Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznare
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Contentious battles between couples over frozen embryos raise legal and ethical dilemmas

Battle Over the Embryo Raises Legal and Ethical Dilemmas for Attempted Divorcees

From The ABA Journal:

When Risa Levine, a real estate attorney in New York City, got married, she wanted nothing more than to have a baby. Her husband at the time also wanted a child, but they weren't able to do so on their own. So they went to a fertility clinic together.

They discovered their best hope for creating a baby was through in vitro fertilization. IVF is a series of procedures involving extracting eggs from a woman’s body, combining them with sperm in a laboratory and then placing them inside her uterus. Fertility doctors can also cryopreserve any excess embryos so they can be thawed and used later.

Levine and her husband, who worked in real estate finance, had four frozen embryos. The couple went through more than 10 IVF cycles, but they split up before they were able to have a baby. At the time of their separation, Levine was in her mid-40s.

During the divorce process, Levine and her ex battled over custody of the embryos because, while she still wanted to be a parent, he no longer did. He wanted the embryos destroyed, and she wanted to keep them frozen so she could, possibly, have a baby in the future.

Read more here.

June 8, 2016 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Chinese Lesbian Couple are First Homosexual Couple to Utilize Surrogacy

From NPR Berlin:

A Chinese lesbian couple gave birth to twins last month following successful IVF. The couple travelled to Portland, Oregon for the procedure and returned to China to give birth. This is the first time that a lesbian couple has used this form of surrogacy in China. This is seen as a milestone in China because only heterosexual couples are allowed to have children or have access to reproductive services.

Read more here.

May 21, 2016 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 31, 2016

In Vitro Fertilization Bill Would Define Embryos as Human Life

From The Missouri Times:

Jasha McQueen created four embryos with her then-husband through in vitro fertilization (IVF) in 2007. Two of those embryos became her twin sons, but the other two have become the subject of a lengthy and grueling court battle when McQueen and her husband started divorce proceedings in 2010. McQueen claimed possession of those embryos when they were created.

When she did not receive them, she began a fight for custody.

The legal framework that would make that possible is thanks to a bill sponsored by Rep. John McCaherty, R-High Ridge, that would recognize human embryos as human life, meaning in cases of divorce, they would be divided as children are in custody battles instead of as possessions are divided. The judge in these proceedings would also have to rule in favor of the best interests for the embryo to come to term.

“In essence, what the judicial system is doing… they have no clear direction what to do with frozen human embryos so they are treating them as property,” McCaherty said during testimony. “This bill gives some direction to the courts. Either parent could pay fees to allow them to be frozen in perpetuity. I don’t believe it is in the best interest of the state to be making decisions on the issue of life when there is a parent that wants to raise a child.”

McQueen also testified, saying that her relationship to her embryos was already personal.

“These are two of my babies that I would like to give them the opportunity to be born,” she said. “It is a compassionate bill that looks at the people going through this process that is incredibly grueling.

 

“We are terminating this person’s embryo over their objections. That should not happen. There are people… that are grieving parents at the hands of a judge. I feel like the judge and the state of Missouri are killing my babies.”

While opposition to the resolution seemed to sympathize with McQueen’s plight to an extent, they had deep concerns about the way in which this bill would enable her to obtain those embryos.

Carla Holste, a family law practitioner with the Carson and Coil law firm, noted that redefining embryos as life under law could have disastrous unforeseen consequences for the IVF industry.

Read more here.

 

March 31, 2016 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Fertility Treatment May Not Work As Well For Women With Asthma

From Fox News Health:

Women with asthma who are undergoing fertility treatment may take much longer to conceive than peers without the respiratory disorder, a small Danish study suggests.

Researchers followed 245 women with unexplained infertility who sought treatment to help them conceive. With asthma, half of them took at least 4.6 years to conceive, compared to about 2.7 years without asthma.

Several studies have linked asthma to reproduction-related problems in women, the study team writes in European Respiratory Journal, though the connection is poorly understood.

