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Kan. case reveals risks with assisted reproduction

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 21, 2013 at 12:34 pm •  Published: January 21, 2013

Sperm donation and parental rights may sound like a relatively niche sector in the legal arena, but updating laws has been a challenge, and some like the rules just the way they are.

Kansas' state Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce, a conservative Republican, said he doubts legislators will or should consider making changes.

"It tells everybody don't do stupid things on Craigslist. It's kind of common sense," he said." If you're going to create another life, even if it's a good intention, that's a heck of a responsibility, and it's one that precedes any sort of state action."

In the 2010 Indiana case, a woman who used a friend's sperm to conceive two children sought public assistance after she and her lesbian partner separated. County officials wanted to collect child support from the donor.

A state appeals court ultimately ruled that an agreement entered into before the first child's birth freed the donor from financial responsibility for that child. But the donor was found to be financially responsible for the second child, because the agreement didn't cover subsequent children.

"It is definitely evolving and these kinds of cases are really cutting edge," said Sean Lemieux, an Indianapolis attorney who also represented the sperm donor. "It is a risky thing and this is not the place to save your money upfront and get an office form off the Internet."

A high-profile California case, meanwhile, shows the consequences of going without a contract. Texas bodybuilder Ronnie Coleman, who donated sperm for his ex-girlfriend's artificial insemination, paid thousands of dollars in child support each month for nearly four years for two children until an appeals court ruled in March that he could stop.

Peter A. Lauzon, the Los Angeles attorney who represented the eight-time Mr. Olympia, said the legal issues surrounding artificial insemination create a "chilling effect."

"Who is going to want to donate sperm?" he asked. "No one."

Mikki Morrissette, a mother of two who didn't use a doctor for her artificial inseminations, once found herself asked to identify her sperm donor while seeking state-subsidized health insurance in Minnesota after moving there from New York City. She refused and was denied.

"I know a lot of other woman around the country who have used a known donor who have run into similar problems," said Morrissette, who was written five books, including "Choosing Single Motherhood: The Thinking Woman's Guide."

She said the same request isn't made of adoptive parents or when an anonymous donor is used: "It's not fair."


Associated Press writer John Hanna contributed to this report from Topeka, Kan.