There’s been a lot of discussion of surrogacy in the comments here recently and I’ve been meaning to pull the topic back into a main post (because I think this makes it more accessible to readers.) And now I have a vehicle–albeit an imperfect one–to do this: A recent opinion by the Tennessee Court of Appeals. The case is called In re Baby, which is among the more curious captions I’ve seen (Does it sound like a pop song?), but it bears some thought.
Luca G and Antonella T (an Italian couple, unmarried at the beginning of this saga) entered into a surrogacy agreement with a woman in Tennessee, Jennifer E, and her husband, Joshua M. Pursuant to the agreement, Jennifer became pregnant via artificial insemination with Luca’s sperm. Since this means that Jennifer was genetically related to the child it makes her a “traditional” rather than a “gestational” surrogate. In November 2011, before the baby was born, the four people involved here filed a joint petition to establish parentage of the child. The idea here was to have legal parentage all sorted out before the child was born. In response to the petition the court issued an order in December 2011–still before the birth of the child. Continue reading
Continuing with what seems like little run of personal stories, I wanted to talk about this recent photo essay. You can find the photos here, too, though the text is different. And, as is noted, the surrogate involved has her own blog. Anyway, I think this fits nicely with a not-too-long ago post about another personal surrogacy story.
Kristen Broome is the mother of a two-year-old. Her husband is in the military and was in Afghanistan during the time this takes place. She learned that her second cousin, Jamie Pursley, had had a miscarriage and could no longer carry a pregnancy to term. Kristen offered to be a surrogate for Jamie and Jamie’s husband, Jacob. 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
Although surrogacy is not exactly rare, it also isn’t all that common. And yet it’s often covered in the news. And when it comes up here (as it has in the last couple of posts) it always spurs discussion.
I think it is because it raises so many issues and forces us to unpack so many assumptions. It crystallizes a bunch of questions about motherhood that I wrote about not so long ago. And it makes us think hard about gender/sex and sameness/difference. And really, of course, the problem is pregnancy and what we do with it.
Here’s one way to think about this. Under current law in NJ men and woman are treated differently with regard to legal parentage when surrogacy is used. Continue reading
There’s a new surrogacy case from NJ. To be really precise, there are two opinions from the New Jersey Supreme Court which deadlocked 3-3. Since neither view garnered a majority of the votes the lower courts decision is affirmed. If you don’t want to read the actual opinions, there’s decent coverage of the story in the New York Times. You can see this as expanding the discussion from UK law discussed in the last post. I think there’s been mention the NJ case in the comments from the last post, but I haven’t actually had time to really look and it’s worth raising to the status of a full post anyway.
Fairly simple facts: TJS and ALS are husband and wife. ALS could neither produce eggs nor carry a pregnancy to term. Using sperm from TJS and an egg from an anonymous provider, TJS and ALS had an embryo created. The embryo was then transferred into the uterus of AF who agreed to act as a surrogate and who eventually gave birth to a healthy child. She subsequently surrendered any parental rights she might have. Continue reading
Surrogacy is a topic that comes up here with some regularity. It’s not hard to see why, as it poses some fairly obvious legal and moral challenges. As I’ve noted before the UK has an interesting and unusual approach to surrogacy and this is the subject of a fine little essay I came across today. The author is Natalie Gamble, a UK lawyer who is both knowledgable and experienced.
As Gamble notes, in the UK the woman who gives birth is always the legal mother of the child. This means, as Gamble’s title notes, that the surrogate has an absolute right to change her mind.
Remarkably, this is true whether the surrogate is genetically related to the child or not. 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
Still cleaning up stories that piled up on the desktop here. (Can things pile up electronically?) Here are two different stories about close family members offering to serve as surrogate mothers–one about a mother serving as surrogate for her daughter and the other about a woman serving as a surrogate for her brother and sister-in-law.
I’ve written about surrogacy countless times on this blog–you can use the tags to find past entries. There’s a way in which neither of these stories adds anything new. It’s all been done before–mothers helping daughters, sisters helping siblings. And yet it still makes the news.
Surely this ought to be the least controversial sort of surrogacy. Continue reading
I know I keep promising that I will get to comments and my intentions are really to do just that. But days are busy and I have fallen behind in many areas. So today a short post about a now-oldish story and then–comments–really.
With that in mind, here’s a story about a recent opinion from the Maine Supreme Court. Kristen Labree was a surrogate for Robert and Celia Nolan. Everything went according to plan and both before and after the birth everyone agreed that the Nolans would raise the child. It appears to me that the embryo was created with genetic material from the Nolans.
When the child was born, Labree’s name was placed on the birth certificate (because, after all, she gave birth.) So was her husband’s. (That’s Jeff and he’s there because he is married to the woman who gave birth.)
Everyone wanted to change the birth certificate to the Nolan’s names. Originally the court was going to add Robert Nolan but not Celia. That’s because the ability to legally manipulate paternity is much more readily accepted than the ability to manipulate maternity. But the Maine Supreme Court ordered Celia’s name added as well.
The key here was the use of the gender neutral term “parentage” instead of the gender specific “paternity.” It’s also critical to note that everyone agreed here. In the absence of post-birth agreement, I don’t know what would happen. But when done well, there typically is agreement after the surrogate gives birth.
I confess that I have not had time to read the actual opinion and I really need to do that. It probably answers some of the questions I’m left with. For instance, the news story speaks of terminating the rights of the surrogate–which suggests that she had rights to terminate. That suggests that absent court action, Kristen Labree and not Celia Nolan is a parent. By contrast, I think Robert Nolan established his parentage via genetic linkage and not court action.
I will get to the opinion soon, but there’s enough here to start me thinking again. It’s been a while since surrogacy has been my topic, hasn’t it?
I’ve just listened to and read part 3 of the NPR weekend series on surrogacy. (Part 2 must have been last night and I’ll get back to it.) I wrote about part 1 yesterday. This part is about how the law lags behind the technology and provides a recap and an introduction to a lot of important issues, but of cousre, it cannot really go into those in depth.
There are also things left unexplored. So for example, Jennifer Ludden (the NPR reporter) starts by observing that for a long time it was pretty simple–a woman who gave birth was a mother, her husband was the father. This immediately raises two questions, I think: What about unmarried women who give birth? And what does it mean that the tests for parentage were so different for men and for women? Continue reading