Should fathers lose rights if baby is created in a lab?

California state legislators are examining the rights of men when a baby is conceived in a lab. Are they fathers or are they sperm donors?

Actor Jason Patric has stepped out as poster boy of the issue as he has been fighting in the courts for his paternal rights to a son conceived with his girlfriend through in vitro fertilization.

Here are some of the facts from The Christian Science Monitor (Read the whole story here. I could only pull a few graphs.)

From The Christian Science Monitor:

“Mr. Patric – whose ex-girlfriend last year won custody of a son, now 3, conceived through in vitro fertilization – spoke at a hearing where state lawmakers are considering a bill that would give judges in child-custody cases greater latitude to take into account the interests of the men involved…

“Whether and how much to adjust the balance of maternal and paternal rights is a longtime question, made more complicated by modern advances in reproductive medicine that allow for “test tube babies,” pregnancies through surrogates, and other innovations. The stakes are high for the men and women involved, but also for the children growing up in a society in which lineage can be confusing, if not outright mysterious, say some family studies experts…

“Patric is currently appealing a judge’s decision that gave full custody of Gus, his son with Danielle Schreiber, to the boy’s mother, in large part because the pair had no written agreement as to the parental arrangement. Patric assumed he would stay involved with the boy; Ms. Schreiber said that was never part of the deal….

“The fact is, I had a little modicum of fame to bring light to a problem that’s going to affect in such a horrific manner children and families,” he said. “I didn’t donate my sperm; I gave my sperm to have a child.… I want my son back,” he said during an interview with ABC’s Katie Couric in June.

The National Organization of Women and other feminist groups oppose the bill because they worry it would cede some power to sperm donors who the women don’t want helping to raise their child.

This just seems like common sense to me: If the sperm came a bank where a man donated it and you never met him, then he doesn’t have rights to the baby. If this is your boyfriend/husband donating sperm then he has some rights. The latter situation is a custody battle not a sperm donor battle.

I would think sperm banks would have men sign forms saying they make no claim on the child.

What do you think: Does in vitro make the father just a sperm donor or is it just common sense when it’s really a father who has rights or a sperm donor? Has anyone on the blog ever donated sperm? Do they ask you to sign away paternal rights at the time?

35 comments Add your comment


August 15th, 2013
12:07 am

If the woman doesn’t want a man to help her raise a child, then why in the hell would she want a child by the same man? I don’t get it. I think this kind of ruling is a huge slap in the face to fathers everywhere, reducing them to mere “sperm donors”.

(the other) Rodney

August 15th, 2013
6:28 am

If I agreed to create a baby with my girlfriend/wife, regardless if it’s in a lab or in a bed, we’re both responsible for the baby, and both have rights thereof.

If I donate sperm to a sperm bank, I would expect no rights to any child conceived from that donation, nor any responsibility for it as well.


August 15th, 2013
6:38 am

If I remember the story correctly, prior to making his “contribution”, Jason Patric had a verbal or written agreement with the (former?) girlfriend releasing him from all obligations related to any child produced. After the child was born, he had a change of heart and wanted to be a part of the boy’s life, exercising parental rights that he given away. Right or wrong, this does paint a different picture.

Johnny Too Good

August 15th, 2013
7:10 am

Why should he lose rights? Unless he knowingly signed them away.
Biologically, he’s still the father.


August 15th, 2013
7:25 am

If a man walks into a sperm bank, make a donation then he is a sperm donor and nothing more. However if he is a husband, boyfriend, or close friend that provides the sperm, then he has equal rights to the child as a parent/father. If he gives up his parental rights, then he becomes a sperm donor.

If California decides that all men providing sperm for in vitro fertilization are just sperm donors, then no mother should be able to later sue for child support since this essentially says that the men have no rights as a father.


August 15th, 2013
7:28 am

Oh let’s just find more ways to keep good caring men out of children’s wives. Let’s find more ways to break down a family.

If she wanted a child with no Dad she should have tried a sperm bank. A faceless donor who would have no idea the child was his.

Yes if you concieve a child with somebody in petri dish or elsewhere he has rights. This whole “it’s my body, I get to make all the decisions” is crap. Men cannot incubate a baby for 9 months they have to have a female.

However, watch science evolve. One day they may well find a way to bring a baby to term outside a woman’s womb (why not?)….I just wonder how many men will decide they don’t need a “mom” to raise that kid.

This crap irritates me.

@ DB AMEN. @ Rodney well said.

Mother of 2

August 15th, 2013
7:38 am

I have to agree with previous comments re: sperm donation. However, I think that there should always be a contract when in vitro methods are utilized.


August 15th, 2013
7:42 am

NO clue about this but if you sell something (sperm) it is no longer yours? I am thinking his was not sold?


August 15th, 2013
7:48 am

Since when is in-vitro equivalent to grown in lab? If that is the case, mom should no rights either, she was just an “egg donor”.


August 15th, 2013
8:09 am

@Virginia, the article states “the pair had no written agreement as to the parental arrangement”…..a verbal agreement is a case of he said / she said.