"Despite subfertility often being seen clinically in asthmatic women, a causal relationship between asthma and subfertility has never been established," lead study author Dr. Elisabeth Juul Gade of Bispebjerg University Hospital in Copenhagen told Reuters Health.

"We showed that asthma has a negative influence on fertility as it increases time to pregnancy and possibly reduces birth rate, especially above 35 years of age," Gade said by email.

While the study doesn't prove asthma causes infertility, the findings suggest that women with asthma should take steps to manage symptoms before trying to conceive and also consider starting their families at a younger age when they may not have as much difficulty getting pregnant, Gade said.

To explore the link between asthma and infertility, Gade and colleagues followed women between ages 23 and 45 who had difficulties getting pregnant, including 96 women with asthma and 149 women without the condition.

 

Read more here.

March 12, 2016 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Why More Americans Don't Get IVF Treatments

From Forbes:

Back when I worked as a reproductive endocrinologist (“RE,” “IVF doc”) I filled my days with the (literally) microscopic observations, decisions and details of helping my patients have healthy babies. I spent much less time thinking about the IVF industry as a whole, its business direction, whether or not it was as a whole run efficiently. We saw patients seven days a week, started ultrasound scans at 6AM and kind of assumed that we and our colleagues were effective stewards of our little corner of the healthcare world.

12 years and one career later, I spend all of my time studying industries, identifying inefficiencies and passing judgment on solutions, investing in those that make sense (and sometimes investing on the likelihood of failure of those that don’t.) And as much as I still respect and admire the work of the RE’s, nurses, scientists and embryologists that do IVF now, I think that the big picture can be–and should be–better.

Let’s start with some basic data. Number of U.S. infertility patients: over 7 million. Number of IVF transfers in a year: less than 200,000.

That’s one in 35 infertility patients.

Not every patient with infertility needs IVF, but to this ex-RE, one in 35 seems way too low. It amounts to approximately one IVF cycle for every 1,800 people in the United States.

To compare, look outside the U.S. Other countries do a lot more. The U.K. does one cycle for every 1,000 people. Spain does one cycle for every 700 people, Japan about one in 500, Australia about one in 400, Israel one in 200, about nine times what we do per capita.

What’s behind these huge differences? Most likely a combination of factors: cultural attitudes towards family size and at what age to start a family, population genetics, variations country to country in healthcare spending. Is there a much higher prevalence of infertility in every country outside the U.S.? Birth rates are declining in most parts of the world, but little evidence exists that any one medically based variable separates the United States’ prevalence from the rest of the world.

Read more here.

March 1, 2016 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

"Egg-Timer" Row Over Fertility Tests in Australia

From Yahoo News:

WA doctors are being swamped by women aged in their 30s wanting “egg-timer” fertility tests that could be doing more harm than good.

Experts warn the popular blood tests are unreliable, with one woman distraught after the results suggested she was going through menopause, only to later find out she was actually pregnant.

Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on tests, women are being advised to track their own cycle with a $10 smart phone app and a thermometer.

The Anti-Mullerian hormone or egg-timer test has been used in Australia for more than a decade by women wanting to check how many eggs they have left.

But a recent study of almost 500 women aged 20 to 44, published in the Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics, found the original AMH test underestimated fertility by 68 per cent.

While the accuracy of the test was improved in 2013 after a spate of false low readings, experts say women should still be wary, and the tests often led to unnecessary referrals to specialists.

University of WA professor of reproductive medicine Roger Hart said that every time he gave a talk to GPs they complained about being harassed by women wanting to be tested.

Read more here.

January 5, 2016 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 13, 2015

12 Sterile Men Father Babies Through Spermatid Injection

From Daily Mail:

Twelve men considered sterile by their doctors have had babies, thanks to a breakthrough by scientists.

The ‘remarkable’ work brings could allow hundreds of British men a year to fulfill their dream of fatherhood, despite not making any sperm themselves.  The hope surrounds a technique called round spermatid injection.

