Forced to Be a Father: John Purcell

Does Sperm Donation make You a Father?

Attorney John Purcell's client says he donated sperm to an ex-girlfriend, and it produced twins. When the kids were 5 years old, the mother took him to court for child support.

Dr. Phil asks John, "What happened when it first went to trial?"

"We lost," John says. "It sort of assumed, in most cases, the anonymity of the father would be presumed and nobody would go after the father. But she knew who it was." 


The battle went on for five years, and the man paid $65,000 in child support. "Now, the Supreme Court has upheld that he doesn't have that responsibility," Dr. Phil says. "Does he have any recourse to get that money back?"

"We have a petition before the court pending right now, in which we're asking for an order for the return of the money," John says.

Dr. Phil asks Gloria, "You don't think he should be responsible when he made a donation of sperm?"

[AD]"If a sperm donation is made through a licensed sperm bank, then it's clear that the sperm donor should not have to pay child support, because then it's clear that both parties know that the sperm donor is not going to be responsible for the child," she says. "But if it's not through a sperm bank, through some other means, then they're going to have to check the law of their state first, because it may not be that he is not a real sperm donor and may have to support the child."

Mel says, "A broader solution here would be to say that fatherhood, like motherhood, should be a choice and should not be defined by DNA. That would solve this problem and other problems."

"The broader solution is to sit down and talk with your partner and know your partner before you get into bed with them," Gloria says.