A bill prompted by a custody dispute involving actor Jason Patric would allow certain sperm donors to seek paternity rights in court. The bill would require a donor to have lived with the child and held the child forth openly as his own. But opponents say the measure could affect the rights of same-sex couples or single mothers who use sperm donors. We discuss the bill, which is currently being revised after failing to clear a legislative panel last week.

Jerry Hill, California state senator representing the 13th District
Robert Walmsley, attorney with Jarrette & Walmsley, LLP
Deborah Wald, founder and senior partner at Wald & Thorndal, P.C.

  • Pason Jatric

    Was this bill introduced because a movie called Delivery Man is about to be released that covers the same subject matter? I smell a public relations stunt.

  • geraldfnord


    (If you want parental rights, be a parent.)

  • Mammain

    Absolutely NO! They earn what they wanted ($) after they donated, nothing else.

    • marilynn

      So some children deserve to be full fledged legal members of their maternal and paternal families with the legal right to support of both individuals that reproduced to create them and others don’t? Some children deserve the legal right to support of only one parent? Some children deserve to be treated as transferable property where they simply become the child of whoever their mother happens to be sleeping with and wishes she could have had a child with?

  • John Cunningham

    I was a private sperm donor who gave to a small group of women. I have two 22 year old children, a son and daughter. I was involved in a limited way with my son and everything worked out with my role as father though not as parent. We have a very good relationship and what is striking is how similar he is to me in traits that one would have assumed were nurture as opposed to nature. I think some rights for parents who are not blood related should be put in place. I’d be interested in reading the bill before passing any judgement.

  • John Stiehler

    Male couples have another option that is frequently overlooked because it may be perceived as unlikely to happen. Regular adoption. We adopted our daughter 17 years ago and found it much easier to adopt than our straight friends. While not all women are interested in placing their baby with a male couple, the subset who would consider it thinks a male couple is a + not a –

    It seems obvious but we didn’t think of it initially, but part of the attraction is not having to give their baby up to another woman. If you have an open adoption the birth mother remains the only mother that child will have.

    • marilynn

      huh. wow. I never would have thought of that but it seems way less contentious for the mother, not for the father of course, but something about it seems like it could be cool with him too

  • Mary Going

    This entire conversation revolved around the parents’ rights with no consideration for what is best for the child.

    Yet, the biological make-up of a person is actually important! It’s not just important for medical reasons. It has been incredibly useful to me as an adoptee to know my biological parents – in understanding who I am and what makes me tick. Every single one of my adopted friends who knows their biological parents says the same thing.

    As a lesbian with children, I encourage my peers to accept that we cannot and should not try to erase the importance of biology in crafting our children’s experience of the world. It may be expedient to pretend we are the only parents in the child’s life, but we truly must allow the complex to be complex. Our children have a right to their biological parents.

    I don’t have a strong opinion on the legal aspects of this, but on the practical side, we must allow our children to need and want this information (including having a relationship with the person). And, we cannot wait for our children to ask for it. We cannot assume they have the language to express this desire. We must be brave enough to talk about it from the beginning, to actually make room for and encourage the biological parents’ involvements.

    This arrangement isn’t rocket science. We don’t need to give him/her legal rights to make decisions or force them to pay child support. We simply need to acknowledge the importance of the relationship and allow it to be. From a legal perspective, it seems that open adoption might provide a reasonable model.

  • MattCA12

    The entire notion is preposterous. No, definitely not.

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