It involves injecting a very immature sperm directly into a woman’s egg and is designed to help men in which sperm production stops half-way through, when the cells are still round and before they take on their distinctive tadpole shape.

It first caught doctors’ interest in the 1990s and a handful of babies were born worldwide, including one in the UK.  However, it was quickly banned here due to concerns that such early-stage sperm may be genetically abnormal.

Success rates were also low and the technique was abandoned worldwide.

In the latest study, Japanese scientists refined the method and used it to allow 12 infertile men father 14 babies between them.

All of the boys and girls were deemed to be healthy and free of physical, mental or genetic problems.

Read more here.

November 13, 2015 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 30, 2015

Intel Expands Fertility and Adoption Benefits to Entice Female Employees

From TODAY.com:

Intel announced this week that it planned to quadruple fertility benefits and triple adoption benefits for its employees, upping the ante for large tech firms that are trying to woo female workers by offering greater than average healthcare coverage.

Because one in eight women nationally struggle with fertility, Intel said boosting benefits for people struggling in that area is just good for business.

"This initiative is basically trying to help our employees at a time when any research says that it's very stressful, specifically, people trying to start a family," said Richard Taylor, Intel's director of human resources.

Women account for a little more than 24 percent of Intel's workforce, and the company hopes that figure will grow.

"What we wanted to do was to keep the talent we've got, and also help to attract even more talent," Taylor said.

Intel announced in a blog post Monday that beginning in 2016, it would boost its fertility benefit coverage from $10,000 to $40,000 for medical services. It also would increase related prescription services from $5,000 to $20,000.

In addition, employees no longer need a medical diagnosis for fertility coverage, which will help some same-sex couples. Intel also said it will triple adoption assistance to $15,000 per child.

Read more here.

October 30, 2015 in Adoption, Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 29, 2015

South Australia Fertility Clinics Struggling to Keep Up With Increasing Demand for Donor Sperm

From ABC Online:

Fertility clinics in South Australia say they are struggling to keep up with an increasing demand for donor sperm.

They said rising infertility rates along with a greater number of same-sex couples and single women requesting treatments have contributed to the shortage in donated sperm supplies.

Repromed Fertility Specialists general manager Dr Hamish Hamilton said more sperm donors are needed, but numbers had been steadily declining over the past decade.

"Back in the 80s and 90s sperm donors could donate anonymously and the screening processes weren't as tight as they are now," he said.

Under legislation, those conceived through a donor are entitled to know the identity of their biological parents.

"Every sperm donor now has to agree to be contacted in 18 years time when the child reaches 18 years of age," he said.

"So that rigour around the recruitment of donor sperms means there are less donors willing to donate."

Dr Hamilton said the increase in demand at Repromed could also be attributed to a greater number of women looking to start a family later in life.

Read more here.

October 29, 2015 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Ovarian Tissue Transplants Help Women Have Children After Cancer, Study Shows

From TIME:

An experimental procedure in which women who survive cancer receive transplants of their own ovarian tissue has helped some women have babies, a new study shows. The study is the largest to be done on this procedure so far.

The Denmark study, published in the journal Human Reproduction, focused on women who had one ovary removed and frozen when they found out that they had cancer. After receiving treatment and recovering from cancer, doctors transplanted the preserved ovarian tissue onto the women’s remaining ovary, the Associated Press reports.

The study looked at 41 women with cancer who had the procedure between 2003 and 2014. The results showed that among the 32 women who wanted to get pregnant, 10 did conceive and gave birth. The findings suggest the procedure could help 1 in 3 women successfully have a baby.

According to the AP, over 36 babies have been born after ovarian transplants including 14 in Denmark.

Read more here.

October 15, 2015 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Rise of 'Virgin' Moms as More Single Women Pursue IVF

From ABC News:

A U.K. clinic is drawing attention to the rise of single women using in-vitro fertilization, with some pursuing motherhood even before they've had a romantic relationship.

