Kansas Sperm Donor is Legal Father

There’s a case out of Kansas I have been following for some time. William Marotta served as a sperm donor for two women in 2008 or 2009. The women found him via Craig’s list. The three people entered into a contract saying that Mayotte would only be a donor and would have no rights or obligations as a parent. The parties to the contract have, apparently, abided by its terms even as the two women split up.

The problem is that after the women split up the legal mother (I think in Kansas only one of the women could be a legal parent) obtained public assistance to support herself and her child. The state then sought reimbursement from Mayotte, asserting that contract or not, he was the legal father and obliged to pay child support.

Now a court has ruled that the state’s position is correct. Kansas law provides that a sperm donor will not be a father IF the sperm is provided to a doctor and in this case no doctor was involved. Hence, Marriot cannot claim to be a sperm donor under Kansas law.

I don’t have any particular expertise in Kansas law, but I’ve certainly seen statutes like this before. The requirement that a doctor be involved was part of the 1973 (I think it was) Uniform Parentage Act. Many states adopted this provision and a number still have it.

In 2000 a new version of the Uniform Parentage Act was published which removes the doctor requirement. This was in part to solve what has sometimes been called “the turkey baster problem”– the current Kansas case being an example of that very dilemma.

If you took this from the point of view of logic it’s not at all clear to me why the presence or absence of a doctor would be determinative. The people here entered into a clear agreement–and they all apparently still agree about what that meant. Now you can perfectly well say that these agreements should not be given force. Or you can say that they should. But to say that what matters is whether there was a doctor somewhere in the background seems odd. (If you’re worried about people understanding what they’re doing, maybe a lawyer would be a better add-in?).

But this isn’t an exercise in logic. Kansas has a statute and it says what it says. If it says “sperm donor only if doctor” then it would appear to mean that Marotta is indeed a legal parent. What he needed (and apparently failed to come up with) is either an argument that 1) this isn’t what Kansas law says or 2) if it is what Kansas law says, there’s some reason that a court should not apply it–like it violates some rights, etc. There were some arguments along those lines here, but basically the trial judge didn’t accept them.

I’m sympathetic to the people involved here. We can do so much by making private agreements that you can understand why people might think they could do this. But, as this case shows, it isn’t always true. I’d like to think that any lawyer the people here consulted would have given them some simple advice: Have a doctor do the insemination. I’m not sure you could explain why that made any sense, but you could give a pretty strong assurance that it would matter.


194 responses to “Kansas Sperm Donor is Legal Father

  1. Some women will have difficulty getting access to doctors; that’s one key problem with this rule.

    • Indeed, this is a potential problem. Particularly in some areas of the country there may be no doctors willing to inseminate a single woman or a lesbian. Or the costs may just make it prohibitive.

      Generally it seems to me that the requirement of having a doctor doesn’t bring with it any particular benefit and it imposes costs in a way that is likely to most disadvantage people who have limited access to health care and to lawyers.

  2. interesting question, how did the dr make it into the law in the first place? if i want to be cynical i could suggest that the fertility industry is behind it; if people can inseminate on their own, than they won’t make any money. but, i actually don’t think that was the case, i think it has to do with the sex=fatherhood equation in many people’s minds. a guy masturbating, and handing over fresh sperm to a woman he knows to insert into herself- well perhaps that too closely approaches sex in many people’s minds. and its harder for people to classify it as “artiifical insemination” ie an impersonal clinical prodecure “fertility treatment”.

    • to paraphrase, its harder to disguise what your doing as a medical treatment, as opposed to regular old babymaking, without the white coats.

    • I’m sure there are answers out there. I wonder if they weren’t even thinking about the possibility of home or self-insemination? The statute was written a long time ago when the vast majority of the consumers–and maybe all the consumers they were thinking about–were heterosexual couples would would be working closely with doctors about infertility issues anyway. It may not even have occurred to them NOT to include a doctor. Perhaps they wrote a statute designed to cover what was happening then: married couples using donor sperm as part of fertility treatment.

      Then the world changed around the statute. And certainly by the 2000 revision the problem was clearly in view.

  3. i also seem to recall (could be mistaken) that may court cases between lesbian co-parents seem to find it important that the co-parent was present at the time of conception… well in this type of case, the so-called sperm donor is present at the time of conception.

    • I don’t think that formal importance is placed on the presence of the copartner but certainly when courts are trying to illustrate the joint participation of both parties they often emphasize presence at insemination (or conducting the insemination) and cutting the umbilical cord and the like. These things become important because they speak to the intentions of the parties, the relationship between them and so on. They are evidence of something and courts do like to mention it.

  4. I completely agree that it should not matter how a man gets a woman pregnant, if the offspring born is his and hers then they are the parents of their own children. I find it bizarre that it should matter who they authorized or did not authorize to do what fertility treatment the end result is that as a couple they have offspring. The involvement of other people in the mechanics of helping them have offspring should make no difference at all because in the end only they can create their own offspring. Also I find it bizarre and dehumanizing that the law currently honors some private contractual agreements where bio parents abdicate their parental responsibilities and agree not to challenge the false claims to parentage of someone else over their child should that situation arise. It is clearly a short cut to formal adoption and the fact that the adults happen to agree before a couple’s offspring is conceived or born has no bearing on whether or not their offspring deserve to be protected from being treated as property offloaded by their bio parents either as gifts or for money.The involvement of the middle man between the abandoning bio parent and the rearing bio parent or rearing partner of a bio parent is probably critical to make it so there is no direct contractual relationship between the abandoning parent and the individuals that are paying them to relinquish their child and parental title

  5. I enjoy this case because it makes the child selling so crystal clear. So many people use to try and argue with me that gamete donors don’t give up their children – only sperm. I’ve gotten pretty good at shutting down that argument without pointing to a case like this but it’s handy when it happens.

    Those who would say they don’t give up their children give up their parental responsibilities – just their sperm would be hard pressed to explain their outrage over this case or ones with similar outcomes. Pretty clear there is no problem with the sperm he donated or gave or sold, right? Oh what’s the matter? Is there something more that people expect sperm donors to give up? Did he have an expectation that he was giving up something besides his sperm? What? What’s the problem? All people have to support their own offspring what is he whining about? Why would he think he did not have to support his offspring if all he was doing was giving up his sperm?

    Did he think he was giving up his sperm AND giving up his offspring at birth? Oh. Well then so he did think he was giving up his parental responsibilities and his offspring when he gave up his sperm so why does the opposition try so hard to say that all they give up is sperm? Clearly the women were expecting more than sperm – they wanted the whole kid they wanted the father out of the picture he expected to be out of the picture. None of that seems very fair to this couple’s child. The fair thing would be for him and her to share custody and for her partner to simply be a step parent or if not married a psudo step parent. Why not do that? The child does not have to loose the father or father’s family in order to gain contact with a person that the mother is going to be living with anyway. I mean if they don’t want to go to the trouble of actually adopting the way millions of others manage to do – so it’s not like its impossible, then I think it is perfectly reasonable that the parents reach an agreeable custody arrangement which might even be him paying support with limited visitation and her having full legal and physical custody so that her spouse if married would be a step parent who actually shared full legal and physical custody of the spouses child and the kid would get support from dad. And the kid would have benefits up the wazoo. What is wrong with playing it out as what it actually is with all the people involved staying involved. Who cares what they want or intend? Once you have offspring your wants and needs don’t count anymore. Everyone knows that which is why its wise to only have kids you want to take care of .

    Such bs when people say all they give up is sperm cause they would not be bothered by this case if that were true. They give up their kids and this guy is not getting away with it and I hope they do way more of this.

  6. This is such a bizarre case and a really strange law. In no way should the sperm donor be financially responsible. If anything the former partner should be since she is a parent. This case shows an obvious need for reform in Kansas to let sperm donors be just that and hold parents accountable regardless of divorce or separation.

    • The idea that a person should have a permanent legal parent/child relationship to someone who they have no permanent physical connection with someone who is not responsible for their existence is so arrogant and rude. What makes a spouse worthy of the unqualified title of parent over another person’s offspring? People who want to have parental authority over other people’s offspring should hall have to go through the adoption process because not going through the adoption process and naming them as if they are the bio parents is fraud its black market adotption.

      • I asked this in another blog post and didn’t receive an answer. Why do you have so much hate towards non biological parents? What in your background has influenced this? I think it would better understand your position sometimes. From the aspect of a donor conceived child who was never told until an adult and/or was rejected by their non biological parent I understand this position.

        • I don’t hate anyone Greg I hate injustice and that the law has created a second class of citizen in order to provide more blank slate babies to people willing to pay for them.

          • You obviously do. This has nothing to do with laws and “second class citizens”. You have a strong distaste for non biological parents. I’m not the only person who picked up on this. So it’s not just me.

          • Why do you think the majority of the population doesn’t agree with you?

            You are so sure this is injustice, but why can’t you convince the majority of reasonable people to your position?

            • They don’t care about things that don’t impact them and as long as the people in question were not beaten or starved as a result of not being the offspring of whoever had parental authority over them, then everything is fine and there is no problem to be fixed. That is the apathetic approach to social justice how does it affect me or is the abuse so glaring that someone might think me abusive if I did not attempt to stop it.

              The abuse suffered in this instance is not by virtue of being raised by people other than their bio parents; the abuse is in the failure to require their bio parents to meet the same legal benchmarks as other people’s bio parents. Furthermore the abuse is in the denial of due process that might prevent them from loosing legal kinship in their biological families and the due process that might prevent someone from being legally granted parental authority over them if they were not well suited to raising them or had arranged for or influenced their bio parents decision to not raise them. There are plenty of harms that are unfair that are not directly related to child rearing performance of a biologically unrelated person. Bottom line is no matter how great they are at raising someone else’s kid, if the bio parent was in anyway motivated to abandon his or her parental obligations to serve the needs of childless persons looking to raise kids then the whole house of cards falls down. None of it can have anything to do with trying to give childless people the gift of a family.

              • I’m not seeing the legal injustice claim. I don’t mean that flippantly — I mean that I literally cannot identify a claim of legal injustice.

                “the abuse is in the failure to require their bio parents to meet the same legal benchmarks as other people’s bio parents.”

                I do not understand this legal claim. I don’t mean that in some sort of flippant way. I mean that I literally do not understand this sentence and I cannot identify a claim.

                “Furthermore the abuse is in the denial of due process that might prevent them from loosing legal kinship in their biological families and the due process that might prevent someone from being legally granted parental authority”

                But there is no due process differential. You can’t make a due process claim in court. I’m not seeing a legal difference.

                I’m left with not understanding your legal claims of injustice. I’m not saying that for some sort of rhetorical effect or to “win,” as you put it, an argument. I mean it literally.

                I’m curious about people — I’m curious about the conditions under which your position (which I do not understand) arose. I do understand that genetic connection must be very meaningful for you. But I do understand why it is meaningful, and why you see its absence as a source of injustice.

                • oops – typing mistake: But I do _not_ understand why it [genetic connection] is meaningful [to you], and why you see its absence as a source of injustice.

                  • At this point you know what the linguistic score is and you are just testing me to see how long I can hang in there before caving. Genetic link is a BS phrase. Not being the offspring of the people that raised you is not an injustice. Injustice will lie in something that puts a person in a compromised position say legally where they don’t have the same legal protections as others do before granting someone other than a bio parent parental authority over them. Injustice might also come at the hands of physical abuse by a caregiver whether a bio parent or non bio parent. Injustice is going to be resident within differential treatment, denial of rights, falsification of medical records etc.
                    Injustice resident within actual childrearing would not be able to be blamed on relatedness as abuse and neglect are abuse and neglect. If their bio parents abandon them as a service so others can have kids that would also be an injustice. So Tess why do you
                    have a problem with treating all people equally?

                  • Marilynn,

                    “So Tess why do you
                    have a problem with treating all people equally?”

                    This is an example of why I’m leaving Julie’s comment section. If you want to continue vibrant discussions with people on the internet, you have to treat them with more courtesy. Reading their comments carefully, and not misrepresenting their positions, is necessary to a civil (and interesting!) conversation.

                    I value people with whom I can have interesting discussions. And I do not see those interactions as something to “win.” When a conversation goes well, everyone wins, because we all learn something. That means we all walk away with more then what we started with.

                    It’s not about a “linguistic score” for me. I do really like teaching the law to people.

                    I am also genuinely curious about others and their opinions. But I do not enjoy exchanges with people that degenerate into the ways that you speak to me. I’m not sure what you get out of those exchanges.

