Actor testifies on behalf of paternity-rights bill

Associated Press
FILE - In this Sunday, March 6, 2011 file photo, actor Jason Patric attends the after party for the opening night of the Broadway play "That Championship Season" in New York. A child custody case involving Patric and his ex-girlfriend has grown into a heated battle in California about whether certain sperm donors should be granted parental rights. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes, File)
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FILE - In this Sunday, March 6, 2011 file photo, actor Jason Patric attends the after party for the opening …

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A bill sparked by a custody dispute involving "The Lost Boys" actor Jason Patric that would allow certain sperm donors to seek paternity rights in court is on hold after a legislative hearing Tuesday.

Patric testified before state lawmakers about his court battle to gain custody of his 3-year-old son, Gus. A judge deemed him a sperm donor —rather than a parent — during a custody dispute over the boy.

Patric and his ex-girlfriend, Danielle Schreiber, conceived the boy through artificial insemination. They disagree on the role Patric was to play in the child's life.

State Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, is carrying SB115, which would allow a man whose sperm was used to conceive a child through artificial insemination to ask a court for parental rights if he can show a certain level of involvement in the child's life.

The legislation sparked from the case has generated aggressive lobbying from representatives for Patric, Schreiber, and organizations involved in child custody and women's rights.

Opponents — including the state's chapter of the National Organization for Women, Planned Parenthood, the Academy of California Adoption Lawyers — have raised concerns about whether single mothers or same-sex couples who use sperm donors could be negatively affected by the legislation.

In emotional but measured testimony Tuesday, Patric told the Assembly Judiciary Committee that he went to "great lengths," including surgery, to become a father. He said both he and Schreiber signed an "intended parent" document, but that current law prevented him from making his case before a judge.

Other men have come to him to share similar cases and "every single one of us was barred from proving our parentage by this loophole in a law," Patric said.

The committee voted 5-2 Tuesday to hold the bill in committee for further discussion. Hill said after the hearing that he will continue to work with various parties to reach agreement on the legislation.

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