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sperm bank
July 27, 2005 9:55 AM   Subscribe

Bizarre child support battle in Brooklyn A Brooklyn, New York man who stopped paying storage fees for his frozen sperm after divorcing his wife has filed suit against the sperm bank, his ex, and a notary public after learning she picked up the payments and used the sperm to get pregnant. Deon Francois, who now must pay child support, says he didn't want a child and never gave consent for the use of his sperm.
posted by halekon (110 comments total)

 
Wow, that is seriously effed up. Wasn't there some news article about a woman who got pregnant by statutorily raping a 14 year old boy and then the boy was forced to make child support payments?

This is just as messed up.

And, because its gotta be said, her name is Chaamel?

Love the slimy lawyer quote at the end, "Well he needs to be compensated and he has to pay child support and it's going to cost maybe several million to raise a child in the 21st century." Several million? Someone had better make them poor people stop making babies then.
posted by fenriq at 10:06 AM on July 27, 2005


He moved out, he forgot about the whole plan of having children with Chaamel.

Um, yes this story is bizarre, but that's gotta be just about the most bizarre part of it.
posted by soyjoy at 10:12 AM on July 27, 2005


First I thought, no way he's responsible if he didn't give permission to use. But then, he kinda did give permission, or at least made the situation possible, by donating to the bank in the first place. Besides, from the child's point of view, who else is going to provide support? Other than mother, who's the closest adult to this situation? Ok yeah, too bad for dad, you gotta think through possible consequences (not just intentions) when you do things.
posted by scheptech at 10:14 AM on July 27, 2005


Why do the women get total control of all of this? He didn't want the kid, he shouldn't have to pay.
posted by Moral Animal at 10:19 AM on July 27, 2005


Yes, but as I understand it, men are explicitly absolved from having to pay child support when their sperm is used from a sperm bank.

Where, oh where are the right-wingers decrying judicial activism now?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:20 AM on July 27, 2005


Seems reasonable to me. As far as I understand child support, it's a child's claim for support against both his parents; the mother only gets paid as the custodian of the child.

I don't think that "I didn't want you" should be a valid defense against a claim for support from a child, any more than "I don't like you anymore" or "You cramp my style, kid" are -- your feelings about the child aren't relevant; what matters is that it is verifiably your offspring.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:28 AM on July 27, 2005


And it does, sometimes, go the other way. After my folks split up, my dad paid child support for my sister who lived with her. Then she moved in with him, and the direction flipped.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:29 AM on July 27, 2005


Interesting issue in the abstract, but the case will probably turn out to be a relatively mundane document authenticity dispute. If the purported releases are authentic, the mom wins. If they are not, the dad wins.
posted by brain_drain at 10:31 AM on July 27, 2005


I don't know much about sperm banks, but it surprises me that she was able to get her hands on the baby batter without his consent.
posted by Stonewall Jackson at 10:33 AM on July 27, 2005


Oops. Missed the part about the (alledgedly fake) release forms. Carry on.
posted by Stonewall Jackson at 10:35 AM on July 27, 2005


OK, but then why does the mother get to decide to terminate the pregnancy? If the father wants the child and the mother does not, the decision goes to the mother. Why is she always the default?
posted by Moral Animal at 10:36 AM on July 27, 2005


What about the woman who takes a used condom out of the trash and impregnates herself?
Is he responsible for child support?

What if a man gives a sperm sample to a fertility clinic and one of the nurses uses it to impregnate herself?
Is he responsible for child support?

What if the sperm donor dies? Is his estate responsible?

Lots of interesting questions here, but I would like to see some kind of law that says to be held responsible, a man must knowingly participate in an activity that has a reasonable chance of directly causing a pregnancy.
posted by bashos_frog at 10:36 AM on July 27, 2005


Here's an more detailed article on a similar case in Massachusetts where the father won a judgment against a fertility clinic after a frozen embryo was implanted in his estranged wife without his consent. He was still on the hook for child support; the damages he won were essentially to reimburse him for some of the support payments.
posted by brain_drain at 10:42 AM on July 27, 2005


I guess that's a message for us guys that we really shouldn't trust anyone with our seed.
posted by clevershark at 10:44 AM on July 27, 2005


OK, but then why does the mother get to decide to terminate the pregnancy? If the father wants the child and the mother does not, the decision goes to the mother. Why is she always the default?

Because she's the one being pregnant. Hello, welcome to the wonderful world of biology.

That's got nothing to do with this case. Sperm donors have no legal obligations, but probably in this story the fact they were still married makes it different, so he's not just any sperm donor but the husband. It is very screwed up. The bank shouldn't have allowed this to happen, then again, it's not clear if he signed that release. Man, what a feast for the lawyers!

He shouldn't have been forced into this, the wife's actions are despicable. (How do you even want a baby from someone you are divorcing and hate so much? bah). But once the baby is there, what do you do? It's not the child's fault.
posted by funambulist at 10:55 AM on July 27, 2005


I don't think that "I didn't want you" should be a valid defense against a claim for support from a child, any more than "I don't like you anymore" or "You cramp my style, kid" are -- your feelings about the child aren't relevant; what matters is that it is verifiably your offspring.

ROU: So in you mind, if someone clones you from hair or skin sample, you're on the hook for child support? After all, they are your genetic offspring.

Basing child support on genetic lineage is stupid, the people or person who performed the action which created the child should be responsible for the child, not the person who's genetic information was stolen.

---

I've also heard of a case where a man was told he was the father of a child untill the woman got sick of him, and divorced him. He wasn't the biological father, but he still had to pay child support.

It's ridiculous, the woman can 'opt out' of responsibility by having an Abortion, but a man cannot. The law needs to be more fair.
posted by delmoi at 11:02 AM on July 27, 2005


Because she's the one being pregnant. Hello, welcome to the wonderful world of biology.

Not good enough. The "Wonderful World of Biology" dictates that genetically, the fetus is just as much of the man as it is of the woman.

I suppose you could argue that her body is sustaining the child, but then you're arguing that the fetus is "mostly the mother's tissue", in which case, the father is thrown out of the picture and shouldn't have to pay child support.

And the people responsible for the baby is determined based on genetic tests, so the child is just as much of the father's as it is the mother's. Hence, "she" is not pregnant, they both are.
posted by Moral Animal at 11:05 AM on July 27, 2005


Because she's the one being pregnant. Hello, welcome to the wonderful world of biology.

What does biology have to do with legality? Why not simply make the woman solely responsible for the baby, if she's solely responsible for deciding if the baby should be born then? If it's her choice alone, it should be her responsibility alone, right?

Of course, in most cases the guys 'consent' when they ejaculate into the woman, they had a choice in whether or not they did that. but not in this case.

But once the baby is there, what do you do? It's not the child's fault.

Well, make the sperm clinic pay for their fuckup. On the other hand, there's a good chance that this woman has more income and assets then a large number of poor couples. Why should those children also have to pay?

(How do you even want a baby from someone you are divorcing and hate so much? bah)

If it's a really nasty divorce, I'd be willing to bet that she did it just to get more 'child support' money.
posted by delmoi at 11:09 AM on July 27, 2005


If it's a really nasty divorce, I'd be willing to bet that she did it just to get more 'child support' money.

God, I hope not. I'd like to think it was a bad case of baby fever gone wrong.
posted by Moral Animal at 11:11 AM on July 27, 2005


Why not simply make the woman solely responsible for the baby, if she's solely responsible for deciding if the baby should be born then? If it's her choice alone, it should be her responsibility alone, right?

