There’s a new opinion from Texas that serves as a bit of a cautionary tale. Marvin McMurray and his partner wanted to have children. A friend of Cindy Close agreed that she would become pregnant via IVF using embryos that were created from McMurray’s sperm and an egg from an unknown provider. Close gave birth to twins–twins she was not genetically related to.
I think what I’ve said so far is what everyone agrees about. But if that looks like an odd telling of the story, it’s because at the core of the story is a fundamental disagreement and so I haven’t recited it. Instead I’ll give you two versions–keeping in mind that I have NO IDEA what’s true here.
McMurray version: Close was a friend helping out McMurray and his partner by serving as a surrogate. She wasn’t going to be a parent to the children. (It says she would play “no role” but I assume this might mean “no special role” since if she’s a good friend she’d like be around some.).
Close version: McMurray was aware of Close’s desire to have children and they agreed to coparent. (This of course makes me wonder about why the third party egg, but there could be reasons for that.) Continue reading
This essay is from today’s Motherlode blog. It’s by David Dodge, a gay man who lives in NYC. He’s provided sperm so that a lesbian couple he knows can have a child. He did this as an act of friendship and so, I think, is rightly described as a sperm donor.
The essay recounts all the things he thought about as he considered his friends’ request for his sperm. I think it gives a great sense of the issues that anyone contemplating providing gametes for third-party reproduction ought to think about. Indeed, I think it’s a list of considerations that women considering being surrogates ought to read and think about, too.
For those who are worried about the identity issues that might arise with a sperm donor, I’ll note at the beginning that it is clearly the plan that he will be known to and, to an as yet undefined degree, involved with the child. At the very least this ought to allay concerns about family medical history questions. Should a question come up the people to ask will be available. Continue reading
I’ve been working on a piece of writing–something a good deal more extensive than the blog generally allows–about surrogacy. It’s an effort to look back and think about how views on surrogacy (and the practice of surrogacy itself) have changed over the years. Imagine my surprise when this video appeared on the NYT website early this week. It’s worth a look.
It’s nearly 30 years since Mary Beth Whitehead entered into a surrogacy contract with William and Elizabeth Stern. Baby M is grown and has children of her own. And the world has changed in oh-so-many ways. Does any of this matter in how we think about surrogacy?
The New Jersey Supreme Court’s decision in Baby M shaped how we (as a legal culture) thought about surrogacy in a lot of ways, even though it was a decision binding in only one state. But it was generated in a different time, against a different background. That doesn’t mean that it is meaningless, but it may mean that our understanding of it has or will change. Continue reading
This is spurred by a substantial article in this morning’s NYT. I haven’t talked/written about surrogacy for quite a while and so perhaps it is time to circle back to the topic. I’m well aware that there is some extensive discussion under the last post (the one about birth certificates), but I lost track of that while I was travelling and this seems timely. I can only hope I’ll get back to the birth certificates shortly.
So surrogacy. There are so many things to say about it, so much to discuss. I’m going to pick a few points that leapt out at me reading the article. There are many others.
1. Surrogates prefer working with gay men than with straight couples (or I assume with single women.) Continue reading
I’ve written before (though I think not for a long time) on globalized surrogacy. It’s pretty widely known now that some–perhaps many– people travel from countries where access to surrogacy is restricted to those where it is not in order to use surrogacy. India and the US are two common surrogacy destinations that many Europeans select. (There’s obviously a much more complicated picture here–I’m just using broad strokes for the moment.)
Anyway, here’s a story that makes me think about resistance to this practice. France is a country that restricts the use of surrogacy. But nothing prevents (and I’m not sure anything can prevent) French citizens from travelling to the US to use surrogates here. (There are many ways that French law can make this more difficult–including restrictions on citizenship. But of course, very few pe0ple just happen to fly off to the US to engage in surrogacy without engaging in some planning, and that seems to be what the French lawmakers here are focusing on. Continue reading
This piece was in yesterday’s NYT. I’m in no position to comment on the science so, for the moment, I’m going to assume it is sound, though I do know there is plenty of bad science out there. The essay (it was on the op-ed page, so I think of it as an essay rather than as news) is about diet in the very early stages of a child’s life and how it has lifelong effects–at least according to the study the essay is considering.
