donor statutes for several reasons: (1) they promote certainty about who parents are in the case of women using donor insemination; (2) they encourage men to be sperm donors without fear of financial responsibility for the children born as a result of their donations; and (3) they allow married couples to use donor insemination where the husband is impotent or sterile without fearing interference with their family structure. For these reasons, and others, the court found that the donor in Kansas had no legal rights to the child conceived from his donation, and that the mother was a legal single mother. For more info, see: http://www.kscourts.org/Cases-and-Opinions/opinions/supct/2007/20071026/96102.htm


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