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Ferguson v. McKiernan

940 A.2d 1236 (2007)

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Ferguson v. McKiernan

Pennsylvania Supreme Court

940 A.2d 1236 (2007)

Facts

In 1993, Joel McKiernan (defendant) donated sperm to Ivonne Ferguson (plaintiff) to be used for in vitro fertilization. McKiernan and Ferguson had been romantically involved, but the relationship was platonic, and Ferguson was married to another man at the time of the donation. In order to convince McKiernan to donate his sperm, Ferguson agreed that McKiernan would not be responsible for any paternal responsibilities and that she would not reveal to anyone that he was the sperm donor. However, both Ferguson and McKiernan revealed that McKiernan had donated sperm to close family members. In August 1994, Ferguson gave birth to twins. Although McKiernan was at the hospital for the birth, Ferguson listed her husband as the father on the birth certificates. McKiernan had minimal contact with Ferguson and the twins during the following five years. In 1999, Ferguson sought to obtain child support from McKiernan. Ferguson argued that the agreement was unenforceable because it violated public policy by bargaining away a child’s right to support. McKiernan argued that the agreement was intended to give him the necessary legal protections so that he would donate his sperm and that he should receive the same protections as an anonymous sperm donor. The trial court found that McKiernan and Ferguson had clearly intended to release McKiernan of all paternal obligations but that the contract was unenforceable because it violated public policy. The matter was appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Baer, J.)

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