Danish sperm donor sued by three-year-old 'son'

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A SWEDISH boy aged three is suing the Danish man who allegedly donated the sperm that conceived him. The boy's lawyer, Per-Arvid Viklund, said he was confident of winning the case, the first to try to differentiate between father and sperm donor.

The story of the insemination, according to the mother, is as follows: Swedish law only allows for artificial insemination of married or co-habiting women. The single mother, now 30, therefore contacted a donor agency in Copenhagen, where laws are less restrictive. Swedish law also guarantees the right of the child to know the identity of the father, which Danish law does not.

The woman had two meetings with the man in a Danish hotel, where he ejaculated into a receptacle. Following conception, the two remained in contact by letter and telephone.

The boy's mother says the man never denied paternity.

But as the boy was growing up, the woman became unhappy at his not knowing his father, whom she has named in court.

'If you were single and childless and decided to have artificial insemination, you too might change your mind about the child not having a father a few years later,' Mr Viklund said.

The object of the suit is to oblige the man to provide a blood sample or other genetic proof of paternity. If successful, it would also force the father to pay child support.

But, Mr Viklund, insisted: 'This is not about financial need. It is about feelings.'

He added: 'The case has arisen because of conflicting legislation in different countries. In Sweden, when we consider the issue of paternity, we look primarily at the child's welfare.'

Under legally regulated insemination in Sweden, the donor cannot be sued for paternity, but must agree in writing to his name being available on request. Mr Viklund's argument is that the Dane knew the woman herself was inserting his sperm, and is therefore the father rather than just a donor.

Mr Viklund, acting under instructions from social workers in the child's home town of Bollnas, northern Sweden, said he believed the case would be the first of several, given that single Swedish women under existing legislation would have to venture abroad for artificial insemination.

Swedish legislation on family issues is the subject of constant debate. Sweden recently passed legislation to oblige men to take at least a month's paternity leave. Hitherto, couples were paid 'parental insurance' for 12 months' leave, to be divided as they saw fit.

Because men are generally more highly paid and career-orientated, the argument goes, many were reluctant to take a share of the leave. Under the new law, the couple will lose a month's payment if the man does not exercise his right.