Sperm theft

Sperm theft, also known as unauthorized use of sperm, spermjacking or spurgling (a portmanteau of sperm and burgling),[1][2] occurs when a man's semen is used, against his will or without his knowledge or consent, to inseminate a woman. It can also include deception regarding a partner's ability to get pregnant or use of contraceptives, birth control sabotage, and sexual assaults of males that result in pregnancy.[3] Although the term uses the word "theft", it more closely falls under a state of fraud or breach of contract. In most jurisdictions, sperm theft is not illegal and usually has little bearing on issues like child support. It is considered an issue in the men's rights movement.[4]

DefinitionEdit

Sperm theft falls into three main categories:[5]

  • Sperm stashing — Occurs when a woman surreptitiously obtains a man's sperm, such as retaining a used condom after a sexual encounter, and uses it to inseminate herself.
  • Non-consenusal sexual intercourse — Including Rape or statutory rape of a man or boy that results in pregnancy.
  • Improper use of Assisted reproductive technology — When a man's frozen sperm sample is used, without his permission, to fertilize an egg in IVF and other artificial insemination procedures.

Legal StatusEdit

In most jurisdictions, sperm theft is not explicitly illegal. Cases are usually reported in connection with disputes over child support. When the obligation to provide child support is challenged by men who allege that their sperm had been stolen or otherwise used to inseminate a woman without their consent, courts will typically enforce the doctrine of strict liability: a man is liable to support a child conceived with his sperm, irrespective of the circumstances of conception, including any criminal conduct on the part of the mother.[6][7] Plaintiff arguments of tort liability for fraud or misrepresentation typically do not hold up. Courts are also thought to be reluctant to remedy such grievances as it would mean ruling that a child was born as a result of deception.[8] In some cases, a victim of sperm theft can sue the perpetrator for emotional trauma inflicted.[9]

There have been calls to ensure that male victims of contraceptive fraud, sexual assault, and statutory rape (sperm theft) should not be "punished with child support liability, but instead receive compensation for the unauthorized use of their biological products." It is argued that the policy of strict liability unjustly penalises male victims of sexual assault. Their status is contrasted with voluntary sperm donors who are exempt from child support liability.[10]

In a "landmark ruling" establishing the legal principle that a man's semen is his own property, Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, the most senior judge in England and Wales, ruled in favor of six unnamed men who sued the NHS for damages after their sperm samples were lost. The men were all cancer patients who had been advised to freeze their sperm due to the risk of chemotherapy damaging their fertility. Lord Judge, Master of the Rolls Sir Anthony Clarke, and Lord Justice Wilson ruled that the sperm samples were legally the property of the men, and dismissed the argument made by the NHS that the samples should be given the same status as discarded toenails or hair.[11]

CasesEdit

AustraliaEdit

A Melbourne man disputed his obligation to pay child support, claiming the mother had lied about using contraception and then disappeared soon after becoming pregnant, refusing him access to the child. He said: "I dispute the right of this woman to surrogate me to get a sole parent's benefit." The presiding magistrate told him, "I can't let you win in this case because it would set a precedent that would change Federal law" and that fraud was not grounds for annulling his child support payments. Nevertheless, his child support arrears were reduced to $15 per month.[8]

GermanyEdit

In Germany, sperm theft is known as samenraub ("robbery of sperm"). The phrase increased in popularity after a 2001 tabloid scandal involving Boris Becker. In 2013 it was included in the Duden.[12][13]

A Munich man was ordered to pay child support for a child conceived from an egg fertilized with his sperm after his ex-wife forged his signature at an IVF clinic.[14]

In 2012, two male gynaecologists were ordered by a Dortmund court to pay child support in place of the biological father. They had helped a mother conceive twins via artificial insemination using the father's sperm, but did so without the father's consent. A contract had stipulated that his sperm was to be destroyed after a year.[15]

