This Just Gets Weirder

Friday, February 25, 2005

This Just Gets Weirder

The headline is strange enough: Court: Man Can Sue Over Surprise Pregnancy. Of course, the suit is about the man's surprise at a woman's preganancy, but I have to admit that on my first glance, it seemed that the man himself had gotten pregnant. That would be surprising.

OK, so maybe the headline could have been better. But how surprised could a guy be that a woman got pregnant after they had sex? I'll bet you're thinking, as I was, that he claims the woman told him she was on the pill, or had had a hysterectomy, or some such thing.

Nope; he was surprised to find out she was pregnant because they had oral sex.

This gives a new angle to the pointless arguments in 1998 about whether fellatio is "sex" or not.

Anyhow, the crowning weirdness of this story for me as a lawyer was the court's discussion of whether the man could sue the woman for theft. In other words, as a legal matter, was the semen his property, or was she free to do with it as she wished?

The judges backed the lower court decision to dismiss the fraud and theft claims, agreeing with Irons that she didn't steal the sperm.

"She asserts that when plaintiff 'delivered' his sperm, it was a gift - an absolute and irrevocable transfer of title to property from a donor to a donee," the decision said.

"There was no agreement that the original deposit would be returned upon request."

This is an early favorite for the coveted Strangest Judicial Opinion of the Year award.

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