Actor Jason Patric sues for rights of sperm donors as parents
The Hollywood star conceived a child with his ex-girlfriend Danielle Schrieber through IVF
Tim Walker is The Independent’s Los Angeles correspondent, covering entertainment and other concerns from the West Coast of the US. He was previously a features writer and the editor of the paper’s diary column. His first novel, Completion, is being published in January 2014.
Thursday 15 August 2013
Jason Patric is fighting for a coveted new role – as father of the son he provided sperm to conceive.
This week, the 48-year-old star of Lost Boys and Speed 2: Cruise Control appeared before California lawmakers to argue for new legislation that would allow sperm donors to take a larger role in their children’s lives. Mr Patric conceived a child with his ex-girlfriend Danielle Schrieber through IVF. Though the couple were separated, Patric claims he participated out of affection for Ms Schrieber, and that he shares an emotional bond with their son, Gus, who is now three years old.
Several months ago, Ms Schrieber severed contact between Mr Patric and Gus, leading to a bitter custody dispute. Mr Patric was not listed on his son’s birth certificate, and Ms Schrieber testified that he had little or no role in the boy’s upbringing.
In February a judge deemed the actor a sperm donor, not a parent, and denied him visitation rights. Mr Patric is appealing the ruling.
Following his case, California state senator Jerry Hill introduced a bill to allow men whose sperm is used to conceive a child via artificial insemination to sue for parental rights, provided they can demonstrate involvement in the child’s life.
This week, the star recounted his experience to the state’s Assembly Judiciary Committee, testifying that he had been in a long-term relationship with Ms Schreiber, and that they had tried to conceive by IVF and more traditional methods, but without success. “It destroyed the relationship but not the love,” the actor said. Following their split, he agreed to another round of IVF, which resulted in Gus’s birth.
Mr Patric claimed Ms Schreiber has forbidden him access to his son for the past 25 weeks, and that he was speaking on behalf of other men in the same situation.
“We raised these children, we loved these children, but when these relationships fell apart we were shockingly hit with briefs that deemed us ‘sperm donors’: a word that was never, ever mentioned in my house, a word I can guarantee you Gus doesn’t know how to pronounce,” he said.
Mr Hill’s bill, SB 115, was passed by the California Senate, but now requires the approval of the state’s assembly. Its opponents, including women’s rights groups such as the National Organization for Women and Planned Parenthood, say the proposed law could inadvertently threaten the rights of single mothers and same-sex couples who use sperm donors.
Ms Schrieber, for her part, is adamant that Mr Patric surrendered any parental rights before she conceived, and said he agreed to be an anonymous donor. “Jason never did anything to raise Gus. He never changed a single diaper,” she recently told Today on NBC.
Following Mr Patric’s testimony, the Judiciary panel voted 5-2 to keep SB115 in committee for further discussion. Mr Hill has asked to submit a modified version of the bill for consideration. Mr Patric was frustrated by the decision, telling the Associated Press that the committee “doesn’t care about children in the middle of something and fixing it”.
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