On February 4, 2013, the 22nd civil senate of the Hamm Higher Regional Court dismissed a man's claim for indemnification for exemption from maintenance obligations in the so-called "semen robbery process" and thus deviated from the lower court judgment of the Dortmund Regional Court. The man alleged that his signature on the informed consent form had been forged and that his sperm sample had been used for artificial insemination without permission. The court rejected his argument.[16][17]

IsraelEdit

In Israeli parlance ‘‘stealing sperm’’ (גנבת זרע) is a common phrase used to denote a woman sleeping with a man in order to get pregnant without telling him. It receives ample media coverage.[18] Some consider that the issue is unbalanced in favor of women and men who fall victim to `sperm theft` should also have the right to say no to parenthood.[19]

In 2012, the Tiberias Family Court ruled against a man (A) who asked to be excused child support, claiming the mother of his child (B) had "stolen his sperm" in order to get pregnant. In dismissing the suit, the judge ruled that "even if her biological father’s claims are true, they are not sufficient to prevent the minor from succeeding in her current suit." The judge also cited other cases in which men had been ordered to pay child support, even though they had argued they were "fathers against their will."[20] [1]

In 2013, in a "milestone verdict", a Tel Aviv court ordered a woman to pay her former partner 110,000 ($31,000) in damages. She had informed him that she was infertile and persuaded him to not to use contraception. Subsequently, she became pregnant and sued him for child support after he refused to acknowledge paternity of the child. Previous rulings had ruled against him.[21] In January 2017, the compensation imposed on the woman was revoked after the district court hearing the appeal ruled that the sex did not result from misrepresentation, and it was not proven that the plaintiff was interested at the time in the defendant's medical condition or the need to use contraception.[22]

On September 4, 2018, a Tel Aviv court partially accepted the suit of a man claiming "forced fatherhood." Judge Shifra Glick determined that the defendant had been dishonest with the plaintiff, had asked him not to use contraceptives, and had told him that she was using an IUD, thereby "making the plaintiff a parent against his will." The plaintiff's claims of robbery, negligence and fraud were rejected. The plaintiff was awarded limited compensation of 40,000 ($11,160).[23]

United KingdomEdit

In June 2000, the Birmingham High Court rejected Jonathan Evans' challenge to a child support order. Evans cited a letter the child's mother had written him in which she admitted to inseminating herself with his sperm after retrieving it from a used condom whilst he was in the shower. The judge ruled that, irrespective of how the baby was conceived, Evans was the legal father and was required to pay maintenance.[24][25]

Boris Becker claimed that a child he fathered with Angela Ermakova was conceived when she stole his sperm after oral sex and inseminated herself. Becker subsequently agreed to take responsibility for the child.[26]

Daily Mail columnist Liz Jones admitted to stealing the sperm of her ex-husband (Nirpal Dhaliwal) in an attempt to get pregnant.[2]

In 2009 a London-based attorney launched a campaign for a new law against misappropriating sperm. This would allow men who are victims of sperm-jacking and forced fatherhood to receive a full indemnity from the mother for child support payments. He described the current situation as "an outrageous flaw in the legal system that allows women not only to “steal” semen, but also to demand money from unwilling fathers".[27]

In 2011 the Daily Telegraph reported on an unnamed woman who forged her ex-husband's signature at an IVF clinic, allowing doctors to create embryos using his frozen sperm. She subsequently gave birth to two children via the procedure. The man had stored his frozen sperm at the Bourn Hall Clinic in Cambridge after undergoing arthritis treatment that could have left him infertile. He said he had no knowledge of the procedure until three years later. He was ordered to pay her an additional £100,000 to help raise the children. The woman said, "I have no regrets, I would do it again."[28]

In January 2019 a father ("ARB") lost his claim for damages from IVF Hammersmith. His ex-partner ("R") forged his signature on a consent form in order to conceive a child using a frozen egg fertilized with his sperm at the clinic. The court accepted that his signature had been forged and the insemination procedure was done without his consent, but denied his claim for compensation, on the grounds of public policy that damages cannot be awarded for the birth of a healthy child. [29] The law has since changed to require photographic identification as well as a signature to ensure that the man authorising the use of frozen embryos is indeed the father.[30]

