In British Columbia, there might be some good news for a man’s legal right to self determination in reproduction. On January 6, 2015 the BC Court of Appeal determined that human sperm is private property. The decision followed a long standing class action suit against the University of BC. Justice Chiasson stated that (frozen) sperm is legal property for the purposes of the province of British Columbia’s Warehouse Receipt Act [WRA].
The suit against UBC alleged that a freezer storing the semen of a number of male cancer patients suffered a power interruption, causing the stored samples to spoil, or to be destroyed. The judgement in this case is that these men owned their own semen and that, in law, it was their property.
“The issue at trial and on appeal was whether frozen human sperm is ‘property’ for the purposes of the WRA. The trial judge held that it was and that the appellant was precluded from relying on the exclusion clause.”
For men, this decision is most relevant to the issue of male reproductive self determination. This is a set of legal rights that men don’t have. When we discuss reproductive self determination, this is a set of legal rights that women do have, as they should. That men’s semen has now been recognized in law as their private property also provides a basis for legally recognizing men as more than just a resource to be used by women to impregnate themselves, but actual people with rights to their own choices in reproduction. Obviously, this case is not yet a definitive recognition that men can not be used as financial devices to enable women’s legal choices, over which men have no voice, but it is one of the first steps towards that recognition.
Before continuing, I will offer my own disclaimer on what follows in this article. I am not a lawyer nor a legal expert. Further, I am sharply aware that what I will include here is nothing more than my own speculation. Previously established property law and legal precedent established in the field of agriculture seem to offer a map for men’s protection from coerced participation in women’s reproductive choices.
The Monsanto group of companies has an established public reputation as prone to litigation against independent farmers into whose land Monsanto-licensed crop seeds are carried by weather from the fields of licensees. If a farmer growing a crop using Monsanto licensed seed has any of his seeds carried by wind or water into an adjacent farmer’s land, by accident, and those seeds then germinate and grow on the land of a farmer who does not hold a licence from Monsanto, the company has a history of legal action against those farmers. Specifically, the company’s licence prohibits use of their engineered seed stock other than for the specifically licensed application of direct planting. Farmers are prevented from saving seeds or replanting from seeds that the planted crop produced. According to the Monsato website, the company has litigated against farmers at least 145 times in the United States since 1997.
How the heck does a corporation suing farmers relate to men’s prospect of achieving legal reproductive self determination?
This is the willfully obtuse question that some people will ask, but pretend ignorance is presented with an earnest face by the mainstream, so we need an explanation. What should be stunningly obvious must be explained in tiny steps as if to a retarded toddler.
Men own their own sperm. This is now the established precedent emerging from the decision of the BC court of appeal. Monsanto owns the seeds they licence to farmers. The logical parallel is so obvious, a laborious further connection of dots should insult the intelligence of readers but, nevertheless, a woman who uses a man’s semen to become pregnant is, at present, in sole control of legal determination over their prospective child.
To be sure, almost all pregnancies occur with an agreement between a man and woman: the agreement that they have sexual intercourse. However, in cases where a pregnancy occurs and the prospective mother and father do not agree on the course of action, the mother currently owns all legal choice.
The father? Well, he can suck it.
It’s not that Little Timmy, being the product of an unlicensed pregnancy, is going to be taken behind the barn to be shot. The issue at stake here is that legal ownership of a man’s own sperm provides a basis to end the theft of income from men whose choice to participate in sex is re-interpreted as obligation to finance somebody else’s choice to have a child. All while he has no legal voice in the matter. Her body, her choice, right? Perhaps, but does “her body, her choice” equate to “his income, her choice”? And if he can’t afford to pay for what he has no choice in, he can go to jail so, as it stands, his freedom is also her choice?
If a man owns his own sperm, then he must also have a legal voice in whether or not he is legally bound by a woman’s current to use his sperm a choice over which he currently has no rights.
Can men still be used as reproductive and financial slaves if the law recognizes that men have self ownership of their gamete cells?
“You should have kept your legs together, whore” is rightly treated as the contemptible trash talk it is. Unfortunately, the same realization has yet to hold true for men. If we can get past the stupidity of “you should have kept it in your pants” we might actually start treating men like something besides exploitable utilities. It hasn’t happened yet but this case offers a giant leap for mankind.
Men, you now own your sperm. Go forth and refuse to multiply.