                    You don’t learn anything from those types of exchanges. Is it some sense of “winning?” You keep talking with Kissarita about how Julie “wins” on the internet. But how can people “win” on the internet — I don’t understand that.

                    I kept hoping we would have a substantive exchange of ideas.
                    But there’s a point at which one needs to stop banging one’s head against the wall, and admit that it’s not going to be fruitful.

                • Neither am I Tess. The whole “legalities” arguments are not making any sense. There are no legal rights being violated. No constitutional rights being violated. Just an argument that laws need to be changed for one select group of people who are treated no different than anyone else.

                  • I’ve been trying to explain it, but I suppose I’ve failed as a teaching.

                    It would be an assertion of special rights for a select group of people because genetic connection is not a constitutional right.

                  • It’s not you that has failed as a teacher there are some who are closed minded who will just never get it no matter who the teacher is.

                  • I guess she’s been taught to employ inflammatory rhetoric in discussions. But I don’t understand the point of it.

                    Yes, Marilynn, you shift the frame — but to what end? You don’t have a legal point that works. Do you simply like people using your language “injustice” “selling people” “equality.” Meanwhile, other people don’t understand what you’re talking about, because it’s completely off the topic of the blog post.

                    I guess that’s it, isn’t it? You think you’re winning because you take over blog threads & derail the central idea of the blog post. You try to get people using the language you want them to use. But you’re just distracting everyone from being able to talk about the idea of that post. That’s kind of a drag, especially if Julie puts forth an interesting idea.

                    And that sort of “blog take-over” won’t change anything in the wider world. You’re simply derailing blog topics.

                  • Oh, I see. She thinks she’s winning because she tends to take over blog threads with her ideas and her languages.

                    We respond to her, to explain a point of law or whatnot, and it becomes the “Marilynn” show.

                    I think I understand the motivation now. She wants to reframe Julie’s posts. The thread transforms into her frame, her language, and her questions/assertions. But it’s so boring!

                  • Tess,

                    I think the thought is if you utilize strong words like “injustice” “selling people” “equality” that people will be concerned and take your advocacy seriously. While that may work for someone new when you dig deep and pay attention to everything that is said the reader realizes that there is no substance to the argument. It’s all a bunch of rebel rousing rhetoric with nothing behind it.

                  • Agreed. And as a rhetorical tactic it particularly doesn’t work if one has studied the 14th Amendment and the the equal protection and due process clause.

                    It’s been confusing to understand the reason for the rhetoric. I thought there was interest in understanding equal protection and due process. But, I guess it’s about some abstract concept of “winning” on the internet.

                    I understand I’ve been at fault for engaging, as that has allowed the blog threads to be taken drastically off-topic. I apologize to Professor Shapiro and the commentariat and will refrain in the future.

                  • How is making the rules the same for everyone changing things for a select group of people? I am saying the law needs to be adjusted where its differemt for a select group of people. So Tess and Greg I suppose you don’t really mind then. You’d be fine if the law was the same for everyu person born.

                  • OK well while your sitting there saying you don’t see a difference people are trying to get their birth records corrected and are hoping to get laws changed that will treat adopted people and thei offspring of donors or any abandoning parent fairly. That is not me that is actual people effected by the unfair treatment. Your both real mean people. Your mean and seem to enjoy the idea that a person can own another person’s body, their cells their reproductive freedom. You don’t think a donor should have the authority to change his or her mind.

                  • You don’t get it no one is being treated differently. If you change the laws that select group will be treated differently. If being realistic is being mean then I guess we’re mean because we live in the real world.

                  • These are gratuitous ad hominem attacks.

                    I don’t understand what you get out of that sort of interaction. It’s not a discussion of the legal issues.

    • in your ideal system, how would you differentiate between a legal father and a sperm donor?

      • this question is for GSMWCO2… marilyn I know what your answer would be already…..

      • Legal father would be responsible for raising the child and making parental decisions. The sperm donor would be responsible for providing all medical information as well as leave himself open to be contacted by the person they conceived.

        • oh that wasn’t my question. how would you determine who is a legal father and who is a sperm donor? where would you draw the line?

          • Sorry, I misunderstood your question. I think that all needs to be determined prior to an attempt at conception. The sperm donor is the man who donates his sperm that is to be implanted into a woman. If the intended parents who will raise the child are a heterosexual couple then the man in that relationship would be the legal father.

            If the intended parent(s) to raise the child are either a same sex lesbian couple or a single mother there would be no legal father in the picture. In the case of the same sex lesbian couple the non biological mother would still be one of the person’s legal mothers. Though in both of these cases the sperm donor would always be the biological father despite not being a legal father responsible for providing for and raising the child.

            Does that make sense and answer your question?

            • just to clarify- you think parental status should fall on whatever the adults decide before conception? does there have to be a contract? is a verbal agreement ok? if there is a contract should it be reviewed by a court and conform to basic legal requirements, or is any old scribble on a piece of paper ok?
              how about how the folks actually lived? in this case, the folks involved actually lived according to the contract. what if they hadn’t? what would you prefer?

              • one more- do you think an agreement made during pregnancy should be valid or only prior to conception? most states differentiate between agreements made during pregnancy (illegal) and prior to pregnancy (legal if conforming to the particular laws of that state). do you agree with that differentiation or not and why?

              • Yes, I believe parental responsibility/status needs to be sorted out prior to gamete donation. I think there needs to be a written contract that has wording that has been pre approved by the state. That is where I think these contracts need to be standardized by the fertility industry.

                How the parents lived is how any legally responsible parents should live. They are responsible for raising and providing for the child. The sperm donor should be responsible for providing medical information and be open to being contacted by the DC should they have any questions about who they are genetically.

                To make sure people really think about these things I believe this all needs to agreed upon prior to conception. That agreement IMO needs to be iron clad and cannot be changed at any point after donation has been made. I do believe you need to attach some form of mandatory counseling prior to the parenting person/couple goes through with receiving sperm donation.

                • OK can we talk about the iron clad thing for a minute? Granted as soon as a man gets a woman pregnant all bets are off because his sperm is in another person’s body outside his control and she can either have the baby or not. If she has the baby he becomes a bio father. Now I happen to think that all bio fathers responsibilities should be the same and that way the expectations of their offspring would all be the same. Its real fair that way. Can you see how honoring these prebirth contracts actually places some of the men’s offspring at a disadvantage over the offspring whose parents did not have the prebirth contract? I mean the contract causes the kids to loose their bio father’s name, their kinship to his other relatives and his financial support. Forget the idea that someone might be willing do do some of those things for him because not in all cases and still that other person could in theory be in their life without them having to loose their bio father’s name, support and kinship to his relatives. That loss is more ego driven than anything else. If they were acting i the best interest of the child the child would loose nothing and wind up gaining from any other additional partners their parents might have on and off throughout their lives.

                  • The man doesn’t get the woman pregnant his sperm does via some type of non sexual insemination.

                    There is no disadvantage the sperm donor is at. He has no interest in parenting that child. That contract protects him, protects the child’s parents and protects the child in that they’ll know who conceived them and who are their parents.

                    Children whose parents are divorced lose their ability to be raised by both parents. They are inconviently jerked around by their divorced parents being forced to live with one parent while the other parent gets visitation rights. If the parents were acting in the best interest of the child they would have worked out their differences prior to having their child. Divorce is basically ego driven by parents who had no business having a child with an unstable marriage. I don’t think we should outlaw divorce because of that. That would be silly.

                  • How do you know he has no interest in raising his own offspring? What if today he feels like getting a whole bunch of strange women pregnant and abandoning their kids when they are born but tomorrow he thinks better of it and no longer wishes to reproduce with any strange women. Does he have to reproduce with them? Shouldn’t he have the bodily autonomy to change his mind require his sperm back and break his promise? You don’t think the clinic bought his reproductive rights from him do you? You don’t think they own his body and can do whatever they want with it do you? If he changes his mind or has specific requirements about how his body is to be utilized they are suppose to follow his wishes to the T because they have not purchased his body or his rights or his authority.

                  • Technically, once people lose control of cells that were once part of their body, they cannot ask for them back.

                    Hair, cells, dandruff, donating a kidney — once it has left your body, its legal status changes. In some cases it is abandoned property (dandruff/ short hair after a haircut) and in other cases it is property that one has sold (long hair sold to a wig shop.)

                    Under the legal code, gametes are treated as property, once they are removed from the body and stored in a clinic or sperm bank. Technically, you can transfer the property title of gametes under the American legal code.

                • Also more on iron clad. Governed by the anatomical gifts act it can’t really be iron clad like you say otherwise the donor would be selling himself into slavery. The slavery aspect of gamete donation, cloning, embroy donation is discussed at length in the reports by the President’s Committee on Bio Ethics.

                  Reproductive freedom the right change your mind about getting a woman pregnant is absolute. If there is an understanding that you promised to get your wife pregnant today but you found out she was having an affair you might decide to break your promise. You might decide to break your promise for no reason at all it’s entirely up to you. Well a promise to get any woman pregnant even if given in writing is not binding upon a man – so he can promise to get her pregnant even sell her his sperm, but he can change his mind and take his sperm back if he want’s no court would force him to cause her to get pregnant he is not her slave she does not own his body or reproductive rights, he is free. She’s either pregnant or she’s not and if she is not he has every right to take measures to prevent her from becomming pregnant even if he had earlier promised in writing that he wanted her to become pregnant wanted to have offspring with her (or the random women who select him to father their children as sperm banks in general). It’s just men don’t really understand that they still have that right. I’d love to see a run on the banks. The banks would have to give back their sperm even if they had sold it. Because really nobody can own someone else’s body parts. Officially what people are paying for is the FDA testing and the glass vile and the storage and the marketing and promotion but his body remains his always. People would be really pissed off but there is no iron clad about it, they are not being paid for their sperm. They are paid for their time. So also Greg you cannot make their pre birth contract to abandon their offspring and parental obligation be iron clad because what they are being reimbursed for is their time not the children or the parental rights or obligations they agree to give up. And according to contract law Julie correct me if I am wrong, but a contract without consideration is not a contract, that is to say there is no there there. They would not be able to bind a woman on her word to give up her offspring at birth and allow false claims of maternity to go unchallenged – they could not say well she promised and we gave her $30,000, well aparently that is not valuable consideration in exchange for her parental obligations, rights or title so the promise is not something she could be held to. It’s her body and they are her offspring do we want to live in a state where we can sell our personal rights and have that be enforced by the court? Sell our kids and have that be enforced by the court?

                  • The idea is to get people to think before they donate beyond just the money. I think it will lead to there being more responsible caring donors. In the end everyone benefits from that.

                  • This is a display of a deep ignorance about the law of slavery and indentured servitude.

                  • I’m obviously referring to Marilynn’s comment. I don’t think Julie is going to engage you on this, as she has already indicated that it was not useful to continue the discussion on these threads, after things got on the border of uncivil.

                    Honestly, I don’t know why I’m commenting. My comments about the law are not engaged.

                  • Tess these are direct quotes about the purpose of the 13th ammendmentttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thirteenth_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution

                    “The Thirteenth Amendment was not solely a ban on chattel slavery, but also covers a much broader array of labor arrangements and social deprivations.[151] As the U.S. Supreme Court explicated in the Slaughter-House Cases (1873) with respect to the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendment and the Thirteenth Amendment in special:

                    “Undoubtedly while negro slavery alone was in the mind of the Congress which proposed the thirteenth article, it forbids any other kind of slavery, now or hereafter. If Mexican peonage or the Chinese coolie labor system shall develop slavery of the Mexican or Chinese race within our territory, this amendment may safely be trusted to make it void. And so if other rights are assailed by the States which properly and necessarily fall within the protection of these articles, that protection will apply, though the party interested may not be of African descent. But what we do say, and what we wish to be understood is, that in any fair and just construction of any section or phrase of these amendments, it is necessary to look to the purpose which we have said was the pervading spirit of them all, the evil which they were designed to remedy, and the process of continued addition to the Constitution, until that purpose was supposed to be accomplished, as far as constitutional law can accomplish it.[152]”

                    Donor offspring and adopted people are forced labor and their identifying paperwork is withheld. It’s pretty clear they have a legit position and its not like I am the only person to make that suggestion. Daughter of a Donor was going after her government to change her records long before I ever found her blog.

