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Beginning January 1, 2016, California law will fully protect families conceiving children through assisted reproduction, regardless of how they conceive. California law already recognized many families using assisted reproduction, but it only provided protections to certain families. Assembly Bill 960—signed into law by California Gov. Jerry Brown in late 2015—provides several important new protections to ensure that all families are treated equally by the law.

First, California did not previously recognize that unmarried couples using assisted reproduction with a donor are both parents from birth, limiting this protection to married couples, although many unmarried couples conceive children in this way. Without this protection, unmarried parents using assisted reproduction have been at great risk. For example, if something happened to the biological parent during childbirth, the non-biological parent was not recognized as a parent and often had no right to take the child home from the hospital.

Second, California law also only protected sperm donors when a doctor or sperm bank was involved. However, many parents, including many same-sex parents, transgender parents, and intended single parents, use at-home insemination with a known donor to conceive. Parents choose to conceive with known donors for many reasons. For example, African-American parents looking for an African-American donor may have difficulty finding a donor in a sperm bank and may ask a friend to be their donor. Or a couple may want a donor who is related to the non-biological parent. Many families simply cannot afford to conceive using a sperm bank or doctor, which can costs hundreds or thousands of dollars per month.

Parents who have conceived through at-home insemination have faced serious consequences because of California’s previous laws. One family who testified in favor of the law had their sperm donor declared a parent and given visitation with their baby. Even in situations where the parents and the sperm donor were on the same page, the state forced sperm donors to pay child support in numerous cases.

Third, the law clarifies that egg donors are not parents while also protecting couples using ovum sharing–when one parent provides eggs that are fertilized and carried by the other parent.

Finally, California’s new law also provides sample forms that donors and parents using assisted reproduction can sign to protect their rights. These forms, found in California Family Code Section 7613.5, make it easier for parents to meet the requirements of the California law and prevent future disputes. For more information about this law and copies of these forms, read our facts and resource page.

California joins the growing trend across the country recognizing that many different families use assisted reproduction in different ways to have children, and that all families should be equally protected, including unmarried parents, parents using at-home insemination, and parents conceiving through ovum sharing.

AB 960 was authored by Assembly Member David Chiu, and co-sponsored by the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Equality California, and Our Family Coalition. Read our facts and resource page. Learn more about AB 960.

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