Skip to comments.Who gets the baby? A mix-up at OHSU's fertility clinic creates a tangle of lawsuits.
Posted on 09/22/2006 8:52:55 AM PDT by momfirst
He says the clinic gave a stranger his sperm and then lied about it.
She says the clinic coerced her into taking the morning-after pill and then offered her a free abortion.
Now he wants to know whether he's a father without his consent.
And she just wants to be left alone.
Oregon Health & Science University concedes it gave his sperm to her, but beyond that it's not saying much.
On Monday, a Multnomah County Circuit Court judge will be asked to sort out whether the man has the right to learn whether the woman has had a baby and if it is his.
The case involves a high-stakes clash of an anonymous woman's right to privacy and an unwitting sperm provider's desire to have a relationship with a biological child.
It also raises serious ethical questions about how OHSU handled the mistake.
"OHSU is deeply sorry for this situation," Barbara Glidewell, OHSU patient advocate and ethicist, said in a statement. "Health care providers are human, and error is inevitable. Our goal now is to respect the decision-making and privacy of everyone involved."
Experts say the man, who goes by the initials M.H. in court papers, might have a chance to find out whether he is the father based on the unusual circumstances of the case. But they all agree that state law and court precedent strongly favor the woman.
"It's his right against hers and the child's," said Caroline Forell, a professor at the University of Oregon School of Law. "My guess is they add up the rights of the child and her and that trumps his."
Mistakes and allegations
In September 2005, M.H. gave workers at OHSU's fertility clinic a container of his sperm to be used to artificially inseminate his fiancee.
(Excerpt) Read more at oregonlive.com ...
Here is where I think the laws should fix things. Once you hand over your DNA, you no longer have any rights in the ordinary biological sense. Sperm and/or egg donors should NEVER be hounded for child-support or any such nonsense. This is a similar (albiet different) situation. You put your semen in a cup to be used (in certain contractual ways) in a fertility clinic, you should have ZERO biological rights or responsibilities. ALL rights and responsibilities should be contractually defined. The father should NOT be the person whose DNA matches, but should be the person stated in the contracts to be the father. Ditto for the mom.
I don't think the bio-parents deserve ANY legal standing based on biology. The contract, and NOTHING ELSE, should be legally binding.
I would never seek to get parental rights or try to wedge myself into their family, I would let them know I hope that the child is happy and healthy, and if they ever need any medical information to call me, and that would be it.
I would also ask that if the child finds out and wants to meet me that when they are adults that they give them my address to they can contact me if THEY want, but I would not instigate a meeting at all unless the child knows the truth and wants to meet me themselves.
Does that surprise you?
The clinic lied about it.
Would you say the same about gun control?
I doubt it.
The internet can be used for adultry. Do we ban it?
I doubt it.
Mistakes and bad people can make anything seem not worthwhile.
I think it would be intellectually honest for you not to judge in-vitro because of a few idiots.
If that's what you want to do then I would believe that it would be intellectually honest for you to give comparisons of all technology in the world that can be mis-used by bad or mornonic people.
They had been trying unsuccessfully for several years to start a family, according to court documents. That day, they paid $515 for sperm from an anonymous donor.
Shortly afterward, OHSU contacted the woman to inform her of the mix-up.
"Jane Doe" alleges clinic doctors then told her she had to get "medicine" to make sure she did not become pregnant.
When the couple came in, they allege, workers there prevented them from leaving until she swallowed the medicine, also referred to in the documents as the morning-after pill, as a nurse watched.
They also allege workers offered the woman a free abortion, in case she became pregnant, and two free artificial inseminations, in case she did not.
I am a little confused? Did the woman have the baby after taking the morning-after pill? And she never had the abortion offered?
No matter what any clinic tells you, courts will still be liable for child support. Every form should have stamped on it, "NO MATTER WHAT, YOU MAY BE RESPONSIBLE TO PAY CHILD SUPPORT FOR ANY NUMBER OF CHILDREN."
That's why I'd rather have the law say: "You will NEVER have any legal responsibility for or legal rights to offspring produced from your DNA unless specified in your contract."
It would never work. The courts would never be contrained by that.
That why I said "law" not "contract"...While I agree that our courts often fail to follow simple, clear law, it's the best we can do...
"That's why I'd rather have the law say"...
I'm aware of that.
And the mother?
Should she not be allowed to raise the child as she sees fit, irrespective of the desires of a total stranger she never wanted to be connected to? Since they resorted to an anonymous sperm donor, instead of a friend or relative, I assume they didn't want any extra legal or emotional entanglments.
I don't believe either one has a greater moral claim to the baby.
Then what is the woman's husband? The one who, presumably, will raise him, and support him? It's says alot of bad things about our society that we have to make these distinctions, but I don't think it's fair to relegate Jane Doe's husband to step father, or surrogate father, or just meal ticket.
I'm sure there was some sort of paperwork when M.H. made his donation. It would be interesting to know if he relinquished all rights upon making the bank "deposit", or if there is some sort of clause about what rights he actually does have. Whatever the case, I'm sure the simple donation process will undoubtedly require pages of legal documents in the future.
That's what makes this issue so troubling, he didn't "donate" his sperm, it was intended for his fiance ONLY - it was the clinic's error in giving it to another female. He fully intended to create a baby that he would be there to help raise, not a baby for a strange couple.
He doesn't appear to be some shmoe selling his seeds for profit. It was not a donation for science, it was a donation to his loved one.
C.S. Lewis points out the problem I'm trying to identify(So does Plato, come to think of it). He says a "gentleman" used to be someone who didn't have to work with his hands for a living. It would not be remarkable so say,"Mr. Smith is a gentleman and a scoundrel." Then somebody said,"Ah, but TRUE gentlemanliness is about courtesy and consideration and ....[so forth]." And that sounds very good, But we already have the phrases "good person","Educated person","polite person" and using "gentleman" in this new was just takes away a term of socio-economic meaning and gives us nothing in return.
So the "sperm-donor" is, IMHO, a BAD father, an ineffective father, a hindered or irresponsible father. And the guy who raises the child, knowing it is not his and doing so voluntarily is a good step-father. And the word "father" maintains the root meaning of "donor of some of the genetic material..." and the paradigm or "norm" of donating genetic material taking place within a certain context of relationship and all that is also maintained.
But then, I'm funny that way. I don't think we add anything by derogating or re-defining father. I think we confuse language and then thought.
"He says a "gentleman" used to be someone who didn't have to work with his hands for a living. It would not be remarkable so say,"Mr. Smith is a gentleman and a scoundrel."
My definition of gentleman: Gentleman you are born; rich you become.
That's GOT to be closer to the root even than Lewis's explanation. (Hey, are we kind of going astray here?) Gens, gentis? Race? "Gentle", like "kind" originally conveying more of the sense of "one of us" (or, for us peasants, "one of them") than anything else. Already in the 16th century, the usage is getting interesting or Hamlet's wry line "A little more than kin, but less than kind," wouldn't have the bite it has. For the Lancashire Poet, "rich" and "righteous" seem closely related, if my failing memory serves me.
He may not have made a general donation, but a donation for use with a specific person's egg. If they used it for someone else, that would be a problem. I still think that the issue should be the clinic compensating him, not him wrecking some family.