                  • Are DC and adopted people all being forced into sweat shops as child labor? LOL, these discussions are becoming a joke when these ridiculous arguments are being thrown out there.

                    What’s happened with Daughter of Donor is what happens with many vulnerable people where a hate group distracts them from why they are hurting and uses them for their own hurtful destructive cause. Hitler did it when he used his hate for people of Jewish dissent to distract his people from the true cause of the Great Depression. A great movie on this is American History X. At the end of the movie Edward Norton realizes the hate is non sense and a distraction.

                    Now Daughter of Donor is not being convinced to exterminate non biological parents but she is being persuaded to hate non biological parents and those unable to have children. She is being persuaded that if she can change the laws that her true hurt will go away when in reality no law change or elimination of donor conception will help her cope with her hurt.

                  • I am not without expertise on these matters.

                    You don’t understand _Slaughterhouse_. You don’t understand the 13th or 14th Amendment. You don’t understand the history of the slave code. Nor do you understand the law of master and servant. I’ve attempted to explain the points of law to you. It’s clear you are not interested in the law.

                    I will no longer waste my time and my teaching skills attempting to explain these legal concepts to you. If you wish to learn more, you may enroll at a a law school or otherwise find an expert in Constitutional Law to explain these matters to you.

                    Let’s simply leave it at this:

                    You don’t understand the legal differences between slavery, indentured servitude, and non-citizenship.

                    There are plenty of non-citizens who are not enslaved people. Every person with a green card is a non-citizen. Permanent residents do not hold the status of enslaved people. Your claims about the law are in error.

                    You don’t understand the concept of citizenship. Nor do you want to understand it, because you aren’t interested in the law. You want to make rhetorical flourishes in your arguments.

                    You think I am making a rhetorical point to “win the argument” when I explain a point of law on which there is general consensus and precedent in the legal community.

                    I felt some sort of a moral “duty” to explain the law of slavery and the 13th and 14th Amendment to you.

                    But I did not understand you simply wished to make rhetorical flourishes. As you are not interested in learning about the subject, I will no longer waste my time.

                • But how do you propose to check out the back ground of the non bio parent to make sure they are well suited to raising this other person’s offsprinng? And what about the fact that the non bio person is actually paying a fee and that fee is discussed in an agreement that also includes an agreement to abandon parental obligations for their offspring. Why should that not be seen as child selling?

                  • I mean if it’s not child selling why not remove any reference to parental obligation and parental title completely or make it absolutely clear that the gamete donation agreement is in no way an agreement to abandon parental responsibilities or parental title and that it should not be interpreted as a means by which a person might obtain parental title or custody of the donor’s offspring. That way it would not be misconstrued as child selling

                  • Why should there be a background check on the non biological parent? The child is going to be born into that family. I mean if you are going to do a background check on them then every person who wants to conceive a child needs to have a background check on them.

                  • Greg a non-biological parent winds up with parental authority over his spouse’s offspring. If they did not collude to falsify the child’s medical records naming the husband as a bio father, he would have the legal status of step father with legal authority going to the actual father of the child meeting the base line definition of father. That husband and the father would need to go through some hoops in order for the step father to be approved as an adoptive step parent. Why should those steps be short cut? What is this “born into the family” thing? Its still not the child’s paternal family.

                  • The non biological parent is unfairly persecuted because they lack a genetic connection to the child. Again if you are going to do that for them then it needs to be done for anyone who conceives a child.

                    This goes back to your hate for non biological parents that you have yet to answer why you have so much hate for them.

                  • Greg, let me personalize this for you. Lets say after many years of fertility treatments a discovery was made that could invigorate your own gametes and allowed you to have a couple of vials of healthy sperm on cryo preserve and your wife had some eggs on cryo preserve. You had them create a small number of embryos also on cryo preserve. She gets pregnant and looses the baby midway and they tell you to wait a while before transferring the remaining embryo.

                    You get a call that your remaining embryo was damaged and they are sorry. A couple years later you go to fertilize your wife’s eggs, you make an embryo she get’s pregnant and you start raising your kid. Kid does not look like you or her. Maybe you don’t care or maybe you do paternity/maternity tests and find out that you are raising someone else’s biological child. You love this child as your own but get word that the clinic had transferred another couple’s embryo to your wife by mistake. The biological parents of the child are trying to get your names find out where their child is.

                    Meanwhile the University informs you that they are under investigation for having misappropriated the gametes and embryo’s of hundreds of patients and they have reason to believe that your 100% Italian heritage was unique enough that they created a donor profile for you and sold your sperm to at least 10 families and they are aware of 20 births in the U.S., Europe and Central America. customers all over the world. The embryo they’d told you was damaged was actually sold for $25K to a 56 year old spinster woman in Florida who was looking to raise a child with the unique ethnic combination that you and your wife have. The clinic took the opportunity to sell your embryo make a profit and just gave you any old extra grade B embryo from some other white couple knowing that you would not notice that you were raising someone else’s child for at least a few years and by then the Doctors at the Clinic would have already fled the country to South America.

                    This is the real life nightmare that patients at U.C. Irvine are living through. That patients at OHSU are living through. That patients all over the country are having to deal with their children gone being raised by other people who think they are either raising their own kid or think they bought gametes from a willing donor or got an embryo from willing donors.

                    As much as having your own children means to you, are you really prepared to say that your offspring should have no right to have you and your wife identified as their parents? That your offspring should not be entitled to kinship within your family? That your offspring might have been able to be purchased by a 56 year old woman who wanted to experience what parenthood would be like? How would you feel about having your children spread out all over the world and you not be allowed to know their names? Do you think its fair that your offspring would not have been entitled to have you named as their father on their birth records? Do you really think having their mother’s husband’s named father is justice when you could have been named and their mother’s husband would have had legal step father status?

                    Spin this and put this in perspective for yourself because people just like you and your wife are victimized by the anonymity of this buisiness

                  • None of that makes any sense whatsoever in the context of this discussion. Your opinions on the banning of any ART is not relevant to this particular case. Another discussion that has jumped the shark.

                • So then why not make all people born have to have been the object of a preconeption agreement before identifying anyone as having parental authority over a person? OK if it all has to be sorted out in a contract pre birth then how can we as a society make sure that everyone has the pre birth contract your are talking about? Should a judge have to approve the whole thing at birth anyway? Remember here a person’s life hangs in the balance they might end up being raised by crazy people who paid a fee to an agency who paid a fee to a guy not to raise his kid. What if the guy they got the sperm from turned out to be a non consenting patient and wanted to raise his child?

                • G,
                  like most states, would you draw the line of sperm donor by whether sexual intercourse took place or not? why or why not? in most states, no matter what the parties agreed, if the conception took place via sexual intercourse the contract becomes meaningless. do you agree with that?
                  also, why wouldn’t you accept a contract that was drawn up during a pregnancy? why is that unacceptable?

                  • K,

                    In the 18th and 19th century, the law viewed sexual actions as causing responsibility for parental support or damages. Seduction, which was a tort and later a crime, falls in this category. Likewise, fornication and parental support also falls into this legal tradition.

                    A sperm donor performs no individual, direct action with a woman. In effect, a donor abandons his sperm, which is then defined by the law as, essentially, “abandoned property.” Others then perform the culpable actions. Thus, the state cannot claim the sperm donor as a culpable individual. I don’t see why a doctor would need to be involved to follow this line of legal reasoning.

                  • don’t know anything about legal history, but this doesn’t seem to correclty reflect the current legal state of affairs.
                    it isn’t abandoned at all, it was given to the woman for the express purpose of conception.
                    contrast that to sperm that is truly abandoned- say in a condom- and lots of courts will find the man to be a legal parent.
                    (although that may change as using ART as a model, courts may being to prioritize intent over outcome)

                    whats more, describing sperm as property becomes highly problematic when trying to transfer that status to a real live child.

                  • But the law defines sperm as property. This isn’t my idea.

                    As to whether theoretically the law would define the sperm as abandoned property or not, that’s up for scholarly debate, but I think that is the classification it would fall under in many cases.

                    Kansas is following the principle of “actions”, in that a doctor must be involved — thus the “actions” of insemination are directed away from the donor in a clear way.

                    This legal principle of “actions” is why a sperm donation in a doctor’s office cuts off any parental claims from a sperm donor. Lawyers will recommend the use of a doctor if a couple or an individual wishes to use sperm donation, because the use of a doctor is a fool-proof way to demonstrate the absence of “actions” or the “culpability” of the sperm donor.

                  • K,

                    I think in the case of sperm donation for the protection of all parties including the child, I believe you need to have everything worked out prior to conception. All parties need to be prepared for what they are getting into. I think there are too many complications that could happen after the conception takes place that could make for a messy negotiation much like you see with divorces.

                    I would draw the line if any sexual act took place between the sexual parties. If sexual intercourse took place then no contract is necessary nor should it be valid. Like let’s say a married woman had an affair and got pregnant and carried that pregnancy to term. That man she had an affair with IMO should be legally responsible for that child as their father.

                • Well then we agree that all needs to be made crystal clear and in a manner that is legally recognized. However I would suggest that the timing- whether before or after pregnancy- doesn’t really affect the clarity of the thing. This blog alone is full of cases is which the things people agreed to at the outset, didn’t hold up in real life, because it didn’t reflect the way people often feel once a child is real, as opposed to existing only in potential.
                  What’s more, even if things remain crystal clear to the adults, they may still create a jungle of confusion for the child as to how to relate to the various people in its life and out of it, especially if they feel differently than the way their parents want them to feel.
                  So, if the issue is crystal clarity, I would say that no identified man should be considered a sperm donor. If you are known and identifiable, you are a legal father.

                  • I think the timing of it being before conception that is laid out does provide a clear understanding at the outset that it’s final and no one can change their mind. How a child relates to certain people in life is no different in any family. Life is complicated families are more complicated. So I don’t see that as an issue.

                  • G, I see from your posts on this thread you are very keen on people being made aware of your exceptional pain to the point of expecting the law to accomodate it. But other people- well life is confusing they should just suck it up. (excuse me). something a bit unfair about it.

                  • My situation has nothing to do with the context of the questions you are asking me and our discussion. I wasn’t implying they should just suck it up. I just believe with divorce and other things that break up and complicate families. What you were describing in terms of who to call what are issues in almost all families deal with so I don’t believe it’s exclusive to sperm donation. That’s all I was saying.

                  • K,
                    You are assuming that a child with a known donor will find the experience painful or confusing.

                    That is an assumption, and until there are studies, we don’t have any data on if it is confusing to children.

                    I personally know people whose children are in contact and visit with their egg donor. The children do not relate to the donor as a mother. The children will tell other adults: “this is the nice woman who gave my parents a seed”, ect.

                    Now, again, I do not promote this as data — merely a personal example. Until a study comes out on adult children we will not know how they feel or if they are confused.

                    But beware of assumptions that are not backed up by data.

                  • perhaps we just hang around with different sort of people, but having an uncle who is really a father or a father who is really an uncle, whom one is supposed to sort of like but never too much, well no, perhaps its only in my social circle of course, but no that is not something standard that all families go through.

                  • The families appear to be happy. Of course, I do not know that they are, indeed, happy.

                    But, at this point, I think it is quite possible these families will continue in their happiness.

                    It seems to me that family formation is always a risk. There were many warnings about gay parents adopting or fostering children 20 years ago, and that appears to have been a lot of nonsense. It seem to me that fear of change — that fear of new family ties — that fear of new life — is a sin.

                    I do not think it is wise to act out of fear.

                  • K,

                    How about in divorced families where a child rarely sees their dad and calls their step dad their dad? That’s what I was referring to more so. That’s the complication of most families today with divorce rates being what they are.

                  • Interesting you bring up the stepfamilies model because in the past I have referred to the non biological parent as a stepparent (in cases where there is no clear statute giving them the legal status of parent). and some people found it very offensive.
                    I actually prefer the stepfamilies model because it does not attempt to deny the parenthood of one of the biological parents- its just about adding another person to the mix. Legally speaking, if one of the group did try to deny the biological parents relationship (unfitness aside) the law would stand unequivocally with the biological parent.
                    This being said, its also known that stepfamilies are less stable than nuclear families. makes sense- adding more people to the mix, more egos, more conflict potential. some people might take it as an indication that excluding the so-called known sperm donor, is better, i take it as an indication that it’s not a great path to embark on in the first place.

                    Which is not to say that it can never work out.

