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Hollywood Actor's Custody Battle Heats Up -- and Fuels Major Parental Rights Debate

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"We support a man's right to co-parent his offspring..."

Actor Jason Patric (Photo Credit: Jemal Countess/Getty Images)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (TheBlaze/AP) — There's a fascinating and complex debate unfolding out in California over artificial insemination and the rights of sperm donors -- and an unlikely individual is at the center of it. "The Lost Boys" actor Jason Patric is expected to testify before an Assembly committee in support of legislation seeking to determine when certain sperm donors should be granted parental rights.

The Assembly Judiciary Committee is taking up SB115 from Democratic Sen. Jerry Hill of San Mateo on Tuesday. It would allow sperm donors to petition a court for rights if they can show a certain level of involvement in the child's life. The bill would afford donors the ability to prove "parentage." It reads, in part:

"This bill would instead provide that notwithstanding the treatment in law of the sperm donor under those circumstances, any interested party may bring an action at any time for the purpose of determining parentage of a man presumed to be the father because he receives the child into his home and openly holds out the child as his natural child."

Actor Jason Patric (Photo Credit: Jemal Countess/Getty Images)

Patric and his ex-girlfriend, Danielle Schreiber, conceived a son through artificial insemination. He lost a custody battle after a judge ruled that Patric was a sperm donor, not the child's legal father.

The bill is drawing opposition from groups saying it could limit the rights of single mothers or same-sex couples who use sperm donors. Take, for instance, the California Cryobank, the nation's largest donor screening program. In a press release, the group came out strongly against the proposal.

"We support a man's right to co-parent his offspring; however, current law expects an unmarried man who provides his sperm to a physician or sperm bank to establish a co-parenting agreement prior to the conception of the child," said Alice Crisci, who works for the company. "Invalidating the legal requirement of that agreement would create an uncertain environment for donor conceived conception and reverse legal protections for California families."

Some, though, argue that the bill is beneficial to protecting the relationship between fathers and their children. Attorney Carol Chodroff wrote a recent op-ed on the Huffington Post in which she defended the legislation and called all women to do the same.

"This bill recognizes that families are defined broadly today; that parents are not always married when they have children," she said. "That many parents use assisted reproductive technology to conceive; and that sometimes, romantic relationships deteriorate after children are born."

It will be interesting to see how the issue progresses and, if it passes, how family dynamics in California are impacted.

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