A Swedish man wants to renounce his fatherhood after artificial insemination produced twins, when he claims to have only agreed to one child. The "unprecedented" case has left legal experts baffled.
The Malmö man became a father to twins in 2012 after his partner underwent in vitro fertilisation (IVF). But he never signed up for two, he claims, and now wants to renounce his responsibility entirely and to leave the children to his now ex-partner.
The pair had co-signed for one embryo to be fertilized at the clinic, but on subsequent visits, the doctor fertilized two embryos on two further occasions, something to which only the woman consented. The documents suggest that the woman signed to say that both parties had consented to two embryos being inseminated at once.
It was the second of these sets of embryos that became the twin children.
The man's lawyer could not comment in great detail at a break during closed door proceedings at the Malmö District Court, but was quick to blame the woman for her actions.
"She's gone behind his back," lawyer Ulf Bjermer told the TT news agency.
Officials at the Malmö District Court stated that the case is so unusual that it will take at least two weeks to come to a conclusion.
Sophie Palmgren Paulsson, a local lawyer specializing in family and criminal law, said the case is truly a one-off.
"I've never seen anything like this before, it's very unusual," she told The Local.
In Sweden, she explained, a father is automatically regarded as a biological father by law if a couple are married or cohabiting and have the child naturally, but she added that things can get murky when it comes to artificial insemination.
"In this case, the children were both born through insemination. This means the father is still legally considered to be the father according to Sweden's Code on Parents and Children (Föräldrabalken) even though it's not biological. But this is only providing he consented to the insemination.
"The case becomes more complicated because the father is claiming that he didn't consent to the second two inseminations, only the first one," Palmgren Paulsson told The Local. "It's all going to be a question of proving whether he gave his consent."
Now, the father is renouncing fatherhood altogether, claiming he couldn't possibly choose between the two children and therefore does not want to be the father to either of them.
"The children won't have a father if he wins," Palmgren Paulsson said.