                  • regarding cases in which children are abandoned by their biological father, well i view their father as a crumb. If another person is able to fill the role of the abdicating parent, it surely ameliorates the wound.

                    but If he was pushed out by their mother than their mother is the crumb.

            • So Greg you believe that people’s bio parents have the final say in what rights a person will or will not have at birth? You don’t think all people should be born with the same rights – rather that their parents (of the medically relevant type) have absolute authority to gamble away, contract away their various rights and personal freedoms so that at birth they won’t have the same rights as other people? Minors are not suppose to have to do anything or be anyone other than the offspring of their bio parents in order to have a legal right to room and board, care and support etc for 18 years. So you believe that a bio parent can actually sign away a minors right to free room and borard for 18 years by signing a contract that agrees to allow the minor to be assigned a false identity where they have to play the roll of someone else’s child, not just for 18 years but for the rest of their natural life in exchange for valuable consideration or just as a charitable gift. Wow so bio parents should be able to contract away various rights of their offspring if they are in need of some fast cash or are just feeling really generous? That is a really sucky exploitive way to approach the rights everyone gets at birth.

              • They are born with the same rights. We’ve been through this silly argument before. No use in jumping the shark again.

              • Marilynn,

                Now, you may be talking about rights in a different way, but if you are speaking of U.S. Constitutional rights you are in error. All children have equal legal rights at birth.

                Furthermore, in the United States:

                1) There is no constitutional right that allows minors to choose their legal parents.
                2) There is no constitutional right to a genetic connection.
                3) There is no constitutional right to medical information of one’s genetic forebears.

                If you want to add a new right to the U.S. Constitution, you will need to amend the Constitution.

                • Tess I want to change the laws that treat the offspring of donors different with regard to their expectations of their bio parents as well as in denying them due process before recognizing anyone other than their bio p0arent as a legal parent. Just follow the same procedures

                  • marilyn i fear the law may go in the opposite direction; using ART as a model the law may eventually decide to equalize things in that no child of unmarried persons will have any legal father, except at the request of the mother. ART brings us back to the victorian age.

                  • You would be changing the laws for DC to be treated differently not the same. They are being treated the same.


                    ART is helping people have children. Because of how polluted our environment is fertility is declining. Until we address those issues, I don’t think people should be denied becoming parents. This is something those who were physically able to have their own children would never understand or empathize with.

                  • Kisarita I think you may be correct. The medical and social benefits of having one’s biological parents identified and held accountable as parents is stated clearly in the Uniform Parentage Act. The whole purpose of the act was to equalize the rights of every person born to care and support by both biological parents whether they were married to one another or not. That would have been great if they would have stopped there, but they did not stop there. They equalized the rights of all people to care and support from their biological parents with the exception of persons that are the offspring of therapeutic donors. The offspring of donors absolutely fall into the broad category of persons whose biological parents are unmarried. Nobody needs the protections outlined in the Uniform Parentage Act more than they do, yet they have specifically been called out as a group and excluded from legal protections and and benefits given to other persons whose parents are either married or unmarried. This is horribly unfair considering that the act outlines the importance of identifying the biological parents and their families for the exchange of medical information and for the sense of heritage one gets by being raised within their own biological families. It is clear that the first order of business is to protect the right of a person to care and support from both biological parents and then if that is not possible the act outlines the procedures for awarding custody and parental authority to persons other than the minor’s biological parents. The act is specific about the importance of holding actual biological parents accountable for the care and support of their own offspring whether or not they are married to one another.

                    The Act exempts some biological parents who donated gametes, from accountability for their offspring as parents and that exemption results in their offspring being entitled to care and support from a biologcal parent that was not a gamete donor. The loss of rights is always present but is most visible when their rearing bio parent has no spouse or partner because they have only one legal source of parental care and support. Minors who appear to have only one parent on their birth record generally retain their right to care and support from both bio parents and in the event the absent bio parent is ever located they would be still fully accountable as parents for them.

                    The UPA excludes donor offspring from legal recognition of kinship in their biological families and from care and support by their bio parents that is valuable for a sense of heritage and for ongoing exchange of medical information. It’s as if the act forgets that donors are human and that their offspring have identical needs to other human offspring. Donor offspring are treated as half human with half the rights of other humans – their rights flow exclusively through a rearing bio parent. If they have no rearing bio parent they have no human rights at all and are an object that does not deserve any of the protection afforded to other minors before assigning parental authority to someone other than their bio parents. Who ever bought them gets to pretend to be their parent. It’s bad enough when its just one person pretending to be their bio parent, but when two people do it or when one old woman does it – it just really highlights the lack of respect for their human dignity.

                  • G,
                    I am sorry if you feel I am minimizing your pain.
                    However it is a fact that *NOT* everyone feels as you do, some infertile couples do in fact decide not to have children with persons outside of their marriage, including a number who I am intimately acquainted with.

                  • May I ask whether you have children that you were able to conceive yourself?

                    If you do, you are being naive if you believe those people are really happy.

                  • oh i do not mean to disagree with you. certainly they may have great pain. my point was that despite that, they do not consider it their absolute need and right to reproduce with outside persons.
                    agree that on a state level, reproductive policy is often dictated by demographic concerns, and I’m sort of ok with it, not 100% but sort of.
                    i apologize for not sharing my personal story, i am not comfortable doing that.

                  • No, they have pain. It’s not “may” have pain. They have pain. Whether they choose to share it with you is a different story.

                    I apologize if you thought I was asking for a life story. I wasn’t. It’s a simple yes or no question. I’m not asking any specifics of it just a yes or in as to whether you have children that you conceived.

                  • K,
                    That’s an interesting point. I would have to think on it further.

                    An equal protection argument (gender) deriving from the 14th Amendment and state constitutions can (and has) been made to place lesbian parents on the birth certificate.

                    See _Gartner v. Iowa Department of Public Health_ for the birth certificate case and _Varnum v. Brien_ for elaboration on equal protection in Iowa’s state constitution.

                    The arguments about equal protection will not do what Marilynn thinks it will do in terms of birth certificate. The equal protection argument supports the placement of non-biological parents on the birth certificate. In short, the 14th Amendment will hurt Marilynn’s cause, not help her.

                    A successful equal protection claim, based on gender inequality, is a constitutional claim, and it will trump any law, including the Uniform Parentage Act.

                  • Greg,
                    K. has a baby. I don’t think this is a secret, as Marilynn has discussed K’s new baby on the blog during a blog discussion on environmental factors and infertility.

                    It may be difficult for those who have a babe in arm to fully understand the experience of those who will never experience such a blessing.

                  • that’s correct Tess, I have mentioned my son (i brought it up, not marilyn) in a post concerning environmental factors. I did not describe there the circumstances of his conception nor the journey getting there, nor my feelings about it after the fact. Nor do I wish to answer G’s question being as it touches on sensitive, personal, issues an as his question is posed as a rhetorical challenge and not in a sense of sharing. If his question was posed in a sense of sharing, i may or may not have chosen to respond, but i would have most probably done so in private.

                  • K,

                    The reason I asked was to understand whether you were childless and were speaking from your own personal experience or whether you were just assuming what other childless couples experience. I didn’t want to assume. I’d be happy to read your experience. But if it is something you aren’t comfortable with, I understand.

                    With you having a child, I don’t believe you are qualified to assume what other childless by circumstance couples go through. No offense, you just aren’t. Though that is not relevant to this discussion so I won’t say anything more on this.

                  • you’re welcome to dialogue only with people who do not have children, if you so choose. but then don’t complain about losing friends. even the friends you make through infertility circles because some of them will have children eventually.

                  • You wrote: “However it is a fact that *NOT* everyone feels as you do, some infertile couples do in fact decide not to have children with persons outside of their marriage, including a number who I am intimately acquainted with.”

                    I understand not wanting to share in a public forum. I don’t understand the above statement, as Greg is exploring childlessness and adoption. In any case, clearly there is not a uniform belief system that every infertile person follows.

                    For example, would any of us be surprised if strict Catholics, who were infertile, avoided any kind of ART treatment in order to not violate their religious belief system?

                    That said — there are clearly multiple belief systems, and I see no evidence to date that any one particular religion (or ethical code) has all of the “correct” answers.

                  • K,
                    Greg isn’t cutting off conversation with others.

                    But it’s true, for many things (a violent death of a parent, battlefield experience, a cancer diagnosis, infertility) that if you have not experienced it yourself, you may have difficulty relating to that experience.

                    It’s also difficult to say how one will react. No soldier knows how they will react under live fire until they are in that situation.

                    There is a reason veterans prefer to talk to one another about war experiences. Civilians can have difficulty relating to the complexity.

                    But Greg’s blog is there to educate others. He is invested in dialoging with others.

                  • It’s not about only dialoging with people who are childless by circumstance. It’s about those who have children not assuming those who are childless by circumstance lead happy painless lives. I interact with many people that have gone through infertility that have children who are empathetic and don’t assume that those of us who can’t are painless. They are far more empathetic and understanding than you are. You have no idea what I and others are going through.

                    Whether or not I lose friends is none of your concern. I maybe outcasted by some at some point because we have nothing in common with them. But they will continue to use my tax dollars to subsidize their children’s education and I will continue to take on the workload in the workplace because those who have children won’t.

                  • Did I ever say painless????
                    and once again, I do not have to hold up my personal experience for you to judge as meeting your preferred threshold of pain, for you to take my opinion seriously.

                  • K,
                    I read up through the thread, and I cannot find your opinion that you feel Greg is ignoring.

                    What is your opinion/claim? Was it that other infertile couples chose not to use 3PR? (It’s not clear if they remained childless, or if they are pursuing adoption.)

                    Was it simply that other infertile people may chose not to use 3PR for religious, moral, or personal reasons?

                    But I do not understand why someone else (Greg or any other person) ought to feel obliged to a religion or belief system that is not their own.

                    I respect that these couples made different choices for ethical, religious, or personal reasons. But I do not understand why a stranger would feel any obligation to follow a belief system or religion alien to their own.

                  • Tess, there is also no Constitutional right to fornication or to adultery, meaning no right to donor conception or intentional unmarried conception. Lawrence was not about heterosexual intercourse, only homosexual behavior by homosexuals in privacy of home.
                    It’s true that legitimacy/illegitimacy distinction was struck down for equal protection reasons and unmarried fathers are now held to the same obligations as married fathers, but in no stretch of the imagination was that ruling intended or interpreted to mean a right to intentional unmarried procreation.

                  • John Howard,

                    No, you are asserting something that is not a true statement. You may wish SCOTUS would interpret the Constitution in a different way.

                    But the legal precedents are very clear.

                    You disagree with Constitutional law as it is presently understood by the legal system.

                  • Fertile, heterosexual, people, who themselves bear children, and in time expect to surround themselves with grandchildren — apparently some of them want to impose their beliefs onto others.

                    They expect people to bear the pain of their beliefs systems and religion. They do not care if we are aliens to their religion or belief systems.

                    They want to get into people’s most intimate personal affairs, and mandate the structure of their family and their reproductive choices, their marital lives, and their marriage choices.

                    But those people will not be there for the consequences.

                    Whether the choice is to have or not have an abortion, marry the person of your choice, or remain without legal children — these people who want to get into the person affairs of others. But they will not be around to clean up the mess.

                    They will not be there to help, if you chose not to have an abortion, and bear a child with Tay-Sachs. They will not wipe away your tears in the hospital when your child dies.

                    They will not be there as your loyal companion if you cannot marry the person you love. But they expect you to go without a legal wife or a husband, because it violates their religious belief system. Do not expect them to care for you when you are sick, or celebrate anniversaries with you. They will be happy and content with their own heterosexual and fertile families.

                    And they will not be there to comfort your or wipe away your tears if you never have a legal child. They will not celebrate the holidays, or Christmas, or Passover with you. They will not be there for you in your old age. They will be busy with their own families.

                    And they will not be there when you have no grandchildren. Do not expect them to be overly-sympathetic and wipe away your tears. They will react precisely at they do on this blog.

                    Finally – they will not arrange your funeral. They will not bring flowers. And do not expect them to remember you with significance beyond that of a friend. Do not expect them to mourn you as family does — because you have no family left alive.


                    Your judgement is cold comfort to one who does not receive your fertile blessings. You will not be there to clean up the mess. They will have no wives! no husband! no children! no grandchildren! They will have to live with the wreckage of their lives.

                    And if one does not share your belief system — why would you expect one to take you seriously if you will not be there to help others through the pain you would enforce on them? You have your own family, and your own life.