Dr. Maha Ragunath, medical director for the Care Fertility Clinic, told ABC News she's seeing more and more single women pursue IVF treatment without a partner since they are no longer willing to put being a parent on hold. She said in three cases, she's worked with women who have said they never had any kind of intimate relationship.

"They understand that female fertility is finite and it doesn't go on forever and ever," Ragunath said of women pursuing IVF without a partner. "It's doing themselves a favor."

Single women now make up 6 percent of Ragunath's clientele, double the percentage from two years ago, she said, noting that everyone pursuing IVF is vetted by the staff before the clinic agrees to go through with the procedure.

"The women that are treated had never been in a relationship ever and that was a personal choice," Ragunath said of the women who said they had not had a relationship prior to coming for IVF treatment. "One was a career woman and was too busy and I don't think they've given themselves the opportunity to explore their sexuality. They were well balanced and mentally prepared" for parenthood.

All three were preparing for motherhood with the support and help of their parents, Ragunath said.

When asked whether the phenomenon of "virgin" mothers was also being seen in the United States, the National Infertility Association, also known as RESOLVE, said in a statement to ABC News that "this is not a trend that we have seen or could speak to."

Read more here.

October 11, 2015 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 2, 2015

Preserving the Fertility of Young Chemo Patients

From WVXU:

Six year old Mylah Bryant has a blood disease (aplastic anemia) that required chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

Not only did doctors discuss making her well they asked her parents if they wanted to preserve tissue so she could reproduce years later without the damaging effects of chemotherapy.

It was a lot to think about, according to Mylah's dad Matthew, but because his daughter jokingly said "she wanted 1,000 children," he knew being a mother was important to her. This decision was on top of other decisions he and his wife needed to make.

“A lot of paperwork signing. You do the consents and somebody says-hey what do you think about taking out your daughter’s ovary? Um, ok, and so we kind of left it at that. There’s a lot of information, a lot of it is a blur.”

It was Children’s Fertility Navigator Olivia Frias who introduced the idea to the Bryants and explained the specifics. She sees about seven to ten new patients a week. She says, " Of course there’s so many emotions, a malignancy or maybe they have found some type of blood disorder that’s going to warrant them a BMT. (bone marrow transplant) But at the end of the day parents are very enlightened when they hear about this information and they are thankful about hearing about this.”

 Read more here.

October 2, 2015 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Scientists in France Claim Creation of In Vitro Human Sperm

From The Japan Times:

A French startup working with a top government lab said it has developed in vitro human sperm, claiming a breakthrough in infertility treatment sought for more than a decade.

Researchers with Kallistem had announced the discovery previously, but they and French government lab CNRS described how it works for the first time on Sept. 17 after taking out a patent on the process.

They have developed sperm from immature cells known as spermatogonial cells, which are present in all males, including pre-pubescent boys, and under normal conditions develop into sperm cells once puberty starts. The technology must now be clinically tested, a process that is particularly painstaking for any treatment involving reproduction.

Philippe Durand, the chief Kallistem researcher, said the genesis of the research was indications that male fertility was declining, which he said could be attributed to environmental factors.

Read more here.

October 1, 2015 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Sperm Donation: Inside a Deeply Emotive World of Powerful Incentives, Polarized Views, and Heated Debates

From The Independent:

Since 2006, UK guidelines suggest that a maximum of 10 families should use sperm from the same donor. But there have already been six cases where donor sperm created more than 10 families, and the British Fertility Society is keen to “revaluate” the limit anyway. Moreover, sperm is regularly imported from abroad (notably America and Denmark, the so-called sperm capital of the world), meaning that many donor-conceived children are still growing up with an absurd numbers of siblings.

“Even under current UK guidelines, if one donor produces four children per family, that’s still a potential of 40 offspring per donor,” says Julia Feast, research and development consultant at the children’s charity Coram, BAAF, who has a special interest in people’s right to access to information about their genetic origins.

Welcome to the world of sperm donation, where this is just one of many issues that stir up deep emotions, trigger polarized views, cause heated debates and lead to everything from heartfelt campaigning to downright foolish decision making. Powerful incentives are at stake here – women desperate to have babies, the fertility industry seeking big profits and many donor-conceived offspring claiming their basic human rights are being violated.

