The estimable Theodore Dalrymple
looks at an interesting situation in Sweden. It seems a sympathetic, liberal man donated sperm to a lesbian couple who desired to conceive. The couple broke up, and the Swedish social security department successfully sued to force him to participate financially in the child's upbringing. Dalrymple wonders why it is such a calamity for a demonstrable biological father to be asked to support his own children, and sees a kind of spiritual malaise in a society where people consider that they have every right to the fulfillment of their desires, no matter how improbable, but every right to avoid responsibility for the stark material facts, no matter how plain. Is he right? I'm really conflicted about this. On the one hand, I can see the guy's predicament-he thought he was doing his lesbian friend a favor, not signing up for an eighteen-year financial commitment. On the other hand, the brutal biological fact is that he is the father. Not being married to a mother is not considered an out for a biological father seeking to avoid paying child support; why should it be different simply because the mother is a lesbian? Dalrymple says:
the idea that one “condemns" a man to support children is in itself both revealing and chilling.
That really gets me. Maybe Swedish family law should catch up to the new family structures that postmodern European ethics are legitimizing; maybe Swedish family law should stay wedded to naked biological genealogy. I have to say I'm inclined to agree with Dalrymple that those who choose to have families that represent the triumph of mind over matter (or memes over genes) should not be surprised at their own predicament when mind turns out to be fickler than fantasy.
I'd love to see what you think of this as a gay parent, V the K. Should a biological parent have the responsibilities of a legal parent? Should a child unfortunate enough to be in this situation suffer an penurious upbringing simply because one of its biological parents was nothing more than a sperm donor? I'm starting to incline towards the view that a sperm donor should have the same responsibilities that he would have if he was a paramour of the mother. My friend D is the father of a child that he did not desire to conceive and was deceived into conceiving, so I'm very torn on this issue. His frequent complaints about the mother, M's scamming nature when she calls him in the middle of the night to ask for money for an emergency that he can't verify the reality of, when she won't even allow him to see his daughter,
give me a vantage point on family law that makes it really hard for me to lay down a black-and-white opinion on this matter.