The Massachusetts Appeals Court today declined to order a local sperm bank to hand over the identity of a donor to a London woman who moved to Boston after her insemination and birth to try to force the donor to pay child support.
The court said it could take no action until after a lower-court judge made a final determination in the case, which will be based on results from tests that attempt to prove a genetic connection between the donor and the woman's twins, whom she claims suffer from a genetic disorder the treatment for which he should help pay. If tests show a genetic link, the woman would then file a paternity suit.
Although the New England Cryogenic Center of Newton told the woman it does not reveal the identity of donors, it turns out she never signed a standard form to that effect. And she says she specifically chose a Massachusetts sperm bank because, unlike Massachusetts law, British law specifically forbids women from seeking paternity recognition in the case of donated sperm. The woman, identified as "Jane Doe," also claims a center official told her on the phone the guy would be more than happy to contact her after her birth and even meet the children. The center denies that ever happened.
In the ruling, the court said the donor was a medical student in his late 20s in the Boston area who provided several vials of sperm between 1992 and 1994. The woman used one of them to get pregnant in 2000. The donor "signed an agreement that he would not inquire as to the identity of the persons who used his sperm and that NECC would keep his identity 'in strictest confidence,' " the court said, adding:
Clearly, D237's rights are at the litigation's center and its resolution may unalterably affect them. It is D237's identity and medical information Doe seeks and it is a process for determining whether D237 is genetically linked to Doe's children that the judge has put in place. Counsel for NECC has not entered an appearance for D237, nor does it appear that D237 has in any formal way agreed to abide by the outcome of NECC's defensive efforts, motions, and requests. Indeed, it is not clear from the record that D237 even knows of the litigation's existence.