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Sunday, July 25, 2004

"Acting as a sperm donor" vs. "reckless intercourse" 

When I teach Child & Family Courses that cover the subject matter of cohabitation, I use the term "shacking up". At first, my students find the term offensive (especially those currently shacked up). However, as we move through the material and the deleterious effects are uncovered, they move rapidly to a new understanding of "cohabitation" vs. "shacking Up". They learn that cohabitation means to share living quarters and not necessarily beds. To shack up, well, we all know what that means. They realize that picking a new word to cover a naughty thing does not make it less naughty.

The headlines on CNN Headline News read "Sperm donor ordered to pay child support for twins." You can read the article here. At first, I thought the material would correspond to my earlier posts "Falsely Accused Fathers". However, if you read carefully, you will notice that we are not given one important piece of information. In the article, we are told that the man "acted as a sperm donor." We are not told if this means he donated a specimen that the woman gave to her physician to use for artificial insemination or if they had sexual intercourse. Biologically, the processes have the same outcome, but legally, morally, socially, and all other ways, the processes are as different as night and day.

Based on the ruling in this case, I do not think "sperm donor" is the correct term. Why would the article and the hearing include the previous relationship between the man and woman in the case. A likely and believable scenario is that the relationship was ending. She decided to get pregnant. She told him she wanted to get pregnant but did not need him to be a part of the child's life. He decided to have more sexual intercourse with her. A child was conceived. She sued him for child support and won. He is mad because his defense of being only a "sperm donor" did not work.

Using the term "sperm donor" here is misleading and wrong. It leads many to believe that the story is about the rights and responsibilities of individuals involved in artificial insemination cases. It is wrong because the correct term for the man in this case is "biological father".

I cannot find a detailed account of the case. The details in this case are very important.
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