I think the problem with this is when it happens to pro-lifers. The woman won't have an abortion (it'd be like murder to them) and she chose to get pregnant just as much as the guy did (again, assuming she didn't poke a hole in his condom or lie about being on birth control). You can't make her decide anything else other than having the baby. The responsibility in this case I think is both of theirs.
posted by Moral Animal at 11:15 AM on July 27, 2005


Jeezus people, this is not about abortion. It's about the fact that sperm banks/fertility clinics need better safeguards to make sure that this kind of thing doesn't happen. How hard would it be to ensure that sperm donors, husbands or not, cannot be held responsible for what happens with their donations without their consent? Not very.

There's an obvious risk to donating sperm/creating embryos that should be legally addressed. But it's hardly necessary to repeal child support laws and Roe v. Wade to make this happen. Quit overreacting. This woman acted evilly; that does not mean all women are evil and out to put the screws to you by stealing your precious man-seed and making babies with it that you'll have to support.
posted by emjaybee at 11:23 AM on July 27, 2005


The problem is that legally, so far as I know, it doesn't matter how or why she got pregnant, or how fucked up the situatation is for the father. Family court operates with the sole prerogative of "what is in the best interest of the child." This is also why men end up paying support for children they aren't biologically related to (sorry, your name is on the birth certificate...).

Unless some lawyer wishes to step up and call me a fucktard, I'm pretty sure he's going to pay support even if he can prove fraud.
posted by iron chef morimoto at 11:26 AM on July 27, 2005


ROU_Xenophobe writes "I don't think that 'I didn't want you' should be a valid defense against a claim for support from a child, any more than 'I don't like you anymore' or 'You cramp my style, kid' are -- your feelings about the child aren't relevant; what matters is that it is verifiably your offspring."

Yes, but that leaves us with "Your mother, the bitch, stole my sperm and made you - go complain to her". I don't think the kid should be made to suffer for his parents mistakes, so the most fair solution seems to be the father still paying child support but suing the mother, the sperm bank and Microsoft (I don't know, I think it is always important to have a major corporation in lawsuits like this, since the big money must come from somewhere - and as the sperm bank probably used Windows, he can always claim the whole problem was originally caused by buggy software) out of their pants. But again, any course of action should always take in account the existence of kid who never asked to be a part of this mess.
posted by nkyad at 11:30 AM on July 27, 2005


iron chef morimoto writes "I'm pretty sure he's going to pay support even if he can prove fraud."

He'll pay support, but the court may force the people responsible for the fraud to reimburse his support payments. These responsible parties include his ex: the recipient of the support payments. It might end up that she receives a payment from the sperm bank, the other responsible party. If he can prove fraud. And it should be easy to prove fraud if fraud in fact occurred. According to the article: "She says it's notarized, he says it's a fake". Well, if it's notarized, check the notary's records. Do notaries in NY take thumbprints? That would be pretty damn incontrovertible proof one way or the other. Hell, if the notary has a signature, but the thumbprint doesn't match that of the plaintiff, the notary might be responsible for the fraud, too.

Oh, and this from the woman's lawyer:

"What do you do in a situation when a man relies on a woman who says 'I'm on birth control' but she's lying. Or what if the birth control just fails? Does that father then have the right to walk away from his financial responsibilies [sic]? It's the same thing."

It is sooooooo not the same thing. This lawyer is either an idiot, or he thinks everyone else is an idiot. Either way, she needs to get herself a new lawyer.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:43 AM on July 27, 2005


After the fact, the father has to be held to account and made reponsible, it's the only way to run a caring civilized society by making the best of a bad situation from the kid's perspective.

In any case it's obvious clinics need to tighten up procedures just a tad. No way the mother should have been able to do what she did without informed, current, and very specific consent of the proposed father. Whatever document she produced, valid or not, sounds really inadequate. The father shouldn't have to just agree to "use of sperm" but to "make a baby" and with a specific individual over a specific period of time. There shouldn't be any legal way to allow unlimited baby making in terms of how many, who with, or over an infinite time span. Yes, I know, this is one of the original ideas of sperm banks, donate and someone can make a baby you have no connection with.
posted by scheptech at 11:54 AM on July 27, 2005


ROU: So in you mind, if someone clones you from hair or skin sample, you're on the hook for child support?

Sure. I hereby pledge before this company assembled and God almighty that if someone clones me from hair, skin, or any other cell of my body, I will pay child support to take care of that child.

Likewise, I pledge that I will pay child support for any other instances of me that spontaneously generate out of thin air as a result of being sucked through a wormhole from a slightly-delayed alternate universe. Furthermore, should anyone be able to accurately deduce my genome from my appearance and behavior and construct my genetic replica on the basis of such a deduction, I will pay child support for them too. Even further, if a mage, wizard, deity, demon, or other supernatural entity should generate another copy of me, I will pay any relevant child support. Finally, I will pay child support for any child-aged copy of me that is a result of a transporter or holodeck accident.

All of these are about equally likely, as far as I care.

I further pledge that if, in any of these cases, my clone or duplicate becomes insane or evil and grows gigantic, or otherwise en-monster-izes, I will personally and with my own two hands construct a gigantic fighting robot with a wave-motion gun to defeat my evil quasi-offspring.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:02 PM on July 27, 2005


Cool. ROU_Xenophobe is about to finance the wholly nutjob whackshit Raelian movement.
posted by Kickstart70 at 12:07 PM on July 27, 2005


Here's why the law is the way it is:
This isn't about the mother having rights, it's about the rights of the child. The kids deserve suppory from ther parents, no matter how they came into being. The children are blameless in this, and legelly have the right of support form bith parents. Neither paret can give up the rights of the child.

That said, I hope he sues the mother for more than the amount of future child support.
posted by cccorlew at 12:12 PM on July 27, 2005


If it's a really nasty divorce, I'd be willing to bet that she did it just to get more 'child support' money.

God, I hope not. I'd like to think it was a bad case of baby fever gone wrong.


Why is that any better? The woman is either spiteful or crazy?
posted by voltairemodern at 12:17 PM on July 27, 2005


This is easy. If there is fraud involved, the mother should be required to place the child in the custody of the state pending adoption, and pay any associated costs. Why should she get to keep what basically amounts to a half stolen baby, and how is she fit to be a parent?
posted by mullingitover at 12:26 PM on July 27, 2005


Mrs. Chaamel Francois is pregnant again and her attorney says he will go after Mr. Francois for child support because she became pregnant while they were married and that is what the law supports.
What a bitch.
posted by DBAPaul at 12:32 PM on July 27, 2005


What does biology have to do with legality?

delmoi: don't get me wrong, I was answering the question about abortion specifically. A man cannot force a woman to go through a pregnancy she doesn't want, so it has to be her decision ultimately. Because she is the one being pregnant. (And I'm so not going to get into any side discussion on that).

But that is a completely different case from this one.

In this case, I do actually find it unfair that the man has to pay for child support or be legally responsible in any way, if he no longer consented to the sperm being used.

Why not simply make the woman solely responsible for the baby, if she's solely responsible for deciding if the baby should be born then? If it's her choice alone, it should be her responsibility alone, right?

I agree, actually. It's totally hypocrite to want it both ways. Not to mention demeaning. I don't even know what kind of relation, what kind of contact does she expect the child will have with the father, apart from getting the money. It's awful.

I do think the ex husband should be treated like a sperm donor because that's what he's been treated as by the ex.

Thing is, in that case, the child will grow up as the child of an anonymous donor, yet, he would inevitably get to know who is biological father is, and that he was in fact married to the mother, and this is such a wrong position to put a child in. From the child's point of view, it is about a lot more than the money. So I wasn't suggesting he should be forced to pay child support, but I don't see a way out of actual acknowledgement of paternity, and is there a way to separate the two?
posted by funambulist at 12:34 PM on July 27, 2005


Likewise, I pledge that I will pay child support for any other instances of me that spontaneously generate out of thin air as a result of being sucked through a wormhole from a slightly-delayed alternate universe. ...gigantic fighting robot with a wave-motion gun to defeat my evil quasi-offspring.

