(NaturalNews) A Kansas court has ordered a man who volunteered to act as a sperm donor to a lesbian couple to pay child support, despite a contract he and the couple signed absolving him of any parental obligations.
In March 2009, William Marotta answered a Craigslist ad from a lesbian couple seeking donated sperm. Marotta replied and eventually donated three cupfuls. He and the mothers signed a contract in which Marotta waived any parental rights and was correspondingly absolved of any parental responsibilities.
"I donated genetic material, and that was it for me," he said.
Many women take a "do it yourself" approach to artificial insemination in order to avoid the costs associated with going through a doctor or sperm bank. Each artificial insemination attempt through official channels costs about $3,000, and it can take several such attempts before a pregnancy results.
"It's a lot cheaper to get someone to come on over with their donation, and then do it yourself at home," CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen said.
State seeks payments
One of the women, Jennifer Schreiner, became pregnant from Marotta's sperm and gave birth to a daughter in December 2009. When she appealed for public assistance in 2012, the Kansas Department for Children and Families launched an investigation and declared that Marotta was the child's father and was therefore responsible for the costs. It ordered him to reimburse the state for $4,000 in public assistance payments, and to make back-payments on child support.
In the resulting lawsuit, Marotta's attorney, Ben Swinnen, argued that Marotta was a sperm donor and therefore not liable for child support. But Shawnee County District Judge Mary Mattivi ruled against him, saying that Marotta and Schreiner had failed to follow a 1994 law mandating that all artificial insemination be performed by a licensed physician.
According to the law, Mattivi said, no artificial insemination took place, and therefore Marotta is the child's father, contract notwithstanding.
"In this case, quite simply, the parties failed to perform to statutory requirement of the Kansas Parentage Act in not enlisting a licensed physician at some point in the artificial insemination process, and the parties' self-designation of [Marotta] as a sperm donor is insufficient to relieve [Marotta] of parental right and responsibilities to the child," Mattivi wrote.
'Important social implications'
Swinnen condemned the court's ruling and its implication that his client is a deadbeat dad.
"We stand by that contract," Swinnen said. "The insinuation [that the contract is faked] is offensive, and we are responding vigorously to that. ... There was no personal relationship whatsoever between my client and the mother, or the partner of the mother, or the child. Anything the state insinuates is vilifying my client, and I will address it."
Swinnen accused the state of prosecuting the case for political motives, noting that the state has spent more money on the case than it has ordered Marotta to pay.
"The cost to the state to bring this case far outweighs any benefit the state would get," Swinnen said.
He accused the state of hiding behind a narrow interpretation of the statute in order to sidestep the issues actually at play in the case.
"From a very narrowly crafted statute, the court has made a very broad rule - that is the issue," Swinnen said.
He warned that the case has "important social implications" and could affect "many other families."
Marotta is planning to appeal the decision, and expects the case to reach the Kansas Supreme Court.
"If enough noise gets made about it, at this point, maybe things will change for the better," he said.