A remarkable judgement has been issued by the Bundesgerichtshof, the German Supreme Court in all civil and penal matters, last week. A man has been condemned to pay alimonies for a child his (ex-)girlfriend conceived through in-vitro fertilization with a donor’s sperm cells. Neither was he ever married with the child’s mother, nor was he the child’s biological father, nor had he ever legally recognized his fatherhood. In legal terms, therefore, he cannot be the father of the child – but the fact that he had given his written assent to his (ex-)girlfriend’s medically assisted fertilization with another man’s sperm was sufficient for him to become responsible for the child’s upbringing.
From the Bundesgerichtshof’s press release it does not come out clearly whether the child’s real father, i.e. the sperm donor, is equally going to be held liable.
The decision is a new step towards the legal deconstruction of the natural family, which is regrettable. On the other hand it might have the (wholly beneficial) effect of making men think twice before they assent to their partner’s use of medically assisted reproduction techniques.