I don't know why...maybe it's the wormholes, mages and transporters, but I read that entire spiel in the voice of "Comic Book Guy," and it made it just that much better.


posted by kaseijin at 12:40 PM on July 27, 2005


I don't think that "I didn't want you" should be a valid defense against a claim for support from a child, any more than "I don't like you anymore" or "You cramp my style, kid" are -- your feelings about the child aren't relevant; what matters is that it is verifiably your offspring.

This (and similar arguments in the thread) might as well have me or you or mathowie paying child support to Chaamel. Just because the child, ideally, would have substantial monetary support doesn't mean you can demand that support from any given person.

Sure, it's his genetic material, but it's not at all "his child." See bashos_frog's comment above.
posted by rafter at 12:44 PM on July 27, 2005


By the way, to bring bashos_frog's comment out of the hypothetical, we've previously discussed a real-world case in which a woman impregnated herself with sperm after performing oral sex.
posted by rafter at 12:50 PM on July 27, 2005


If it's a really nasty divorce, I'd be willing to bet that she did it just to get more 'child support' money.

God, I hope not. I'd like to think it was a bad case of baby fever gone wrong.

Why is that any better? The woman is either spiteful or crazy?


Not crazy. Just really wanting kids. In the second case, at least she'd love the child.
posted by Moral Animal at 1:02 PM on July 27, 2005


I'm trying to figure out why someone with apparently perfectly good sperm is donating it to a sperm bank for use in impregnating his own wife. Deathy afraid of sweating maybe?

Also, having another baby during all of this with his sperm AGAIN is just asking for an anonymous rock-through-the-window.
posted by cleverusername at 1:02 PM on July 27, 2005


Can she produce more babies with his sperm? Is he responsible for all children?

Can a woman's eggs be stolen from an IVF lab, be impregnated into another woman, and yet the biological mother will still have to pay child support?

I think the pracitcal solution is to throw the mother in jail, and have the father bring up the child. When she's out of jail, SHE can pay child support and have visitation once every two weeks.
posted by FieldingGoodney at 1:05 PM on July 27, 2005


Damn, I forgot that one...

What if she impregnated her lesbian lover instead? Who pay child support then?
posted by bashos_frog at 1:08 PM on July 27, 2005


I read that entire spiel in the voice of "Comic Book Guy,"

Unsurprisingly, that's how I was reading to myself, too.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:11 PM on July 27, 2005


They weren't even HER eggs, so she's not even the biological mother, right?

You never really know who is lying - divorce is bitter. But if the guy really didn't know she was getting pregnant, I don't think he should be accountable for the kid.

This story made me really sad.
posted by WaterSprite at 1:17 PM on July 27, 2005


They weren't even HER eggs, so she's not even the biological mother, right?

You never really know who is lying - divorce is bitter. But if the guy really didn't know she was getting pregnant, I don't think he should be accountable for the kid.

This story made me really sad.
posted by WaterSprite at 1:17 PM on July 27, 2005


Argh. Sorry for the double post!
posted by WaterSprite at 1:17 PM on July 27, 2005


I remember at some point around a campfire with my uncle, while my parents were at a store or something, that "women only want to steal your seed, so be careful.I always was skeptical of the advice, but now I see... (Anyway, that was before he got cancer and became all beatific.)

Shame that we can't just have the woman and her fetus killed and fed to pets. Stupid culture of life.
posted by klangklangston at 1:20 PM on July 27, 2005


I do actually find it unfair that the man has to pay for child support or be legally responsible in any way

Life is not fair and who should be expected to bear the brunt of that reality at this point, a baby or a full-grown man, maybe not the smartest one around but still?

Sure, it's his genetic material, but it's not at all "his child."

It's not at all his idea, at least recently, however the child exists and is his. Does he somehow become not the father because it wasn't his intention? If men were ever in complete control of this half of us would never have been born. This is an old situation, technology hasn't creating any new moral conundrum here.

And yes, hopefully this guy can sue the clinic and anyone else involved for whatever he can get and pass it along to the kid. Maybe the two of them get the last laugh.
posted by scheptech at 1:31 PM on July 27, 2005


your feelings about the child aren't relevant; what matters is that it is verifiably your offspring.

All this talk of personal responsibility just makes me point my finger at the woman. She wants a child, she can pay for it. Whose jizz went where has nothing to do with it; responsibility should be based solely on actions, not feelings or justice or shit.

It's not at all his idea, at least recently, however the child exists and is his.

That is a dubious assertion of legal fact IMV, regardless of present law and precedent.

I just don't hold the 1/2 (involuntary!) contribution toward the offspring's genetic makeup as a sufficient criterion for determing responsibility.

If we disagree about this, it's cool. This is just the internet.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 1:58 PM on July 27, 2005


women only want to steal your seed, so be careful

Purity of Essence, baby. Looks like that crazy general from Dr. Strangelove was ahead of his time!
posted by soyjoy at 2:13 PM on July 27, 2005


Rou, that's just silly. What if the man is raped? (It can and does happen.) How can he be held legally responsible for a child created against his will? And that's not too far off from what happened here.

The guy shouldn't be held responsible if the documents are fake. But it may not simply because family court is one of the most arbitrary and unpredictable branches of the government. (Somewhat necessarily so since they tend to deal with very complex situations, but still.)
posted by nixerman at 2:29 PM on July 27, 2005


I'm really confused as to how she got two babies out of this. Did he not know about the first until the second was conceived, or what?

Also this was interesting:

But Mrs. Francois attorney says not only did her husband know, he was cashing thousands in refunds from the couple's insurance company - reimbursement for fertility bills that she had already paid.

But of course the part that stands out to me is that insurance pays for fertility treatments. What a world.
posted by beth at 2:36 PM on July 27, 2005


delmoi: He wasn't the biological father, but he still had to pay child support.

Some interesting child support cases from Australia, France and the U.S. - with varying rulings:

[1] "Man who is not biological father is not entitled to reimbursement for child support payments."

[2] "A Frenchman has won a ground-breaking ruling against his former wife and her lover, ordering them to pay back the money that he had spent on bringing up a child he had mistakenly assumed to be his own."

[3] "A Melbourne man who found he was paying maintenance for another man's children is challenging a court decision that removed a $70,000 damages payout earlier awarded to him.

Liam Neal Magill, 54, has lodged an application for special leave to appeal to the High Court against a ruling made last month in favour of his ex-wife, Meredith Jane Magill, 38.

Mr. Magill took legal action in January 2001 after DNA tests proved he had not fathered two of the couple's three children.

A County Court judge awarded him damages for pain and suffering and economic loss, but the Court of Appeal overturned the decision."
posted by ericb at 2:56 PM on July 27, 2005


talking about equality:

a couple gets pregnant-
if the man wants the baby, but the woman does not, she can give him the finger and abort anyway.

if the woman wants the baby, but the man does not, she can give him the finger and have it anyway - (forcing him to pay for it)

why does the woman get ultimate say in both cases? Im not saying men should be able to force a woman to have an abortion, but if a woman chooses to have a baby without the man's consent, it should be entirely her responsibility.
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 3:00 PM on July 27, 2005


might have been asked, but what about sperm donors? IF I donate to a sperm bank, and my sperm is used to create a child, do I have to pay support???
posted by tomplus2 at 3:13 PM on July 27, 2005


why does the woman get ultimate say in both cases? Im not saying men should be able to force a woman to have an abortion, but if a woman chooses to have a baby without the man's consent, it should be entirely her responsibility.

