When you sit little Johnny down for The Sex Talk, parents, be sure to cover all the bases: the birds, the bees — and the test tubes.
Yes, as if biology didn’t raise enough uncomfortable questions for us when educating enquiring young minds (“Did Daddy do THAT to you!?”), the chemistry of artificial insemination now adds further complications to the discussion (“Where does a sperm donor’s penis go?”).
And don’ t think the issue won’t, uh, come up. Some high profile court cases involving sperm donors are going to be playing out in the media and around the Web this year, which means they’ll hit the office break room and the school playground in no time.
One of the latest hails from the U.S. Midwest. In a case that would convince Dorothy that that she is indeed not in Kansas anymore, the state is seeking child support from a sperm donor – despite his agreement with the lesbian couple he assisted that waives any financial obligations or parental rights on his part.
Not only that, but the government officials are playing hardball.
First, they threatened to deny the couple state health insurance for their daughter, unless the parents gave up the name of the sperm donor.
And now, having coerced the women into exposing the biological father, the state has decided that he has to pay child support because his, uh, “donation” was not made with the help of a licensed physician or clinic. Had the couple and Donor Dad gone that route, apparently he would be off the hook.
It seems there is some screwing involved in this transaction, after all. Just not the fun kind.
In a Canadian case, meantime, the anonymity of sperm donors has been challenged in B.C. A woman seeking information about the man who artificially fathered her won the case initially, only to lose it on appeal.
Granted, two cases do not a crisis make. But Canadians should be concerned, because our courts do not have any precedents when it comes to this reproductive issue.
And that could spook potential donors. The threat of having to financially support a child could be a huge deterrent. So could the thought of a teenager showing up on the doorstep to announce “Hi Dad. Mind if I join your family for dinner and, oh, the next 50 years?”
There are obviously legal and ethical issues to be sorted out, especially for the sake of Canadian couples dealing with infertility. A study suggests about 16 percent of heterosexual couples, in which the woman is somewhere between 18 and 44 years of age, are experiencing infertility – a doubling of the rate since 1992.
Blame tighty whities or bicycle seats all you want, but that doesn’t change the fact that more and more couples – gay and straight – have sperm donors as one of their few options for parenthood.
That makes this a discussion worth having.
Oh, and as for that sex talk with your kids? Don’t bother. They’ve seen it all on the Internet