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US politician against gay marriage allegedly donated sperm to lesbian couples

19 December 2011
Appeared in BioNews 638

A former US Republican politician has made international headlines after allegedly acting as a sperm donor to multiple women in New Zealand. According to the New Zealand Herald, Bill Johnson provided sperm to at least nine women although official guidelines state that no man should donate to more than four families.

Speaking to the Herald on Sunday, Mr Johnson said: 'Every person who is a father and a mother knows why I am doing this. If life's circumstances had dealt me a different hand I wouldn't be doing this. It is not the hand that life has dealt my wife'.

'Reproduction and having children is as basic a human need as eating', he told the newspaper.

Mr Johnson explained he was unable to have children with his wife as she had had a hysterectomy before they met. She has three children from a previous marriage but was aware that Mr Johnson had a strong desire to have his own biological children. Although they had discussed him being a sperm donor, she was unaware that he had gone through with it.

When the Herald on Sunday spoke to Mrs Johnson she told the newspaper: 'He knows I am shocked and deeply hurt and even angry. It's not something a wife ever wants to experience. It's very personal and very tragic and we'll have to work through this as a family'.

Mr Johnson ran for governor of Alabama last year where he campaigned against gay marriage. According to the New Zealand Herald, at least one woman he donated to was in a committed lesbian relationship. Mr Johnson said that he was unaware of the relationship status of the women he had donated to.

He used an online alias and Internet sites to bypass the country's strict donating guidelines and, according to the New Zealand Herald, at least three women who have received donations from Mr Johnson are currently pregnant.

The newspaper says Mr Johnson, who works for the disaster recovery company, Ceres, moved to Christchurch in February to help run the earthquake recovery efforts. The company said it was investigating the allegations.

Mr Johnson said he wanted to be involved in the lives of the children conceived using his sperm if the mother's permitted. 'I'll be just as much a parent to them as they want me to be, as I am to my own children', he said. 'I've been trying to get my wife over here, my family over here... so I can be around for these children'.

Mr Johnson has since reportedly asked for his comments made to the New Zealand Herald to be retracted. The newspaper has now reported that Mr Johnson has returned to the US to spend Christmas with his family.

Bill Johnson, former GOP official against same-sex marriage donated sperm to lesbian couples: report
New York Daily News |  13 December 2011
'He gave a commitment that he would let it go'
New Zealand Herald |  11 December 2011
'I became very disturbed by this man': How one lesbian who considered accepting Republican politician Bill Johnson's sperm freaked out and revealed all to the press
Mail Online |  14 December 2011
Johnson 'a Godsend'
New Zealand Herald |  11 December 2011
Sperm-donor kept wife in the dark
New Zealand Herald |  11 December 2011
3 September 2012 - by Dr Victoria Burchell 
A woman has called for legal changes to prevent a man from donating his sperm without his wife's consent....
30 April 2012 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
Thirteen vials of sperm are to be divided between two women after their relationship ended, a Canadian court has ruled. It ruled the sperm should be treated as property and divided between the former couple as other joint assets were upon separation....
19 March 2012 - by Rosie Beauchamp 
The Court of Appeal in London has ruled unanimously that a gay man who fathered a child for a lesbian couple is not a secondary parent, allowing him greater access to his two-year-old son...
12 December 2011 - by Dr Nadeem Shaikh 
A man in the United States is reportedly being investigated by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after offering his sperm for donation. Trent Arsenault, a 36 year-old computer security expert from California, has set up a website offering his sperm without charge to anyone who wishes to use it to have a baby....
28 November 2011 - by Jessica Ware 
A man is suing a US fertility clinic in negligence for 'mental and economic injuries' after alleging it used his 'stolen' sperm to impregnate his girlfriend without his consent....
31 October 2011 - by Andrew Proven Donor 
A shortfall in donated sperm, we are told, has pushed potential recipients onto websites where private sperm donors hawk their reproductive wares. If only the officially sanctioned sperm banks were well stocked, the thinking goes, women would not have to venture into that murky world. But is that correct? What if sperm donation outside the official channels actually carried certain advantages over the clinic system...
17 October 2011 - by Dr Zara Mahmoud 
Increasing numbers of women under the age of 25 are turning to sperm donors online, an investigation by the Sunday Times has shown. Many of these women have stable jobs and good support networks, and see no reason to wait before starting a family...
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