Herald Sun

Woman accused of stealing sperm

By LEELA de KRETSER
Herald Sun (Australia)
25jun02

A VICTORIAN man's claim he became a father under false pretences because a woman "stole" his sperm has been taken to the Equal Opportunity Commission.

In an Australian first, the man has made a formal complaint to the commission arguing the Federal Government has discriminated against him by ordering him to pay $21 a month to support his son.

In the complaint, a copy of which has been seen by the Herald Sun, the man has alleged he could only have become a father if the woman used his sperm without his consent.

"Following intercourse, X would, on occasions, dispose of the used condoms herself," the complaint reads. "I consider that X secretly administered my semen to herself following intercourse.

"I also consider, therefore, that X became pregnant through an act of fraud perpetrated on me."

But the mother of the child who is now three told the Herald Sun yesterday the claims were ridiculous. "Why on earth would I want to get pregnant?" she said.

"I was 18 years old and he was 25. I was studying and had my whole life ahead of me. Why would I do that to myself?"

The woman, who cannot be identified because of Family Court proceedings, fought back tears yesterday when told of the allegations.

"We had a relationship," the 23-year-old said. "We were talking about marriage and everything. We had a normal relationship and I ended up getting pregnant."

She said the pair had been in a relationship for five months in 1997 when she unintentionally became pregnant.

She said when she told the father, he said he wanted nothing to do with her or the baby.

In 1999, the man was tested and confirmed as the father. The Child Support Agency then began collecting about $5 a week for support.

The mother said the father had only seen his son twice.

"He doesn't want anything to do with us," she said.

The man's allegation of discrimination centres on his belief that the Federal Government's Child Support Agency should treat him as a sperm donor.

In Victoria, men who donate sperm through reproduction programs are not liable to pay support.

In a legal argument, the father alleges that a lawful sexual act, even if it is intercourse between a heterosexual couple, should not prevent a man from being considered a sperm donor. To do so, he argues, is discrimination.

"I believe that deceptively engineered pregnancies should be treated in the same fashion as IVF pregnancies, and those arising from traditional sperm donation, with the male in these instances relieved from all financial liability."

Sue Price, co-founder of the Men's Rights Agency, said the organisation had heard from a number of men who believed they had been tricked into getting a woman pregnant.

"A lot of men are in a similar situation," Mrs Price said. "Especially with the girls putting forward evidence that they can't conceive, yet lo and behold they get pregnant."

But Mrs Price said she didn't think the Victorian father would be successful at the commission.

"Unfortunately, I think (the father) is taking a wrong tack. He should be concentrating on a civil prosecution for fraud," she said.

"Obviously (the father's) action of using a condom very clearly makes the statement that he did not intend his sperm to be used to impregnate the girl."

© 2002 Herald and Weekly Times