United StatesEdit

SF vs. TM (1996). S.F. appealed an order to pay child support, citing that he "did not knowingly and willfully participate in any sexual activity with the mother of the minor child." He had passed out intoxicated at a party in the home of a woman (T.M.) and was raped by her while he was unconscious. S.F. argued that being compelled to pay child support for a child conceived as a result of non-consensual intercourse deprived him of property rights and equal protection under the law. He produced expert testimony that it was possible for a male to get an erection and ejaculate while unconscious. While the court acknowledged that the mother's misconduct was "reprehensible" and a "misdemeanor", it nevertheless rejected his argument, stating that "the child is an innocent party... any wrongful conduct on the part of the mother should not alter the father's duty to provide support for the child." S.F. was ordered to pay $106.04 per month in child support, plus $8,960.64 in arrears.[31][32]

In 1997 the Louisiana Court of Appeal ruled against Emile Frisard in his suit against Debra Rojas. Frisard was visiting his sick parents in hospital when Rojas, a nurse at the hospital, offered to perform oral sex on him, provided he wore a condom. Frisard accepted and after the act was complete, Rojas kept the condom and used Frisard's semen to impregnate herself. She subsequently sued him for child support. Frisard argued that he only consented to oral sex and never consented to the use of his sperm for insemination purposes. Frisard was ordered to pay $436.81 per month in child support, $17,901.21 in arrears and 5% in court costs. Addressing the issue of Rojas' self-insemination without Frisard's consent, the court dismissed the point: "[Frisard's] own testimony showed that he had some sort of sexual contact with the plaintiff around the time frame of alleged conception." The fact of any sexual contact between them was sufficient to hold Frisard liable for child support.[33][31]

A Massachusetts court awarded Richard Gladu $108,000 in compensation from Boston IVF after the fertility clinic impregnated his ex-wife with their frozen embryos without his consent, resulting in the birth of a daughter. Gladu was awarded $98,000 for the cost of raising his then seven-year-old daughter, and $10,000 for emotional distress.[34]

The Illinois Appellate Court ruled that Richard O. Phillips could press a claim for emotional distress against his former partner Sharon Irons, overruling the circuit court which had dismissed Phillips' suit in 2003. Phillips claimed that Irons surreptiously kept condoms containing his semen after oral sex and used it to self-inseminate, later giving birth to a daughter. The court ruled that Phillips' claims, if true, meant that Irons "deceitfully engaged in sexual acts, which no reasonable person would expect could result in pregnancy, to use plaintiff’s sperm in an unorthodox, unanticipated manner yielding extreme consequences." The appellate court dismissed Phillips' claims of fraud and theft: "when plaintiff 'delivered' his sperm, it was a gift — an absolute and irrevocable transfer of title to property from a donor to a donee. There was no agreement that the original deposit would be returned upon request."[35]

In 2015, Layne Hardin and his former partner Katherine LeBlanc (of Houston, Texas) sued Texas Andrology Services and Hardin's former girlfriend, Tobie Devall, charging that Devall had illegally acquired Hardin's frozen sperm from the facility and used it to get pregnant. Devall claimed that she did so with Hardin's agreement. While still in a relationship with LeBlanc, Hardin had a vasectomy and had eight vials of sperm frozen. An agreement between Hardin, LeBlanc and the facility stated that only LeBlanc would have access to the sperm. A jury found in favor of Hardin and LeBlanc. Texas Andrology Services was ordered to pay $250,000 apiece to Hardin and LeBlanc. Devall was ordered to pay $125,000 to Hardin and $250,000 to LeBlanc.[36] On appeal, the compensation was reduced to $19,500.[37]

