My classes ended today and I’m hoping to turn over a new leaf. That would mean (among other things) getting more posts up and keeping up with comments. There’s so much piled up on my desk, though, it’s hard to know where to start. On the theory that it is more important to just start, though, I choose this article, which someone sent to me last week.
This was published in The Guardian. It is just what the title suggests–a diary (brief) of a woman who served as a surrogate. She was what I would call an altruistic surrogate. What I mean by that is that money played no part in her decision. She offered herself as a surrogate because her brother and sister-in-law were desperate to have a child and had spent a great deal of time, toil and treasure trying to do so. Continue reading
I’ve been travelling a lot recently and in Anchorage (American Bar Association Family Law Section Meeting) I was on a panel with a doctor who does fertility work in southern California. He mentioned that it was now possible to give a gift certificate that allowed the recipient to have her own eggs frozen. It turns out to be a popular gift from parents to their daughters who are graduating from law school.
The idea here is that the eggs can be harvested when the daughter is young and in her (reproductive) prime and then they can be safely stored away until after she finds Mr. (or maybe Ms?) Right and/or gets her career up and running. It’s a way of stopping–at least for a while–the biological clock. Now, thanks to the wonders of technology and the generosity of her parents, the daughter has a choice. Freezing her eggs lets her have it all.
But I worry about how sometimes choices can be illusory and sometimes something that looks like giving people a choice can be a way of exercising control. Continue reading
I’ve been thinking about the surrogacy gone awry I wrote about last time. I think (as do some of those who commented) that the fault must like with the surrogacy agency that appears to have allowed people to go forward with a surrogacy arrangement without full counselling, etc. Of course, I don’t know this for sure, but it looks like it to me.
It isn’t the first time I’ve written about a case where all sorts of trouble was created by an incompetent or unscrupulous agency or individual working in the ART field. And I have no doubt that some shoddy or dishonest actions are motivated primarily by greed–after all, the surrogacy agency doesn’t get paid until the deal is made. Continue reading
This is a follow-up to a post from a last week. That post (as you’ll see if you go back to it) was a long delayed response to a Fresh Air interview entitled “The Grayest Generation.” It’s an interview with Judith Shulevitz who wrote an article in The New Republic about older parenthood. Shulevitz is concerned because, as it says on the NPR website:
the growing trend toward later parenthood since 1970 coincides with a rise in neurocognitive and developmental disorders among children.
Notably Shulevitz is concerned not only with maternal age but also paternal age. While the biological clock may not work quite the same way for men–they don’t face the same issues of declining fertility–older male genetic parents may be more likely to produce children with neurocognitive disorders. Thus the trend for women to defer child-bearing (which I strongly suspect also means that men deferring child-producing) may have some serious consequences.
But handily enough, the ART industry stands ready with an answer: Freeze your own (young healthy) gametes for later use. Continue reading
This is in the nature of a follow up to a series of posts about a recent Kansas Supreme Court decision (Goudschaal v. Frazier)recognizing a lesbian co-mother as a legal parent. The discussion in this post most directly relates to the last of the posts about the new Kansas case.
As I discuss there, the new opinion is an interesting contrast to a pending Kansas case that has garnered a lot of press and also been discussed here. In that pending case the state is seeking child support from William Marotta. Marotta agreed to be a sperm donor for a lesbian couple, Angela Bauer and Jennifer Schreiner. As was the case in Goudschaal, the parties put their agreement in wriring so there is no debate as to the terms. And unlike the parties in Goudschaal, Marotta, Bauer and Schreiner all lived by the terms of their agreement. Continue reading
I’ve been writing a lot about a recent Kansas Supreme Court opinion–this makes my fourth post. (The string starts here.) It’s actually the third time I’ve written about Kansas law about parenthood of people who used third-party sperm and I think it is interesting to put the cases together. I’ll work backwards just because the most recent case might be the one you have most clearly in mind.
The new one–the one I’ve been writing about–is Frazier v. Goudschaal. The key thing I want to take from it is that if two women have a written parentage agreement AND there is “not a biological father to displace” (page 27) AND there is subsequent behavior consistent with the written parentage agreement, then both women may well claim to be legal parents. Continue reading
I’m going to look more closely at the opinion issued in Kansas yesterday. For background you can start with yesterday’s rather hurried post. If you want to follow along with the actual opinion, I’m going to really focus on the materials after page 18. Up until that point, the court has basically stated the facts (which are in yesterday’s post) and summarized the various positions taken by parties and amicus.
From a totally lawyer/geek point of view, it’s noteworthy that the first discussion of the substantial issues–what does it mean to be a legal parent? Who can claim to be one in Kansas?–arises in the context of jurisdiction. It’s actually not uncommon. Goudschaal essentially asserts that she is a parent (by virtue of genetic connection/biology) and that there are only two paths to parenthood in Kansas–that one and adoption. Since Frazier claims neither, Goudschaal asserts she (Frazier) doesn’t even have a right to ask a court to decide whether or not Frazier is a parent. In essence, Goudschaal asserts that the court has no authority to even consider the question.
This may seem an obscure point to focus on, but I think it tells us something about the potential force of the argument Goudschaal is attempting to invoke. Continue reading
There’s a new opinion from the Kansas Supreme Court that is worth a look. I don’t have time to fully digest it (and so may return to it in a bit) but even a brief read makes it worthy of comment.
The case arises from a regrettably familiar pattern: Two women–a lesbian couple–decide to have kids together. They use third-party sperm and one woman gets pregnant and gives birth. Her legal status is clear. In time the women split up and the one who gave birth asserts that she is the sole legal parent and that her former partner has no rights vis-a-vis the children.
These cases require the courts to determine the legal status of the woman who did not give birth. You’ll find a number of these cases from different states recorded here. (I regret to say that I have not properly tagged them so you cannot pick them out easily.) In this instance, Kansas joins the states that have affirmed legal parentage of the second woman. Over the years courts have used a variety of doctrines to support this conclusion and it’s important to note which path Kansas followed. Continue reading
There are a couple of tabs that have been open on my computer for a very long time as I’ve tried to find the time to produce a post worthy of them. There’s this–an article by Judith Shulevitz that appeared in the New Republic–and then this–and interview by Terry Gross with Shulevitz. I came across the second first because I’m a huge Terry gross fan and try to listen to Fresh Air regularly. If you do the gym or you’re out for a walk or whatever, you should really try to take the time to listen.
Shulevitz makes a number of points that a worthy of discussion here and that’s really what’s hung me up. It’s the picking and choosing. But time is so hard to find these days that I’m just going to plunge ahead here, accepting that I will probably skip as much of interest as I’ll comment on. And worst of all, by now I’m working from distant memory of the interview which has become mingled with my own thoughts about it. All of which is by way of a caveat or an apology, but here goes. In this post I’ll make two points leaving a third for later.
Towards the beginning Shulevitz notes that most of the solid information about the results of various forms of ART are from studies outside the US. Continue reading
There’s a story in today’s NYT that reminds me of a couple of others I have blogged about here. They are all slight variations on the same theme, I think.
Jonathan Sporn and Leann Leutner were a long-time but unmarried couple. (The unmarried part turns out to be critical.) They wanted to start a family but had trouble conceiving. They ended up using IVF and (also critically) sperm from a third-party. Lincoln Amory Aurelian Sporn Leutner was born last July.
Sadly, Leutner died January 1. Now the question is what becomes of Lincoln. Continue reading