                    But do not expect others to sabotage their own lives, for a belief system that they do not share.

                  • K,

                    You had a choice to remain childless or have a child. You choose the latter. If being childless is such a wonderful happy life that even friends of yours enjoy, why didn’t you choose it?

                    Here is the thing. I don’t judge or resent you for having children but you can sit here and say that leading a childless life by circumstance is a wonderful happy life when you yourself had the choice and didn’t choose it.

                  • thanks for running interference Tess, but you will have to ask G what he got so bent out of shape about. Indeed I can not fathom there is anything controversial about what I said.

                  • oh it was miserable. absolutely miserable.
                    as for the choices that I had I’m really not willing to discuss them in this format. you can invent whatever history for me as seems appropriate to you. I’ve never denied your pain though you seem hell bent on denying mine whatever it might be. if I expressed my opinion a bit too stridently, well then I truly apologize. I must take care to use gentle wording knowing that people are hurting.

                  • btw tess i don’t know why you think this is about religion. I’m not catholic, I’m Jewish, and Judaism is rather accepting of gamete donation as well as viewing infertility as one of the most horrible fates that can befall a human being.

                  • K,
                    I stated alien belief systems, religious or ethical.

                    I was not speaking of you in particular, but in general terms. In some cases religion is conflated with ethical belief systems. In other cases, moral choices are not an outgrowth of religious beliefs. They are often interrelated in complicated ways, but they are not necessarily related.

                    I was speaking of people, who hold belief systems alien to oneself, who wish to impose their views onto the most intimate choices of other people.

                    These choices, which other people wish to impose, often include reproduction (contraception, abortion, 3PR), marital choices, and decisions about children (adoption, 3PR, numbers of children to bear, when to bear children, whether to bear children).

                    If one decides to be a martyr, one must not expect these people to care for you in your old age. They will be occupied with their own lives and families.

                    And one should not expect undue amounts of sympathy. People have a limited amount of sympathy for those undergoing tragedy. People, particularly strangers, have their own agendas, and care little for your pain.

                    In short, it is a general understanding that others have very little patience for people undergoing tragedy, and beware of accepting alien belief systems as your own.

                    I have always been wary (and enraged) by those who attempt to impose their viewpoints on the most intimate matters of my life. I possess my own ethical belief system and I am a member of the religion of my birth. I do not allow others to impose their systems onto me, be it an alien religion or an alien moral system. I listen with interest to view points that I might respect. But I do not allow others to impose their own beliefs in place of my own.

                    Quite frankly, I think it’s odd that people do attempt to control the most intimate business of other people. It’s the one thing that they cannot control, and perhaps that is why there is so much sturm und drang surrounding the most personal and intimate choices of individuals.

                  • K,

                    The only comment that bothered me was you saying that not everyone feels as I do. It’s as if you were saying that I’m crazy and wrong for feeling the way I do.

                    Your choices whatever they were choices. You had the option of having a child and not having a child. Not everyone has those options. You choose having a child and that is your right. I’m not getting into attacking your feelings or personal situation. All I am saying is that your perspective is very different than one who is childless by circumstance. I’m sorry if you felt I was attacking you or judging you that’s not at all what I was trying to do.

                  • G; If I chose my wording poorly so as to imply that you are wrong or crazy for feeling as you do, than I absolutely apologize. This was in no way my intent.
                    I still resent you trying to push my boundaries about my personal life. Even if I’m the OctoMom, it’s really no one’s business. However, I get that you responded that way out of a sense of being attacked.
                    It’s too bad that you feel that once having a child, a person can never relate to what you feel. It’s hurtful to me because I visited your blog and there was a whole lot there that really spoke to some of my experiences. In fact, I don’t think I said anything that you didn’t already say on your blog. Surely you don’t believe everyone in the whole world thinks as you do. You write about how even you and your wife feel differently about certain things. You write in admiration of people struggling to assimilate their losses and build fulfilling lives. Things like that.

                  • K,

                    It’s my belief that those who go through infertility but are still able to have biological children have a different perspective than those who are never able to. That doesn’t mean I believe that those who went through infertility and had children didn’t experience any pain or grief, it’s just different. I envy their strength to have gone through what they did surviving it. I consider my wife and I lucky we never went through that. Our circumstance is/was much different, not worse or easier just different.

                    So no, I think while I may identify with some things others who have gone through infertility and had children experiences. They can not identify or understand what it’s like to not have the option of going through treatments and having the possibility of having a biological child. They do not understand what it’s like to live a childless life for their entire adult life.

                    I’m sorry that I upset you. I wasn’t trying to get into your personal life just wanted a yes or no answer to get a better sense of whether you personally were living a happy child free life or whether you were just assuming that those childless by circumstance lived happy fulfilling lives.

                  • K,

                    I do think there are some experiences which other people cannot fully understand if one has not experienced it.

                    A cancer diagnosis, infertility, and the violent death of a loved one all fall into this category. I don’t mean that one cannot sympathize with a cancer survivor, but it’s impossible to know what it’s like for a person, if you’ve never lived with that diagnosis or that tragedy.

                    It’s not a insult, but it’s just an unfortunate fact — it is an experience that is difficult for others to fully understand. Infertility is more difficult for people to understand then cancer. People find it easier to “get” what it’s like to live with a diagnosis of cancer, but find it much harder to grasp the experience of infertility.

                  • “It’s too bad that you feel that once having a child, a person can never relate to what you feel.”

                    I think people who have children have a very difficult time relating to those who cannot have children.

                    I thought it was a bit insensitive for people on this blog to speak about their children when topics of infertility are frequently discussed. People are empathetic with the experience of infertility are much more sensitive.

                    It’s people who do not understand who do not understand the pain others might experience. They do not mean to be insensitive or cause pain — but they are simply ignorant as to how their comments about children or babies or their own blessed fertility might cause others pain.

                    I tend to discount any opinions of people who have children about any issue that relates to infertility, because very few show empathy in a way that displays their understanding of the situation. (I don’t mean they don’t try. But they simply do not understand and cannot comprehend.)

                  • G, thank you for your response. and especially for backing off of my experience. You are right, we do not truly walk in another’s shoes, in some ways intersect but in other important ways diverge. however that does not mean that another person has nothing of value to offer us. Once again, I apologize if my choice of words came off as dismissive of what you are going through and I repeat that was in no way my intention. again, i don’t see how my comments were all that different from some on your blog. perhaps it does sound different coming from someone not in the same boat?
                    But Tess now you seem to have taken over G you do not know my experience or know anything about my life story so please stop acting like you do. I appreciate your comment that folks should limit posting about their kids when possible. I’m actually tempted to post far more often about it than I do but usually I supress the urge. No I do not think you are mean and perhaps should have spoken up sooner, Marilyn that was you i think and it was rather out of order.

                  • “perhaps it does sound different coming from someone not in the same boat?”

                    That’s exactly the case. If you notice my interactions with those who are childless and happy are very different. If you had said that you didn’t have children my tone would have been much different. That’s the reason I asked. If you were childless I didn’t want argue about your childless life experience. I did a piece on what drives those who are infertile to go to extremes to have children over the weekend. One person who ended up living a childless by circumstance life who is happy disagreed with me that childless by circumstance people can’t be happy. I didn’t question then but instead engaged in a discussion with them.

                    It’s all good. I respect your boundaries and believe you respect mine.

                  • K,
                    I am not talking about you and I’m not talking about Greg. I am talking about my experience on the blog. The ad hominem attacks have been continuous. They did not come from you. But I have had enough of my treatment in the comments.

                  • I am sorry that this has been your experience AND I am sorry to have you leave. One always does wish things could be different and that we could manage to agree to disagree without things degrading as they sometimes do.

                    To the extent I bear responsibility here (for not being a more active moderator, for not insisting on a higher tone) I apologize. And I hope that in time you may find something that tempts you back into the conversation.

                    At the same time I entirely understand your choice. I think you need to do what you have to do to take care of yourself first and foremost. Some of the conversations here, interesting though they are, are unlikely to really change minds and so when they become unpleasant and assaultive, it’s time to go.

                    Be well. Come back anytime if you want.

                    Sent from Surface

    • Why do you think parental obligation should be optional for some bio parents but not all? What is it about the pre-birth agreement that appeals to you and makes it seem like there would be no benefit to following adoption protocol? We have the presence of a couple who has offspring together (they are the bio parents) and one of them or both of them don’t want to take parental responsibility for their offspring. Then we have one or two unrelated individuals who would like to have parental authority over the offspring of the parents who don’t want to raise the kid. Getting the adults together prior to birth and having them agree that one or both bio parents won’t be raising their offspring is fine but why would that preclude actually going through the formal process once their offspring was born? Once the child is alive is when they need to be protected from being sold out of their family or purchased into another one or objectified in a private contract,

  7. question to you Julie: why does this outcome bother you? in the past you’ve stated you consider it fair for a sperm provider to have to pay child support even without having any relaitonship with the child. so what don’t you like about this ruling?

    • I’ll take a stab at that: Julie doesn’t like that the law makes an arbitrary distinction about requiring a doctor to do the insemination in order for him to be a sperm donor, because not all women have the resources or are aware of the law. She doesn’t like that the law goes against the wishes of the mother. I bet she doesn’t like how this means the man will be drawn in to the life of the child and possibly undermine the mother’s ownership of the child. Perhaps she doesn’t like that the man will be on the hook for money in spite of the agreement, as it would scare other men away from entering into agreements like that if they thought they might be rescinded by a judge. Perhaps she feels sympathy for the man’s unexpected financial hit, lessening his ability to support other people. Perhaps she feel the state should be more generous with child support and not make fathers responsible (which makes some sense, as some fathers are rich and others are poor so why should the kid’s support be tied to the income of whoever happens to be the biological father, when it would be more fair for all kids to get the same support from the state.)

      • As long as John stays away from the fire and brimstone he’s spot on. That’s a real accurate blunt assessment of it no beating around the bush.

      • Well you are being sarcastic at the end. The equal treatment lies simply in being entitled to care and support by the people that caused minor to be in a dependent position because if a person is responsible for creating a life they’re responsible for keeping that life alive until it can fend for itself. Rich or poor is one of those unfair things that citizens are not guaranteed to be rich they are guaranteed the opportunity to try

  8. Marilyn and all, next time why don’t we all try to stay on topic. I have many more things that i would have liked to discuss about this specific case but which would get lost under all the extraneous comments. This discussion in particular has a bit uncivil by more than one person, and I personally feel a bit violated. lets all behave ourselves and get on with the show.

    • I’ve frequently been a target of ad hominem attacks. I will be engaging about a legal issue and, and out of the blue I’ll be attacked in a personal way. This has happened quite frequently since this summer.

      I’ve found the commentariat a exceedingly unpleasant place, and quite frankly, I try to limit my comments to strictly legal statements because any further comment results in my being personally attacked.

      Please note the response to my comment about a family I grew up with, in which a daughter ceased to talk to her mother. My veracity was doubted, and I was attacked in a hostile manner. I cannot even understand the point of that attack, except to make me feel uncomfortable commenting.

  9. Wow this has gotten so tacky.

    I have a question with all this banter about people imposing morals and religion and imposing on people’s private lives like sex and reproduction. Ya’ll see the difference between sexual reproduction and child rearing don’t you? Private behavior becomes public concern if the behavior will interfere with other people’s freedom or legal expectations being met. That is why we have laws to strike a balance where people can do what they want without interference up until the point that doing what they want interferes with someone else doing what they want or interferes with someone else’s legal expectations not being met. So sex and reproduction is something within the relm of an individuals body – the government should only interfere in sex and reproduction with laws that say people can do it freely so long as they are not restricting or forcing anyone else to do something they don’t want to do. Morals and religious beliefs about sex and reproduction don’t apply broadly to all citizens – but a basic law that people have to abide by that says forcing or restricting other people in their freedom is illegal regardless of the act whether it is reproduction or education or whatever.
    So we have laws about raising minors not for moralistic or religious reasons but to ensure that people who reproduced to create them take care of them and if they don’t take care of them society has an interest in finding out why they are not taking care of them and society has an interest in ensuring that minor’s dignity and human rights and identity are not compromised in the process of finding someone else to raise them to adulthood.
    I submit that the offline back room agreements that allow unrelated people to be named on birth records as if biological parents are to the detriment of the minors in question because they still have bio parents who supposedly agreed not to raise them and in many instances were reimbursed for their time and trouble taken to produce the minor that they agree not to raise. It is really nothing more than advance sale of someone’s offspring and parental title, the actual deal does not go down until the child exists. Like selling someone a ticket to a concert next month, the person would not have paid for or wanted the piece of paper that is the ticket if it did not later on allow them to see the band they wanted to see. The ticket seller is in fact providing someone with a seat to sit in and watch a band and the seller is on some level promising to make good on the advance sale, they won’t shut the door and leave them outside the show next month. It is a contract for more than is described by the phrase gamete donation. I don’t see how anyone can view simple balance of obligations and rights for the protection of all parties involved to be some kind of moral crusade or religious imposition. Paying for custody and parental title over someone else’s offspring clearly objectifies their offspring whether the agreement was made before they were born or after is of no consequence, what matters is if the terms of the agreement were followed through on after the child existed – if the minor is not the offspring of the people with parental control then the proper protocal should be followed and it should be the same for everyone no matter how iron clad the agreement is prior to a person’s birth, the person does not need protecting until after they are born and so there should the protection start.
    but for the protection of the legislated to the extent that the behavior It’s the existence of a helpless defenseless dependent human being vulnerable to neglect and abuse, exploitation, objectification etc and therefore we should and do have laws that attempt to establish a chain of custody and custodial responsibilities to be followed if a person is not going to be raised by their biological parents.

