Legal Aspects of Artificial Insemination

by Lilly on January 1, 2013

Artificial insemination gained wide popularity over the past decade. Infertility and impotence make people search for alternative ways to conceive and expand their families. Millions of women were finally able to get pregnant and have a child via IVF and other methods of insemination. Doctors use semen from woman’s husband or anonymous donors to inject it into the woman’s uterus.  Some women even have to go through rounds of unsuccessful procedures until they manage to get pregnant.

There is nothing to worry about when a woman conceives with her husband’s sperm, unless she would use her husband’s semen after his death.  In case a couple decides to use donor’s sperm they need to consider several legal implications of such conception.  Insurance and privacy issues are only some of the aspects. Here are several issues to consider:

Some common things to consider

The laws all over the world are unclear about the cases when a donor sperm was used for insemination. Some states in the US consider the wife and her husband legitimate parents, while others recognize biological father as the only legitimate father. The legal aspect of such conception is unregulated.

Donor rights

Anonymous sperm donors do not look forward to meeting their countless offspring years later. That’s why their rights should also be taken into consideration. Moreover, a lot of parents don’t tell their children the true story of their conception as it may traumatize and scar them for life.

Donor also has no rights to the child conceived with his sperm. He cannot request any information about women who conceived children with his semen. Donor anonymity also prevents single mothers from chasing biological fathers in order to get child support money and force the burden of parenthood on them. After all, no one can become a parent against his will.

Things get a bit tricky when a woman uses semen from a family member or a friend. In this case, a man has to sign papers declining any rights to the child. There are cases when a donor provided his semen for his brother’s wife, due to his brother’s infertility.

At the same time, courts may allow to reveal donor’s identity in exceptional cases. For example, donor would lose his anonymity if he passed some genetic disease to a child.

Husband’s rights

In certain countries the husband is considered a father to the child. For example, Oregon and Alabama oblige the husband to get permission from his GP prior to the procedure. He also has to sign a paper allowing his wife to proceed with the artificial insemination.

Parenting laws differ from country to country. Therefore, you need to research the topic before the procedure and find all the underlying problems and pitfalls in your country. Legal, ethical and medical aspects of insemination are still underdeveloped and unregulated. The rights of mothers and their children should be taken into account when considering the procedure. Despite all the pitfalls and downsides, this way of conception gave hope to millions of women determined to get pregnant.

This is a guest post by Lilly Sheperd, a freelance writer and blogger currently writing on behalf of Fertile Future. She’s interested in topics related to women’s health and fertility.



I'm Lilly Sheperd, an occasional guest-blogger and a full time freelance communication consultant. When not blogging, I like to travel and read a lot, especially about education and law.

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