Actor Jason Patric testified before a California legislative committee Tuesday to push for parental rights for sperm donors.
The “Lost Boys” actor is involved in a heated battle with ex-girlfriend Danielle Schreiber with whom he has a 3-year-old son, Gus — who was conceived using in vitro fertilization.
After splitting up, the never-married couple had different ideas about what role Patric should play in the boy’s life. Schreiber maintains that the pair agreed that Patric’s donation would remain anonymous and that he would not have any rights as the father, she told NBC's "Today."
Patric insists, however, that he was always intended to act as a father to Gus. The disagreement resulted in a custody battle.
“I am here mainly because I need to be Gus’ voice, my son, a voice I have not heard in 25 weeks, a voice that is not allowed to mention my name in his mother’s home, a voice that sent me here,” Patric said to committee members, Tuesday.
Patric first took his case to state lawmakers after a judge ruled that he was to be classified strictly as a sperm donor and that he had no paternal rights over Gus — the decision was based on a 2011 state law specifying that sperm donors have no legal parental rights.
“Every single one of us was barred from proving our parentage by this loophole in a law,” Patric said. “We all tried to become parents. We went through great lengths to become parents. I had surgery to become a parent.”
Since the initial verdict, California state Sen. Jerry Hill, who wrote the 2011 state law, has introduced a new bill, SB115, which would allow sperm donors who conceive a child through artificial insemination to establish parental rights if they can prove a certain level of involvement in that child’s life.
"This is truly about the modern family, and it has raised questions and issues for the courts that haven't kept up with changing times," Hill told the Associated Press.
No decision was made regarding SB115 at Tuesday’s hearing. Instead, the bill will held in committee and re-heard at a later date.
While the bill received no opposition in the senate, outside opponents such as the chapter of the National Organization for Women, Planned Parenthood, the Academy of California Adoption Lawyers and attorneys representing Schreiber have voiced concern that the bill could negatively affect same sex couples or single mothers who have used donors to conceive, however it was stated at the hearing that those groups are open the further discussion.
Others, like San Francisco family law attorney Deborah Wald, who did not testify on Tuesday, believe that the good achieved by SB115 outweighs any harm.
"No one is suggesting we amend the statute and say the man who provides sperm should be a father," Wald told NBC News.
"The law will continue to say that man is a sperm donor, and that he would have to establish as a matter of evidence that he has actually parented the child. If a man can’t do that, he’s a sperm donor. The question is should a man be given the opportunity to try.”
First published August 13 2013, 4:15 PM