Not worth the paper it wasn’t written on.


August 15th, 2013
8:46 am

I’m a little confused. In this case, isn’t the women also only a womb-donor? Why should she have superior parental rights to the man?

Turn it the other way around- if the woman died, would the sperm donor get custody rights over the woman’s inlaws, who are not biologically related to the child?

Can the woman sue the sperm donor for child support (yes she can, and they have!)?


August 15th, 2013
8:56 am

Good point LeeH1 why do we nto ask when a Mother should lose rights?

I am sick of the “my body/my decision” when it took two people to get there. Father should have a say in abortion decision or in parenting the kid.


August 15th, 2013
9:10 am

With in vitro, I’m sure they harvested the mother’s eggs for the baby so she is not a womb donor. At least that is what happened with a friend of mine who conceived via in vitro.

Real Life

August 15th, 2013
9:42 am

Sperm donors, those who donate through a sperm bank, have no legal rights in regards to a child. Those who go through in-vitro are usually not considered sperm donors as it is often a couple working together because of infertility. And, according to some states, a private sperm donor (not done through a sperm bank or through a lawyer for the legal protection) can be held responsible as parent and be required to pay child support. Each of these are different things. The case being discussed was in-vitro fertilization and not a “legal” sperm donation. They were a couple and obviously both consented to the procedure. I would think he does have parental rights and responsibilities.


August 15th, 2013
9:54 am

The interesting thing about retaining parental rights is that it all seems to be about ownership. Who owns the baby? Everyone who put DNA in? Everyone who raised the child? People who didn’t raise the child? That seems to be the crux of it, because ownership (in a feudal sort of way) means that person gets a say in how the child is raised. Or, if ownership is proved, financial support can be forced from an unwilling parent. (Which, I believe, every single girl/woman who is pregnant should do.) But, maybe if we focused on this as more of a “rental” agreement—raising the child until they are 18 in a responsible and beneficial way—everyone would all be a lot better emotionally, especially the child. Oh, but it’s not really about them, is it?


August 15th, 2013
10:11 am

FCM – so a man rapes a woman and she gets pregnant (this does happen!) or a father commits incest with his daughter/step-daughter/niece and she gets pregnant. It took two people to make that baby. Should the father get a say in whether the female has an abortion? HELL NO!

I don’t think there is any way that men should force a woman to continue an unwanted pregnancy. How is that good for anyone?

As for the topic at hand, unless the man signed away his rights to the child (i.e. an anonymous donor), of course, he should have parental rights. This seems like a lack of common sense to me.


August 15th, 2013
10:42 am

The father in CONSENTING relationships including invitro.

Rape and incest are different matters ENTIRELY and fall in the relm of sperm donor as far as I am concerned. What we are talking about here is consenting people working to create a baby.

"Mr. Patric – whose ex-girlfriend last year won custody of a son"

August 15th, 2013
12:23 pm

…kind of makes a good argument that one should not have children out of wedlock – if they were married this particular consideration would not be an issue (custody would still be an issue if they were divorcing; but, if married, and staying married after the birth via in vitro, then no new law needs to be established)…


August 15th, 2013
1:29 pm

they should of course have no rights….that’s only allowed for the mom. but if she decides to keep the baby, then of course he will have to pay her for the next 18 years….


August 15th, 2013
1:32 pm

to follow up on my comment, IMO if the “father” wants to get an abortion, but the mother refuses, then he should have no financial obligation (and no legal rights to the child) – since he obviously has no right to make the abortion happen.

The idea that it’s the woman’s decision, and with that decision, she has the right to force the father to pay for the next 18 years, is truly the height of hypocrisy. If she wants to exercise her rights without considering the father, then she should assume all follow on obligation.


August 15th, 2013
1:35 pm

“I don’t think there is any way that men should force a woman to continue an unwanted pregnancy. How is that good for anyone?” If they are in a consenting relationship (hopefully long term) it should have been discussed before the pregnancy occurs. Go see the childfree blog.

Hi, My Name is....

August 15th, 2013
3:23 pm

You know if more women just gave oral sex this wouldn’t be such a problem.

How did we let it get to this?

August 15th, 2013
3:43 pm

If you specifically “contributed” for the creation of a specific child, then you have as many rights as if it had happened the natural way. Personally I find a lot of things wrong with in-vitro fertilization and would just assume it not be available at all, but if it shall continue to be done, its all about intent.

If you donate for money you should be required and should be allowed to absolve yourself of any parental responsibility. Again, it is all about intent.

Additionally, if you produce a child by any means, it should be YOUR total and complete responsibility. Money should not be stolen from anyone to educate, feed, clothe, house, transport, etc. your child. If someone wishes to voluntarily contribute to offset their costs, great. It should not be the role of the state to commit the crimes on your behalf that you cannot legally commit yourself.


August 15th, 2013
4:28 pm

So his DNA is important but the man isn’t? You can’t get one without the other, at least not yet anyway. And anyone foolish to think otherwise is just not thinking clearly.