This sort of argument gets trotted out every time an issue like this one comes up.

Basically it comes down to this: don't get angry at the law, or the woman, or the child (fetus, embryo, etc) - get angry at biology that puts the whole situation in the woman's body in the first place. Right to determination of our own bodies is one of the (maybe even *the*) most basic rights we have.

It is unreasonable to compel someone to have a child against their will. It is unreasonable to insist a woman abort a child she wants to have. It is unreasonable to burden a blameless baby with undue economic hardship just because the father doesn't feel like helping out. We tried letting the fathers off the hook entirely previously in our history, and look how that turned out - women unable to care for the children gave them to foundling homes, where vast quantities of them died. That's no way to run a civilized society.

I know it may *seem* like the woman has "more rights" than the father, but in reality she just has supreme right over her own body. Doesn't the man demand the same right for his own body?

A penis is a dangerous weapon. If you can't handle the consequences of the bullets you shoot, get a vasectomy or always use a condom. Or several condoms, layered.
posted by beth at 3:21 PM on July 27, 2005


IF I donate to a sperm bank, and my sperm is used to create a child, do I have to pay support???

My understanding is that there are very strong legal documents drawn up to protect the donor from having to pay any support at all whatsoever, and that the courts have backed up these agreements. Because frankly, no one would donate if this were not the case.
posted by beth at 3:23 PM on July 27, 2005


I'm guessing that the distinction here is that if you're an anonymous donor, you don't have to pay child support. These sperm were kept on hand (or, more accurately, in cold storage) as part of a fertility program, which probably falls under a different set of rules entirely.

Tryptophan-5ht: I don't think the situations you've described are all that problematic. For her, it's her money and her body on the line; for you it's just your money.

The problem I have is with the idea that a child is always entitled to support from two sources. This is why a woman can swipe unattended gametes (to take an extreme and implausible example), impregnate herself, and stick a man with the tab. Permitting one parent to sometimes be exempt from child support would provide more reasonable resolutions to situations like this.
posted by alphanerd at 3:26 PM on July 27, 2005


but if a woman chooses to have a baby without the man's consent, it should be entirely her responsibility

I think the act of penetration is sufficient to be on the hook for all follow-on repercussions.

The moral asymmetry of who gets to decide the future of the fetus simply stems from the physical asymmetry of who is carrying the fetus.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 3:27 PM on July 27, 2005


a couple gets pregnant

The only kind of couple who can get pregnant are two women. A couple may be expecting a child, but a couple cannot be pregnant if they're a man and a woman. This completely peeves me and I'm not sure why.
posted by tristeza at 3:32 PM on July 27, 2005


One thing's for certain: the child(ren) should be taken away from these two nutbar divorcees and given to someone who will care for them.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:44 PM on July 27, 2005


beth: I know it may *seem* like the woman has "more rights" than the father, but in reality she just has supreme right over her own body. Doesn't the man demand the same right for his own body?

Seem has nothing to do with it. As it stands, with existing law, a woman has more rights. The question at hand is should the woman have more rights, not if.

The real problem with child support law probably isn't in this area at all, as infuriating as these cases are. The problem as I see it is that at time of judgement the father must pay commensurate with his resources. If he later earns more it is possible to make him pay more. However, as far as I can tell, if he later decides to choose a less lucrative lifestyle he doesn't get to pay less. Control over your own body indeed.

beth (again): A penis is a dangerous weapon. If you can't handle the consequences of the bullets you shoot, get a vasectomy

Why would you say a thing like that? What a nasty, shitty thing to say.

I used to work at an amusement park intended for young children. Working on rides, one of the jobs was helping the small children on and securing them safely. Once in a while I would run into a mother who would say "Oh no, don't touch her! She doesn't like men." This would even happen with male children, but not as often.

Takes all kinds, I guess, but that kind of attitude doesn't foster a healthy child, or a healthy society.
posted by Chuckles at 3:54 PM on July 27, 2005


Heywood Mogroot: I think the act of penetration is sufficient to be on the hook for all follow-on repercussions.

This doesn't account for the very real possibility of recovering sperm from a used condom (I don't agree that penetration is that important a determinant anyway...).
posted by Chuckles at 3:59 PM on July 27, 2005


Why shouldn't a man be able to get a court order to give a woman a choice. Abort it, or absolve the male of all responsibility.


Many people keep talking about how the best interest of the child and society requires slavery for the father. (arbitrary fines which amount to involuntary servitude for "child support")

If you want women who choose to have children with unwilling fathers to get money so much.. then you pay them start the march of the bastards and wear a little ribbon with a bar sinister on it, but why should women have the force of law for their whims and men are powerless

and if I sound bitter about this, I have been at the other end of a phone line waiting to find out if I had an abortion to pay for or a 18 years of support and a college education.!!
posted by Megafly at 3:59 PM on July 27, 2005


What if the man is raped? (It can and does happen.)

I suppose. How many men are really raped by women in a given year? That is, how many men are forced to penetrate a woman and ejaculate inside her, since other forms of rape (such as forcible receptive sodomy) can't result in conception (at least not without wormholes or wizards). Ten? A hundred?

I don't think the law needs to worry about them, to put it bluntly. It also doesn't need to address what scientists clone you against your will. When there's a serious problem of men who are victims of rape being forced to support their rape-children, or of unwilling clone-ees, or victims of child-creating necromancy, we can deal with it. I'd say an absolute minimum is enough to fill a high-school football stadium. The stands, not packed in like sardines.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:59 PM on July 27, 2005


It's a sad sign of the times that the discussion is centred on fatherhood purely manifesting itself as financial child support. Why shouldn't he have custody if he's also financially responsible? Why always the assumption that the best interests of the child always coincide with the best interests of the mother?

I don't think the law needs to worry about them, to put it bluntly. It also doesn't need to address what scientists clone you against your will. When there's a serious problem of men who are victims of rape being forced to support their rape-children, or of unwilling clone-ees, or victims of child-creating necromancy, we can deal with it. I'd say an absolute minimum is enough to fill a high-school football stadium.

You're completely side-stepping the common deception of paternity fraud here. You could fill hundreds of football stadiums full of guys who're financially supporting children who are not theirs biologically even though they were lead to believe they were.
posted by FieldingGoodney at 4:19 PM on July 27, 2005


That is just a strawman ROU_Xenophobe. The subjective rarity of circumstances that you cherry pick have nothing to do with the issue. This is a real problem that has come up many times. I would even say it looks like it will come up a lot more in the future - obviously the current state of case law is easily abused.
posted by Chuckles at 4:22 PM on July 27, 2005



This sort of argument gets trotted out every time an issue like this one comes up.


The problem with the body control argument in it's 100% absolutist form is that it reduces everything to mere biology, focusses exclusively on one (extremely important of course) 9 month period while ignoring everyone else, the entire remainder of their lives, and any feelings or sense of responsibility they may have while leaving single individuals in a position to solely determine forever consequences for others they are usually at serious odds with and sometimes would like to harm any way they can. It's hard to imagine how this is legally defensible given it's extreme inequity. Not all pregnancies are caused by evil, uncaring, deserve-to-be-tortured men and this is what the law as it currently exists seems to chose to ignore.
posted by scheptech at 4:23 PM on July 27, 2005


"A penis is a dangerous weapon. If you can't handle the consequences of the bullets you shoot, get a vasectomy or always use a condom. Or several condoms, layered."

beth, I was kind of agreeing with you, right up until you said that. Considering a penis to be a weapon - and you're certainly not the only person with this opinion - is seriously messed up. Thanks for demonizing all of us who have one. I wonder what other opinions you might have about men?

