Lewis and Clark Law Review
assisted reproduction, artificial insemination, paternity, best interests of the child, reproductive technology
Nadya Suleman used sperm from a man she knows to conceive fourteen children using assisted reproduction. It is clear that Suleman is the legal mother of the children. The unanswered question is: "Are the children legally fatherless?" The answer to this question is important because experts predict that it will take well over one million dollars to support the children until they reach the age of majority. My article seeks to provide some insight into the resolution of this issue. Although Suleman did not conceived using artificial insemination, the information examined in my article may be applied to her situation. When the statutory system allocating paternal responsibility was created, a family consisted of a man, a woman and their children. Sexual intercourse and adoption were the main methods of creating a family. Procreation is no longer the exclusive domain of the traditional family. The current paternal statutory scheme is inadequate to address the legal consequences resulting from the existence of artificially conceived children because it focuses too much on protecting the reproductive rights of the men involved in the process and ignores the needs of the children that are conceived. Under the majority of state artificial insemination statutes, the question asked is: Has the man consented to be a legal parent by written agreement or by his actions? The question that should be asked is: Is it in the best interest of the child that the man be considered the legal parent? Instead of focusing exclusively upon the man's right to choose whether or not to be a parent, the state legislatures should take steps to ensure that the artificially conceived child has at least two adults who are legally responsible to provide financial support for the child. In order to accomplish that goal, the state legislatures should recognize more than one class of fathers and allocate paternal responsibility based upon the best interests of the artificially conceived child.
Browne C. Lewis, Two Fathers, One Dad: Allocating the Paternal Obligations Between the Men Involved in the Artificial Insemination Process, 13 Lewis and Clark Law Review 949 (Winter 2009)