California bill would require listing of parental rights for sperm donors and surrogates
Pregnant woman (Shutterstock)

By Sharon Bernstein

SACRAMENTO Calif. (Reuters) - A bill aimed at protecting the parental and adoptive rights of non-traditional families in California was sent to Governor Jerry Brown on Wednesday in an effort to close gaps in a state law that have led to at least one high-profile legal case.

The measure by San Francisco Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, a Democrat, would require sperm donors, surrogate mothers and the people with whom they work to have a child to fill out a series of forms detailing the rights and responsibilities of each person.

“My bill represents an opportunity to have state law keep pace with the changes in reproductive technology,” Ammiano said. “With a few simple changes, we can help families thrive without needless legal battles or expensive court actions.”

Legal issues around the parental rights of sperm donors have made headlines recently over a debacle involving actor Jason Patric, who donated sperm to a now-former girlfriend and is suing for the right to be part of the child's life. Under current law, sperm donors do not typically have parental rights unless otherwise agreed by the parties involved.

Ammiano's bill would require people who use sperm donors or surrogate mothers to fill out a series of forms outlining the parental rights and responsibilities of the donor or surrogate involved before conception.

The forms required under the legislation are designed to eliminate any gray area about who has the right to visit or care for a child conceived through in vitro or other non-traditional reproductive methods.

The bill would also create an expedited adoption process for same-sex parents. The process is meant to protect families who move from California to states where a non-biological parent is not recognized under state law unless the child has been legally adopted.

The measure also requires couples using a surrogate to spell out how they will pay for the medical expenses of the surrogate and the care of the newborn.

(Editing by Eric Walsh)

[Image: "Pregnant Woman," via Shutterstock]