In the past there have been long and heated discussions of birth certificates here. It’s with some trepidation that I return to the subject, but there is an interesting (and possibly important) new case that throws light on the topic. Meantime, you can use the tag to see some of what has gone before.
Let me begin by saying briefly that birth certificates (and here I mean the short certificates issued by some sort of state vital records office that parent are asked to produce for school registration and the like) are curious documents. Given their name, you might think that they certify something about birth. Perhaps the most obvious idea would be they certify who gave birth to a child.
But generally speaking, this isn’t what they do (in the US, at least). Birth certificates generally reflect legal parentage. This means do not necessarily reflect genetic parentage and they don’t need to list the person who gives birth. (Of course, it is perfectly possible that a genetic parent gave birth to you and is a legal parent, too, so then her name will be there. But not because she gave birth and not because she’s the genetic parent.) Continue reading
There’s a new case from Utah that raises some issues we’ve talked about here.
To begin with, a word about existing Utah law. The statutory law in Utah facilitates a married couple’s use of assisted reproductive technology. In particular, if a married man/woman couple use sperm from a third-party in order to conceive a child the husband is automatically the legal father of that child, as long as the proper consents have been executed.
One way to think about this is as a special case of the marital presumption. (This has been the subject of much discussion in the past–check out the tags on the left.) That presumption generally states that if a married women gives birth to a child, the child is presumed to be the legal child of the husband. The general presumption works in different ways in different states and at least sometimes it can be rebutted by genetic testing.
But of course, if the husband and wife are using third party sperm, we all know what the genetic tests would show: the child is not genetically related to the husband. Continue reading
As you all know I’m a law professor and that means many of the folks I talk to are also law professors. Over the years I’ve had countless exchanges, some casual and some more in the nature of debates, about the value of anonymity for those who provide sperm and eggs to people doing ART. This remains a lively issue among academics.
It’s an important topic, both in terms of the big picture and for the individuals most directly affected. It’s also one where my own views have changed dramatically over the years and are, I imagine, still evolving. This probably makes it especially interesting to me.
Yet it seems to me that questions about the value of anonymity and the ways in which the law should/should not protect/promote it are being outflanked by reality. Which brings me to this blog post. It’s by Wendy Kramer, a co-founder of Donor Sibling Registry (DSR). Continue reading
This is really an aside–something to tuck away for another day.
There’s a lot of discussion here about the meaning of genetics–how much it determines who we are, I suppose. I guess that is because at least for some people, the more essential the role of genetics in determining who you are, the more important genetic parents are. (That’s way over simplified, but will do for now.)
And in that context we’ve also talked about epigenetics. I’m no expert (which you can tell because I am about to link to Wikipedia), but epigenetics is about the extent to which outside factors can alter the actions of genes in ways that may also determine who we are. So once again speaking roughly, epigenetic influences undermine the arguments about the importance of genetics.
I thought of this when listening to a recent episode of Radiolab–one of my favorite podcasts. Bear with me a bit while I explain:
In 2010 Sarah Grey gave birth to identical twin sons, Thomas and Caleb. Identical twins are genetically identical. But, as Sarah and her husband Ross knew from early in the pregnancy, Thomas had anencephaly while Caleb did not. Continue reading
Here I am again. Been traveling and what-not, but back now. And just in time.
There’s an article in today’s Wall Street Journal–front page–about the price of eggs. (Because the Journal is subscription only, I cannot effectively link to it. Sorry. You may be able to get it through your favorite library, perhaps?) Anyway, I’m especially sorry not to be able to post it because I am actually (briefly) quoted in it. But that’s not really why it is noteworthy.
This actually dovetails reasonably well with the consideration of egg freezing that was underway just before I went traveling. (And on that subject, see this recent Time Magazine article.)
Part of the hook for the WSJ article is the anti-trust suit that began five years ago. The idea here is that there is a suggested cap for what is paid to women providing eggs. Continue reading
One of my favorite blogs is Olivia’s View. There’s a new post there today that has set me thinking. It’s very brief but it adds in to other things.
What’s noted there is that women over the age of 44 are very likely to have trouble achieving a full term pregnancy with their own 44-year-old eggs. I suppose this isn’t news in a general way, but the detailed findings lend stronger support to something we probably knew anyway.
So what will this mean? Long term it seems to me this is good news for the burgeoning business of egg preservation. Young women (say in their early 20s) will be all the more eager to freeze their eggs. The more clear it becomes that you will lose fertility as you age, the more appealing preserving your youthful fertility will be.
But this is only useful Continue reading
For the second time in two days I’ll do a quick post pointing to something in the New York Times. Today it’s this feature, about the dilemma posed by the large (and increasing) number of frozen embryos. In part this seems to have been inspired by the recent Illinois case I blogged about recently, but it really covers a lot of ground. I think I’ll just touch on a few of the notable points here.
First off, you can see why there is a frozen embryo problem. It is simply routine to create more embryos than are needed. Before eggs could readily be frozen it also made obvious sense. If you didn’t fertilize all the eggs you had, you lost them. Once they were fertilized they could be frozen.
Even with egg freezing it probably makes sense. Continue reading