Thursday, January 3, 2013
Law strives to keep up with science, and nowhere is this clearer than in the area of family law, where reproductive technologies have been evolving quickly. It's been only a few decades since the first baby was conceived by in vitro fertilization (IVF) in 1977, but now even more is possible than conceiving outside a human body: human genetic material may become unnecessary after Stanford researchers published a 2009 article in Nature reporting that they had determined the genes that coax human embryonic stem cells into becoming cells that form eggs and sperms.
Alternative reproductive technology has also allowed for surrogacy arrangements, whereby one woman carries another couple's fetus to term. In fact, a surrogacy industry has arisen in India -- among other fertility hotspots -- with women in India serving as surrogates.
The law has attempted to keep up with these developments, but not effortlessly. Some states enforce surrogacy agreements, others do not. Some courts have ordered sperm donors to pay child support, others have not. Just last term, the U.S. Supreme Court held that posthumous children, conceived through IVF after their father's death, are not necessarily automatically eligible for Social Security survivor benefits, which instead depend on state law.
Read more here.