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Comment: Protection pre-conception, should gay parents consider it?

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  1. Pre-conception agreements are a good idea.

    But a pre-conception agreement signed before a baby is born or conceived should never be legally enforceable.

    It is naive in the extreme to think parenting rights and access can be decided before a child is born.

    If a lesbian couple ask a male friend to donate sperm to father a child for them, then great.

    But to expect him to sign away all rights and access to that child before the child is even born is truly ridiculous.

    You cannot legislate for emotions. What if the guy signs away his access rights to the child. Yet when then child is born, he changes his mind?

    If a lesbian couple want a child together and they want sole access to the child, then they need to go to a sperm bank.

    After all, legally a sperm donor with no access to his child can be held financially responsible for that child.

    So access to the child should always be allowed if the father is a responsible adult.

  2. If the lesbian couple are in a Civil Partnership at the time a child is conceived, they can both appear as parents on the birth certificate and have full parenting rights with no financial obligations on any donor father.
    I do not agree with the idea that just because someone is a “known donor” that gives him the right to contact with the child later on, especially in cases where an agreement has been made for no contact to begin with. I think this would be unfair. This is different to arguing that children should know who their donor is and have a chance to contact them if they wish.
    The case above is more complex than that- the birth mother was married to the biological father when the child was conceived- it was a marriage of convenience. Also there is a good deal of evidence that the father was involved in the child’s early life, being present at the birth etc. so an argument could be made that they had merely decided to cease his involvement after the fact.

    1. Rubbish.

      What you are suggesting is that the comfort and security of the lesbian couple takes precedence over what may be in the best interest of the child.

      As we see so often in heterosexual divorces, and remarriages, the parents often put their own happiness above the welfare of the child.

      So this lesbian couple does not like the biological father.

      Well tough luck – their child seems to know who its father is. The lesbian couple in this instance need to get over themselves and facilitate easier access for the father, It is in their child’s interest to do so. They refuse to accept this.

      If a lesbian couple want to have a child and for the child to have zero contact with the sperm donor / biological father then the only way to do this is to go to a sperm bank for an anonymous sperm donation.

      Pre-conception agreements are utterly worthless legally and anyone who tries to use this agreement as a reason to deny the biological father access to the child is incredibly naive.

      1. I’m not disagreeing with the court in this instance. As I said above, there are many complicating factors in that case and the child already had a relationship with the biological father.
        I agree that the best interests of the child should come first.

        However, if a couple have a known donor, who agrees to no contact, and both sides are happy with that arrangement, and then changes their mind, I disagree they have the *right* to access to the child. It may or may not be appropriate to grant them access in each individual case, but I don’t think they should have the automatic right.

        At this point, the couple in question might have been through the whole of pregnancy as a couple, the whole of childbirth as a couple and the experience of bringing up a baby all with no contact with the biological father, and everyone is happy with this arrangement. Then, if the biological father changes his mind, you think he has the *right* to access? On what grounds?

        1. While I’m on…
          Why do you think pre conception agreements are a good idea if they’re not legally enforcable?
          If the couple are legal parents a donor doesn’t have any financial obligations toward the child.
          Equally, if the couple are legal parents, the donor does not have to sign their rights away, as they do not have any in the first place.
          Would you think that if it was a gay male couple who used a surrogate it would be acceptable for her to come crashing back into their lives years down the line? I wouldn’t.
          It seems you would like all lesbians to use incredibly expensive, and potentially prohibitive sperm banks to conceive because apparently this is ok, whereas if they’ve ever met the donor that changes everything…for some reason? Again, NOT talking about this case but about the principle.

          1. A pre-conception agreement is a good idea in that it serves as a statement of intent.

            But that’s all it should be.

            You cannot predict how someone will react when the child is born.

            If a woman is pregnant and signs an agreement to give her child up for adoption, and then after the birth changes her mind, then she will not be required to continue with the adoption.

            Likewise if a man signs a pre-conception agreement whereby he forfeits access to the child, and after the child is born, and he changes his mind, then the pre-conception agreement can be ignored.

            Unless you think that double standards should apply between fathers and mothers.

            Child custody in this country is extremely discriminatory towards fathers. That is not something to celebrate.

  3. This really is the “Gold” of double standards! For decades (irresponsible men) have been dragged to court and shoulder the responsibility for the child they fathered. Others willingly stepped up and took responsibility because neither conscience or emotion allow you to ignore the life you have created.

    Now we have the opposite situation where the law is being asked to exclude the father by choice! (some people could only dream) If you have involved a man in the creation of life you have “INVOLVED him” your wish to now exclude him is not unfortunately an option no matter how much premeditation or documentation is involved.

    Would he be able to remain “not involved” if this couple were to be in an accident and the child put up for foster or adoption?

    Life is life and the “I/we don’t want you involved!” is not a realistic option unless the father is deliberately annonymous.

  4. Bisexual woman in Edinburgh 19 Mar 2012, 4:01pm

    We need proper legislation to cover these situations as they become more and more common. Female same-sex couples are less likely to seek medical treatment to aid conception than mixed-sex couples who need a gamete donor, as they are more likely to be in good health to begin with. I assume there are considerable costs involved with formal sperm donation. I would also be happier if couples don’t receive fertility treatment on the NHS if they don’t need it and are just as happy to get it sorted out informally, as the NHS is desperately short of money and fertility treatment costs a fortune. So yes, pairs of women are going to continue to get a friend to donate sperm, and as this becomes more normalised in our society, associated problems will increase. Mixed sex couples who use assisted reproduction are presumably covered by legislation in terms of the relative rights of the gamete donors or surrogate, so why shouldn’t same sex couples be as well?

  5. Double standard? He agreed to be a donor and to have no further contact with the child when it was born but now his wishes should take precedence under the guise of “In the best interests of the child”?
    What this tells me is that men cannot be trusted to keep their word, even when they sign a legal contract.
    I wonder if you all would be making the same arguments if this was a gay male couple and the interloper was the female surrogate who had agreed to sign away her parental rights at birth?

    1. Bisexual woman in Edinburgh 23 Mar 2012, 4:18pm

      Last I checked, there have been legal problems with some surrogates who changed their mind. I haven’t heard of it happening with egg donors, but it’s entirely possible that it does happen and I just haven’t heard about it.

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