I wanted to add a very brief coda to the last post on what it might mean to be a Jewish Mother. (The discussion in the comments is quite extensive and I confess that, in this week in which my kids graduated from middle school and high school, I have lost track of them.)
Anyway, there was a letter in yesterday’s Science section of the NYT commenting on the article. (There were two letters, actually. The second is the one I’m referring to.) Perry Dane made a great point that I’d like to echo here.
“Jewishness,” as a matter of Jewish law, is a technical legal construct much like citizenship, not a biological or psychological category.
I’ve been following a case brought by Christa Dias for a long time now. Dias was a computer science teacher in a Catholic school in Cleveland. She was single and used assisted insemination to become pregnant. She was fired and sued.
The archdiocese–defendant in the case–asserted that she was fired because violated Catholic teachings and she had agreed to abide by those teachings when she was hired. (It’s agreed that using AI violates those teachings.) But Dias made two claims–first, that the firing amounted to pregnancy discrimination and second, that the diocese didn’t fire men who used AI, but only women who did so. Continue reading
This essay will, I think, be in print in tomorrow’s NYT but it’s been on the web for a bit. It’s from Modern Love–a Sunday column that often deals with complexities of modern family life. In the essay Lisa Schlesinger writes about her experience as the wife of a man who provided sperm to a lesbian couple who were friends of theirs. The husband, Ben, was to be a known sperm donor, of course. The essay shows us some of the complexity of that role and the web of relationships that are affected.
There are three different aspects of the story that I find striking. First is the chain of consultation. When Maggie (one of the lesbians) asked Ben (the husband) his response was to ask Lisa, his wife. Lisa and Ben have three children–a daughter genetically related to both of them and two sons who are from a relationship Lisa had before Ben and thus are genetically unrelated to them. The sons are in the 20s, the daughter 14. Continue reading
There’s a cluster of cases in Ohio involving Catholic school teachers fired for being pregnant. I’ve written about these in the past. Each case is different (and indeed one isn’t about ART, really). Now one of these cases–I think the oldest–is now being tried before a jury and so it is time for an update.
The broad issue here is that while the law generally forbids discrimination based on pregnancy and on sex (among other things), the Catholic hierarchy asserts a religious freedom exemption from anti-discrimination laws–at least as they apply to teachers in Catholic Schools. The current case illustrates the point.
It’s quite true that we do often protect religious freedom even when that freedom leads to what would otherwise be unlawful discrimination. Continue reading
I know I’ve been worse than spotty here recently and that is at least in part because it is the very end of our semester. Things do tend to get hectic. (And to add to the degree of difficulty factor, I’ve been doing quite a bit of travelling.)
But even as I struggle through this busy time, I have to pass along some quick thoughts about this story. It’s the resolution of a case I wrote about all the way back when the academic year was beginning–and so as the year ends, it seems remarkable that the case, too, has drawn to a close.
You can and should read the earlier post for the details important at that time, but here’s the bottom line now. A man originally agreed to be a sperm donor for a lesbian couple. As a part of the deal he said he’d have nothing to do with the child. 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
This is my third post on a recent (and important) decision from the Kansas Supreme Court. I suggest you read the first two posts before this one so you know what’s going on. I’m trying to minimize repetition.
The case at issue is one of those intra-lesbian mother disputes that has appeared on the blog with unfortunate frequency. Two women–a couple–decide to start a family and have children together. Because of the way law is structured, one woman has an easy path to legal parenthood–she is both genetically related to the child and gives birth. In the problem cases, the women split up and the one with clear legal rights tries to deny the legal status of the other woman. It’s important to distinguish these from the broader category of cases where the women split up and disagree about custody. Legal parents disagree about custody and go to court to litigate it somewhat frequently. What distinguishes the cases I’m thinking of is that one woman asserts that the other is not a legal parent.
Anyway, I’ve already discussed the way in which the court found parental rights in the second woman. 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
Karen Clark alerted me to this story this AM. It’s the first letter to “Prudie.” “Nasty Suprise” writes of learning that he and his beloved wife (with whom he has three children who are, I gather healthy) were also half-siblings as they were conceived with sperm from the same donor. The question posed to Prudie is what to do–does he tell his wife/sister? Does he try to forget it? (Perhaps I should add here that he had already had a vasectomy so the prospects for further reproduction are non-existence.)
Where to begin? I’ll start with the rest of the column, I think. To her credit, Prudie suggests that it is better to be honest with the sister/wife than not. But I’m going to take some of that credit right back because then she suggests there’s no point in being equally honest with the children.
While I might agree with that at whatever age the children presently are there is no need to discuss this with them it seems unwise to me to maintain it as a secret. In general family secrets seem to me to have a certain kind of toxicity– Continue reading