Just so my personal feelings on this are clear, I had not one but two ex-girlfriends who I seriously thought I wanted to marry attempt to get pregnant (by surreptitiously and knowingly ceasing to take their pills) when they knew I wasn't ready to be a father, had little money and a crappy job.

One of them I caught by accident; she happened to leave her pills out on the bathroom sink one day, and I noticed they were last month's and 2 weeks behind anyway. The other - and I'm very embarrassed to admit it - I caught because she started acting strangely in a way that made me start checking her pill case... because of what the previous one did. In both cases it wound up ending the relationships - I clearly couldn't trust the first one - in fact I was really badly hurt by what happened - and with that damaged trust the second relationship really wasn't on a good footing, was it. It still upsets me now that I felt I had to check, and that my fears were well-founded.

If I'd not caught them, and one had gotten pregnant, I would have married her, because it's "the right thing to do," but that's a lousy basis for a marriage and for an environment in which to bring up a child. And at the time, I certainly wouldn't have been able to provide for a family, so things would have been very strained financially and emotionally. Of course I'm speaking with hindsight, where I can see that marrying either one would have been disastrous even without a child involved (the first one was hiding a serious drug addiction, which I discovered later, and the second... well, after the "honeymoon glow" wore off, things went downhill quite precipitously... incompatible personalities). Either way, things would have been bad - and mostly bad for the child(ren).

So then, ovaries can be a dangerous, life-mangling weapon too, and can also have victims -- and not just the "sperm donor," but most especially the children that are born into situation that's thoroughly broken and filled with emotional pain and anger from the get go.

Probably a good idea for both sexes to stop using their nads as weapons, don't you think?

(on preview: my first reaction to "weapon" was the same as Chuckles, but I thought I should be more politic about it. I do, in fact, agree with him.)
posted by zoogleplex at 4:28 PM on July 27, 2005


Why would you say a thing like that? What a nasty, shitty thing to say.

I say that because that's the way the world works nowadays - if a man does not keep control of exactly when and where he has the potential for his sperm to impregnate a female, he can be on the hook for child support.

I'm getting a big "those undeserving conniving gold-digging bitches" vibe from some of the responses here. Is it fair to make the child suffer because you want to get back at the mother? Or because you were careless in letting your sperm get somewhere you didn't want it to be?

Some of the rhetoric is getting quite ridiculous. "Slavery" for the father?

Look, I'm not defending every court judgment for child support in every court of the world as being fair (and I don't know anyone who would), I just think that both the people who make a baby have a responsibility to that baby to make sure it doesn't grow up in abject poverty.

There are people out there who probably think I am pushing some sort of personal agenda here, so let me just state for the record that I am a noncustodial mom due to a mental illness that required hospitalization four years ago, and I have been paying child support since then, even when I wasn't able to work. My daughter's father easily makes three times my salary.
posted by beth at 4:36 PM on July 27, 2005


Megafly, that's the best suggestion I've yet heard on this very thorny issue.

The system isn't fair as it is. Yes, the baby grows in the woman's body and she should have the right to decide to carry it or not but that doesn't mean that she should also be able to make the sole decision.

The father should retain some rights. But, by the same token, if he renounces all rights to the child then he renounces ALL rights to the child. No visits, no birthdays, no nothing. That child no longer has anything to do with him.

This situation in the FPP is incredibly wrong. Its appears to be based on deception, revenge and court-enforced extortion.

As an aside, can a father paying child support demand to see receipts from the mother demonstrating that his child support is being used to, you know, support the child and not the mother?
posted by fenriq at 4:36 PM on July 27, 2005


Let's see if we can figure out the chain of events:

Woman sues man for child support. Wins child support. Attourney collects fees.

Man sues sperm bank for negligence. Wins damages to cover child support. Attourney collects fees.

Sperm bank sues woman for falsified records. Wins damages to cover damages to cover child support. Attourney collects fees.

All parties break even on judgements, but lose money because of attourneys. Attourneys eat steak and lobster.

Woman goes to jail for fraud and theft. Kid goes to orphanarium. Kid eats gruel.

Everyone (save attourneys) sufficiently fucked?
posted by parliboy at 4:41 PM on July 27, 2005


Considering a penis to be a weapon - and you're certainly not the only person with this opinion - is seriously messed up. Thanks for demonizing all of us who have one. I wonder what other opinions you might have about men?

Okay, I guess I need to spell this out. I was going for a metaphor.

You know, weapon == thing that causes damage, man having to pay child support considering that "damage" to his freedom, his wallet, etc.

And yeah, in this metaphor, women's reproductive organs are just as much weapons.

Put the both together and you can "ruin" three lives all at once. Pretty dangerous, I'd say.

I wasn't trying to demonize anyone, merely pointing out that the responsibility for controlling where the sperm goes lies with the man. I don't think it's fair for a man to be blase about such things then later demand control of the woman's womb or deny the child any support from him after it's born, because he doesn't want it.

I think in cases where a woman tricks a man into becoming a father against his will, that it's very thorny how to figure out the right way to handle things - no one thinks the woman's deviousness deserves a reward, but absolving the man of all obligation to assist the child really isn't fair to the kid, either.

And I like men just fine, thanks. I also haven't tricked anyone into having a child, or bilked anyone for child support payments. In fact, I'm rather getting screwed myself in that department as I stated above.
posted by beth at 4:44 PM on July 27, 2005


I think the saddest thing about this is that the "best interests of the child" would be served by being cared for by someone who truly had the child's well-being in mind.

Unfortuntely the poor kid is shit out of luck with these two idiots as parents, whoever pays the bills.
posted by fullerine at 4:49 PM on July 27, 2005


It's hard to imagine how this is legally defensible given it's extreme inequity

Simple principle of personal sovereignity. Your body, your choices. The core of liberalism AFAIK. I believe the state needs a really compelling social interest in piercing the privacy bubble. The stakes are really high with pregnancy, but since it is a pairing thing, IMV part of the men's side of the deal is due diligence wrt how suitable a life partner your sexual partner is.

'course, merging this with my belief that seatbelt laws aren't necessarily a bad idea is tricky...perhaps this would be possible by some sort of insurance discount deal where the cops serve to enforce the terms of your insurance should you choose the "always wear seatbelt" option. But 100% perfection is an unattainable goal, there will always be slop in our laws and system, so this seatbelt stuff doesn't exercise me much on the injustice scale. Helmet laws for motorcycles, same, but I do have some problem with helmet laws for kids on bicycles...
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 4:52 PM on July 27, 2005


I have never understood the "it's not FAIIIRR" cries from men on this issue. Hey, you know what, it's not fair that women are the only ones that are physically able to bear the children. I have never heard a good argument for a different system that takes into account 1) the notion that most (here, anyway) would agree that forcing a woman to carry a child to term is not ok, and 2) the notion that the child is the ultimate victim of a father that doesn't support it. It's a basically unfair system... wow. At least you guys had (in all but the most extreme of cases) the ability to prevent the pregnancy. Women never had the choice to be the gender that had to bear the kids. And the "9 months vs a lifetime" idea? Please. Pregnancy may be pretty safe these days, but it is still a real health risk, and raising the child is a lifetime commitment, with or without the father.
No solution is going to be fair to both parties and fair to the child. It is not in the state's best interest to absolve fathers of fiscal responsibility just because they decide they don't want a child they helped conceive.
posted by ch1x0r at 4:55 PM on July 27, 2005 [1 favorite]


This doesn't account for the very real possibility of recovering sperm from a used condom (I don't agree that penetration is that important a determinant anyway...).

I was just trying to say that the act should guide the allocation of parental responsibility, not trying to socially engineer the most equitable solution, since that appears to me to be a morass of ad-hoc bullshit.

