Page URL:

Father given parental rights in home insemination case

27 April 2015
Appeared in BioNews 799

A man who provided sperm to a female friend who then used it to conceive without sexual intercourse has been awarded parental rights by the Virginia Court of Appeals in the USA.

Robert Boardwine provided sperm to Joyce Bruce, a long-term friend who wanted to have a child alone, who inseminated herself using a turkey baster. The parties did not have sexual intercourse.

After a number of failed attempts - and two unsuccessful donor insemination procedures at a fertility clinic using anonymously donated sperm - Bruce became pregnant in 2010 with Boardwine's sperm using the same home-insemination procedure they had used previously.

During the pregnancy Boardwine would visit and bring gifts for the baby, but their relationship began to decline after a disagreement over a name for the child. After this point, the parties did not speak for five months. Bruce did not inform Boardwine of the birth and did not include his name on the child's birth certificate.

Although contact was initially resumed, Bruce described the visits as 'strained' and the visits then stopped at her request, after which Boardwine brought an application for custody and visitation rights over the child.

The ruling shows how Bruce was under the impression that if she became pregnant without sexual intercourse then the biological father would not be entitled to parental rights.

She also said that her expectation was that after the birth Boardwine would visit just as a friend. Boardwine, on the other hand, contended that he always intended to be involved with the child and expected to be part of the child's life. While they had discussed creating a contract outlining the terms of the agreement, no such document had been created.

After Boardwine's parental status was confirmed by a DNA test, a lower court found that at the time of donation the parties had intended for Boardwine to become a legal father, and that is was in the best interests of the child to award Boardwine custody and visitation rights.

The Virginia Court of Appeals then had to determine if Boardwine was a 'donor', as if so he would not be entitled to parental rights. A donor is defined under State law as someone who contributes sperm or eggs for use in 'assisted conception'. This is, in turn, defined as a pregnancy resulting from 'intervening medical technology'.

Ruling that the State's assisted conception statue did not apply to Boardwine, Judge Stephen Cullough held: 'The plain meaning of the term "medical technology" does not encompass a kitchen implement such as a turkey baster.' Boardwine was not a sperm donor and was entitled to parental rights.

Bruce has the right of appeal to the Virginia Supreme Court. It is not yet clear whether an appeal will be pursued.

Court grants father parental rights over turkey baster baby
UPI |  22 April 2015
Dad Has Rights After Turkey-Baster Pregnancy, Court Rules
ABC News |  21 April 2015
Joyce Rosemary Bruce v. Robert Preston Boardwine
Court of Appeals of Virginia |  21 April 2015
Man who successfully got a female friend pregnant using a turkey baster wins the right to see his son
Daily Mail |  21 April 2015
Va. court affirms dad’s rights in turkey baster conception
Washington Post |  21 April 2015
18 January 2016 - by Dr Linda Wijlaars 
A man from Luton, Bedfordshire, claims to have fathered 'in excess of 800 children' through unlicensed artificial sperm donations...
21 December 2015 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
The High Court has refused a man's application for direct contact with a child born to a same-sex couple using his sperm...
27 July 2015 - by Arit Udoh 
Alibaba, the China-based e-commerce firm, has offered its male users up to £525 in exchange for their sperm...
8 June 2015 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
The Family Court has refused a man contact over a child raised in a complex set of family relations, to whom he has no biological connection or legal parenthood...
1 June 2015 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
The University of British Columbia has proposed to settle a class action involving the accidental destruction of sperm for $6.2 million...
10 November 2014 - by Chee Hoe Low 
A six-year legal battle for contact over two girls conceived via known-donor fertilisation has had a 'destructive effect' on the girls' childhood, a High Court judge has warned in his third substantive judgment in the case....
10 November 2014 - by Jenny Sharpe 
An Australian woman has become engaged to the sperm donor who fathered her one-year-old daughter...
4 August 2014 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
A child with Down's syndrome born to a Thai surrogate is reported to have been abandoned by the intended parents, an Australian couple, who have denied the allegations. Conflicting versions of the developing story have been reported....
7 April 2014 - by Dr Ruth Curson 
Sadly, there are currently not enough egg and sperm donors in the UK to meet our needs. Recipients are now seeking alternative routes to find donors, either by travelling abroad or from unregulated internet sites: both with the potential for unwanted consequences...
20 February 2012 - by Natalie Gamble 
The family court has been making law on known donors, with a number of recent disputes between known sperm donors and lesbian mothers...
to add a Comment.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions

Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.