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editorial

Kansas child-support ruling: Donor, not deadbeat dad

THE DECISION by a Kansas district court judge to order a sperm donor to pay child support flies in the face of justice — and of common sense. The case is based on a technicality: Kansas law exempts doctor-assisted sperm donations from child support requirements. But since this case involves a lesbian couple who solicited the donor on Craigslist, and performed the artificial insemination themselves, the judge ruled that the donor is financially responsible.

It is noteworthy that neither the child’s birth mother, Jennifer Schreiner, nor Schreiner’s former partner, Angela Bauer, has sought financial support from their sperm donor. Indeed, at the time of the donation, they asked William Marotta, a now-married auto mechanic, to sign an agreement that he would not be involved in raising or paying for the child.

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But in the years that passed since that agreement was signed, Schreiner and Bauer split up. Schreiner suffered from an injury that prevents her from working. She sought public assistance. The Kansas Department of Children and Families pressed Schreiner to name the child’s biological father — and took Marotta to court to recoup the $6,000 in child support that the state has paid so far, in addition to future payments.

It’s difficult to imagine that the state would have taken this action against a married heterosexual couple who had used a sperm donor. Had Schreiner married a man, the state would almost certainly have pursued her ex-husband for child support, not the donor. But Kansas does not recognize gay marriage, so the state does not consider Bauer to be a financially responsible party, even though she continues to co-parent the child. If anyone should pay child support, it’s Bauer. While the attempt to hold absent fathers responsible for their children is praiseworthy, the state of Kansas should know the difference between a sperm donor and a deadbeat dad.

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