A house that burns down can be rebuilt. Items stolen during a burglary might be recovered or replaced. One thing that can’t be undone, however, is the transmission of someone’s genes to a child. That’s a genie that, while easier to release than it used to be because of the advances of artificial reproductive technology, can’t be put back in the bottle.
That’s why facilities in the ART industry typically have contracts that protect what happens to frozen specimens. They are supposed to insure against just such an occurrence. If those contracts are breached the implications in legal and relationship terms can be serious. Child support, child custody and parenting rights could all be brought into question. To protect the rights of all parties under family law, there has to be confidence in those contracts.
That is something that a Texas jury apparently sought to reaffirm recently. It ruled that a fertility center in Houston had violated its contract with a man and a former female partner by inseminating a new girlfriend with his banked semen. As a result of the action, the man now has a second child he did not plan on.
According to records related to the case, the man and his first girlfriend have one child. He has since undergone a vasectomy but the couple froze a sample of his sperm before that procedure on the chance that they might want more children. They subsequently broke up and the man started seeing the second woman.
Under the terms of the cryopreservation agreement, the first woman had control over the sample, so the second woman’s pregnancy was a surprise. It didn’t help that she underwent insemination six days after breaking up with the man.
After hours of deliberation, the jury awarded the man and the first partner each $250,000 from the fertility clinic. The second woman was also ordered to pay $125,000 to the plaintiffs for mental anguish.
Source: Breitbart.com, “Texas jury finds against ex-girlfriend who ‘stole’ ex’s sperm contracted to another woman,” Lana Shadwick, Aug. 23, 2015