Assisted reproduction has become more common with technological advancements and the evolution of society. Whether it’s a traditional couple who needs assistance with conception or a same-sex couple desiring a child of their own, assisted reproduction offers an avenue to achieve their goals. But in the eyes of Ohio law, exactly who are the parents when donors are involved in conception?
Ohio statutes regarding sperm donors deal primarily with married couples. When a married woman uses donated sperm to conceive, and if she does so with the consent of her husband, the husband automatically becomes the child’s father. Ohio law treats the husband as if he were the natural father. Accordingly, the sperm donor is considered to have no rights or obligations with respect to the child.
These legal presumptions are only effective if the couple follows Ohio’s requirements for assisted reproduction. The couple must have been married prior to the child’s birth. The artificial insemination must have been performed by a physician or under the direction of a physician. And the donor must have had a physical, blood tests and medical history taken before the insemination is done.
When a woman conceives using a donated embryo, Ohio law treats her as the natural mother. If she is married and conceives with the consent of her husband, he will be treated as the child’s natural father. If the husband does not consent, Ohio law still treats him as the father initially. However, the presumption created is rebuttable by clear and convincing evidence.
Ohio’s statutes are silent with respect same-sex couples, married or otherwise. And case law has yet to develop to address the question of whether existing statutes apply to same-sex couples and, if so, to what extent. If you are considering using assisted reproduction and have concerns about the ensuing parentage rights and responsibilities, seek the advice of a competent professional to help determine how the law would address your circumstances.