On the flip side of this, if the man contributes DNA in this manner, and a child is the result, should have be required to pay support for it? After all, he would be as much a genetic father to the child as any other father, and we make them pay support, sometimes just for saying they will even if they aren’t actually the father. And if we are going to make DNA = father = support, then that implies some sort of right to have contact with the child. It also means no more sperm donation, fellas, because one donation could produce hundreds of kids and you’d be on the hook for all of them. Dangerous territory.

Glad I am never having kids. Hearing one call me dad would be nice but there are SO many strings and landmines and then stories like this, and the awful divorce lawyer ads and hateful spouse wars. No thanks. I’d rather get a puppy or kitten.

jose benzaca

August 15th, 2013
6:22 pm

Considering sperm donar fathers can now be responsible for child support they have every right to to seek custody. As this is a planned transaction (interesting choice of words), it should be stipulated in the agreement prior to fertilization that the father has rights or not and that should hold in court and should not be subject to the decision of a judge


August 16th, 2013
9:38 am

Worry that women would see their parental rights erode is why the National Organization for Women and some other feminist groups oppose the bill considered Tuesday by a panel of the California Assembly. Giving judges greater discretion on custody cases involving in vitro fertilization, they argue, would whittle away at women’s autonomy by ceding some power to sperm donors who suddenly want a greater-than-planned role in raising the child.

No mention of what’s in the child’s best interest—only the woman’s? NOW encourages single motherhood even though it can result in poverty. NOW they want the government and/or employers to provide paid maternity leave (up to 1 year) as well as free childcare. They create the problem then look elsewhere for financial solutions.

“More broadly, we’re often surprised if men want to stick around beyond sperm donations when they have the opportunity to leave, which is part of what makes this [Patric-Schreiber] case so interesting,” he says. “This guy wants to be involved, even though it’s an uphill battle.”


Liota Lukaka

August 16th, 2013
10:20 am

What the Moly Cow???? Of course the dad should have rights? This is a terrible situation!!!
Babies born in a Test tube deserve a father as well! So are you saying the test tube should be the dad?
Good luck with that – You going to have one messed up baby if he calls a test tube his daddy.
who is is mama going to be a Tulip. So now this kids parents are a glass tube and a Tulip. What kind of speaking skills that baby going to learn and how is he going to eat. Parents like this would just make me fart!

Liota Lukaka

August 16th, 2013
10:24 am

I am still in shock that now we are going to have test tube dads? What is this world coming too..

hockey goalie

August 16th, 2013
10:55 am

from FCM at 7:28am: “Oh let’s just find more ways to keep good caring men out of children’s wives.”

Best. Quote. Ever.

If they need to be kept out of the wives of these children, are they really good caring men? How old are these children that they have wives?

(Please don’t respond with inane comments explaining to me that this was a typo; of course it’s a typo, but it’s a really, REALLY funny one.)

Just Crazy

August 16th, 2013
12:03 pm

Get married first then have kids. What is with this fashion of having kids with girlfriend/boyfriend?
People, stop being selfish and commit to each other prior to having children.

I feel bad for the baby. A good mother who thinks about the child and not about herself would never keep a child away from his dad (minus crazy abuse cases).

I guess the woman was desperate to have a child for herself and used the guy as a sperm donor. He should get shared custody, 50% of time with his child. Having a child ties you to another person, you like it or not.


August 16th, 2013
1:28 pm

Yes I caught that too however there is not an edit on here. How I got w not l when they are not near each other on the keyboard? No idea…except no coffee and on a cell phone. Much prefer my keyboard.


August 16th, 2013
1:30 pm

I agree it was funny too…I also found it hilarious that nobody said anything yesterday (I caught after coffee when I was back on my computer not my phone).


August 16th, 2013
5:08 pm

Most fathers lose their rights immediately after the act. A father has no say-so over whether or not there is an abortion. It’s like he is not 50% responsible for the child happening. An abortion should require a signed OK from the mother and father. That way if the mother didn’t want the child the father could still take possession and raise the child. This is so screwed-up, thanks to liberals and progressives, it’s a joke! Strange they are not for the death penalty for even heinous crimes but are for abortions!

Band on The Run

August 16th, 2013
11:00 pm

The bottom line is Gus deserves to have a father. Everyone knows it. Even these silly organizations. Its all about Gus! He is a very sweet and loving child. Gus needs a father and a mother. I believe Danielle is being misguided by her family. No mother in their right mind would do this. You always want everything for your children. Everything… like a Great Father! Thats what Jason is.

Bill Mackinnon

August 17th, 2013
8:41 am

It is wrong for men to walk away from pregnant wives, girlfriends or sex partners. It is equally wrong to deny parental rights to men who knowingly participated in producing a pregnancy. We allow mothers to sign away their parental rights through adoption, and we allow men the same. Sperm donors sign away their parental rights. As the father of twins via in vitro, no one has the right to take away my parental rights, unless I forfeit those right through neglect or abuse. In vitro requires active participation except where sperm is from an anonymous sperm bank. This whole thing is a custody battle, clearly showing how difficult and injurious those battles are for the children, regardless of the mechanism of conception