(I’m both away for the Labor Day weekend and under the weather, so this will be short.)
Last year I followed the progress of legislation in Georgia around some aspects of assisted reproduction. (This is the end of the line, but the link there can take you to earlier posts.) What began, at least ostensibly, as a legislative response to the birth of octuplets to Nadya Suleman ended with a law the promotes what is called “embryo adoption.”
The idea here is that there are said to be many embryos left over from IVF attempts that are essentially in storage. Continue reading
Strictly speaking, this is a bit outside the ordinary bounds of my blog–it’s not about who is a parent. Instead, it’s about what restrictions court’s can place on parental conduct. This is a subject I care about and it’s not that far afield, so I’m going to discuss it.
A new case out of Georgia concerns the sorts of limitations that can be placed on the visitation granted to a gay father. Eric and Sandy Mongerson were married for over twenty years and had four children. When they divorced, the court granted custody of the kids to Sandy Mongerson, allowing Eric Mongerson visitation. But by then Eric Mongerson was known to be gay and his visitation was subject to an important restriction: He was prohibited from “exposing the children to his homosexual partners and friends.” Continue reading
Last week it was SurroGenesis. Now there’s a story in the LA Times about a second surrogacy agency (B Coming) that may have defrauded its clients and its surrogates.
I have no particular view on the truth of what’s asserted here. But it seems to me that there are likely to be increasing calls for the regulation of surrogacy. This might be especially likely in California, given the octuplets and now two surrogacy agencies in the center of controversies.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with regulation per se. Requiring proper escrow accounts and such like would be enormously helpful. But various interests may use the sudden interest in regulation to advance efforts in restricting access to ART. Witness what’s been going on in Georgia. I guess what that ultimately means is that it’s worth keeping an eye on this.
I’ve been following some legislation in Georgia recently. It’s gone through a number of revisions. You can read about them in the earlier posts. Interestingly, you can trace the origins of this legislation back to the furor over the octuplets. The unease about the octuplets seems to have provided a vehicle for groups more generally concerned about ART.
The new version of the bill, one passed by the Georgia state senate, is described here. Provision limiting sale of sperm and eggs are gone, as are restrictions on the number of embryos that can be implanted transferred and who can utilized ART. The bill now provides that embryos can only be created for the treatment of human infertility. The question of what qualifies as “infertility”–an important question when you consider people who wish to parent singly as well as same-sex couples, is left rather fuzzy.
Apparently there is also a separate bill, passed out of the Georgia House of Representatives, that promotes embryo adoption. This is the first I’ve heard of this second bill, but you can find some discussion of embryo adoption here.
Since I’ve been following the Georgia legislation inspired by the octuplets case, I thought I’d post an update. The legislation has changed (as legislation is wont to do) and, according to this article, may actually have a chance of passage. I think it would be a relatively dramatic legal innovation (at least in the US) were it to pass.
The story thus far: When Nadya Suleman gave birth to octuplets, the fact that ART was essentially unregulated suddenly became big news. Many people argued that regulation was needed. As I noted a while back, regulation can take many forms. What I tend to worry about is what I think of as opportunisitic regulation. By that I mean regulation that is really advancing some other public policy apart from that present in the octuplet problem but uses this moment of attention to move forward.
The pending Georgia legislation was (and remains) and example of such opportunistic regulation. Originally the bill did a bunch of things that restricted access to ART for lots of people. Additionally, it defined an embryo as a living human being. This last provision was not really surprising, given that primary sponsorship of the bill was attributed to Georgia Right to Life. From what I read the original bill was not given a very high likelihood of enactment.
Now the morphing. That article I linked to (the one here) recounts committee approval of a narrower bill. Most of the early provisions have been stripped out and what remains is that last one I described above–defining an embryo as a living human being. (I’d take a guess that this is actually the provision nearest and dearest to the Continue reading
A few days ago I pointed out some pending legislation in Georgia and offered a few thoughts. The hook for the legislation, of course, is the widely-shared sense of unease generated by the octuplets case. But the point I’ve been trying to make is that many different people/groups with many different interests could use the sudden public cry for action to advance regulations that do a lot of things, some of which may be to actually address the octuplet problem.
It’s in that context that I think the Georgia legislation is important. I gather it doesn’t have any real chance of passage, but it is a fine example of a bill that advances a whole bunch of ideological points, only some of which have to do with the octuplets.
It seems that was even more true than I knew. Here’s a post from another blog that offers further details about the pending Georgia legislation. Many of the points raised are troubling.
Notice, for example, that the legislation seeks to restrict use of ART to instances of infertility. I pick this point because at first blush it may seem quite a reasonable idea. But at least a couple of questions spring to mind immediately and make me wary of this. Continue reading
Posted in parentage
Tagged access, ART, egg donor, embryo, frozen embryos, Georgia, infertility, IVF, octuplets, regulation, sperm donor, surrogacy
I’ve written recently about the move to regulate reproduction that is (at least in part) being driven by the spectacle of the octupluts.
Here’s one of the first pieces of legislation to come down the pike. For the most part it looks like straight-forward effort to avoid the octuplet problem by restricting the number of embryos that can be implanted transferred. Even in those terms, the wisdom of this sort of legislation is debatable, I gather, as the comments from the doctors make clear. There may be instances where implanting transferring more than the specified number of embryos is medically advisable even if you’re not seeking multiple births.
But note that the legislation isn’t only aimed at restricting the number of embryos. There’s a second provision to the legislation. It bars producing more than the number of embryos you’ll be using. That restriction is driven by the contention of Georgia Right to Life (which helped draft the legislation) that embryos deserve protection as “living human beings.” That’s a very controversial stance at odds with a lot of the practice of ART. And it is totally unrelated to the octuplet problem.
This illustrates the concerns I’ve tried to raise in my earlier posts. The widely shared outrage over the octuplets fuels efforts at regulation that are than shaped by other ideological concerns. And those ideological concerns lead to broader restrictions on ART. For instance, I’d hazard a guess that Georgia Right to Life would like to restrict access to ART, excluding single women and lesbians, were they the ones making the rules.
It’s not that one cannot contemplate regulation to prevent recurrences of the octuplet problem. I just think you have to look at these proposals pretty carefully to see what else is being carried along.