But the studies aren’t only about the effects of diet after the child is born. Here’s the part that leads me to write here:
Mothers who were fed foods like Froot Loops, Cheetos and Nutella during pregnancy had offspring that showed increased expression of the gene for an opioid receptor, which resulted in a desensitization to sweet and fatty foods. “The best way to think about how having a desensitized reward pathway would affect you is to use the analogy of somebody who is addicted to drugs,” Jessica R. Gugusheff, a Ph.D. candidate at FoodPlus and the lead author of the study, wrote in an email. “When someone is addicted to drugs they become less sensitive to the effects of that drug, so they have to increase the dose to get the same high,” she wrote. “In a similar way, by having a desensitized reward pathway, offspring exposed to junk food before birth have to eat more junk food to get the same good feelings.”
(One thing I think I should clarify first: that passive voice thing at the very beginning– “mothers who were fed….’– I think read carefully in context it is actually about rats in a lab study. Continue reading
I wanted to add a couple more notes about the Florida opinion I wrote about a couple of days ago. And while I’m doing that, there’s a Nevada opinion from just a little while back (October 3) that I wanted to tie in here. It’s virtually a mirror image of the FL case.
First, two more points about the FL case–what I think of as the good and the bad, really. And these are taking a step away to get a little bit of a longer view.
The good: From what I can tell (and I do not have any access to the facts) the court decided this case in a way that I think reflects the reality of the family life that gave rise to it. There are many indications that both women functioned as parents to this child during the first two years of the child’s life. Continue reading
Someone (ki sarita, in fact) raised an excellent question in an early comment on the last post: Why would you call Monica Schissel a surrogate when she is a pregnant woman and she is genetically related to the fetus she carries? There is some discussion of this in the last post, but I’ve been thinking about it more generally. This leads me to some observations that might be useful or, failing that, at least interesting.
It seems to me you can think about pregnant women as falling into one of four categories. Here they are:
A: Intending to be parent and genetically related to embryo
B Intending to be parent and NOT genetically related to embryo
C NOT intending to parent and genetically related to embryo
D. NOT intending to parent and NOT genetically related to embryo. Continue reading
I cannot tell you why it is so difficult to make time for the blog this fall, but it must be obvious to you all that it is. I figure the best I can do is press on, trying as I can. So here I am with what is, I am afraid, both a late and a disconnected post.
Over the summer the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued an important opinion on surrogacy. The case began when David and Marcia Rosecky, a married couple, made an agreement with Monica and Cory Schissel, also a married couple, that Monica would serve as a surrogate for David and Marcia.
Marcia and Monica had been good friends for many years. When Marcia required treatment for leukemia (treatment which was fortunately successful), Monica offered to be a surrogate. She offered twice–in 2004 and 2008. Continue reading
[My thanks to Karen Clark who provided a link to the actual study. (But alas, a 2011 version of the study. Still interesting, though.) Of course, it is an academic paper and as such is difficult for me to work through, so for the moment, all I have to add here is this link. The remainder of the post is as before.]
There are many things we disagree about here but I think there is one thing about which there may actually be consensus: We all agree that the well-being of children is of central importance in our discussions. (Of course, as soon as we turn to discuss what exactly “the well-being of children means” our consensus probably shatters.)
Anyway, with that broad consensus in mind, a recent paper written by Susan Golombok and others should be of interest to all of us. The paper was published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. I have not linked to the actual paper, but instead to press coverage of it because I haven’t found a way to read the actual paper yet from my current location and so this is the best I have.
Anyway, Golombok and her team did a comparative study of children conceived via third-party gametes, children born to a surrogate and children who were the product of natural conception. Continue reading