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
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
There’s a story that has been all over the media the last few days involving an Australian couple who used a Thai surrogate. I’m sure you can find a dozen different versions of the story, but I’ll start with this one from the Washington Post. One of the reasons I’ll use this one is that it makes it clear that a lot of the details are unknown and/or unclear.
That said, here’s the bare-bones account. (I’m trying to stay to the facts we know, but I think I have to make some assumptions, too. I’ll try to identify them.). An unnamed (and presumably heterosexual) Australian couple went to Thailand to hire a surrogate. (While it doesn’t say this, I think we can assume that part of the reason they went to Thailand is that compensated surrogacy is prohibited in Australia.)
Pattaramon Chanbua is a 21-year-old Thai woman. She is food vendor and earns $622 per month. A surrogacy agency offered to pay her somewhere between $9300 and $16,000 to serve as a surrogate. She agreed to do so. Continue reading
There’s something weird about the ebb and flow in the media attention to surrogacy. You seem to get a blast of positive coverage and then, a few weeks later, a corresponding blast of negative coverage. Right now we are clearly in negative territory, as this article nicely shows. It’s about the black market for surrogacy that currently exists in China–and apparently exists on a pretty large scale. (The article quotes an estimate of “well over 10,000 birth a year.” That is a pretty huge number (though of course, China has an enormous population.)
No one could mistake this for a positive article. As with most black market enterprises, black market surrogacy is rife with abuse and exploitation. While the surrogates employed by one agency (Baby Plan) are (to my mind, anyway) surprisingly well-paid ($24,000), the conditions under which they operate seem nightmarish to me: Continue reading
I’m sure many of you saw and read this story that was in the NYT a couple of days ago. The headline (“Coming to US for a Baby, and Womb to Carry It”) doesn’t really do it justice. While it is, in fact, a story about the US as a destination for what is sometimes called reproductive tourism, it isn’t only that. It’s full of interesting little points about surrogacy and many of the hard questions surrogacy raises. From my point of view, this makes it hard to know where to begin. So I guess I’ll just dive in……
The article does a nice job of at least touching on some of the issues that can arise with surrogacy. So, for example, the question of compensation is raised. Do you pay a surrogate? How much and for what? Perhaps it isn’t clear that even within the US there’s enormous variation on the approach to compensation–from making compensation illegal to facilitating it.
Does the exchange of money mean that surrogacy exploits women? Continue reading
Back in March I put up a post about a column by David Dodge, who is a sperm donor for lesbian couples who are friends of his. (The idea is that he will be known to the child but will not function as a parent.) It was on the Motherlode blog (run by the New York Times).
Well, now it turns out that this is to be a weekly series under the name “Sperm Donor Diary.” This in itself is probably a sign of the times. Last week he posted about euphemisms, describing a conversation about what he was doing he had with, among others, an 11 year old brother. I didn’t comment on that, but it is surely worth a look. (It also strikes me that each of the first two columns in the series have a great deal to do with language–a reminder of how important the words we choose are.) One thing notable (and also carried over from the first entry) is the degree of openness in the process underway. This, I think, bodes well for the future. No secrets means no tension about letting secrets out.
Anyway, here is this week’s post and it has prompted me to write. Tori and Kelly are the lesbian couple involved. Kelly is pregnant (and the baby is due in July.) That’s as much as we knew in the past, I think, and it really isn’t that unusual. But it turns out that both Kelly and Tori provided eggs that were fertilized in vitro using Dodge’s sperm. Continue reading
A few months ago I wrote about Thomas Lippert. Lippert worked for a fertility clinic in Utah in the early 1990s and apparently substituted his own sperm for that of intended genetic fathers on at least one occasion. This came to light recently as genetic testing revealed that a 21-year-old was the genetic child of Lippert and not, as was thought, her social/psychological (and legal) father.
Because this happened quite a while back and because the clinic closed in 1997, details of exactly how this happened are scarce. It is, however, clear that Lippert was anything but a model citizen. (He died in 1999.)
Once the story came to light, the University of Utah (the clinic had some affiliation there) did an investigation. And now that is complete. So the next chapter in this story is the University’s response. While it is interesting, it is not entirely satisfactory. Continue reading