(CBS NEWS/AP) – A bill sparked by a custody dispute involving “The Lost Boys” actor Jason Patric that would allow certain sperm donors to seek paternity rights in court is on hold after failing to clear a legislative panel Tuesday.
Patric testified before state lawmakers about his court battle to gain custody of his now 3-year-old son, Gus. A judge deemed him a sperm donor – rather than a parent – during a custody dispute over the boy.
He and his ex-girlfriend, Danielle Schreiber, conceived the child through artificial insemination. Patric and Schreiber, who never married, disagree on the role Patric was to play in the child’s life.
Patric, 47, says he hasn’t seen the child in months and asked lawmakers to think about “a child sitting daily and wondering what happened.”
As a result of that case and others brought to his attention, state Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, put forward legislation that would allow a man whose sperm was used to conceive a child through artificial insemination to seek parental rights if he can show a certain level of involvement in the child’s life.
Among the bill’s supporters are Equality California and the National Center for Lesbian Rights, which say the bill strikes the right balance by requiring a donor seeking parental rights to have lived with the child and presented the child as his own.
Opponents — including the state’s chapter of the National Organization for Women, Planned Parenthood, and the Academy of California Adoption Lawyers — say the measure is too broad and could unintentionally affect the rights of single mothers or same-sex couples who use sperm donors.
In emotional but measured testimony Tuesday, Patric told the Assembly Judiciary Committee that he went to “great lengths,” including surgery, to become a father. He said both he and Schreiber signed an “intended parent” document, but that current law prevented him from fully presenting his case to the judge.
Other men have come to him to share similar cases and “every single one of us was barred from proving our parentage by this loophole in a law,” Patric said.
Schreiber’s attorney, Fred Heather, told lawmakers that a judge did consider Patric’s documents and videos of his son, but ultimately ruled against him.
The Assembly Judiciary Committee voted 5-2 to hold the bill in committee for further discussion.
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