There’s an essay on the NYT website today that raises some interesting questions, though I think the picture it paints is incomplete. It’s an excellent and provocative title: Is Forced Fatherhood Fair? I guess the idea is that Father’s Day is a good time to think about this. And perhaps that is true.
To begin with you have to understand what Laurie Shrage (the author) means by forced fatherhood. She’s concerned about instances where “dad’s role was not freely assumed, but legally mandated.” I think what’s she’s principally worried about are cases where a man and a woman who are not married to each other engage in intercourse and an unplanned pregnancy results. At that point, the decision about whether to proceed with the pregnancy or not is not the man’s. If the woman does not wish to have an abortion but instead wants to give birth, she can choose that route. And if she then wants to raise the child as a legal parent, then she can do that, too. In many cases, the man will be the legal father of the child and have obligations and responsibilities as well as rights thrust upon him. He is, in Shrage’s terminology, a forced father. Continue reading
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.
There’s been extensive discussion in the comments on an earlier post about a teacher fired from a Catholic school for using ART. I just posted an update–the teacher won a jury verdict. But I wanted to take this in a slightly different direction.
In the comments someone linked to this essay which I had been meaning to write about. It’s from the New York Times and the title gives a fair view of the topic: “What Makes A Jewish Mother.”
Caren Chesler, who wrote the essay, gave birth to a child using an egg from an anonymous provider. The question she focuses on is whether her son is considered to be Jewish. Continue reading
A few months back I wrote about a book on my “to read” pile. It’s Andrew Solomon’s “Far From The Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity.” I have it from the library just now and, as it is around 1000 pages, I don’t think I’m going to finish it. Truth be told, I won’t even make a good start on it. Even so, I’m moving it from “to read” to “to buy.” That’s significant as I buy books rather sparingly, preferring to rely on the library unless I think a book is really a keeper. This one is.
It’s funny because the first thing that struck me was the very first sentence. It’s not surprising that I read the first sentence first, of course. What’s funny is that’s the same thing that struck me when I read the Guardian review, but I’d completely forgotten that. (Okay, mind like a sieve. I know.)
This time I’ll quote the first two sentences rather than just the first line.
“There is no such thing as reproduction. Continue reading
As you all probably know already I’m a big fan of Fresh Air with Terry Gross. She does the most remarkably insightful interviews and the movie and book reviews are also really good. It’s one of the ways I keep up with the world.
Anyway, last week (this is unusually timely for me) she interviewed a young woman named Sarah Polley. Polley is an actress and filmmaker and her most recent work is a documentary called “Stories We Tell.” (It actually just played at the Seattle International Film Festival, but I’m sorry to say I missed it.) It’s an exploration of Polley’s own family history. In the course of it she interviewed her siblings and her father (a Canadian actor named Michael Polley), among others, at length. (Her mother died when she was 11, which is obviously long before the movie was made.) What she focused on was a running joke/rumor in her family that Michael Polley was not her genetic father. Continue reading
For several years (time does fly) I’ve been following an Iowa case challenging the state’s refusal to issue a birth certificate listing the names of both married women when one woman gives birth. As you’ll see if you read through the posts I just linked to, the case is something of a follow-on to the Iowa litigation that resulted in access to marriage for same-sex couples in Iowa.
The Iowa Supreme Court has now issued its decision. It determined that the state must issue the birth certificate listing both women’s names. Of course this brings up the whole birth certificate debate and the reasoning of the court is interesting in that larger context, too. (If you look under the tag you’ll find a lot of posts about birth certificates and what they should or do say and mean.)
For those who don’t want to read through the opinion and/or the earlier string of posts, it’s worth noting a couple of key features here that are really woven into the facts of the case. Continue reading
My apologies for neglecting all the comments on the last post. It’s the travel thing this time. I’ll do my best to catch up. But I also wanted to pick up and what may prove to be a very important argument (or not-it is always hard to tell in advance.) Today–right now–the Supreme Court hears argument in Adoptive Couple vs. Baby Girl. There’s an excellent pre-argument summary here and I’ve written about the case before, too. Indeed, I had picked up on this case when the previous opinion (from the South Carolina Supreme Court) was issued.
As the pre-argument discussion I linked to makes clear, there are a number of issues here and lots of directions that the Court could choose to take. This is why it is hard to say whether it will (in retrospect) turn out to be an important case. Continue reading
I’ve had an extremely difficult time keeping the blog properly populated with fresh material this semester, for which I apologize. It’s just been a crazy teaching schedule and I don’t know what all else. My apologies and my gratitude for those who bear with me.
I do have a whole bunch of things stacked up here–a pending Utah case and a case to be argued before the US Supreme Court this coming Tuesday are very high on the list. But I also have necessary travel which will obviously disrupt things. So this post is one of those “let’s take a step back” posts, reflecting my efforts to find different ways to look at things.
I’m sure you’ve all noticed that we come back to some fundamental disagreements over and over again. One–not the only one, but perhaps the most commonly appearing one–is about the role that genetic connection should/does play in the identification of legal parents. The fact is that in law in the US genetics doesn’t always rule. Continue reading
There’s a surrogacy story I’ve been meaning to get to. Here’s one version. It’s long and detailed, but worth taking the time to read. It’s a painful story of a surrogacy arrangement that went very far off the tracks.
Crystal Kelley agreed to be a surrogate. It looks to me like she worked with an agency called Surrogacy International–more about the agency in a moment. The agency paired her with a couple that already had three kids but also had a couple of frozen embryos leftover.
Kelley became pregnant with one of the frozen embryos but the fetus did not develop normally. Continue reading
I know there’s been a bit of a gap here, but that’s the nature the the semester, I guess. Busy week it has been. I’ll circle back to comments but need to get the main threads restarted, too. So here goes. I’ve been meaning to post about this enterprise for a while. It’s gotten some press coverage, too. (Besides my link you can look at their website under press for more stories.)
The idea here is to facilitate the creation of families consisting of two genetic paernts and a child where the genetic parents are not a couple. I’ve written about this sort of set up a couple of times in the past–it’s not really a brand new idea. And I think what I have to say now is largely consistent with what I’ve said in the past.
On the one hand, for those most concerned about legal parenthood being defined along genetic lines, this seems unproblematic. Continue reading