Surrogacy in New York: Not Simple

With the ratings success of the new NBC television sitcom, The New Normal, it might be worth reviewing surrogacy laws in New York to determine whether the process is as simple and quick as the show makes it seem.In short, the show is about Bryan (Andrew Rannells) and David (Justin Bartha), who are a gay California couple hoping to start a family through a surrogate named Goldie (Georgia King). Now, there are two common types of surrogacy: traditional and gestational. Traditional surrogacy involves insemination of the surrogate’s egg with sperm, resulting in the surrogate being the biological mother. Gestational surrogacy involves implantation of an embryo, formed from a donor sperm and a donor egg, into the surrogate, resulting in the surrogate being biologically unrelated to the baby.

New York makes surrogacy difficult because New York’s Domestic Relations Law § 122 states that surrogacy agreements are against public policy. Specifically, the DRL states, “Surrogate parenting contracts are hereby declared contrary to the public policy of this state, and are void and unenforceable.” It also prohibits people from paying or accepting money in relation to the agreement, except for medical fees and hospital expenses. The state can monetarily penalize anyone who pays a “surrogacy fee” or accepts one. This means that if the intended parents and the surrogate mother are from New York, the surrogate does not have to give up the baby despite having signed an agreement. Thus, the intended parents may only work with a surrogate who resides in a state that allows surrogacy and should draft all agreements in the state where the surrogate lives.… <Read More>


When Does a Man Become a Dad? When the State Says So

Over the years, American culture and its view on what “family” means has changed drastically.  Same sex marriage (while not allowed everywhere) is not as shocking as it once was.  Single motherhood has become acceptable and many couples feel that marriage is becoming obsolete.  Despite these radically shifting social views, the laws in the U.S. governing what makes up a “family” are slow to keep up.  And the people impacted the most by these legal doctrines are sometimes the least aware of them.

Take Chukwudera Okoli, who married his wife, Blessing, in 1991.  Despite years of trying to conceive, the couple remained childless through the years – including when they separated in 2001.  However, in 2003, Blessing became pregnant with twins through the use of in vitro fertilization, using donor sperm and a donor egg. On March 6 2012, the Appeals Court of Massachusetts affirmed a decision by a judge from Probate and Family Court  requiring Okoli to pay child support to the twins.

Usually, there would be nothing unusual about a married parent being required to pay child support.  Massachusetts, like New York, has a legal presumption that a man is the legal father of any child to whom his wife gives birth to, in addition to a law aimed specifically at artificial insemination, which recognizes the husband as the legal father of children his wife has conceived through artificial insemination.  Though Okoli and his wife were separated, they were not divorced (i.e. they were still married) at the time of the birth of the twins and neither of the parents is genetically related to the children. … <Read More>


Online Sperm Donation

More couples are turning to the internet in their quest for children. After spending over $14,000 in failed artificial inseminations using sperm sourced by a sperm bank, one such couple went online to discover FreeSpermDonorRegistry.com (now KnownDonorRegistry.com), which offers profiles for men willing to donate sperm for free to thousands of women desperate to conceive. After a couple of months of chatting and emailing with a prospective donor, the couple flew across the country to meet him. After the donor produced the sperm, the husband injected his wife utilizing a syringe.

Private sperm donation is not formally monitored by the FDA, but their official position states that “human cells and tissues intended for donation…are regulated…regardless of whether they are for sale or free of charge.” Online donors can be sanctioned for not complying with federal guidelines, which require a series of STD tests, costing more than an thousand dollars per attempt. One such donor in California was paid a surprise visit by the FDA and could now face jail time as well as a $100,000 fine for failing to comply with these guidelines.

This kind of donation also brings up another concern, the parental rights of the sperm donor. In many states, including California, the husband of a woman who is artificially inseminated is treated in law as if he were the natural father of a conceived child. This special treatment is only when the procedure is completed under the supervision of a licensed physician and surgeon. If women are being artificially inseminated by their husbands instead of by a licensed professional, the special treatment can be bypassed.… <Read More>


Reproductive Outsourcing

An interesting trend is developing in America and across the globe: reproductive outsourcing.  Yes, you read that right.  Parents are paying for overseas surrogates to carry their child to term.  And what happens to be one of the most popular overseas locations for the process?  India.

Surrogacy is one of several assisted reproduction options available to couples who have experienced difficulty producing a child.  Surrogacy involves the implantation of a fertilized egg into the womb of a third party, referred to as the surrogate (the technical term is gestational carrier).  The surrogate carries the baby to term, at which point it is transferred, physically and legally, to the waiting parents.  The process can be very difficult and time consuming.  Because there is not a guarantee that any one egg will produce a viable pregnancy, oftentimes multiple eggs must be fertilized.  With each attempt, the prices rise.  This makes multiple attempts fairly expensive.  Should the process be as success, the issue of the welfare of the surrogate mother can bring additional costs.  If a couple decides to use a surrogacy service, the care of the surrogate mother is usually incorporated into the cost of the service.

Additionally, there are surrogacy laws that must be considered.  For example, in America, there seems to be three categories when it comes to the enforcement of surrogacy contracts between potential surrogates and the party seeking to have a child: either the state enforces them (followed by states such as Virginia, Florida, and Illinois), prohibits them (the path chosen by states such as Washington, D.C., Arizona, and Indiana), or they decline to enforce them (policy adopted by New York, New Jersey and Kentucky among others). … <Read More>


Too Old For This?

Lisa Miller wrote an interesting article for New York Magazine’s October 3, 2011 issue entitled: “Is She Just Too Old For This?” This article dives into the lives of women that bore children at the not-so-tender ages of 50 and above–a trend that is on the rise. The article states that in 2008, about 8,000 babies were born to women 45 or older in the U.S., which is more than double the numbers calculated in 1997 (according to the Centers for Disease Control). In adoption the story rings true as well: “nearly a quarter of adopted children in the U.S. have parents more than 45 years older than they are.” It is believed that the advances in reproductive technology is to blame for this rise. In fact, one of the women featured in the article, Ann Maloney, was able to be brought out of menopause with hormones in order to get pregnant with her second child at the age of 52. Women of this age who wish to carry their own baby often use donor eggs; however, egg freezing, a “cutting-edge” method, allows women to freeze their eggs to be used at a later time.

Looming behind all this activity are critics saying: “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”

“After 35, the risk of preterm labor increase 20 percent, and preemies can have lung problems, digestive problems, brain bleeds, and neurological complications, including developmental delays, learning issues, depending largely on their gestational age at birth. After 40, a pregnant woman is likelier to become afflicted with preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and hypertension–the worst outcomes of which can result in the death of the fetus and occasionally the mother as well.… <Read More>