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>

7 Billion People and “One Child” Policy Revisited


On October 31, 2011, our planet will have reached a population milestone; seven billion people will be competing for resources. Issues obviously arise when population growth is predicted to outpace our planet’s ability to sustain it. These issues are not new either; some may remember having read the gloomy predictions by Malthus in his Essay on the Principle of Population. Though it was written in the 18th and revised through the early 19th century before issues of peak oil use, water conservation, land use, and pollution became prevalent, Malthus nevertheless recognized that unchecked population growth leads to periods of severe societal distress.

Most modern and modernizing countries have taken affirmative steps to curtail rampant population growth through teaching proper use of contraceptives and other pregnancy prevention measures. India, with a current population closer to 1.2 billion individuals is set to eclipse China as the world’s most populous country within the next half century. As indicated in this CNN article, Indian officials go so far as to offer economic rewards to those who subject themselves to sterilization. While such measures may be questioned by some, they are defended as being totally voluntary. Still other countries have used far more draconian measures to slow population growth. The primary and often criticized case is China and its contentious “One Child” policy. Is this policy more attractive as a desperate measure to curtail population booms, especially in Asia where more than one-third of the seven billion people live? I argue that it is not, as its effects on the population and the socio-economic imbalances it has created will prove to be detrimental to China’s social and economic development in the long run.… <Read More>

Weighing in on the Rights of Parents


A Cleveland, Ohio mother is losing her child for a pretty unique reason: the state has determined that her child is too fat.

The mother brought her child into a hospital sometime last year, citing concern over problems breathing.  The doctors at the Rainbow Babies and Children’s hospital diagnosed him with sleep apnea (a disease commonly associated with being overweight), contacted social workers, and enrolled the 200+ lb. youth in a program geared towards shedding pounds.  The youth experienced moderate success for a while, but quickly regained the weight. 

The mother of the child (whose name has not been released) was distraught, shocked at the fact that her child was being forced into the foster care system based on her weight.  The mother was quoted as stating, “It’s a lifestyle change and they are trying to make it seem like I am not embracing that. It is very hard, but I am trying”.

The Constitution places a high level of importance on the rights of parents to raise their children as they see fit.  Legally, the state must have a compelling state interest in removing a child from their parent’s care.  A “compelling state interest” can be the health and well-being of an individual.  What’s curious –and possibly dangerous- about this however, is the fact that America is facing an obesity epidemic.

For those of you on the side of removing the child from the parent citing the better good, consider the case of Adela Martinez.  A decade ago, her three-year old daughter, Anamarie was removed from her care. … <Read More>

Returning Home For a Better Life or Parental Kidnapping?


Parental kidnapping has been an issue many people across the country and the world have had to face. Iraq veteran and New Jersey resident Michael Elias alleges that he has experienced it firsthand.  Elias, who returned home from Iraq three years ago, alleges that upon his return, his former wife told him she wanted a divorce. However, if only Elias could foresee what was to come—an international custody battle with his former wife, who is now living with their two children approximately 7,000 miles away in Japan.

Upon divorce, Elias and his former wife were granted joint custody by a Bergen County Court. In order to prevent either parent from taking the children out of the country, the Court directed that the children’s passports be surrendered. With the children’s passports surrendered and a court order of joint custody, Elias thought he had nothing to worry about. 

However, during a routine exchange of the children a few months later, Elias waited for his children to be dropped off for his parenting time. What he didn’t know what that he former wife and their two children were on a plane to Japan, violating the custody order. Since Elias’s former wife worked at the Japanese Embassy, she was able to get new passports for the children. How did she obtain new passports for the children legally and now that she is in Japan with the children, does it really even matter?

Japan is not a party to the Hague Convention on Parental Kidnapping, so what is Elias supposed to do?… <Read More>

Toddlers and Tiaras Mom Files Suit

Isabella BarrettSusanna Barrett, one of the pageant mothers in TLC’s Toddlers and Tiaras, has sued Warner Brothers Entertainment, AOL, and Associated Newspapers in Manhattan Supreme Court for printing knowingly false statements about her daughter, Isabella Barrett. Isabella and her mother were attending a charity event at Libation NYC when video was taken showing the 5-year-old signing LMFAO’s “Sexy and I Know It.” The complaint alleges that the articles regarding the incident falsely claimed that Isabella was gyrating to the music her mother acted as her disc jockey, feeding her lyrics to the song. Worse, the complaint alleges, the articles sexualized an innocent five-year-old girl who was not portraying herself sexually, erotically, or provocatively and who is now “in serious physical danger, attracting the attention of others who would seek to sexualize a child.” The complaint also states that Isabella “did not understand the concept of sex, let alone ‘sex appeal’ and could not have been singing about her own sex appeal.” She is seeking $30 million in damages for libel, $10 million from each of the defendants for exposing them to hatred, contempt and aversion. Read a copy of the complaint here.

But how much responsibility must Susanna Barrett accept for placing her daughter in the spotlight? Isabella Barrett is one of several young girls featured on Toddlers and Tiaras on the TLC Network, which has been much criticized for how it portrays the young pageant participants. Last year, another girl, 3-year-old Paisley, was costumed as Julia Roberts in her role as a prostitute in Pretty Woman.… <Read More>