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
In November I wrote about a case that had just been argued before the Virgina Supreme Court. At issue was the parental status of William Breit. He and his then-girlfriend, Beverly Mason, wanted to have a child. They ended up using IVF. When the couple split up, Mason tried to prevent Breit from having contact with the child, arguing that he was a sperm donor and not a legal parent.
It’s critical that they weren’t married–had they been married, he clearly would have been a legal father. But Virginia’s statutory structure gave Mason a simple argument. The statutes themselves are quoted in the earlier post, but suffice it to say that Virginia is one of those states where the statutes say that a man who provides sperm for use by a woman who is not his wife is not a parent. That’s what was done here (argued Mason), so it would follow that Breit was not a parent.
Now as it happened Breit had a whole bunch of arguments for why this wasn’t the proper outcome in his case. Continue reading
Yesterday I put up a post about a recent case involving posthumously conceived children–which is to say, children conceived with sperm that had been frozen. You can think of this as a problem created from our ability to keep reproductive materials in long-term storage. Here’s another storage problem that comes up with some regularity–and also one I know I’ve written about before, though I cannot find where. (A bit frustrating, I must say.)
Sometimes couples who are splitting up have frozen embryos to deal with. That was the problem in this instance. Godlove Mbah and Honorine Anong had been married. While they were married they created embryos via IVF and a daughter (now three) was born. There were extra embryos that were frozen for possible future use. And then the couple split up. What happens to those extra embryos? Continue reading
I’m taking a detour from ongoing conversation here to write about a case currently pending in Virginia. It was argued before the Virginia Supreme Court this fall and should be decided in the new year. This being the case, I think it is worth taking a few moments to sum it up. It is one of those cases that falls (or nearly falls) between the cracks in various statutory structures. You can read the lower court opinion or this blog post, too, if you want more info.
Billy Breit and Beverly Mason were a long-term cohabiting couple. They weren’t married–which turns out to be a very important detail. They wanted to have a child. Intercourse alone did not work so they consulted a fertility doctor. The doctor used Breit’s sperm to fertilize eggs extracted from Mason and then transferred to resulting embryo into Mason’s womb. In time this worked and a child (Lillian) was born on July 13, 2009. Continue reading
First off a Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. It’s been a long fall from my point of view and I’ve been less then satisfied with my ability to get posts up here. Things might improve a little with the end of the semester but of course, only time will really tell. In the meantime, I appreciate all of your patience and your participation.
Now, this story from the LA Times caught my eye. It’s about a new frontier in ART marketing.
Generally if someone is going to do IVF they provide the sperm and eggs which are then combined in a lab to create pre-embryos. If people are not using their own gametes they generally obtain sperm and/or eggs from banks or clinics. There’s been lots of discussion here about that process of shopping for gametes and it’s good to keep that in mind. Continue reading
I’ve been thinking about the desire for control and how it fits in with the topics here–perhaps most particularly with ART, but really much more generally. It’s a little unformed, but it might start some interesting discussion.
In my experience of parenting, the desire for control is omnipresent. I suppose I mean control over a child’s life–which is not exactly the same as control over the child. To varying degrees I’ve wanted to pick a child’s teachers and/or friends, direct them to certain activities, inspire them to choose certain types of interests over others, and so on. I still vividly recall how in the first weeks of my son’s life I wanted nothing more than to be able to get him to sleep when I though he should. And one of the most astonishing lessons for me was that you cannot make a child sleep–all you can do is arrange the conditions in the room. I think this is probably a lesson all parents have to learn–and perhaps it’s really just a variation on “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.”
In sum, while I may be atypical, or perhaps at an extreme of a spectrum, I think most parents want to have control over their child’s lives–if only so we can make them safe and healthy and happy. Continue reading
Yesterday’s NYT has a story about fertility services being offered as prizes in variously structured contests. I’ve written about this idea a couple of times in the past couple of years–once a couple of years ago when a UK clinic offered a IVF as a door prize and more recently when there was a Facebook contest with free IVF as the reward.
Yesterday’s story suggests that these were just early instances of what is becoming a more widespread phenomenon. All manner of prize-oriented promotions are cropping up–video essay contests, raffles, lotteries, race sponsorships and so on. It makes perfect sense, really. As Douglas Quenqua, who wrote the NYT piece, notes:
The people who stage the raffles say that both sides benefit: one woman gets free treatment, and the sponsor gets publicity. Continue reading
I’m going to pull away from that extremely lively discussion of surrogacy (always a fascinating topic) to talk a bit about another story that caught my eye a while back. At the end of August the European Court of Human Rights found that Italy violated the rights of a couple carrying cystic fibrosis when it refused to allow them to do PIGD. (We’ve talked about PIGD before on the blog. It is pre-implantation genetic diagnosis and it allows you those doing IVF to screen pre-embryos before they are transferred into a woman’s uterus.) To put this slightly differently–the court ruled that the couple had a right to screen the pre-embryos before transfer.
Italy is one of three European countries (the others are Austria and Switzerland) that ban use PGID. Continue reading
Two recent stories about surrogacy can be tied together here to offer an important lesson: People who contemplate surrogacy should, at a minimum, work out a detailed agreement that describes what it is they think they’ve agreed to. (Of course, people really ought to do a great deal more than that. In particular, they ought to have serious counselling and engage in extensive reflection about whether surrogacy is really for them. This, as I’ve said before, is really the key to having surrogacy work for you.) But at the same time, you should keep in mind that what you write in the terms may not be enforcable.
First we have this story of what might be surrogacy gone awry. Except, of course, that it may not be surrogacy at all. Continue reading
This past spring I wrote about a couple of cases in which women who worked for Catholic schools were fired for using ART. One was Emily Herx, a married high school teacher who was fired for using IVF. I’ve been following the case and wanted to offer a brief update. Two national groups (unsurprising ones–the ACLU and the ASRM) have filed briefs on Herx’s side.
The issue in the case is framed as one of discrimination based on disability. Herx and her husband are infertile. (I think it is pretty clear that this would generally count as a disability.) It is generally impermissible to discriminate based on a disability. Continue reading