Category Archives: parentage

Freezing Eggs and the Perils of Choice

I have a number of comments in moderation at the moment, but before sifting through them I wanted to comment on this story.   I’m sure many of you have already seen it and there has been lots of interesting commentary, too.

It seems that some tech companies–Apple and Facebook–are now offering to pay to have female employees freeze their eggs.    This is as part of an array of fertility related health benefits.   I’ve written about egg freezing in the past.    This is a relatively new technology and we really haven’t seen how it will play out yet.  But I remain somewhat skeptical about the offer made by these “generous” employers.   (We should all bear in mind that what motivates them is not generosity but rather the desire to maintain a competitive edge.  Apparently other industries–like big law firms–may be following right behind in providing this benefit.)

The problem being solved here  is that it seems fairly clear that “young ” eggs (say those that are 20-30 years old) are most likely to produce healthy babies. Continue reading

What Damages When a Sperm Bank Errs?

I know I’ve been mostly absent.  Just so you all know, it’s simply that kind of semester.  I’ve been wildly busy with teaching and writing and so, until things settle down, this is on the back-burner.

That said, there’s a recently filed lawsuit that I have seen discussed many places.  Need I say that I am tempted to add my own two cents?   And so I shall.

The facts are pretty simple and this leads to a very brief version of them.   An Ohio lesbian couple used sperm from a sperm bank.  They put in a request for a particular donor and were given the wrong one.  This was an error on the part of the sperm bank.   In this case, the women, who are both white, had asked for a white donor and they were mistakenly given a Black donor.  Thus, the resulting child is mixed race.   And they’re suing for damages.

Many people have found this lawsuit troubling.  I don’t think it has much to do with the parents being a lesbian couple–I think you’ve have the same issues with a straight couple.  As some frame it, the question the case raises is whether they can claim to be harmed because their child isn’t white.  Continue reading

Father Of Multitudes?: Thai Surrogacy and More

There’s a story from a few weeks ago that I’ve been thinking about.   A young Japanese man, Mitsutoki Shigeta, hired a series of Thai surrogates.  He became a genetic father to at least 16 children this way, spending something like $500,000.   While is motives remain obscure, he apparently wanted to continue at something like this pace for as long as he could, presumably creating hundreds of children.

Now the obvious thing to talk about here–and one that has gotten a lot of attention–is what this says about the Thai surrogacy industry or surrogacy more generally.   Surely there is a lot to think about.   But I am not going to add to the welter of comments on that topic you can already find.

I want to think about this more broadly.   Continue reading

A Difficult New York Case and A Disappointing Resolution

I know I’ve been quite sporadic here–this semester seems a good deal more absorbing than others have recently, particularly because I am in the editing process for a piece on surrogacy that I wrote.  (I’ll let you all know when it is out.)  But today’s New York Times brings a story worthy of comment.   So here I am.

The story is here.   I don’t have a link to the actual decision, which was a few weeks back, I believe.    The basic structure of the case will be familiar to those who read the blog, though as always the details are different.   I’m sorry to say that this seems like a particularly sad iteration of an already-sad story.   It’s worth noting at the outset that most of what we know is from one party’s point of view as the other didn’t talk to the reporter.  For this reason, and also because even when you have both sides you don’t really know what happened, I’m going with a fairly bare-bones version of the story.  I’m not interested in arguing about specific facts when none of us know what they are.

Jann and Jamie were a lesbian couple.   Neither of their lives had been easy.   Jamie wanted to have a child, which Jann wasn’t sure was a great idea given their relationship.   They decided to go forward and Jamie gave birth to a boy in November, 2011.   (It appears that they did home insemination, which is something else to discuss, but I’m not sure it matters as the case played out.)   The women were married in, I think, January 2012.   (Order is critical here. I think it fairly clear that if they had married two months or so earlier, Jann’s legal rights would have been secured.)   Continue reading

New Oklahoma Case–Lesbian Parents, Legal Parents and Gender Neutrality

Add another case to the sadly long list of lesbian parents behaving badly. This one comes from Oklahoma and it also raises an argument that does arise from time to time–an argument that provides and opportunity to think about gender neutrality and the definition of parenthood.

You can read the actual opinion here, but I will summarize the facts.  I remind you, however, that I have no special knowledge of the facts and am merely repeating what the court says.  

Ami Dubose and Tracey North began to live together in a lesbian relationship in 2001.  North gave birth to a child in 2007.   This child was planned by the couple and conceived via assisted insemination.  (No information is provided about the source of sperm and I’m guessing anonymous donor.)   The couple lived together, coparenting the child, until 2012.   (By then the child would have been five or so.)  

Dubose never adopted the child and Dubose and North didn’t formalize their relationship.  While I’m not sure what exactly they could do in Oklahoma, the reason they didn’t take these steps is that both women were in the military.  Given the then-applicable “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, any action to recognize their relationship of the relationship between Dubose and the child could have endangered their careers.    (This is actually a fairly common situation and one of the lesser known but more serious consequences of that now-changed policy.) Continue reading

More on Thai Surrogacy and a Taste of Newspeak

I have an extremely erratic internet connection just now, so I guarantee you this will be short.  That’s if I can get it posted at all.   There’s a short story in today’s paper about Thai surrogacy–the fallout of the Baby Gamay story I already blogged about.   The main point is that Thailand is not letting intended parents leave Thailand with the children Thai surrogates gave birth to at the moment.   It’s a drastic remedy when you think about it.  No question in my mind that Thai surrogacy needs reform, but keeping the children (and through the children, the intended parents) in Thailand hardly seems an answer.   On the other hand, it surely a deterrent.  Who would choose Thai surrogacy knowing that the risk was you’d be living in Thailand.  (Nothing against Thailand–but if you didn’t plan to move there, it would be rather a complication.)

What really moved me to write, though, is the last sentence of the story in the Seattle Times.  It is by Rod McGuirk who writes for AP.  I cannot find a link to this anywhere–but as I say, my access if really spotty.

So here is what it says:

Scores of Australian biological parents are currently pregnant through surrogates in Thailand.

This, to my mind, is newspeak–the language of George Orwell’s 1984.   There may be biological parents in Australia (though remember I prefer “genetic?”) But there is no way they are pregnant.   And I haven’t the slightest idea what it means to be pregnant through another person.  It is (to my mind) bad enough when a non-pregnant person with a pregnant partner says “we’re pregnant.”

Pregnancy is personal.  The surrogates are pregnant.  The providers of genetic material are not.   It’s a terrible thing to twist language to suggest otherwise.

Gonna go now while the connection holds…..

Important NJ Case On Psychological Parent

I’m detouring from surrogacy to write about an important new decision from New Jersey.   The opinion, issued by the Appellate Division of the Superior Court, is here.   I’m going to take a bit of time to lay out the facts before discussing the issues raised and resolved.     Do note that the case is subject to further appeal in New Jersey as well as subsequent proceedings in the lower court should the appellate opinion stand.

KAF and FD were a lesbian couple.  They began living together in 1999.  They decided to have a child together.   They used sperm from a donor and Arthur was born in 2002.   They relationship did not thrive and in 2004 they split up.   However, unlike many lesbian couples who show up in court cases, they got along well enough afterwards and in 2005 FD adopted Arthur.   (She did so with KAF’s approval, which I’m quite sure was required.) Continue reading