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End of legal wrangle involving lesbian parents, private sperm donor and surrogate mother

24 September 2012

By Tom Barrow

Appeared in BioNews 674

The High Court has awarded a lesbian couple sole custody rights for a child conceived using donor sperm and a surrogate's egg after a three-year battle over parenthood.

The couple, who are both infertile, are friends with the surrogate and she made no claim for the child. However the sperm donor, given the pseudonym of 'Michael' by the Sunday Times, made a claim for legal parenthood.

'Ann', the wife of the sperm donor, had initially agreed for her husband to donate his sperm, but then became distressed by the news that a child had been conceived. When the child was born dispute over legal parenthood began which pitted Ann and Michael against the commissioning couple.

In the UK sperm donors who donate to licensed sperm banks remain anonymous until the donor-conceived child has turned eighteen, when they can be contacted at the child's request. However, Michael wished to be known to the child and donated privately.

The judgment ends a protracted legal dispute and the Sunday Times focuses on Ann who was 'traumatised' by the entire affair and fears she may never recover. She believes that the wives of sperm donors should receive counselling before their husbands donate sperm, as 'no one ever thinks of the wives of the men who donate and the pain they go through'. Her comments echo a recent claim by a woman who believes that her husband should require 'spousal consent' to donate his gametes (reported in BioNews 671).

Ann says that the experience was not eased by the 'selfish' determination of the lesbian couple to have a child at any cost. Michael told the Sunday Times that for his wife, his fathering a child must be 'like coping with me being unfaithful'.

David Josiah-Lake, a solicitor with a family law firm, told the newspaper that couples need to be aware of legal implications before donating gametes. 'You must always speak to a family lawyer because [the creation of a child] is complex', he said.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Legal quagmire of four parents and their baby 'born to order'
Sunday Times (subscription required) | 16 September 2012
 
Mail Online | 16 September 2012
 

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