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White Mother of Biracial Baby Settles Sperm Mix-Up Suit

August 1, 1991

NEW YORK (AP) _ A white woman who gave birth to a biracial baby after being artificially inseminated has accepted $400,000 to settle a lawsuit against her doctor and the sperm bank, a lawyer says.

Neither the sperm bank nor the doctor admitted guilt in the settlement, John Wright, the lab’s lawyer, said Wednesday.

Julia Skolnick sued Idant Laboratories and Advanced Fertility Services, a medical practice run by Dr. Hugh Melnick, in 1989, three years after she gave birth to a child, who was partially black.

She was to have been inseminated with sperm that had been put in storage in 1985 by her terminally-ill husband, who was white, before he began undergoing chemotherapy for cancer.

Ms. Skolnick gave birth in December 1986. Her husband died three years later.

″She loves this baby like crazy, but she had wanted her husband’s baby,″ said David Gould, the woman’s lawyer.

Mrs. Skolnick and the child have suffered emotionally, Gould said. The child is taunted by playmates for looking different from her mother, and the woman was wrongly accused of having had an affair while her husband was dying, he said.

″All the parties concurred that frankly it would be in the best interests of the child to avoid a trial if possible,″ said Robert Whittaker, Melnick’s lawyer.

The lab and the doctor blamed each other, Gould said. The state Health Department found unused sperm samples from the woman’s husband in Melnick’s offices, Gould said.

Advanced Fertility Services’ sperm bank was closed and a permit to reopen is pending, said Frances Tarlton, a spokeswoman for the state Health Department.

Idant agreed in May to pay $100,000 and Melnick agreed last month to pay $300,000, Wright said.

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