California bill could grant parental rights to sperm donor

Aug. 13, 2013 at 8:20 AM
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SACRAMENTO, Aug. 13 (UPI) -- The California Legislature is considering a bill that could redefine parental rights of sperm donors and their potential role within a family unit.

Under the state Senate bill, a sperm donor who "receives the child into his home and openly holds the child out as his natural child" could be declared a legal parent, a change from current law holding that, unless parties have an agreement in place, a sperm donor is "treated as if he were not the natural father" and the mother is the only legal parent, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday.

Bill sponsor Sen. Jerry Hill, a Democrat, said his legislation would enhance protection for children but critics intimate the measure could redefine the family unit by allowing sperm donors to claim parental rights.

Hill has said his bill tries to "bring laws up to modern relationships."

Some observers told the Times the measure raises questions about whether the Legislature has addressed fully enough the complexities of reproductive technology.

Jennifer Lahl, founder of the conservative Center for Bioethics and Culture, said no one has addressed whether Hill's bill could impact adoptive parents or other relationships, such as an egg donor and surrogate mothers, the Times said.

Even as demand for reproductive technology grows, legislators in the state have yet to address a key issue, "the welfare of the child," Lahl said.

Planned Parenthood of California has joined California NOW in opposition to the bill, saying it would "severely compromise the wishes of single women and couples seeking to build a family via sperm donation" because it would allow "any interested party" to seek fathers' rights any time during the child's life.

The Assembly Judiciary Committee scheduled a hearing on the bill for Tuesday.

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