State Laws and Legislation

California Donor Insemination Law

Existing State Laws. California law explicitly allows artificial insemination of unmarried women and removes any paternity rights from the donor. However, the procedures must be performed with physician involvement to remove the donor’s legal rights or obligations with regard to a resulting child. 

State law requires that the semen used to artificially inseminate an unmarried woman be “provided to a licensed physician and surgeon.” If this requirement is met, the semen donor will not be treated by the law as the father of any offspring.

Cases Dealing with Donor Insemination. In one 1993 case, Hecht v. Kane, a deceased man’s girlfriend and son both sought control over the deceased’s cryogenically preserved sperm. Among the son’s claims was the contention that the public policy of California would not permit artificial insemination of an unmarried woman. The court referred to Jhordan C. v. Mary K. (see below) and concluded that both the Legislature and courts had concluded that unmarried women’s access to artificial insemination was consistent with the public policy of California.

In the 1986 Jhordan C. v. Mary K. case, Mary decided to have a child with her “close friend” Victoria and sought a semen donor, eventually settling on Jhordan. The parties dispute the nature of their agreement regarding Jhordan’s involvement in the child’s life. Jhordan provided semen to Mary. Victoria apparently performed the insemination herself, at Mary’s home, without any physician involvement. After the child’s birth, Mary allowed Jhordan monthly visitation, but terminated those visits after only five months. Jhordan then successfully sought to establish paternity and visitation rights in court. Mary appealed. The Court of Appeal found that, under state law, a semen donor’s paternity rights are invalidated only if the insemination is conducted “under the supervision of a licensed physician.” The court emphasized this requirement could be as simple as obtaining the semen from a physician and performing the insemination at home.  

Citations: CAL. FAM. CODE § 7613 (2003); Hecht v. Kane, 16 Cal.App.4th 836, 20 Cal.Rptr.2d 275 (Ct. App. 2d 1993); Jhordan C. v. Mary K., 179 Cal.App.3d 386 (Ct. App. 1st. 1986).

Updated: Thu, December 14, 2006 - 12:00:31