Woman sued for `stealing' sperm

Mary Dejevsky
Tuesday 24 November 1998 01:02 GMT

IN THE latest example of America's gender wars, a man in Albuquerque, in the south-west state of New Mexico, is suing his former girlfriend for becoming pregnant without his agreement.

Peter Wallis has accused Kellie Smith, the mother of his one-year-old daughter, of fraud and breach of contract for "intentionally acquiring and misusing" his sperm.

He claims that Ms Smith had promised to take the Pill, but deliberately stopped in order to have a baby - making him a father without his knowledge or consent. Her decision, he says, will expose him to expense to support a child he did not want.

Ms Smith's lawyer argues she could not have "stolen" Mr Wallis' sperm, because he "surrendered any right of possession... when he transferred it... during voluntary sexual intercourse". The sperm was, in fact, "a gift".

Their versions of exactly what happened diverge. Mr Wallis says she agreed to take the Pill and that amounted to a contract. She says she did take the Pill, but because she wanted to, not because they had an agreement. She says she was shocked to find she was pregnant but wanted to keep the child.

He says that when she told him she was pregnant he asked her to marry him, and then to have an abortion. She refused on both counts, and he threw her out of the flat they shared.

She moved back with her parents, where she and her daughter now live, and says she did not want to marry Mr Wallis because "I realised that he didn't love me".

Ms Smith's lawyer, Mary Han, says Mr Wallis's case is baseless. "If he was so adamant, why didn't he use a condom? This is about a man who just does not want to accept his sexual responsibility. Talk about a whiner." She said if his argument prevails, there would be a "flood of litigation" if fathers could evade their responsibilities by blaming the mothers for failing to use birth control.

Some men's groups side with Mr Wallis, arguing that as the law stands the women have all the options. The woman, for instance, can decide whether to have an abortion and the man has no say.

The counter-argument, from women's groups, is that it is women who have the babies.

Both parties to the lawsuit insist that money is not their prime motivation.

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