  10. Tess said:
    “I thought it was a bit insensitive for people on this blog to speak about their children when topics of infertility are frequently discussed. People are empathetic with the experience of infertility are much more sensitive.”
    That is just over the top. You are not saying the obvious like people should not deliberately tease and poke fun of people’s physical conditions – you are saying that providing personal stories about either our own offspring or offspring of people we might come in contact with is insensitive because infertile individuals might be reading the blog because the blog covers legal topics that impact the methods by which an infertile person might gain parental authority over someone else’s offspring. It’s a family law blog and the focus should not be upon protecting the feelings of infertile individuals but protecting the rights the biological identities and freedoms of other people’s offspring that they wish to raise and gain parental authority over.
    Sensitivity to other people’s medical conditions is very important but they need to be working on solutions that don’t involve compromising the identity, the freedom, the kinship rights of other people. Their solution needs to not interfere with other people having medically accurate birth records for instance, which would mean not being named parents on the birth record of someone else’s offspring for instance. That is not being insensitive to infertile people, its saying the solution is not fair if it costs other people fair and equal treatment. We should do much more to solve infertility for real. I’ve benefited from real fertility treatments that help people’s own bodies to function properly (with lots of help bedrest, shots, etc). I’m all for focusing on fixing the medical problems that cause infertility, but that is something that won’t cause anyone else to have their rights and personal freedoms interfered with. At least in theory I can see no reason whiy finding a cure for a type of infertility would interfere with another person’s freedom or civil liberties.

    • Also of course the focus should be on balancing the law so that everyone’s rights are intact and nobody infringes on anyone’s freedoms or liberties. An example would be not restricting people’s access to fertility treatments just because of their sexual orientation. I do believe that things ought to be fair and consistent. For me it upon another

    • “It’s a family law blog and the focus should not be upon protecting the feelings of infertile individuals ”

      No, but there should be a respect for others feelings and perspectives. This is something that continues to be lost on you when it comes to conversations that bring up infertility and/or non biological parents. Maybe if your focus wasn’t on shredding others trying to win arguments but instead was on engaging in a civil respectful dialogue you would engage in a more meaningful discussion.

      Look at K and I we had a misunderstanding but were able to work through it because our focus all along was in having a meaningful discussion not shredding others to win an argument.

      • I am inclined to agree with GSMWC02’s point here. One of the very tricky things about family law is that it is at once a discussion of broad and serious issues and a conversation about something that can be deeply personal. We all have experiences with families (and at least indirectly with family law.). I think those experiences necessarily shape our views, although not always in predictable ways. (What I mean is that I’m sure the experience of being adopted, say, shapes one’s perspective, but I don’t think for a minute that this means that all adoptees have the same perspective. That’s clearly not true.).

        Anyway, this means I think we are all obliged to take care to be respectful of each other’s experiences and the feelings they produce. The example that leaps to my mind, of course, is the experiences and feelings of those who identify as donor-conceived. I am, as you know, supportive of donor conception as a practice. But this doesn’t free me of an obligation to be respectful of the feelings and views of those who are donor conceived. I cannot just toss them aside. Indeed, I think precisely because I am on opposite sides of the broader issue I have an obligation to listen especially carefully and to be particularly mindful.

        In the same way, I think those who support increased reliance on genetic connection as a marker of parenthood (or however one wants to frame this view) have a particular obligation to be mindful and attentive to the perspectives and feelings of those who would–by the course you advocate–be left childless. This is the cost of the policies you support and it has to be carefully considered.

        I know I’ve largely sat out the recent conversations here–perhaps that was an irresponsible thing for me to do. I partly regret it–but I also don’t know that I could have made that much difference in the end. All I can do is appeal to each of us to be our best selves. Or I can take down comments, of course, but I’m loathe to do that.

        • “…I have an obligation to listen especially carefully and to be particularly mindful” That is condescending and disrespectful if you are also stuck in your position of supporting more unmarried conception. They aren’t just looking to express their feelings or have someone rub their back, they are trying to end the practices that they can see are unjust, not for them (it’s too late obviously) but for society’s sake. They really shouldn’t have to be involved in the debate at all, but our culture only responds to personal emotional pleas, so it takes these people and forces them to stand on soap boxes and whip themselves, so that people can feel they are being sympathetic but are actually just being voyeuristic.

          In the same way, it’s wrong to sit and listen to biased emotionally manipulated people claim that their desire for a child to raise should trump every public policy interest and human right interest. Yes, we should take note of the anguish of infertility, and find reasons for it so we can prevent more people from suffering it, but we should also be trying to reduce the anguish, not encourage it or egg it on. Childlessness is not actually painful at all, it’s 100% mental anguish which is cured by social support, not material things.

          • I’m sorry that you think it condescending an disrespectful. It’s actually how I learn–by listening to what others with different views/experiences have to say. And I think you would find, if you read over the blog, that I have in fact changed some of the things I’ve said based on what I have heard/learned. To me this is a mark of respect rather than condescension.

            It may be that you see the world in terms of moral right/wrong in ways that allow you to discount the human experiences more easily. So if IVF is a moral wrong, the rest doesn’t matter so much. But I don’t have such a clear view of morality generally and I’m inclined to try to take the range of human experiences into account. I just don’t know how to do that without listening to what people have to say.

            Sent from Surface

            • Well, if you are truly open to changing your mind then listening it isn’t disrespectful. I just feel that you have invested so much of your career and life advocating and defending creating people with unmarried people, you probably feel it is your job to defend your position, so you aren’t gong to change your mind and therefore you aren’t giving critics any respect, you are just letting them bleed themselves out, neutralizing them and trying to mitigate the damage by soothing and calming them. Just admit that you don’t respect their position and make “blah blah blah” gestures with your hand, like I do when people waste my time with emotional blackmail.

              And my position has nothing to do with “moral right/wrong.” I am making rational secular public policy determinations about whether people should create people with someone they are not legally married to. My view comports with some aspects of traditional morality but is not based on it. And we aren’t talking about “IVF” which for the first 20 years was (purportedly) always only joining a married couple’s own egg and sperm.

              • I think you judge me too harshly and you’re actually wrong about how I’ve spent my life/career. This doesn’t mean I’m without opinions, of course, and I do have deeply held beliefs that lead to some pretty firm priorities. For instance, I don’t think men and women are fundamentally different in their capacities as parents. I think men can be nurturing and loving and women can be stern disciplinarians and bread-winners. I suppose part of the reason I believe this is that I’ve actually seen it, but part is also a deeply held belief in the nature of men and women.

                This being the case I don’t think that all children must have a mother and a father—and here I mean a social/psychological mother and a social/psychological father. I’m not talking about genetics, where you do need a genetic mother and a genetic father. And I think that’s a point on which I’m pretty inflexible.

                Similarly I don’t think there’s anything particular about being married that makes you a good/better parent. There are some terrific unmarried parents–some of them single parents and some unmarried couples–and again, this is partly based on what I’ve actually seen in my life. (There are also some pretty poor married parents, but that’s a different matter.) This being the case, I do think I’m unlikely to be persuaded that only married couples should be allowed to be parents. I know there are children born to unmarried parents who are unhappy about that and I don’t mean to trivialize or ignore their experiences. What I’d rather do is start with that assumption that unmarried and married people can be good parents and think about what we can do to allow/encourage people to be the best possible parents they can be.

                In the same way, it seems to me that there are donor-conceived children who are happy and contented and there are those who are not, people whose experiences of being donor-conceived was very difficult and painful. I cannot shrug off those people and just say “YMMV”–but I’m equally unwilling to shrug off the people who were untroubled by the experience. Instead, what I’d like to do is think about the things that might address some of the source of pain. So for example, having access to information about the donor would clearly be important to someone like Olivia Pratten as well as to many others. That seems like it’s doable and a good thing. And that’s a conclusion I’ve arrived at by listening.

                • Yeah but couldn’t you just have everyone born follow the same rules and then realize that children are not objects to be passed out to those that want them or think they’ve earned them. Let them remain the responsibility of those who created them and then if they fail at it the State steps in and yes at that point when the parents are proven unfit then sadly the child must be raised by someone outside their family and then at that point there is no reason they can’t do perfectly well in a variety of arrangements but you don’t start there. You start by giving them what they are owed from the parents who made them and if that fails we need to be very careful about who gets custody and parental authority because there is enormous opportunity for corruption when people are anxious to obtain kids and people are hot to produce their offspring to fill the demand. If people don’t get a kid because there are not enough abandoned ones around the response should be well its a good thing for the kids anyway that they don’t have to be separated from their families. We should not respond to that by finding a way to make parental abandonment more popular and less messy in order to fill the cribs of lonely people.

                • I agree with all that, so you must be going after strawmen again. Yes single parents and same-sex couples can raise kids just fine, that was never my argument against 3PR. I don’t think it matters how kids turn out, how good parents are, or how happy anyone is, as far as public policy about making babies goes. What I think is important is that everyone be allowed to marry someone consenting and eligible (pre-Goodridge) and be allowed to make babies with their spouse using their own genes. So I think eugenics and genetic engineering should be prohibited, including 3PR and creating embryos by any means other than joining a sperm of a man and an egg of a woman. (So your statement that “you do need a genetic mother and a genetic father” is only true heading into the future if we prohibit creating children any other way, such as using sperm from a woman’s stem cells, or eggs from a man’s, or with DNA synthesis and splicing. So if by “inflexible” you mean you agree same-sex reproduction should be banned, hear hear!)

                  And I don’t believe that listening to Olivia Pratten is what changed your position on access to donor information, I bet it was listening to lesbian moms who also wanted that information that made you realize it would be a good policy, and would hopefully result in shutting up people like Olivia Pratten and getting the public to think the ethical problems have all been solved. Remember Olivia and others like Alana S think the industry should be shut down an 3PR stopped, not just anonymity removed or donors made financially responsible (Marilyn is the only person who has that position that I know of).

                • I left out that by “3PR,” I mean more than just buying gametes at a sperm bank, but also all forms of “intentional unmarried conception” including people who decide to have kids with someone they know, but without committing to the obligations to the other person they intentionally have kids with. It’s only tangentially related to eugenics, in that it undermines marriage like gamete donation does. As long as it is unintentional though, it shouldn’t be a crime or result in any punishment.

          • “Childlessness is not actually painful at all, it’s 100% mental anguish which is cured by social support, not material things.”

            May I ask whether or not you have children? The reason I ask is that if you do have children, how are you able to say childlessness is not painful?

            • No kids, and I’m now too old I think (though still younger than some men are when they have their first kid.) I do feel some sadness about that sometimes, and jealousy of men that have become fathers, but no physical pain. My point is that there are better ways to get rid of mental anguish than giving me “options” and making me feel like a failure or selfish, and here are all these ways I can not be a failure, even without a wife and even if it won’t be my own kid. I don’t need that judgement and pressure thanks. I’m open to what the future brings and it is what it is, God is great.

              • “My point is that there are better ways to get rid of mental anguish than giving me “options” and making me feel like a failure or selfish, and here are all these ways I can not be a failure, even without a wife and even if it won’t be my own kid. ”

                What are the better ways to get rid of mental anguish in your opinion? You mentioned social support, could you elaborate on that?