I'm no expert, but AFAIK as it stands now, the little sperm guy has to fertilize the egg up in the woman's hoohaw. The closer one voluntarily puts one's male bits to this danger zone, the more on the hook one should be for any resulting paternity.

Recycling used rubbers is an interesting scenario but seems either hard or easy to argue, depending on the evidence the man has to present to the court. Short of video evidence, it's literally a 'she-said he-said' thing, and the benefit of the doubt would have to go to the 'she' side. Should the woman admit to tampering with the birth control stuff, then I think the guy's paternity obligations should be voluntary. Making paternity support mandatory just encourages this crap.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 5:07 PM on July 27, 2005


OK beth, I guess we've both been on the bad side of the equation, from different directions, and been permanently hurt by it. So I'm generally cool with your restatements, except that I think an overtone of "you shouldn't have sex with anyone you're not ready to make a baby with!" should be avoided, as I think that's an unrealistic goal for either men or women, with overall sexual freedom and highly reliable birth control available.

Remember in the case of the FPP we're not talking about accidental pregnancies, we're talking about the deliberate, deceptive, possibly fraudulent creation of a baby using sperm without the donor's consent, without sex actually occurring. That sort of thing, if indeed shown to be fraud through falsification of documents, should lay the blame and the weight on the defrauder, in my opinion - just like defrauding someone out of their pension fund with a bogus stock offering.

It just gets really muddy when there's a child involved. I'm sad for the poor kids, with these folks for parents.
posted by zoogleplex at 5:10 PM on July 27, 2005


ch1x0r: I have never understood the "it's not FAIIIRR" cries from men on this issue. Hey, you know what, it's not fair that women are the only ones that are physically able to bear the children.

Yep, and there are plenty of men who wish they could bear children too. What's your point?

I have never heard a good argument for a different system that takes into account 1) the notion that most (here, anyway) would agree that forcing a woman to carry a child to term is not ok, and 2) the notion that the child is the ultimate victim of a father that doesn't support it.

In cases where there is time, an abortion request to absolve responsibility (ala Megafly's point) would be a very good solution, don't you think?

At least you guys had (in all but the most extreme of cases) the ability to prevent the pregnancy.

But we are talking about exactly those extreme cases. Nobody here is arguing that child support is a bad idea in general.

Pregnancy may be pretty safe these days, but it is still a real health risk,

That is a very good argument for an early abortion.

It is not in the state's best interest to absolve fathers of fiscal responsibility just because they decide they don't want a child they helped conceive.

It is the definition of "helped conceive" that is being debated here, not weather father's should be responsible...
posted by Chuckles at 5:17 PM on July 27, 2005


"it's not FAIIIRR"

Exactly. Biology is not fair. Men can't decide the fate of their offspring... and the quid pro quo for women is... well all of history. All the inequity of the world suffered by women pretty much comes down to the fact that women shoulder the burden of sex. So boo hoo for the boys who want control over that too. This is our one biological advantage: women get to choose how their genes get passed on. Men can only shoot and hope they hit a target.

Moral of the story: don't leave your bullets lying around. Don't just skip out on payments to the sperm bank... get the stuff back... or your crazy ex might just use it.
posted by missbossy at 5:27 PM on July 27, 2005


To reiterate: this particular guy didn't just leave his sperm lying around. So hostility against men is not going to help the discussion here. Please put it away.

I have enough problems trying to trust women about stuff like this, from my experiences related above... and I know I'm not the only guy like me. Misplaced hostility at "deadbeat dads" doesn't frakkin' help overall relations, okay?

Missbossy, what you're telling us is flat out: "MEN, DO NOT TRUST WOMEN." So, if men can't trust women, where can a healthy relationship - which everyone claims to want - start? Of course, we can (and many do) say, "well, don't trust men, because they're unfaithful dogs, not to mention they'll skip out on you if you get pregnant," but obviously that doesn't apply to all men. None of this is helping, it just makes us all angry and distrustful of each other. Your "boo hoo" and "quid pro quo" talk just sounds like backbiting, "nyah nyah, here's payback for the last few thousand years" to me.

It's good to talk about this, but less vitriol would probably be more constructive.
posted by zoogleplex at 5:41 PM on July 27, 2005


In cases where there is time, an abortion request to absolve responsibility (ala Megafly's point) would be a very good solution, don't you think?

It's clearly not in the best interests of the child, not to mention it's coersion to have an abortion.


I don't understand the basis of the argument ... "I don't want to pay to support my child, and I expressed this opinion to the mother during pregnancy, therefore it is my right not to pay support". Try doing this with paying taxes instead of child support. The responsibility is not your choice. If you are a parent, you are responsible. You cannot avoid it simply by giving advanced notice and declaring yourself not to have the responsibility.

Now, there may be cases of money damages when a man is coerced or defrauded into becoming a parent, that I can understand. However, even here the responsibility to care for your child is not absolved.
posted by adzuki at 5:42 PM on July 27, 2005


The problem with the body control argument

is that it's self-contradictory, and falls apart under scrutiny. No one has absolute control over his/her body. In this case, we have the father, who has no control over the part of his body his ex-wife unfroze and stuck inside herself, and the child, whose body was called into being without his consent at all.

Basing arguments about reporductive freedom on shaky ideas of agency and identity is one of the reasons the pro-choice crowd has such a hard time winning over the pro-life crowd in a debate, since the argument rests on assuming that the best interests (or whims) of a given woman always overrules the best interests of a man or his child. Fundamnetalism makes people say and do stupid things, and feminst fundamentalism is just as bad as the religious kind.
posted by eustacescrubb at 6:02 PM on July 27, 2005


adzuki: Chuckles seems to be advocating the exemption from child support only in extreme circumstances (such as the one up for debate in this thread).

I'm not sure why people formulate this proposal with the abortion option being a part of the court order, as this does raise the spectre of coercive abortion (even if it's just a matter of semantics), and it's something you can do without a court order. I'm pretty sure the line could be drawn in such a way as to prevent court-sanctioned deadbeat fatherhood, for example, if the woman acquires the sperm through deceptive means.
posted by alphanerd at 6:06 PM on July 27, 2005


The best interests of the child argument is totally irrelevant in this case, because it's predicated on responsibility by the parent. It would be better for any child to get child support from Bill Gates, but you can't haul him into court and make him pay. In order for child support to be required, there has to be responsibility in creating the child. Now, assuming the man's story is true, in this case, he is not in any way responsible for the creation of this child. He did not intend to create the child, and his actions could not have been reasonably forseen to lead to the creation of the child. The argument that the child needs the money is based on the idea that both parents owe him support because they were responsible for his creation. In this case, the father was not responsibile for his creation, so the child has no claim on his assets.
posted by cameldrv at 6:19 PM on July 27, 2005


"I'm pretty sure the line could be drawn in such a way as to prevent court-sanctioned deadbeat fatherhood, for example, if the woman acquires the sperm through deceptive means."

I'm pretty sure you mean "court-sanctioned imposed fatherhood against the will of the sperm donor," alpha, as "deadbeat fatherhood" is when a guy impregnates a woman in the "usual" way, then skips out on his responsibilities. But I agree with you, since there is currently no line drawn - at this time, legally, a woman can deceptively get pregnant via lying about using birth control, taking sperm from a used condom, holding in her mouth after oral, and in this case taking from a sperm bank under (allegedly) false pretenses, and the sperm donor must pay child support. Since this practice is in fact sometimes used as a weapon against men, I believe the law should address that. Clearly some posters here disagree.

