Between the Binaries: Exploring the Legal Boundaries of Nonanonymous Sperm Donation
Family Law Quarterly, Vol. 49:93, No. 1 2015
Washington University in St. Louis Legal Studies Research Paper No. 15-06-05
25 Pages Posted: 19 Jun 2015 Last revised: 1 Oct 2015
Date Written: June 17, 2015
Contemporary practices in alternative insemination are challenging binaries — the either/or categories — on which family law has long relied. In particular, when unmarried women use the sperm of known donors, often bypassing physician assistance and medical regulation, they defy traditional rules that distinguish parents from nonparents and sexual conception from nonsexual conception.
Several highly publicized recent cases showcase the shortcomings of family law’s conventional approach. These cases present contests over a known donor’s visitation rights and support obligations as well as claims advanced by the “free sperm movement.” This Article analyzes these cases and responds to the problems that they raise by considering the promise of three less categorical and more flexible solutions: an intermediate status lying between “parent” and “donor,” contractual relationships, and analysis centered on the child’s interests.
Keywords: Assisted reproduction, Alternative insemination, Sperm donation, Parentage, Children, Reproductive autonomy
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