Em-URGE-ing Voices

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We are Overdue for an Update to Our Child Support Laws

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January 9, 2013

Sperm or egg donation is possibly one of the most selfless gifts you can provide to someone who cannot conceive a child in a more “traditional” manner. Hopefully that belief is in the minds of all people who do make a decision to lend a piece of their body to help another family group. Even if the volunteer only seeks money, that should be immaterial in deciding custody of a child years into their life.

However, this meaning seems to be lost in the case of William Marotta. The Kansas man is being pursued by the state for child support after donating sperm to a lesbian couple. Because the artificial insemination was done at home instead of under the supervision of a doctor as required by Kansas law, the state is arguing that he owes child support for the now 3-year-old, despite signing an agreement with the couple waiving all paternal rights.

The word ‘donation’ in itself does not lend itself to having responsibilities or strings attached; so why is William Marotta being perused financially for child support by the state of Kansas? Is it the fault of biological mother Jennifer Schreiner and partner Angela Bauer or is it outdated concepts of families that Kansas lawmakers are more than happy to make rulings on?

Let’s for a moment replace Angela Bauer with a legally married husband. If in the event something were to happen and support was needed for a child, wouldn’t it fall to the responsibilities of the parents? In the event of splitting their partnership wouldn’t it follow that he would be pursued for child support? If the two women could have been legally married and separated and assistance was needed it wouldn’t fall on Marotta to come to the rescue. If this were a case involving a heterosexual couple, I strongly believe the case would have never gotten this far.

Why should William Marotta be held responsible for outdated Kansas policies that don’t support modern ideas of marriage while also lacking in personal protection policies in the case of sperm and egg donation? Is this a marriage issue or a reproductive rights issue? Obviously they are so intertwined with another that it would be impossible to rule on this issue separately. If we as a state (arguably), and as a nation pride ourselves in protecting life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness how could we let our policies progress so greatly in some areas while falling behind in others?

Kansas law mandates that a doctor play a part in the artificial insemination process, which is laughable considering heterosexual couples don’t require doctor’s assistance and the existence of affordable at home insemination kits. Because of this oversight, there is a possibility of Marotta being financially responsible for a selfless donation.

So Kansas, America, let’s talk. We’re going to have some tough years ahead of us if we keep cherry-picking legalities of personal freedoms. More and more states are starting to legalize gay marriage, the recreational use of marijuana, and updating policies on sperm and egg donation. We need to have a serious conversation and makeover our standing laws into something that actually represents what we stand for as a nation:

Life (to have or not to have), liberty (choice of the body, mind, and soul), and the pursuit of happiness – whatever yours may be.

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