I'm all for going after irresponsible deadbeat dads. My mom's been going after stepdad #2 for years, as he's rarely made a payment. And I'm also after dealing properly with men for using their penis as a weapon in any and all ways that they do it, from sexual harassment on up. It's just this one loophole, this one vindictive/deceptive use of women's "burden of sex," that should be addressed more cogently. "Boo hoo, bad boys" doesn't cut it.
posted by zoogleplex at 6:26 PM on July 27, 2005


zoogleplex: To clear things up, I did mean deadbeat fatherhood. The idea should be to give men an out in coercive circumstances, but not in circumstances where they should have known better. It should also (as you said) prevent men from becoming unwilling fathers. It seems like we're mostly in agreement on this issue.
posted by alphanerd at 6:39 PM on July 27, 2005


the sperm belonged to the guy, period. i think the NYU clinic messed this up real bad and they ought to be responsible for their fuck up.
posted by brandz at 6:40 PM on July 27, 2005


alphanerd, yes we are. I think that by definition, a guy coerced into fatherhood by deception, especially in the FPP circumstances, can't really be a "deadbeat," which I define as a guy who knows he's responsible for support, but skips out on it. Indeed, men who should have known better should take their lumps and try to be a real dad - or at least pay up if they can't handle that part.

And I agree with brandz, for this particular case, providing that the release forms are found to be false.
posted by zoogleplex at 6:50 PM on July 27, 2005


brandz: Obviously, though, the sperm bank is not primarily at fault here. It is the woman who apparently defrauded the sperm bank into giving it to her. If someone tricks management into letting them into your self-storage locker, do you sue the storage company, or the person who stole your stuff? Yes, the sperm bank may have been neglegent, but it's the woman who actually committed the theft. If that theft led to a financial responsibility on the part of the man, the woman should compensate the man for the consequences of that theft. This would cancel out any child support payments. In my opinion the man should additionally sue for mental distress in this case since he is clearly harmed by having to deal with fathering a child that he didn't want.
posted by cameldrv at 6:52 PM on July 27, 2005


cameldrv: 'It would be better for any child to get child support from Bill Gates, but you can't haul him into court and make him pay. In order for child support to be required, there has to be responsibility in creating the child.'


Very well said.
posted by lenny70 at 8:16 PM on July 27, 2005


There is a simple solution for ensuring that the best interests of the child are always met. Institute socialized medicine and daycare, and reinvest in strong public schools and affordable housing. When there is little/no child poverty left in America, a man who accidently disposes of his spermicide-free condom in a hotel maid's vagina can claim that since he was coerced into fatherhood and since the child will not unduly suffer without his support, he should be exempt.
posted by carmen at 8:46 PM on July 27, 2005


Hey I just stole your car. Are you gonna give me some gas money or what?
posted by dreamsign at 11:44 PM on July 27, 2005


After reading this entire thread, it's perfectly clear there's only one solution:

*puts on jimmy-hat of Malthus and booming voice of Solomon*

From this point forward, no one anywhere is ever allowed to touch anyone anywhere at any time for any reason. Intercourse is forbidden. Porn is mandatory. So are vasectomies and tube tying or other suitable sterilization methods.

Henceforth, all future offspring-workers are to be produced under strict laboratory conditions with sufficient surveillance and record keeping. All future offspring-workers are to be wards of the state.

In fact, all current offspring-workers are to be taken into custody as wards of the state. You will be issued emergency porn kits and suitable state-designed devices and/or lubricants.

Commence fapping immediately - for the Motherland!

posted by loquacious at 1:14 AM on July 28, 2005


scheptech: Life is not fair and who should be expected to bear the brunt of that reality at this point, a baby or a full-grown man, maybe not the smartest one around but still?

I know, I know, you have to look at this from the child's point of view, in his best interests, that's true. It's difficult to find a balance in this case. I don't know how that can be achieved.

But, in principle, I believe that if the mother is well-off enough to afford bringing up the child herself, then she should pay for herself. Plenty of women do that just fine!

The problem is, child support aside, what about paternity, legal and otherwise? That is the real issue here. It can't be reduced to a pathetic battle for money. Again, it'll be impossible for the child to avoid getting to know the full story. So it's different from ordinary sperm donation.

This is an old situation, technology hasn't creating any new moral conundrum here.

It is actually. If they'd conceived the child by having sex, sure, he could still say it wasn't his intention, or that he thought she was on the pill, but he was physically there. He could have used a condom if he didn't trust her. If he was not physically there, and the sperm was used against his consent, and yet he's not treated like a sperm donor who has no legal responsibilities, it's another matter.
posted by funambulist at 1:54 AM on July 28, 2005


Fundamnetalism makes people say and do stupid things, and feminst fundamentalism is just as bad as the religious kind.

And, I submit missbossy's post and ch1x0r's post as prime examples.
posted by FieldingGoodney at 2:10 AM on July 28, 2005


zoogleplex: Probably a good idea for both sexes to stop using their nads as weapons, don't you think?

Yes, definitely, and to stop using children as tools for vindictiveness or property to be litigated upon.

However, to be fair, I don't think the majority of either men or women act that way, do they?
posted by funambulist at 2:43 AM on July 28, 2005


When I was working at Legal Aid, we had several female clients who'd had babies with guys after very short relationships or one-night stands. Many of these women wanted to raise their kids on their own. To do this, they were more than willing to take full financial responsibility for the children, but even so, they couldn't-- those fathers were always going to continue to be in the picture, with visitation rights, veto power over relocation, etc. Even the ones who were physically abusive were going to be there. It's not like this stuff is a cakewalk for women. It's not a cakewalk for anyone.

The family law is not some kind of policy statement about the way things are supposed to be. It represents a bitterly difficult balancing of equities, for times when people who have children together are bound and determined to be shitty to each other. I do believe wholeheartedly in the right of a woman to determine to fate of her fetus, and I also believe that, for the sake of all children, fathers must be accountable for their offspring, whether they want them or not. It is unfair-- but there's just no way to make it fair to everyone. If it's fair to Mom, it's not fair to Dad. If it's fair to Dad, it's not fair to the kid. It's a painful, painful mess, and it's the best that we can do.

That said, I also believe that there should be some kind of exception written into the child support code for cases of outright sperm theft. The rule that Basho's_frog proposed is terrific.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 3:06 AM on July 28, 2005


When I was working at Legal Aid, we had several female clients who'd had babies with guys after very short relationships or one-night stands. Many of these women wanted to raise their kids on their own. To do this, they were more than willing to take full financial responsibility for the children, but even so, they couldn't-- those fathers were always going to continue to be in the picture, with visitation rights, veto power over relocation, etc.

Just......wow....so you think it's OK to shut out fathers from their children? You make it sound like it's a crime for a father to take an interest in his own child - oh, how inconvenient for the mother. I think it's incredibly seflish for a mother to think she soley "owns" her child and can do as she pleases - and that her lifestyle choices trump any rights the father has to see the child - well sorry, any custodial parent, be it a father or a mother, has a responsibility to ensure their child has a meaningful relationship with both parents*

*child abuse notwithstanding, but that's a separate issue - certainly it would be ridiculous to say that all or even most non-custodial parents are child abusers and therefore deserve to be removed from their child(ren).

Or is it simply this: do you think mothers are somehow "more of a parent" than a father can ever be? And if you believe this, does this mean that fathers have less responsibility? Or, if you feel that both mother and father have equal responsibility for the child (as I hope you do think), then why do you think it's OK to airbrush the father out of the picture, while maintaining his financial responsibilities to the child? I'm genuinely interested in your response here....
posted by FieldingGoodney at 4:32 AM on July 28, 2005


beth: I'm getting a big "those undeserving conniving gold-digging bitches" vibe from some of the responses here.

