Sperm Donation: Legality

Sperm donation creates many legal issues and questions. Donors and recipients alike must be aware of the different legal issues that may arise prior to, during or after a child is born, even as far as into the extended future. Prior to donating or receiving sperm, all parties must ensure that safeguards are in place to protect themselves and any future child. Below are a few tips to consider prior to donating sperm or receiving donated sperm.

Parental Rights of the Parties

Should a pregnancy result from using donated sperm, the question of who has parental rights to the child becomes unclear. Hopefully, at the time of donation, the donor would have signed away any rights to the sperm or a child resulting from the sperm’s use. However, through oversight or neglect, this clause may not appear in the donor’s contract or the donor may have refused to sign. In such a situation, recipients must request that the parental rights to the child be clarified to only be held by the recipient and any partner, should the recipient request such.

If the donor refuses to sign away parental rights to the child, he may later come into the child’s life with very little legal recourse available to the recipients. To prevent the donor from having access to the child, the recipients may go to court, but a legal battle is not necessarily guaranteed to end with the donor being blocked from access. If the donor absolutely refuses to sign away his parental rights, use another donor.

Identification v. Anonymity

Choosing to remain anonymous is a legal protection the donor and recipient have. If requested, the clinic or physician’s office must protect any party’s identity for the indefinite future. Deciding whether to remain anonymous or to have your identity shared with the other party and child has important legal ramifications. Only through court order can a child or party receive information about another party, including the donor about any child resulting from donated sperm. Allowing your identity to be known opens you up to possible future contact by recipients or child.

Access to the Child

Whether or not the donor can have access to the child in the future, regardless of the child’s age, is a question that must be settled prior to insemination. An anonymous donor may still have access rights to the child regardless of the fact that he chose his identity to remain private. If the recipients want to prevent the donor from having access to the child, they must receive a waiver of parental rights from the donor. Only through this or a similar document can the recipients legally prevent the donor from contacting or being known to the child.

Relationship Status of the Child

While the child is undoubtedly the child of the female recipient, unless she used a donated egg to become pregnant, whether the child is a blood relative of the recipient’s partner or the donor is questionable. Unless the donor has relinquished any and all current and future rights to the child, he may still be considered the father by some courts and legal systems. Similarly, just because the recipient’s partner raises the child does not make the two blood relatives. Inheritance rights, medical decisions and other aspects of the child’s upbringing may be impacted by the fact that the child is not a true relative of the partner.

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