July 6, 2022

Does a sperm donor have the duties of a father?

The debate over parental duties of sperm donors has flared up again – this time in response to an American man being sued for medical expenses of the child of his donated sperm.

The debate over parental duties of sperm donors has flared up again – this time in response to an American man being sued for medical expenses of the child of his donated sperm.

William Morotta is being sued by the state of Kansas for parental duties after making a private sperm donation to a lesbian couple in early 2009. The couple used the donated sperm to conceive, but separated after the child was born. The child’s mother enrolled her in a state medical support service, MEDICAID, for which the biological father must pay the balance of medical expenses. The State has taken Mr Marotta to court for refusing to pay these fees.

Under the Uniform Parentage Act of 1973, a sperm donor needs to donate through a licensed clinic if he is to ensure freedom from parenting duties; if the donation is privately given then he may have significant legal responsibilities for the child.

Steven Snyder, chairman of the American Bar Association’s assisted reproductive technology group, has defended this law, arguing that they protect adults and children from sexually transmitted diseases carried by the donor, as well as ensuring that no ‘false-fatherhood’ claims could be made.

But professor Charles Kindregan from Suffolk University has inveighed against the legislation, saying that the involvement of a physician “is irrelevant as to the potential parentage – or support – liability of either the sperm donor or the husband, if the woman is married”. 

Michael Cook
Creative commons
sperm donation