Saturday, January 29, 2011

Potential Legal Inconsistencies When Using Alternative Reproduction

"In the Age of Alternative Reproduction, Who Are a Child's Parents?"
 Liz Mandarano
Family and Matrimonial Lawyer
January 29, 2011

"Thanks to modern medicine, more traditional and non-traditional couples and individuals are able to become parents through assisted reproductive methods, including anonymous and known sperm and/or egg donation, surrogacy, and second parent adoption. States have varying laws on sperm donor rights and responsibilities, the legality of surrogate motherhood contracts, recognition of same-sex marriages or civil unions, the need for court-approved adoptions, and whether second parent adoptions are available.

Because there are no reporting requirements by fertility clinics and sperm banks or any identifiers on birth certificates to calculate the number of children who are the product of home-based artificial inseminations, there are no clear statistics on the annual total of children born via sperm and egg donation (or a combination of the two) in the United States.

One would think given this increase that there would be legal uniformity as to parental and financial rights and responsibilities. In fact, state legislatures have mostly punted this hot-button issue, declining to readdress the definition of parentage in recent years and instead allowing their judicial systems to render inconsistent verdicts...

The inconsistencies create an enormous amount of uncertainty ranging from inheritance rights to child support and visitation. Additionally, there has been an increase in the questionable practice of commercially contracting with foreign surrogate mothers in countries such as India...

And just because one State supports one non-traditional parentage does not necessarily mean that it tolerates another."

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