A New York court ordered Deon Francois to pay child support to his ex-wife Chaamel after she forged his signature and allegedly had it notarized with a stolen seal and used his frozen sperm sample to conceive a daughter through a fertility clinic. Francois sued the New York University clinic for $9 million, and insisted that they should pay the child support.[38]

VenezuelaEdit

Maelo Ruiz claimed that a fan named Karla Ankara Toledo stole his sperm from a Venezuela sperm bank and used it to conceive twin girls. He announced he was taking legal action. Toledo countersued for child maintenance.[39]

ZimbabweEdit

In 2011, Zimbabwean police arrested a gang of female rapists accused of "semen harvesting". Male targets were threatened or drugged and made to have sexual intercourse using condoms, after which the semen was retained, possibly for ritualistic purposes.[40][41] Similar incidents have been reported in South Africa[42] and Kenya.[43]

Media CoverageEdit

In his "Leykis 101", Tom Leykis urges his male listeners to flush their used condoms down the toilet in order to protect themselves against sperm theft. Where this is not possible, he suggested they pour tabasco sauce or habanero sauce into their used condoms to act as a spermicide.[44]

In 2019 a story circulated on the internet that a Las Vegas hotel cleaner had become pregnant after stealing sperm from a millionaire's used condom and successfully sued him for child support. The story was later revealed to be a satire.[45]

Fear of baby-trapping and the resulting child support has reportedly led to an increase in wealthy Hamptons men undergoing vasectomies.[46]

Derrick Rose claimed that NBA players are taught to flush their condoms down the toilet or take them away after sexual intercourse so that women cannot use the sperm to impregnate themselves.[47]

Sperm theft in The BibleEdit

The Bible describes two cases of sperm stealing, in which a man is seduced by a woman under false pretences and becomes an unwitting sperm donor.

Lot and his daughtersEdit

The account of Lot and his daughters is in Genesis 19:30–38

30 And Lot went up out of Zoar, and dwelt in the mountain, and his two daughters with him; for he feared to dwell in Zoar: and he dwelt in a cave, he and his two daughters.
31 And the firstborn said unto the younger, Our father is old, and there is not a man in the earth to come in unto us after the manner of all the earth:
32 Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father.
33 And they made their father drink wine that night: and the firstborn went in, and lay with her father; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose.
34 And it came to pass on the morrow, that the firstborn said unto the younger, Behold, I lay yesternight with my father: let us make him drink wine this night also; and go thou in, and lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father.
35 And they made their father drink wine that night also: and the younger arose, and lay with him; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose.
36 Thus were both the daughters of Lot with child by their father.

Judah and TamarEdit

In the Book of Genesis, Tamar deceives her father-in-law Judah into having sexual intercourse with her by pretending to be a prostitute. When Judah discovers that Tamar is pregnant he prepares to have her killed, but recants and confesses when he finds out that he is the father (Genesis 38:11–26). The twins Perez (Peretz) and Zerah were conceived as result (Gen. 38:27-30). The former is the patrilinear ancestor of the messiah, according to the Book of Ruth (4:18-22).

In Ancient MythologyEdit

In Ancient Greek Mythology, Myrrha fell in love with her father Cinyras and tricked him into having sexual intercouse with her (“climb[ed] into his bed one dark night, when her nurse had made him too drunk to realize what he was doing”). She was transformed into a myrrh tree and gave birth to their son Adonis.[48]

Popular cultureEdit

LiteratureEdit

Roald Dahl's short novel My Uncle Oswald from 1979 describes the trade in semen of prominent personalities, which is sold to women for fertilization without their knowledge.

An episode of the novel Donna in guerra by Dacia Maraini from 2002 describes how a woman secretly uses the sperm to impregnate her servant after fellatio with her husband.

In the story Gina Regina in Ulrike Draesner's book of short stories Hot Dogs, published in 2004, a student sells the seeds of her love affairs without their knowledge on the Internet and thus secures her livelihood.

Stephen King takes up the incubus/succubus myth in his novel The Dark Tower VI: Song of Susannah, published in 2004, by having an incapable of childbearing demon impregnate a woman with stolen sperm.

