Potential sperm donors in Kansas may want to calculate the distance to Colorado or Nebraska before delivering their next deposit.
Because as the Associated Press reports, the state is currently trying to force a 43-year-old sperm donor to pay child support to a lesbian couple who used his reproductive cells to conceive their baby through artificial insemination.
The Kansas Department for Children and Families says William Marotta is responsible for providing financial assistance to the 3-year-old daughter of Angela Bauer and Jennifer Schreiner, even though both parties agreed that he would give up all parental rights – including financial responsibility – when he donated his sperm back in 2009.
The problem, says department spokeswoman Angela de Rocha, is that the insemination wasn’t performed according to their regulatory practices, which renders the agreement between Marotta and the couple invalid.
“If a sperm donor makes his contribution through a licensed physician and a child is conceived, the donor is held harmless under state statue. In cases where the parties do not go through a physician or a clinic, there remains the question of who actually is the father of a child or children,” she says in a released statement.
The trouble began when Bauer was diagnosed with what she says is a “significant illness” last March. Her illness forced the couple to apply for state assisted health insurance for their daughter as Bauer’s health condition means she can no longer work.
Though Bauer and Schreiner split in 2010, they continue to co-parent their daughter and their seven adopted children.
So when Schreiner, who is the child’s biological mother, filed the paperwork to receive health insurance for the little girl, she was shocked to discover that the department refused to provide any benefits unless she divulged the name of the sperm donor. Bauer was not recognized as a parent.
Her hand was forced and now the state wants Marotta to pay up, an action that has infuriated the two women.
“This was a wonderful opportunity with a guy with an admirable, giving character who wanted nothing more than to help us have a child,” Bauer tells the Topeka Capital-Journal. “I feel like the state of Kansas has made a mess out of the situation.”
“We are going to support him in whatever action he wants to go forward with,” she adds.
So far that action involves Marotta having to lawyer up for a potentially long fight. On January 8, the court will hear a motion to have Marotta’s case dismissed.
Unfortunately, he’s far from the first sperm donor to be bitten by the hand of the law.
Recently, a British man was ordered to pay child support for two girls he fathered over a decade ago.
Mark Langridge offered to donate his sperm to a lesbian couple he and his partner befriended back in 1997.
Though he requested that he have no legal obligations to the children, he never had that agreement documented, an oversight that allowed the mothers to sue him for child support years later.
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In Marotta’s case, he realizes that the state is intent on draining his bank account. Kansas law does not recognize same-sex unions and therefore refuses to collect child support from same-sex partners.
“I resent the fact that Jennifer was pressured into doing that in the first place… That was wrong — wrong by the state,” he tells the Capital-Journal.
At the same time, he says he’s “a little scared about where this is going to go.”
It's a well-founded fear, but hopefully one that garners enough attention to shake up a musty, convoluted system.