There have been three recent stories (of quite different sorts) about sperm donors (which by extension also have something to say about egg donors) that I wanted to highlight and comment on. Before I get to that, though, I wanted offer a reminder about the terminology I choose to use.
The generally used terms (as you can see from the writings I’ll link to shortly) are “sperm donor,” “egg donor” or, more inclusively, “gamete donor.” I’ve highlighted the “donor” part of each term because this is the word I try not to use. In many (but not all) instances, the “donor” receives compensation though typically the compensation is (technically) for time/inconvenience, rather than for the actual gametes. I accept that motivations of the many people who provide gametes aren’t purely commercial–there are altruistic elements as well. But still, the term “donor” for most of us suggests someone who gives something without compensation. I would prefer to reserve it for those who are actually in that category–those who are purely altruistic–and hence, I try to use “sperm provider,” “egg provider” and “gamete provider.”
Now–to the articles. Continue reading
I’m at the midyear conference of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys/American Academy of Assisted Reproductive Technology Attorneys just now. It’s a program devoted to the world of ART and there are lawyers from around the country and the world–a really terrific and interesting group. It’s very busy but I wanted to take a minute out to post this.
This morning there was a great speaker who focused on psychological issues around egg donation. Her name is Dr. Andrea Braverman and she teaches at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. One particular point she made was both simple and provocative: The way parents talk to donor-conceived children can profoundly shape how the children react.
Perhaps this was and is obvious. After all, think about what you call the man who provides sperm? Donor? Father? Daddy-donor? [Your choice here?] Continue reading
I’ve been thinking, while not able to be on-line, about why this area of the law is as it is–a total mess, full of inconsistencies and contradictions. Wouldn’t it be nice if it were tidy and neat, as many areas of the law actually are?
There’s no simple answer to the “why” question, of course. Why would there be a simple answer? But I do have some ideas.
There have always been parents, of course, by which I mean two things: First, that men and women have engaged in sexual activities with resulting birth of genetic offspring and second, that the young creatures require care and someone has provided that care, at least to some of those offspring. Continue reading
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
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
I try to keep one eye on scientific developments that, while still in early stages, promise to complicate parenthood even further. I wrote about one line of research in the fall. This research opens to door to creating gametes (that would eggs and sperm) from ordinary cells, or at least from non-gametes. This is an outgrowth of research aimed at creating new specialized cells generally.
As the earlier post makes clear (I hope) the idea of creating specialized cells has wide application. The example I used (taken from research) involved creating new retinal cells which would be useful for treatment for certain retinal disorders.
But the implications of the research for reproductive technology are apparent. Continue reading
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 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