                “God is Great.”

                I respectfully disagree. When I take a look at the world and all of the pain and suffering that takes place around us, I have a hard time agreeing with that.

                • I view the phrase “God is Great” more a reflection of the mental state of the person who said it, than an actual observation on the divine and the cosmos.

                  • I didn’t intend to knock those faith in religion. If it came across that way, I apologize. I’m not religious but don’t look down upon or mock those who are. Whatever works for others.

                  • I think “great” means “supreme, all powerful, nothing we can do about it” not “delicious, pleasing, enjoyable.” The world, as we experience it, is not God, and that is why it isn’t great, because it is God that is great. It’s similar to Sidhartha the Buddha hearing all the sounds of everything in the river and realizing that each part is part of a great Om, the sound of everything, and is everywhere at the same time, a perpetual becoming. The whole thing is the thing that is great, not any one part of it.

                  • Greg so might you eventually raise children, you are hoping to right? So then if you do how will your experience be any different than the rest of the people who are raising kids but were not always raising kids?

                  • The chances of me not becoming a parent some day are greater than me becoming a parent some day.

                • before my child was born I felt like I was stuck on a platform watching train after train carrying the rest of humanity into the future but unable to get on.
                  perhaps if I had been involved in some other activity that I found meaningful for the benefit of humanity, it would have been easier to come to terms with it? I don’t know. lord knows I did try to find other outlets but to no avail.

                  • “perhaps if I had been involved in some other activity that I found meaningful for the benefit of humanity, it would have been easier to come to terms with it? I don’t know. lord knows I did try to find other outlets but to no avail.”

                    This is the thing I struggle with and have been struggling with and I don’t think I will be able to figure out if we remain childless. I feel a lot like you use to feel. Though our outcomes will end up being different one way or another.

                  • I started reuniting families during the time that I was having all those failed pregnancies. It kept me happy and feeling like I was helping do my part to bring families back together even though I could not make a family on my own.

                  • So those who are childless purp

                  • So those who are childless purpose on this planet is to reunite families while they remain w/out a family? Sorry I don’t see how that fills a void.

                  • Well G I think there is no one size fits all.

                  • K,

                    No offense but it’s very easy for Marilynn and yourself to say that. You have your child. There are a lot who aren’t able to.

                    I appreciate your honesty though that you don’t know what you would have done. Most people would lie and said they would have done this and been happy w/out knowing.

                  • I was not telling you to reunite families Greg. I was responding to K’s statement that when she thought she could not have children or would not be raising children that she felt she should probably focus on doing something meaningful to benefit humanity. She asked would it have been easier to come to terms with not raising kids if she was helping humanity in some way. She says she tried to find other outlets and I was simply agreeing that I too felt the very same thing. I was just saying that like her I tried to find other outlets and in my case it did help make me feel good and like I was doing something to bring families back together since I might not be making one of my own. No it did not fill satisfy my desire to raise kids but it satisfied the desire to make strong families by helping undo the separation that was forced on those people. And honestly its as joyful as giving birth really because a family is reborn when mothers and fathers find their missing kids after 30 years.

                    Please remember Greg at that time I believed we might never have kids. The fact that I do now does not change what I was told back then by Doctors and I believed them just like you believe yours right now. Yes different people different outcomes, but I agree with K that I had to do something to help the world or I’d go bananas wallowing in my perceived loss and then of course my real actual loss of a real born child. Both made me very sad and if I had not been doing something to help others and succeeding at it I might have been real hard to be around cause it’s something I get joy out of.

                  • “And honestly its as joyful as giving birth really because a family is reborn when mothers and fathers find their missing kids after 30 years.”

                    If that’s the case then why did you even try to have a child? See you had a choice and choose something different than what you are advocating for.

                    “The fact that I do now does not change what I was told back then by Doctors and I believed them just like you believe yours right now. ”

                    It’s not what my “doctors” have told me it’s wear science has said is a fact. Stop comparing my situation to your because it’s completely different and insulting to do so. And it’s not a “perceived” loss I’ve had its a loss. Yet you continue to pick at my wounds.

                  • This somewhat feels like a chicken or the egg question. Do people desperately want kids because of how society is? Or did society become like this because having kids was important to most people?

                  • Good grief Greg. Doctor or science what is the difference you did not make your diagnosis up yourself you are basing your understanding on some trusted professional expert opinion aren’t you? Well so was I. The topic is infertility and I can sure as well draw the comparison from my situation to yours since I was relying on (science) as well. Honestly you think your so unique that nobody can empathize with your situation. No two situations are identical but there are parallels and when the topic is living life without children, even people with kids have the credibility to comment because they did not always have kids. When the subject is a diagnosis of infertility then anyone who has been given that diagnosis who wanted kids would have the authority to speak from personal experience about how they felt at that time wile living with that diagnosis. Having kids later won’t change how they felt back then. Being 42 does not change my recollection of what it was like being 23 or 10.
                    And on the subject of loss Greg, your so busy pointing out obscure ways that my words might offend you that you don’t recognize that your words are at least as offensive to me. I did suffer real losses of pregnancy and perceived losses of a child, perceived Greg. I did not actually loose a real live child when I lost those pregnancies. It felt like I’d lost a kid but it was a fantasy person that did not really exist. I was not a mother without a child I was not a mother at all. For someone to come along and say that not having a kid is a loss to the same extent as having one and then watching them die is picking at my wounds to turn your phrase. I’ve been there and can empathize with how the perceived loss of a child feels like you’ve lost a child but I assure you, having lost a child it is not the same feeling at all. I’m quite sure that loosing a grown child is a much more devastating experience than I went through. But to say that you lost a child when one never existed is just disrespectful to anyone whose actually lost a child plus its just not true. I’m not invalidating your pain or your anguish I’m just saying that the pain and anguish is over not getting to have a child not having lost one. I would not have taken this tone if you were not always so dismissive and belittling whenever I comment.

                • Better ways to get rid of anguish of childlessness include seeking peace and understanding through literature, music, art, philosophy and religion, just putting your mind on other things, working, community service, loving friends and family, etc. The thing about creating a child in order to sooth the anguish is that it makes the child a means to an end, to serve the desires of the parent, and that in itself is bad, whether the chid is conceived naturally in marriage or using donors and surrogates. Marrying someone you don’t really love just to fill that need is probably at least as bad as hiring surrogates, at least today now that marriage is so tenuous and temporary and people can no longer just resign themselves to it and love anyway. Now it is just another way to feel disappointed and worried. But again, marrying just to have children wouldn’t be a problem if we didn’t hype that feeling of needing to have children to be a success or happy or good. It’s not true, all of those things depend on far more than procreating offspring.

                  • What you say while it makes sense just does not fit out childfilled society that outcasts the childless. Maybe if the childless were not expected to carry the bulk of the workload in the work place, pay taxes for schools that they don’t get any benefit from and be outcasted by friends and family what you say would be applicable. But in our society it just isn’t.

                  • I like what you said John.

                    Greg you said “Maybe if the childless were not expected to carry the bulk of the workload in the work place, pay taxes for schools that they don’t get any benefit from and be outcasted by friends and family what you say would be applicable. But in our society it just isn’t.”

                    May I ask you if you have considered the fact that at one point in time every person in society that has children was childless just like you and carrying the burden by paying taxes for schools that they don’t attend and not knowing whether or not they’d ever have or be raising children? Every single parent was at one time a non parent in the workforce doing what you refer to as carrying the burden. Are you dialed into the fact that their experience is no different than yours in that regard? They did not know for sure that they’d wind up parents.

                    Your free to be bitter and angry about it, just know that you are in good company and it is a burden shared not just by the childless but by parents who used to be childless.

                    When you respond to comments by me or Ki or anyone raising kids, even people raising adoptive kids you seem to feel that raising kids undermines their credibility with you when speaking of the period of time that they were childless as if having children now will color their memory and alter the filter they process their old feelings through. Your not at the end of your life yet either and you often speak as if you’ve lived an entire lifetime not raising kids burdened by the weight of other people and their kids and that only someone else whose lived their whole life without kids could understand your perspective. Well all people with kids did live their whole life up to a point without kids and so they can reflect on their experiences up to that point being in essentially the same position you are in today. The critical difference would be whether they desired children or not and whether they’d been given a diagnosis that they would not be able to have kids.

                    Sitll whether they wanted kids or not or thought they could not have them or not the issue of their social burden while they were childless would be indentical to what you are experiencing now. So it’s not as if people with kids have not paid their dues.

                  • Greg can you elaborate specifically on how society outcasts people who are not raising children?

                  • The difference between those who were childless and people like myself is that they were able to have children. They were eventually able to take advantage of others subsidizing their children’s education and didn’t always have to carry the workload in the workforce. That isn’t the case for those who end up childless by circumstance NOT choice.

                    I’m in good company with those who are childless by circumstance and those like K who are honest and respectful. I can have meaningful dialogues with them.

                  • yall see why its a bad idea to share your personal, sensitive information in this sort of discussion???
                    I don’t think Marilyn and John are being dishonest at all. People are different and affected differently by all sorts of things.

                  • it doesn’t mean that you G are wrong or not as good or weak or whatever it is, for not feeling like them.

                  • I do think John is being honest in his feelings I may not agree with his positions but I respect his perspective. I agree that everyone processes things differently. But it’s impossible to say that someone else would handle our situation differently when our circumstances were not close to being the same. My circumstance of childlessness is very different than John’s, it’s impossible to say he would handle my circumstance differently or if I would handle his circumstance the same.

                    For instance, Marilynn likes to compare her situation to mine. I don’t believe it’s fair to either one of us to do so. Even before she had her daughter she experienced a pregnancy and loss that came with her miscarriage. My wife and I never had that experience because it was physically impossible. If she had been born without any eggs and never experienced a pregnancy or if I had been born with the ability to conceive a child and went through pregnancy loss than I think we “might” be able to compare. While Marilynn likes to passively aggressively tell me my loss is a “perceived” or “not a real loss” and that she has experienced a real loss, I won’t go down that road. All I will say is that our circumstances were very different and our outcomes are very different. When you compare experiences you are dismissing the other person’s experience that you are comparing.

        • One of the things I really respect about you Julie despite our disagreements is the way you handle so many opposing points of view with such grace.
          I think that forbidding all mention of children however would greatly encumber the discussion. Almost everyone at some point uses their personal life to illustrate their point. And that’s going to include children. But one should consider how to gently make their point and not overdo it.

          • Thanks. I generally believe we are all people of good will who do not mean harm and so I think we can all manage this. But then, I’m rather an optimist.

            Julie Shapiro
            Professor of Law
            Faculty Fellow, Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality
            901 12th Avenue, Sullivan Hall 451
            PO Box 222000
            Seattle, WA 98122-1090
            t 206-398-4043  | f 206-398-4036
            blog:  https://julieshapiro.wordpress.com/

             “[T]he growing good of the world is partly dependent upon unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”
            George Eliot, Middlemarch

          • Agreed K. I have no issue with people bringing up their children in a relevant discussion or to make a point.

        • Dear Julie,

          Thank you. It was entirely my fault. I’ve allowed myself to fall out of a professional demeanor. When I do that, I contribute to the deterioration of the tone of the threads.

          I see you as a model for the grace with which you handle the blog. It’s a fascinating blog, and touches on several things with which I am intrigued. For example, the State Department’s interpretation of citizenship and gametes is going to be a fascinating issue to follow in the next few years.

          I will continue to read with interest. And thank you for the blog.

      • Greg I call for balanced fairness in the law and its seems like you want to defend people having the upper hand and authority to alter the truth and all the records because what else are childless people to do? Whatever they do they need to do it above board after a child is born where everyone can see the process and have it approved in court. Just because the deal goes down before the kid is born does not mean that its the same as making a baby and having offspring cause nobody sees. It’s still raising someone else’s kid and it should be handled ethically. There is nothing insensitive about that and it causes no problems for childless couples that want to raise other people’s offspring, just go about it in court like everyone else. What is the pushback on consistency? It’s not like I’m saying people should never be able to raise someone else’s offspring.

        • There is fairness in the law. All parents have the upper hand on their children no matter how they were conceived.

          Again there is no need for an additional court procedure when the procedure takes place prior to conception. But it’s clear your goal is to shred and humiliate the childless couple by making them go through an additional procedure. You want to make it as uncomfortable for them as possible. I think you just need to admit you oppose donor conception. Not that there is anything wrong with it. But it will make these discussions easier to navigate instead of you writing about the same things over and over that make no sense.