Well if anyone's seriously generalising about women from this story, it's their problem. But the woman in this one case does seem to be a twisted, conniving bitch. Not sure about the gold-digging being the main factor, the money being talked about is not such a huge sum after all. She just did something completely wrong from an ethical point of view. Wrong both to her ex and to the children. They're going to suffer regardless of the legal outcome, and even child support alone wouldn't set this right. Sending cash can't be all it takes for a man to be a father, can it?

He may have been careless in not making sure what was going to happen when he stopped paying the clinic, but I don't see how the clinic could allow this to happen anyway. As far as I know, even if they both agreed for whatever reason to freeze that sperm, the wife couldn't decide all by herself to use it, unless of course he was deceased already.

She could at least have used that sperm as any sperm donation, without claiming extra rights he didn't consent to. Or, actually got herself an anonymous sperm donor. Or, amazingly, maybe even conceived the child in the good old fashioned way with another partner she was actually with. I hear it's still a popular method to have kids.
posted by funambulist at 4:41 AM on July 28, 2005


The best interests of the child argument is totally irrelevant in this case, because it's predicated on responsibility by the parent. It would be better for any child to get child support from Bill Gates, but you can't haul him into court and make him pay. In order for child support to be required, there has to be responsibility in creating the child.

You're pointing out the distinction between being responsible for creating a child and being the father. I don't believe that family courts care about this distinction.

Bill Gates can't be required to pay child support in a random case, not because he isn't responsible for creating a child, but because he's not the father.

In the case posted, the father may have been defrauded, but that is a civil matter. If his story is true, he probably will be compensated. However, he's still going to get the rights of being fatherhood for his kid. Similarly, child support is the right of the child -- and defrauding a parent doesn't take away those rights.

In the end I may agree with the same outcomes of those I disagree with; the father is compensated for his child support. But the arguments, I believe, are very important. There were those on this thread who were arguing that child support is something that a father ought to be able to object to, in cases where he didn't want or wasn't consenting to fathering a child. These cases are not outright theft of sperm like this one (precedent is that if you have sex you accept the consequences).

In any case, child support is for the child, and the child has 2 identified parents. The child deserves that financial support.
posted by adzuki at 4:44 AM on July 28, 2005


adzuki, what would you say to a situation where a woman's eggs were stolen from an IVF lab, and impregnated into another woman who acts as a surrogate mother. When the child is born, the original biological mother is forced to pay financial support to the child for the next 18-20 years?
posted by FieldingGoodney at 5:06 AM on July 28, 2005


Are rape victims (male or female) on the line for child payments for child resulting from non-consential impregnation, regardless of what is best for the child? I'm under the impression they're not (though I may be wrong), and if fraud was involved, this seems like it should be no different. (Marriage is no-longer a defense against rape, while ex-marriage is almost incriminating evidence)

Can't a rape victim simply offer the child for adoption and be done with it?

Both he and the unwanted child are in the same boat as a rape victim's non-consential impregnation, the same standards should apply.

But law is rarely quite right, morally, I imagine the laws have some big double standards in this area. They're probably both screwed, him most of all.
posted by -harlequin- at 5:23 AM on July 28, 2005


adzuki, what would you say to a situation where a woman's eggs were stolen from an IVF lab, and impregnated into another woman who acts as a surrogate mother. When the child is born, the original biological mother is forced to pay financial support to the child for the next 18-20 years?

That might be the precedent, and that might be fine too. When the biological mother gets pulled into court, she will end up with parental rights -- and maybe even the surrogate parent will end up with no rights. This probably isn't what the surrogate mother wanted, to have another woman declared the legal parent and guardian of her child.

In any case, the biological parent has a huge lawsuit against the thief and against the IVF lab for impregnating her eggs in someone else without her consent. In the end she shuld not end up financially harmed by the fraud.

And I will point out again, in the end the child should not be harmed by the fraud either. That's the most important facet of this that I am seeing, and maybe I am alone in this, but it bears repeating: child support is the right of the child. No fraud between 2 other people can deprive him of that right.

There is a footnote in this hypothetical case, and IANAL, but there might be something weird with surrogacy and who the *legal* mother is.
posted by adzuki at 6:41 AM on July 28, 2005


the woman in this one case does seem to be a twisted, conniving bitch

Maybe, my best guess for why she did it: in an attempt to restore the relationship with Deon. Women have been doing this since forever, forcing relationships along the direction they want by having a baby, mostly by relaxing reproductive restraints, not taking pill, etc. That's why I don't see this as anything new, not a new moral puzzle, same old.
posted by scheptech at 6:54 AM on July 28, 2005



Fieldinggoodney-- No, I don't think any of that. I made that point to rebut what other posters were saying about family law having been designed to cater to the whims of women. I meant it to show that women don't automatically get absolutely everything they want from the family courts, and that fathers do have rights that the courts respect.

I don't for a second think it's okay to airbrush fathers out. I'm sorry that you read my post that way. I thought that what I said in the second paragraph about family law being a diffilcult balancing of equities would make that clear.

As far as a mother being "more or a parent" than a father-- of course, that's ridiculous. Frankly, I don't know how you got that from what I said.

Cheers.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 12:43 PM on July 28, 2005


The only kind of couple who can get pregnant are two women.
Thank you! I'm so glad I'm not the only one who is bothered by this widespread abuse of proper grammar.
posted by nlindstrom at 3:53 PM on July 28, 2005


A penis is a dangerous weapon. If you can't handle the consequences of the bullets you shoot, get a vasectomy or always use a condom. Or several condoms, layered.
I'd like to think you were being funny or sarcastic, but if not, then I hereby label you a bitter old hag.
posted by nlindstrom at 3:56 PM on July 28, 2005


...Forms of rape (such as forcible receptive sodomy) can't result in conception...without wormholes or wizards.
Holy crap, I knew the Harry Potter books weren't for children!

Sorry, derail, but couldn't resist.
posted by nlindstrom at 4:00 PM on July 28, 2005


well, if the woman tricked the hospital, ultimately she is responsible. but the NYU clinic definitely needs better procedures and safeguards so something like this doesn't happen again. it's still the guys sperm, period. i see him as caught in the middle of this mess, unwittingly.
posted by brandz at 8:16 PM on July 28, 2005


It seems to me that we have lack of will from the father side.

From the fact he deposited the sperm in the bank we could argue that he did so for many reasons, not necessarily the one of having her ex-wife carry his child or use his sperm as she pleases when she likes better.

Should his claims be verified as true I don't see why he should be held responsible for the kid..who is indeed the unfortunate victim of his mother decision, not his father.

Had his father coinceived him naturally, lack of will wouldn't exclude factual responsability coming from the fact he could have prevented the insemination from happening by simply not indulging in the copulation or refusing to do so.

The wife lawyer obviously argues in favor of her client by claiming we're in the same situation of a father refusing to pay for his kid conceived because of the failure of contraception method ; but it's an evidenlty wrong analogy as banks aren't used in the same way , for instance, a condom is used. The purposes are completely different and there's no implicit will of father to have a kid with a spefic woman and not with another one.

Also by analogy, let's assume I stored my blood in a blood bank for personal use or for use of a family member with my same blood type ; let's assume the blood is used by an ex-family member without my consent, but it's later discovered my blood is infected with something..should I be held liable for the effect of using my blood against or without my will ?
posted by elpapacito at 5:43 PM on July 31, 2005


I am all for post-partum abortions.

Maybe John Roberts could run his nomination to the Supreme Court on that proposition.
posted by car_bomb at 10:43 AM on August 1, 2005


I can't wait to start making those clone-payments when some prankster pulls a skin cell off my office carpet.
posted by dreamsign at 12:09 AM on August 2, 2005


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