Sperm donors have historically often had little more than a pump and dump relationship with the children they sire, if you will excuse the phrase; for many years, it was unheard of that they would become involved with their offspring. But the upcoming Vince Vaughn movie, Delivery Man, has made a clear impact on a potential new law in California involving the parental rights that sperm donors have considering their next of kin.
The bill, SB 115, would allow the man who donated the sperm to, at any time, contact the facility where he donated to establish a relationship with the children that came from that donation. This is only, however, if the relationship was set up from the beginning allowing the man to contact the children; parents can still choose to use donors who have waived their rights to any contact, much like an open versus closed adoption. Advocates of this legal change say it's to protect men from parents who have chosen to use their sperm, allowed them contact with the child, but then changed their minds about the biological father being involved.
Lawyer Fred Silberberg notes that the law is being reconsidered because "times have changed":
The original basis for the law was a means to allow both unmarried women and women who were married to men who were infertile to have children without fear that the sperm donor would eventually claim some right to the child. Years ago this was, and today in certain instances remains, a just result. But times have changed, medicine had changed and fertility treatments have become more accessible. At the same time, the fabric of family life has also changed.
The bill, which was introduced by Democrat Jerry Hill, has been passed by the California state senate and is waiting on the state assembly. The Washington Post editorial board has backed it, writing that, "Given the various situations in which men donate sperm to women, a legal contract is a good idea. But with or without agreements, people sometimes end up parenting in ways that they didn't foresee."
This shifting legislation is already stirring up drama from people like actor Jason Patric (Lost Boys), who had a son with an ex-girlfriend by donating sperm, sued for custody, and lost. Patric is appealing the ruling, claiming that there's plenty of proof that he has a relationship with his son and always intended to (he'll be on Katie Monday and the TODAY show Tuesday pleading his case). His ex-girlfriend, Danielle Schreiber, who he got back together with after she had her son Gus, told the TODAY show:
"This is about rights and preserving my right to be a sole legal parent and not have to share that with someone who has never intended to and never raised Gus."
Her lawyer Patty Glaser clarifies that "We're not saying he doesn't have a right to be part of this child's life...all we're saying to Jason is, wait a minute." Glaser adds:
"I think everyone should examine a law like this, that it should be looked at quietly, that it should be looked at with contemplation, that it should be looked at as a whole."
*I'm just kidding! Vince Vaughn's greatest legacy will be "Just the tip, just for a second, just to see how it feels."
Image via Dreamworks