Judgment Day for lesbian impregnated with black man's sperm
A lesbian who was accidentally impregnated with sperm from a black man has had her legal claim dismissed.
Jennifer Cramblett, 36, of Uniontown, Ohio, gave birth to her biracial daughter three years ago. She said a clerical error at the Midwest Sperm Bank of Downers Grove, Illinois, resulted in the unwanted appearance of the child. She later filed a legal claim and sought damages for wrongful birth and breach of warranty, saying she wants to ensure the sperm bank doesn’t make a similar mistake again.
Cramblett became pregnant within days of marrying Amanda Zinkon29, in 2011. Five months into her pregnancy, she called the sperm bank to reserve sperm from the same donor in hopes that Zinkon could also have a child.
But Cramblett learned some disturbing news: She had been inseminated with sperm from the wrong donor. Rather than sperm from a man known as No. 380, a white donor with blond hair and blue eyes, she had used sperm from No. 330, a black donor. The sperm bank later apologized and issued a partial refund.
Her excitement about the pending birth was replaced with “anger, disappointment and fear.”
“They took a personal choice, a personal decision and took it on themselves to make that choice for us out of pure negligence,” Cramblett said in a 2014 interview with the Telegraph.
Cramblett and her partner, who are white, say they love their daughter and wouldn’t change anything about her, but they are concerned about raising her in the predominantly white community where they live.
“I am happy that I have a healthy child,” Cramblett told NBC News in a previous interview. “But I’m not going to let them get away with not being held accountable. … We had to take this into our hands because I will not let this happen again. … I’m not going to sit back and let this happen to anyone ever again.”
Cramlett’s lawyer at the time, Thomas Intili, told NBC News his client “lives in an all-white community in eastern Ohio. She did not encounter any African-American people until she entered college. Not all her friends and family members are racially sensitive.”
As an example of the difficulties the family faces, the suit cited hair care for the toddler.
“Getting a young daughter’s hair cut is not particularly stressful for most mothers, but to Jennifer it is not a routine matter, because Payton has hair typical of an African American girl,” the suit says. “To get a decent cut, Jennifer must travel to a black neighborhood, far from where she lives, where she is obviously different in appearance, and not overtly welcome.”
“I don’t want her to ever feel like she’s an outcast,” Cramblett told NBC News.
The lawsuit said they have moved to Uniontown to be closer to Cramblett’s family, but now she’s worried how her daughter will be treated by her “all-white, and often unconsciously insensitive family.” She said she was raised around “stereotypical attitudes” about African-Americans and has “limited cultural competency” regarding people of color.
“Jennifer is well aware of the child psychology research and literature correlating intolerance and racism with reduced academic and psychological well-being of biracial children,” said the lawsuit.
Cramblett claims the sperm bank’s error amounted to a “breach of warranty” under a state law covering blood and tissue donations.
The lawsuit sought a minimum of $50,000 in damages, with some of the compensation going toward ongoing counseling, as well as moving to a more “diverse” community.
Lawyers for the sperm bank argued Cramblett’s claims lacked legal merit. Attorney Bob Summers arguedCramblett’s claim of wrongful birth could not be legal sustained because the child was healthy. “Wrongful birth” cases are meant to address situations where parents claim medical testing was negligent and failed to detect risks of congenital or hereditary disorders before birth.
Attorney Lynsey Stewart, also representing the sperm bank, argued that the Illinois Blood and Organ Transaction Liability Act was “never intended” to address situations like Cramblett’s, and the statute limits the liability of hospitals and other providers in the event they unknowingly provide a recipient with bad tissue or blood, she argued.
Cramblett’s attorney, John Ostojic, argued that the law should not be interpreted so narrowly. Steweart said the act specifically addresses many types of medical donor situations and clearly omits sperm donations.
DuPage County Judge Ronald Sutter dismissed the suit Thursday and said Cramblett could not proceed under either standard, wrongful birth or breach of warranty. He said he had done research which led to the definite conclusion that “sperm is not a tissue.” He said Cramblett could refile her lawsuit under a negligence claim.
“I don’t find any problems with having a mixed-race child as far as I am concerned,” Cramblett told NBC’s “Today” show. “She will understand it wasn’t about, ‘We didn’t want you.”’
The case is due back in court Dec. 17.