In Gillian Flynn's novel Gone Girl, the lead character Amy inseminates herself with her husband Nick's frozen sperm in order to force him to stay with her.

At the end of Thomas Harris's Hannibal, Margot Verger sodomizes her quadriplegic brother Mason Verger with a cattleprod to stimulate his prostate and cause him to ejaculate. This is so she could use the sperm to impregnate her lover and allow the baby to inherit the Verger family fortune.

In the Bridgerton series by Julia Quinn, Simon tells his new wife Daphne that he cannot have children (due to a childhood trauma) and deliberately pulls out before ejaculation whenever they have sex. One night, when Simon is intoxicated and barely conscious, Daphne takes advantage and forces him to ejaculate inside her so she can become pregnant.[49]

TelevisionEdit

The 8th episode of the 5th season of the series Hausmeister Krause – Ordnung muss sein, broadcast in 2005, is entitled Samenraub (sperm theft). The daughter of caretaker Krause wants to bind a celebrity to herself by stealing his sperm.

An episode of Bored to Death is entitled The Case of the Stolen Sperm. Ray discovers that the lesbian couple to whom he has selling his semen to help them get pregnant have actually been selling it on to 30 other couples.

A plotline of Sunset Beach had Virginia Harrison using a turkey baster to insert sperm (which she stole from Tyus) into Vanessa.

TheaterEdit

Ethan Coen's play Women or Nothing, which premiered in 2013, has a plot about a lesbian couple who plan to get one of them pregnant, but without telling the intended father of their scheme.[50]

MusicEdit

A piece from the 2001 album Abgeschleppt - a man's fate by Bernd Gieseking is entitled Samenraub in East Westphalia .

See AlsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Money-Coutts, Sophia (11 August 2019). "Motherhood by theft? We investigate the disturbing phenomenon of 'spurgling'". You Magazine. Retrieved 18 June 2021.
  2. ^ a b "What is spurgling and why do experts have concerns about the sperm stealing practice?". Yahoo News. 15 August 2019. Retrieved 17 May 2021.
  3. ^ Sperm Theft
  4. ^ Smith, Helen (2013). "Chapter 2". Men on Strike: Why Men Are Boycotting Marriage, Fatherhood, and the American Dream-And Why It Matters. New York: Encounter Books. ISBN 9781594036750.
  5. ^ Faille, Nicole (2015). "Erasing Gender Privilege in Nonconsensual Procreation: An Argument for an Equitable Change to the Law Regarding the Unauthorized Use of Sperm" (PDF). Suffolk University Law Review. 48: 429–460.
  6. ^ Sheldon, S (2001). "'Sperm Bandits', Birth Control Fraud and the Battle of the Sexes" (PDF). Legal Studies. 21 (3): 460–480.
  7. ^ TOWARD A STRICT LIABILITY THEORY OF PARENTAGE
  8. ^ a b Bettina Arndt (17 February 2001). "Whose sperm is it, anyway?". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 21 May 2001.
  9. ^ Man Can Sue Woman For Sperm Theft Distress
  10. ^ Making Sex the Same: Ending the Unfair Treatment of Males in Family Law Family Law
  11. ^ What's the difference between sperm samples and discarded toenails?
  12. ^ Spiegel online: Becker-Drama: Sperma on the rocks. Vom 20. January 2001.
  13. ^ Samenraub
  14. ^ "German man ordered to pay child support after ex-wife forges signature for IVF pregnancy". dw.com. 2018-05-02. Retrieved 2021-06-07.
  15. ^ "Doctors must pay for 'stolen sperm' babies". thelocal.de. 2021-04-20. Retrieved 2021-06-07.
  16. ^ Juraforum: „Samenraub“ im Kinderwunschzentrum war doch keiner. Vom 5. Februar 2013.
  17. ^ Oberlandesgericht Hamm: Oberlandesgericht Hamm urteilt im sog. "Samenraub-Prozess"
  18. ^ Kahn, Susan Martha (2000). Reproducing Jews: A Cultural Account of Assisted Conception in Israel. Duke University Press. p. 21.
  19. ^ Har-Even, Dana (19 March 2007). "Men have the freedom to say no". ynetnews.com. Retrieved 2 June 2021.
  20. ^ Man claiming ‘sperm theft’ must support child
  21. ^ Israeli Woman Found Guilty of 'Sperm Theft,' Ordered to Pay $31,000
  22. ^ "ביהמ"ש דחה תביעה על גניבת זרע: "הבאת ילד לעולם אינה נזק בר פיצוי לאביו"".
  23. ^ Israeli Family Court Recognizes Claim for Emotional Distress for “Forced Fatherhood”
  24. ^ Scheming girlfriend stole my sperm to get herself pregnant
  25. ^ Gb: padre per forza anche se il seme fu rubato
  26. ^ "Game, set and DNA match against Becker". The Guardian. 8 February 2001. Retrieved 23 May 2021.
  27. ^ I Want My Sperm Back
  28. ^ Wardrop, Murray (29 May 2011). "Woman had two children after secretly taking ex-husband's frozen sperm". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 18 June 2021.
  29. ^ "Father loses damages claim over forged IVF signature". The Guardian. 17 December 2018. Retrieved 19 June 2021.
  30. ^ "HEFA code of practice". Archived from the original on 2011-02-10. Retrieved 18 May 2011.
  31. ^ a b Higdon, Michael J. (2011). "Fatherhood by Conscription: Nonconsensual Insemination and the Duty of Child Support". Georgia Law Review. 46.
  32. ^ https://law.justia.com/cases/alabama/court-of-appeals-civil/1996/2950025-0.html SF v. State Ex Rel. TM
  33. ^ STATE v. FRISARD III
  34. ^ "Man gets $108,000 from fertility clinic". Associated Press. 30 January 2004. Archived from the original on 2004-03-10. Retrieved 23 May 2021.
  35. ^ "Sperm: The 'gift' that keeps on giving". NBC News. 2013. Archived from the original on 2019-05-04. Retrieved 23 May 2021.
  36. ^ Sulphur resident wins case against ex-girlfriend who stole his sperm
  37. ^ Houston lawsuit over 'stolen' sperm headed back to court
  38. ^ "$9M 'SEED' MONEY – UNWITTING SPERM-BANK DAD SUES EX, NYU". New York Post. 2005-07-25. Retrieved 2021-06-07.
  39. ^ "Salsa star 'suing woman for stealing his sperm and having twin girls'". The Metro. 2016-02-03. Retrieved 2021-06-07.
  40. ^ Zimbabwe police bust gang of sperm harvesters
  41. ^ "Zimbabwe women accused of raping men 'for rituals'". BBC News. 2011-11-28. Retrieved 2021-06-07.
  42. ^ "Three women kidnap man, rape him and steal his semen in South Africa". The Independent. 2015-12-24. Retrieved 2021-06-07.
  43. ^ Sperm harvesting: Whey city women are stealing sperms
  44. ^ Tom Leykis: Tabasco in the Condom - 12/01/2003
  45. ^ Don’t believe this news of a hotel cleaner stealing sperm from used condom; it’s a satire
  46. ^ Doree Lewak (17 May 2017). "Hamptons bachelors are getting vasectomies so gold diggers can't trap them". NY Post. Retrieved 22 May 2021.
  47. ^ Derrick Rose Says He was Trained by NBA To Never Leave Used Condoms Around Women
  48. ^ Graves, Robert (1960). The Greek Myths. Penguin Books. p. 69.
  49. ^ "How Bridgerton Handles the Book's Wildly Controversial Scene". Vanity Fair. 25 Dec 2020. Retrieved 12 June 2021.
  50. ^ "Inviting Him Over for More Than He's Expecting". New York Times. 17 September 2013. Retrieved 12 June 2021.