Jason Patric is an actor, a good looking and personable young man, best known for starring in ‘The Lost Boys’. He is currently unemployed, totally consumed by a search for his own ‘Lost Boy’ – young Gus.
Jason was in a ‘relationship’ with masseur Danielle Schreiber for ten years. They never married, indeed, they didn’t always share a home during that time – but they continued to try to have a child. Both of them, and I stress, both of them, underwent painful surgical procedures to try to ensure conception. Eventually they opted for IVF treatment. It was successful and in December 2009, young Gus was born. His middle name is Theodore, a family name in the Patric pedigree.
When the IVF treatment started, Patric signed a 20 page document at the clinic declaring that he was the ‘intended parent’ however, he was not named on the resultant child’s birth certificate. There is no doubt as to the child’s parentage, and the fact that a Mother can, and sometimes does, decide for herself whether to reveal who the Father is on a birth certificate may or may not be relevant to this.
There are copious images on the Internet of Jason, Danielle and their son Gus – but none date after Father’s Day 2011 – coincidentally Jason Patric’s birthday. Whatever happy relationship that had occurred before then came to a full stop on that day.
Since then, it has become a battle of lawyers. It is possibly no coincidence either, that Danielle Schreiber’s father is James Schreiber, a well known New York lawyer. It is not just the usual battle for child support, nor even a relatively simple one of visitation rights. It is far more profound than that.
After ten years of a relationship, Ms Schreiber rests her case on a simple legal fact. Under California law, unless you have both signed a legal document specifying that the donor of sperm via a doctor is intended to be treated as the ‘natural father’ – then he isn’t. He is just a sperm donor. ‘Intended parent’ is not good enough.
Danielle’s lawyers say that this was no accident – “Danielle knew about the law before she chose to proceed with a known sperm donation” – she certainly would have known her fertility law, Danielle was one of the first sets of quads born following fertility treatment.
It was a well intentioned law, designed to protect all parties from later action by (usually) anonymous sperm donors – and in many quarters of the Internet (those with a marked and conspicuous feminist agenda, I have to say) this case is being presented as nothing more than a heinous attempt by a mere ‘sperm donor’ to take away the ‘rights’ of a woman to decide herself what is best for ‘her’ child in a manner uncomplicated by squawking from the test tube in the fridge…..
However Jason is building up a sizeable support for his ‘Stand up for Gus‘ Foundation. He has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay for legal assistance for other fathers involved in similar situations who may not have his financial assets. This in turn has caused another legal battle. Ms Shreiber’s attorney, Ms Glaser, says “We are asking him not to use the child’s name and likeness for commercial purposes without mom’s permission,”
“The relief requested by Ms. Schreiber is much broader than Patty Glaser describes,” responds Lawrence Iser, the Kinsella Weitzman attorney attempting to stand up to the restraining order motion. “They are asking the Court to permanently enjoin Mr. Patric from publicly using the child’s name or likeness for any commercial, charitable, or personal purpose. Our country is founded upon the fundamental rights to speak freely and petition for causes, and the censorship sought by Ms. Schreiber is contrary to those fundamental values. Ms. Schrieber seeks a prior restraint on Mr. Patric’s free speech, which is presumptively unconstitutional under the First Amendment and the California Constitution.”
This is more than a battle for custody, more than a squabble over child support – this is turning into a battle for free speech, a battle over property rights – who ‘owns a child’, and a battle to determine what exactly is a Father. Is it just a biological fact of sperm authorship?
Young Gus will inevitably be the loser in all this – he was conceived with sperm from a man who wants to have a relationship with him, who has enjoyed a relationship with him in the past – and who objects to being turned into a clinical fact – the name on the test tube in the fridge – in his son’s eyes, as a result of the breakdown of his relationship with his Mother.
Does Gus have any rights in this, should he have any rights?
What do you think?