          • Greg when someone wants parental authority over someone else’s offspring they should follow the same court approved procedure as everyone else for the protection of the minor. What do you think donor offspring don’t need that protection? They have bio parents just like everyone else and if they are not going to be raised by them explain to me how it is that the before birth arrangement protects them. Is it possible that their bio parents did not consent? May not even know that they exist? Shouldn’t they have the same required investigation to try and identify their bio parents to be sure that they consent and are consenting without any reimbursement?

            I don’t see how the pre-birth arrangement protects their interests after they are born because its not like having the arrangement pre birth actually turns the unrelated people into bio parents, it just allows them to record themselves as if they are bio parents. Let’s prevent that from happening so they cannot misrepresent their relationship to the child that they want to raise. Protect every kid born with the same protocol if they are not to be raised by their bio parent. All of the reasons we protect minors with adoption procedures are present for a donors offspring just as they are for a non donor’s offspring. The reason those procedures are not needed with bio parents is they made the child, they automatically have that obligation and did not privately contract with anyone for custody and parental title over a minor. These are human beings who are the objects of contracts Greg, when they are born the parties to the contract fulfill their various obligations in accordance with their agreement.

            • If the agreement of who is responsible for what is exactly the same why do you believe going through the court is better than a pre birth agreement that establishes the exact same thing? Is it because the donor would have to be known or are you hoping after the birth they change their mind and want to parent?

          • Well the law is so messed up you may not realize this but a person is free of their parent’s authority at 18 when their legal parents are their biological parents, but when their legal parents are someone other than their biological parents those people have authority and control over them that lasts a lifetime. They are not free to just be themselves when they turn 18 like people whose legal parents are their bio parents. Their actual identities as the offspring of their bio parents are not revealed their records are not corrected their kinship is not reinstated. They may not even know that they are not the offspring of the people who had parental authority over them because those people have parental control over information that relates to them long after their 18 year tour of duty is up. Adopted people and donor offspring and anyone who was black market adopted with a step parent named as parent on their birth record is permanently under the control of their legal parents and this is not a level of control that bio parents have.

            • Huh? None of this makes sense. In both of these situations once the person turns 18 they are a legal adult with the exact same rights with regards to their parents no matter if they are biologically related or not biologically related. You are grasping at straws with this kinship non sense.

            • I am not sure what you mean but I don’t think this could possibly be true. Legal parenthood is legal parenthood–whether one gets there via adoption or claim of genetics or marriage or any other means. The legal parent/child relationship changes when a child turns 18. But I cannot think of any changes that are conditioned on the manner in which one got to be a legal parent. It seems to me that you are suggesting that adoptive parents have more extensive rights over 19 year old kids then those whose legal parentage is premised on genetics? I just don’t think that’s a correct statement of the law.

          • No I sincerely don’t care what people do before their offspring are born. Once their offspring are born they should be accountable for them and not try to hide behind some chicken sht agreement not to raise them that they entered into before they even had the kid they don’t want to take care of. There should never ever under any circumstances be a time when a pre birth agreement is enforced by the court its horrible that it’s allowed for donor offspring and it needs to change.

          • Again you are saying in a passive aggressive way that you wish to ban donor conception. That’s fine. Just admit it and we can move on.

  11. Tess, everything I said above was true. SCOTUS has never said there is a right to unmarried sex or conception. Eisenstadt was about contraception use, and did not strike down laws against fornication or declare a right to unmarried procreation. The Virginia Supreme Court applied Lawrence to adultery, but that’s not the first time the Virginia Supreme Court has been wildly wrong.
    And Marilyn, just because the words fornication and adultery are associated in your mind with fire and brimstone, doesn’t mean the laws don’t have secular purposes that apply to people regardless of their religious beliefs about sin and heaven. The intent is to keep uncommitted non-consenting people (and people committed to someone else) from creating offspring with each other, and the laws still function to express social expectations and provide a reason to say no to irresponsible sex. It’s also true that Billions of people strongly believe that people who have sex outside of marriage are doomed to fire and brimstone, and so people who say that marriage does not make sex legal are denying those Billions of people the satisfaction of living by God’s commandments, telling them that nothing has changed and they continue to fornicate even after getting legally married. The disctinction in law needs to be there, they are good laws that serve a public purpose, and SCOTUS has never suggested otherwise.

    • I think Lawrence vs. Texas, which struck down the TX sodomy statute, makes it pretty clear that you have a right to engage in sex without marriage. After all, the people there couldn’t be married, but they also couldn’t be prosecuted for engaging in sex.

      I know I’ve not been following this discussion, so perhaps I’ve missed a distinction that means Lawrence isn’t responsive to the matter. If that’s the case, I apologize.

      More broadly, I don’t think any court has actually upheld a fornication statute in a long time, has it? And I don’t think most states–even those that still have statutes–enforce them. It’s very hard to challenge a statute that isnt enforced. What this means is that the absence of a recent opinion striking down a fornication statute doesn’t mean that they are constitutional.

      Sent from Surface

  12. Reading the conversation I must say was bewildering.

    On one hand, how the child may feel, the complicated feelings – they are not allowed to be considered, solely, because there were no “studies” to validate it. Yet the conversation moved to if you haven’t experienced it – you can’t understand the pain another person feels, and how that is dismissive in regards to infertility.

    Yet it is fine to assume the child is okay with the adults decide to do – even though there are fist person accounts showing otherwise…This is what one donor conceived individual feels about all the talk about providing proof through studies proving how he feels: http://www.cmaj.ca/content/183/2/280

  13. Julie you said – “In the same way, I think those who support increased reliance on genetic connection as a marker of parenthood (or however one wants to frame this view) have a particular obligation to be mindful and attentive to the perspectives and feelings of those who would–by the course you advocate–be left childless. This is the cost of the policies you support and it has to be carefully considered.”
    So would you go so far as to say that nobody should have parental responsibility for their own offspring? That all human beings born be the object of a private contract for custody and parental title?

    • What is wrong with having people be accountable as parents for their own offspring and then if they fail and the child is unsafe in their care somehow THEN other individuals can apply to perform those parental obligations? Its the way it works the majority of the time and it is unfair to minors not to all follow the same protective procedures if their bio parent is not going to be raising them.

      • Because adoption happens after a person is born and donor conception happens prior to conception. What is so difficult about recognition of that? You can’t treat adoption like you treat donor conception because it is more different than it is similar, IMO.

        • Greg, whether you can call them donor conceived but they are just normal human beings that resulted from the sexual reproduction of a couple of people who are their biological parents. They arrive on earth with two bio parents just like everyone else who has ever lived. If their bio parents are not going to raise them don’t you think they deserve the same level of protection as any other person whose bio parents are not going to raise them?
          What people wanted and desired and intended before they were even born is fine but we can’t have people’s rights be dependent upon the wants needs and desires of other individuals. Equal treatment should be absolute and not changeable depending upon whether your bio parents felt like raising you or not.
          Forget the contractual agreements for a minute. You have two freshly born infants whose bio parents are not going to be raising them. Why would one of them deserve the legal protections of having their bio parents identified and sign relinquishing while the other would not have that benefit and might be the offspring of some unconsenting patients at a clinic somewhere who have no idea their offspring are about to be taken and raised by strangers that really want them.
          Isn’t consent to allow others to raise one’s offspring be something that’s documented in court every single time a child is not raised by their bio parents? It’s something we think is important enough to do for the vast majority of minors and it’s not because they had sex or because they were there first, its because its their offspring and there are responsibilities that come with that. The wants needs and desires of people with offspring take a back seat to their obligations to their offspring. Agreement to conceal the identity of a person’s bio family before they are born is just a short cut to adoption.

        • My big point here Greg is that we leave the reproduction and sex on the one side of birth, and the disposition of the child and identification of the parent on the other side of birth where a child with bio parents actually exists and if they are not going to care for them then have them follow the same protocols that everyone else does.
          People who cannot reproduce are trying to make it look like they did and that is a huge public health concern coupled with people who are reproducing trying to make it look like they didn’t

          • A donor is not a parent, IMO. They may be a genetic or biological parent but they are not parents in the true meaning of a parent.

            If you want to standardize children being born then everyone regardless of how the child is conceived (even if it’s by their parents) should go through the process you are advocating for if you want to be fair. But do you understand how ridiculous that sounds? You want laws created for one set or people to create a different set of rules for them whereas right now they play by the same rules as everyone else.

            • i do see them as an abdicated parent.
              so theoretically I should be on the same page as marilyn, requiring a formal adoption proceeding for the social parent of donor conceived children.
              However, since it is clear by reason of his choosing to be an anonymous sperm donor, that the donor has no interest nor inclination in being at all involved with his offspring, it really does the state no good to seek him out and just wastes time when someone else could be carrying out parental responsibilities. what’s more, since we don’t know who he is at all, we can’t be sure that the child would not be harmed by bringing him into the picture. (remember Lippett?) Therefore, I see the benefit in having a fast-track method to assigning legal parenthood to the person who would be raising the child anyway, as partner to the bio parent.
              Of course there are drawbacks to this, and one of them is as you say Marilyn, its also a fast track method to denying a person any connection to their biological heritage and relatives merely because they were conceived differently than other folks. Identity release at the age of adulthood is not an ideal solution but perhaps it is a workable compromise.
              A so-called known donor, on the other hand, is a completely separate issue. Because he is known, his parental fitness can easily be assessed. Also, because his offspring is known to him, the chances of him becoming available for parenthood and even developing an emotional attachment are high. In fact I would consider that a pro-social behavior that should be encouraged, not discouraged. For this reason, In my opinion, if a man is known he should never be considered a sperm donor, sex or no sex, doctor or no doctor.

              • K,

                Regarding a known donor are you referring to a situation where this person could have some type of role physically in a child’s life. Because if you are I do see your point about the possibility of developing an emotional attachment that could complicate things.

                • well we would disagree then about who is to blame for complicating things- you might say it was the known donor, who dared to developed an attachment to his child like other parents, while I would say it was the original arrangement than demanded that he not.

                  • Oh, I didn’t mean to imply that I disagreed with you or that I would blame anyone. I could see that happening if it was a known donor who had a somewhat active role in the child’s life. That wouldn’t be unusual if the donor happened to be a friend or family member of the child’s parent(s). I don’t think anyone would be at fault it would just be something that happened that no one planned on happening.

                    I would hope that if an attachment developed that the donor and the parent(s) could work together to support it on the child’s end but at the same time the parent(s) were never undermined where it impacted the child. I do believe that is possible. It’s definitely not easy but something I believe adults have the ability to work through.

                  • it would be similar to an open adoption.

                  • The thing is, a law can not be based on the assumption that everyone is going to be on their best behavior. (and best behavior also demands that the adoptive parent promote the relationship with the donor, not just the the other way around). so even if it could work, i dont think such a contract should be legal.

                    even if it does work out, there’s still something that rubs me the wrong way about the idea of creating a child with the express intention to give it to someone else. In the case of a known donor it seems especially commodifying. Perhaps in terms of the effect on the kid, it really is no different from an anonymous sperm donor, i don’t really know, but since an anonymous sperm donor is further removed from the process, perhaps the giving away aspect is less stark… but thats just my personal gut response.

                  • K,

                    I agree with you on law not being able to control people being on their best behavior. Even in parental situations that don’t involve 3PR and adoption you have parents who act inappropriately that hurt their children emotionally. There is nothing nor should there be legislation on appropriate behavior.

                    While I disagree with you on sperm donation and the idea of a donor having his sperm used to create a child he will not parent, I respect your opinion and honesty. We agree to disagree on that.

    • Your question strikes me as a non-sequitur but I’m also not sure I can answer it because I’m not sure I understand it.

      You ask “Would I say that nobody should have parental responsibility for their own offspring?” I’ll assume that by “parental responsibility” you mean to refer to legal parentage? Then I think this is the same question: “Would I say that nobody should be the legal parent of their own offspring?” I don’t think so. I think that sometimes–even often–genetic parents are legal parents. I certainly wouldn’t say that genetic parents should be disqualified from consideration as legal parents. It just doesn’t seem to me that this is what you meant to ask.

      As for the contract part: Definitely not. I don’t like contract doctrine with respect to legal parenthood. Indeed, the de facto or functional approach is nothing like contracts.

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