I actually like this ruling as I felt it makes a clear legal distinction between a ‘father’ and a ‘sperm donor’.
It’s an important distinction to make and not just for financial considerations, as custody of a child today rewards a custodial parent with a wide array of tax and other financial benefits. Not least of which is a large percentage of the non-custodial parent’s income and assets for the next 21 years. But more importantly when the courts began overlooking the distinction between what woman contribute towards creating life versus what men contribute, it put a recreational sperm donor’s relatively minor contribution on the same level as the mother/child bond. When, in actuality, a recreational sperm donor risks, invests, quite simply contributes absolutely nothing toward the entire process other then the quik drop sperm deposit. Many times not even knowing (or caring about) the name of the woman they dropped their deposit off with and whether or not they are fit to bear or care for a child they could be creating with said deposit.
Recreational sperm donors are not even legally required to buy a pregnant woman so much as a hot dog or a vitamin throughout the period of her pregnancy ensure the health or viability of the child. Nor are they required to provide any medical coverage or shelter leaving that to the woman herself or worse yet, the innocent tax-payers of the state to bear the burden they helped created.
No actual physical bond is forged between them and the subsequent child. Many of them find out they might be a ‘father’ when the Post Office drops a letter off in their mailbox informing them of this fact. But yet these same recreational sperm donors can show up at the hospital seconds after the birth of a child (or months or years later) claiming to be a ‘father’ and if they manage to get custody of some poor kid (which happens very frequently today if they chose to litigate, thanks to gender-neutral custody policies) they are immediately eligible for a whole array of financial benefits.
Anyway this is just one state that made this sensible ruling, Pennsylvania, but I don’t see it being overturned, as it was their own Supreme Court so there is no higher court in the state. Also, I didn’t notice the article mentioning any friend of the court brief from Pennsylvania Social Services department, so I’m assuming both parties were self-supporting and the child was not a potential burden to the state tax-payers. Thus the state has no interest in the outcome and I doubt if any individual is going to spend the kind of money it takes to appeal this to the US Supreme Court. So if history repeats itself and I believe it will, this ruling will probably become like the Pennsylvania decision of a few years ago absolving parents (read: men) of having to pay college tuition for their children over 18 and that ruling was never overturned either; although Pennsylvania is the ONLY state in the union with that little caveat.
But it’s not about the money, men keep telling me, it’s about the children.
Anyway, I think we ultimately need to look to craft a similar solution at the federal level with some obvious safeguards for society, since we can’t allow women to become burdens having children they can’t support themselves, and if they were inseminated by recreational sperm donors, not leaving any recourse for the state to get reimbursed for benefits required. The state needs to be allowed leeway to go after recreational sperm donors’ to reimburse their tax-payers if state-funded benefits are required to support a child.
However I personally would like to see some form of this decision extended under a blanket federal policy, where no unmarried person was allowed to petition any court for either child support or custody/visitation, etc. This would have to include grandparents as well. Those are rights you negotiate with the other person, not try to force through the courts. The state would still retain the right to petition courts for child support or other child related issues and they could represent fathers if they wish or even grandparents in their petitions especially in the rare cases of abuse or neglect when another guardian is needed.
Of course whatever private negotiations, agreements, arrangements regarding the raising of their children that people wish to voluntarily enter into could and should be allowed. As long as their children are happy, healthy and safe, the state should not intervene nor allow others, no matter the DNA match, to intervene either.
As thousands of years of evolution have demonstrated, mothers have borne and raised the young of every past generation and considering the conditions imposed upon us by (let’s face it) men, we’d done a damn fine job of it. We don’t need to have the rights of mothers or children (and yes, generally they are one and the same, as most mothers are the persons best suited to make decisions in the best interest of their own children) be usurped by men using the courts as a Trojan horse in this regard.
Sperm Donor Wins Case Over Child Support
Thursday, January 03, 2008
By MARK SCOLFORO, Associated Press Writer
HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that a woman who promised a sperm donor he would not have to pay child support cannot renege on the deal.The 3-2 decision overturns lower court rulings under which Joel L. McKiernan had been paying up to $1,500 a month to support twin boys born in August 1994 to Ivonne V. Ferguson, his former girlfriend and co-worker.
"Where a would-be donor cannot trust that he is safe from a future support action, he will be considerably less likely to provide his sperm to a friend or acquaintance who asks, significantly limiting a would-be mother's reproductive prerogatives," Justice Max Baer wrote in the majority opinion issued last week.
Arthur Caplan, chairman of the Department of Medical Ethics at the University of Pennsylvania, said the decision runs counter to the pattern established by similar cases, where the interests of the progeny have generally been given great weight. "It sounds like the Pennsylvania court is trying to push a little harder into the brave new world of sperm, egg and embryo donation as it's evolving," Caplan said.