In an article by Paula Reed Ward today, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports Court orders sperm donor to pay support, Death of father complicates complex case.
The Pennsylvania Superior Court, in a recent decision, ordered that a sperm donor who had a close relationship with the two children he fathered must pay child support.
It is an interesting decision for a number of reasons.
First of all, Pennsylvania has no laws that address reproductive issues such as this, which resulted in a first-ever court ruling that recognizes three adults as parents and having financial responsibilities for the same children.
In addition, the sperm donor was not anonymous but a friend of the biological mother, and he eventually sought partial custody of the children.
To further complicate matters, the donor died while the court case was pending.
The article goes on to report these comments from attorneys:
Cases like these -- and others involving surrogacy and similar issues -- could more easily be settled, all the lawyers said, if the state Legislature would write laws to address them.
Pennsylvania is one of only a handful of states that do not have laws to address the parental rights of sperm donors.
Harry Tindall, a family law attorney in Houston, who helped write the Uniform Parentage Act, was outraged by the Superior Court's decision in the Jacob case.
"Donors are not parents. Why should we hurt someone for trying to do good?" he asked.
But more than that, he was frustrated, like the others, at the lack of legislation.
"Pennsylvania won't pass laws on this issue, so courts don't have any guidance," he said. "Shame on a legislature that doesn't have the values to address this issue."
Mr. Kalikow, who chairs the subcommittee on assisted reproductive technologies under the Joint State Government Commission, hopes state lawmakers will soon do that.
He noted that the state does have laws related to reproductive issues in dog breeding.
Mr. Kalikow believes there are no state laws related to these questions with humans because the issues are too emotional.
"It implicates these very sensitive, social, religious and then, political, issues," he said.
Those include the idea of extraordinary conception -- like sperm donation and in vitro fertilization -- as well as encouraging single parenthood and the possibilities of same-sex couples adopting, Mr. Kalikow said.
"There is no way to isolate from religious and social conservatives concerns that this is promoting unconventional family building," he said. "You're going to get a lot of heat."
Thanks to Marcia Oddi of the Indiana Law Blog for letting me know of this article.