A Kansas man who donated sperm to a lesbian couple so they
could have a child says he is shocked the state is now trying
to make him pay child support.
William Marotta, 46, donated sperm to Jennifer Schreiner and
Angela Bauer under a written agreement that he would not be
considered the father of the child nor liable for child
support. A daughter, now 3, was born to Schreiner.
But in October, the state of Kansas filed a petition seeking
to have Marotta declared the father of the child and
financially responsible for her after the couple encountered
Marotta will ask the court in a hearing January 8 to dismiss
the claim, which centers on a state law that the sperm must
be donated through a licensed physician in order for the
father to be free of any later financial obligations.
Marotta gave a container of semen to the couple, who found
him on Craigslist, instead of donating through a doctor or
The case is seen as having repercussions for other sperm
donors. Sperm banks routinely provide sperm to people who
want to conceive a child on the understanding that the donors
are not responsible for the children.
Kansas is seeking child support from Marotta, including about
$6000 in medical expenses related to the child's birth,
according to its petition.
"This was totally unexpected," Marotta said in a phone
interview. "The very first thing that went through my mind
was that no good deed goes unpunished."
The case has attracted national attention. Shannon Minter,
legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights,
said Wednesday "it is unfortunate and unfair" that Kansas is
seeking money from a sperm donor.
"It certainly might have a negative effect on other men's
willingness to help couples who need a donor, which would be
harmful to everyone," Minter said.
"I also think it undermines everyone's respect for the law
when you see it operate so arbitrarily."
Kansas officials are required under the law to determine the
father of a child when someone seeks state benefits, said
Angela de Rocha, spokeswoman for the Department for Children
The couple was compelled to provide that information, which
led to investigation of the sperm donation.
Marotta should be declared the father and subject to
financial claims because he donated the sperm directly to the
women and not through a physician, as required by Kansas law,
the state's petition states.
Marotta said he's had virtually no contact with the child,
but that he and Schreiner have remained cordial. He said she
was pressured by the state to provide his name as the sperm
"To me, ethics need to override rules," he said.
Lawyers for Marotta argue that he had no parental rights
because of his agreement with the couple and cannot be held
They cite a 2007 case in which the Kansas Supreme Court ruled
against a sperm donor seeking parental rights because he did
not have any such agreement with the mother, lawyers for
"So now, we are flipping the argument around," Marotta
attorney Ben Swinnen said Wednesday.
If the father had no legal parental rights in the 2007 case,
Marotta should be declared to have no parental obligations in
the current case, Swinnen said.
Marotta, a race car mechanic, responded to an ad on
Craigslist from someone offering to pay $US50 for sperm
donations, but he made the donation for free.
Marotta said he and his wife have no children of their own
but have fostered a daughter. Marotta said he was simply
trying to help a couple wanting a child.