Between the Binaries: Exploring the Legal Boundaries of Nonanonymous Sperm Donation

25 Pages Posted: 19 Jun 2015 Last revised: 1 Oct 2015

See all articles by Susan Frelich Appleton

Susan Frelich Appleton

Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law

Date Written: June 17, 2015

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Appleton, Susan Frelich, Between the Binaries: Exploring the Legal Boundaries of Nonanonymous Sperm Donation (June 17, 2015). Family Law Quarterly, Vol. 49:93, No. 1 2015; Washington University in St. Louis Legal Studies Research Paper No. 15-06-05. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2619894

Susan Frelich Appleton (Contact Author)

Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law ( email )

Campus Box 1120
St. Louis, MO 63130
United States

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