Editorial: It’s nuts to make sperm donor pay child support


When someone makes a transaction on Craigslist, they often don’t get quite what they bargained for.
This, however, is not the case for Kansas resident William Marotta, who answered an ad posted by two lesbian women seeking a sperm donor.

Despite having signed an agreement releasing all responsibility for the kid that would be conceived with his sperm, Marotta is the state’s target for child support.

Marotta says he was intrigued by the advertisement and subsequently delivered three cups full of his genetic material to the two women, one of whom gave birth to a daughter.

He assumed that once he made the handoff, he was off the hook for any paternal responsibility as stated in his contract with the women.

That changed when the women separated.

One stopped working and filed for state financial help, sparking the government to go after her sperm donor for child support until the daughter turns 18 and for the approximately $6,000 in assistance the government has paid thus far.

In most cases, the state would not have any legal ground to force a sperm donor to pay.

What makes this case unique is that the two women chose not to use a licensed physician for the insemination.

Instead, the women performed a series of self-inseminations, which, according to the state, makes him responsible for the child despite the agreement he signed with the couple.

Under section 23-2208(f) of the Kansas code, a “donor of semen provided to a licensed physician for use in artificial insemination of a woman other than the donor’s wife is treated in law as if he were not the birth father of a child thereby conceived, unless agreed to in writing by the donor and the woman.”

District Court Judge Mary Mattivi ruled Marotta was responsible for ensuring that the women went through the proper channels to carry out the impregnation.

The state says it must assume that the lack of a physician’s signature makes it impossible to determine that he was a sperm donor rather than the sexual partner of the girl’s mother.

This assumption should not be made. The fact that all three parties say he was a donor is sufficient to prove that he isn’t either of the women’s sexual partner. By assuming Marotta is the sexual partner of the woman that eventually gave birth, the state of Kansas is choosing to assume something that every party involved knows is completely false.

It is not fair that Marotta is being held responsible for a 4-year-old child that he has only met in passing just because he gave the sperm as a good deed to a couple in need.

He signed the contract, which he assumed was binding and would alleviate his legal and familial bonds to the baby.

The state should hold the women who received Marotta’s sperm responsible, since they were the ones who initiated the transaction and chose not to use a physician. The legality of Marotta’s actions shouldn’t hinge upon the actions of two women that he couldn’t control. Since he signed over his semen to the couple, Marotta should not be expected to control who the recipients chose to carry out their insemination.

When filing for welfare, the biological mother of the child attempted to withhold the name of her sperm donor.

After finding out she would not receive any money without doing so, the woman gave up Marotta’s name.

Still, though, she insists that she does not want any responsibility to be forced on him because “introducing a virtual stranger into the family unit would violate the right to family integrity.”
The former partner of the child’s biological mother also objects to Marotta being declared responsible. She says he, as a presumptive parent, would be replacing her in the family structure, since Kansas does not allow a child to have three legal parents.

Being that all parties involved in the conception of this child agree on the fact that Marotta should not have any ties to the child, financially or otherwise, the state should back off.
Because Kansas has historically been opposed to same-sex marriage, it seems as though Kansas is using this case to send a political message that would deter people from helping lesbian couples conceive rather than doing what is best for the child.

It is true that in legal terms, there is a big difference between being a sperm donor and a father. Kansas has chosen to blur those lines.

We agree that if Marotta wanted to be nothing more than the former, he shouldn’t have made arrangements to conceive a child over Craigslist. At the same time, the state should honor the contract agreed to by the three adults. By forcing a stranger into this family structure, it could potentially do more harm than good to the mental welfare of the child.

His contract should be honored, and the women should be the ones held responsible for not using a physician.