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California paternity-rights bill on hold

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 13, 2013 at 6:30 pm •  Published: August 13, 2013
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A bill sparked by a custody dispute involving "The Lost Boys" actor Jason Patric that would allow certain sperm donors to seek paternity rights in court is on hold after failing to clear a legislative panel Tuesday.

Patric testified before state lawmakers about his court battle to gain custody of his now 3-year-old son, Gus. A judge deemed him a sperm donor — rather than a parent — during a custody dispute over the boy.

He and his ex-girlfriend, Danielle Schreiber, conceived the child through artificial insemination. Patric and Schreiber, who never married, disagree on the role Patric was to play in the child's life.

Patric says he hasn't seen the child in months and asked lawmakers to think about "a child sitting daily and wondering what happened."

As a result of that case and others brought to his attention, state Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, put forward legislation that would allow a man whose sperm was used to conceive a child through artificial insemination to seek parental rights if he can show a certain level of involvement in the child's life.

Hill says his bill, SB115, is an attempt to clarify a 2011 statute, which said unmarried men who provided sperm to a doctor or sperm bank do not have parental rights unless otherwise agreed to in writing prior to conception.

The measure sailed through the Senate without opposition but recently has generated aggressive lobbying from representatives for Patric, Schreiber and organizations involved in child custody and women's rights.

Among the bill's supporters are Equality California and the National Center for Lesbian Rights, which say the bill strikes the right balance by requiring a donor seeking parental rights to have lived with the child and presented the child as his own.

Opponents — including the state's chapter of the National Organization for Women, Planned Parenthood, and the Academy of California Adoption Lawyers — say the measure is too broad and could unintentionally affect the rights of single mothers or same-sex couples who use sperm donors.

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