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White Woman Has Black Baby Allegedly Because of Sperm Bank Error

March 9, 1990 GMT

NEW YORK (AP) _ A white woman who wanted to have her terminally ill husband’s baby has charged in a lawsuit that a sperm bank and fertility service mixed up its samples and she gave birth to a black daughter.

The woman sued Idant Laboratories Inc. and Advanced Fertility Services, saying the girl, now 3, is being subjected to racial prejudice and taunted because she does not resemble her parents.

The woman’s attorney, David Gould, would not specify the charges in the lawsuit, which was filed in state Supreme Court last fall but disclosed only Thursday in an article in the New York Law Journal.

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″The woman loves her daughter, but she wanted to have her husband’s baby,″ said Gould. ″She’s the target of scandal and discrimination where she lives, and the little girl is being teased and taunted by her playmates. Little kids are saying to the girl, ’How come you look different than your mommy?‴

Gould cited her emotional distress in asking reporters not to disclose the name of the woman, whose husband died of cancer in April.

The couple paid Idant to store the husband’s sperm in 1985 after he was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma, a cancer that requires chemotherapy the couple feared could damage his sperm, according to the lawsuit.

″As my husband’s illness progressed,″ the woman was quoted as saying in court papers, ″I decided that having his child was the bond that would link us together forever.″

In March 1986, the woman contacted Advanced Fertility Services to get the sperm samples from Idant and use them for insemination.

Advanced Fertility and Idant disagree about what happened them.

Robert Whittaker, a lawyer for Advance Fertility, said the sperm samples it used to inseminate the woman came from Idant.

Idant’s president, Dr. Joseph Feldschuh, said the sperm used by Advanced Fertility was not from the sample his company provided.

The child was born in December 1986, and soon after, ″It became apparent that she was not my husband’s child,″ the woman said.

Feldschuh said the DNA of the husband’s sperm stored at Idant does not match the child’s DNA.

″The DNA tests done in this case definitively establish that the problem was not with Idant labs,″ Feldschuh said. ″The child is not from our donor.″

Whittaker refused to comment on the child’s paternity, saying he had not seen any DNA test results.

Under New York law, the woman will have to prove which party is at fault. If the case goes to trial, the defense could try to suggest that neither defendant is at fault, that the woman conceived the child in an extramarital affair and not as a result of an insemination procedure.

Gould said that because of the likely scandal, the woman would never have sued had it been up to her. He suggested that her required cooperation in a state case against Idant resulted in her case becoming public.

Frances Tarlton, spokeswoman for the state Health Department, said her agency is investigating Idant - which Feldschuh called the largest licensed sperm bank in the country - because of a complaint related to the woman’s suit. She refused to comment further.