Lesbians Must Split Custody of Sperm, Court Rules

By Diane Anderson-Minshall

Originally published on Advocate.com April 27 2012 2:10 PM ET

A lesbian former couple from Canada have just settled their unusual custody battle: British Columbia Supreme Court justice Loryl Russell has ruled that the couple must share the 13 tubes of sperm that were being stored in a sperm bank for them. According to the Vancouver Sun, the couple, who have two children together — each mom gave birth once — used the same sperm donor and the excess sperm was left in cold storage at the Genesis Fertility Clinic.

After their 2006 breakup, one of the women, known in court documents only as J.C.M., decided to have another baby and asked her ex-wife (identified only as A.N.A.) for permission to use the leftover sperm so her new child would be a biological sibling to her first. A.N.A. refused, landing the two in court fighting over ownership of the frozen papa.

Justice Russell argued that just as the two women had divided up their assets and child-rearing duties evenly, they should divide up the leftover sperm.

"I find that the remaining 13 gametes should be divided between the parties. Assuming it is not possible, or that it is impractical, to divide one sperm straw in half, I award seven sperm straws to the claimant, J.C.M., and six sperm straws to the respondent, A.N.A.," Russell wrote.

According to the Sun, the anonymous donor from the U.S. sperm bank Xytex "retired" from making donations after the former couple had bought their sperm in 1999. So there was no other way to get more of this same sample, Russell's ruling said, noting case law in the U.S. and the U.K.

Read more at the Vancouver Sun.