Read more here.

September 23, 2015 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 4, 2015

Australia Considering Allowing Sex-Selective Assisted Reproduction

From Genetic Literacy Project:

Australian guidelines for the ethical use of IVF allow selecting a child’s sex for medical reasons. But draft guidelines that are now open for public submissions raise the possibility of extending this and allowing the choice for social reasons.

The draft guidelines recognize that sex selection is a controversial practice; it’s banned in several states of the United States, in Europe, New Zealand and in parts of Asia. It acknowledges that it can reinforce gender stereotyping and that legalising the selection of a child’s sex could open up the way for choosing a range of other non-disease traits.

But it also recognizes the importance of respecting reproductive autonomy and choice, and that some parents travel abroad to access sex selection at overseas clinics.

To stimulate public discussion, the draft offers five case studies that involve issues around “family balancing”, selection to “replace” a dead child, reproductive tourism, parental autonomy, and “slippery-slope” claims.

These case studies provide examples of sex selection that suggest two arguments in its favour: first, that sex selection for family balancing is ethically more permissible than selection based on a strong gender preference. And second, that parents have the right to select their child’s sex based on respect for reproductive autonomy.

Read more here.

September 4, 2015 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Biological Clock Ticking? What You Need to Know About Freezing Your Eggs

From Washington Post:

When Apple and Facebook announced last year that they would cover elective egg freezing for their female workers, the companies sparked a lot of curiosity about this procedure. The ability to put motherhood on hold by preserving your eggs for future use seemed like an alluring way to ease the babymaking pressure for couples who are meeting and marrying later in life.

But a quick search into elective egg freezing reveals confusing and often conflicting information. For starters, the women going through this process are not all workaholics looking to delay motherhood because of their taxing schedules. In fact, in one survey conducted by researchers at New York University, 88 percent of women who froze their eggs cited the lack of a partner as one of their reasons for delayed childbearing.

Motivations aside, one 2010 study found that at least 50 percent of in vitro fertilization (IVF) clinics in the U.S. offered elective egg freezing. And since the label "experimental" was lifted from the procedure two years ago, that number has probably grown. That means you’re more likely now to find a place to freeze your eggs — but first you need to know the facts.

Read more here.

August 23, 2015 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

IVF, but not for Genetic Children

From the Los Angeles Times:

Dr. Ernest Zeringue was looking for a niche in the cutthroat industry of fertility treatments.

He seized on price, a huge obstacle for many patients, and in late 2010 began advertising a deal at his Davis, Calif., clinic unheard of anywhere else: Pregnancy for $9,800 or your money back.

That's about half the price for in vitro fertilization at many other clinics, which do not include money-back guarantees. Typically, insurance coverage is limited and patients pay again and again until they give birth — or give up.

...

Zeringue sharply cuts costs by creating a single batch of embryos from one egg donor and one sperm donor, then divvying it up among several patients. The clinic, not the customer, controls the embryos, typically making babies for three or four patients while paying just once for the donors and the laboratory work.

People buying this option from Zeringue must accept concessions: They have no genetic connection to their children, and those children will probably have full biological siblings born to other parents.

Read more here.

MR

Hat Tip: Naomi Cahn

November 21, 2012 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, October 19, 2012

New Alternative Reproduction Technique

From Science:

Want baby mice? Grab a petri dish. After producing normal mouse pups last year using sperm derived from stem cells, a Kyoto University team of researchers has now accomplished the same feat using eggs created the same way. The study may eventually lead to new ways of helping infertile couples conceive.

Read more here.

MR

Hat Tip: SH

October 19, 2012 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

On Reproductive Technology

From the DC Bar:

Although the procedures can be expensive, an increasing number of couples and individuals are undergoing treatment for fertility assistance. ART includes fertility treatments in which both a woman’s egg and a man’s sperm are handled. More than 1 percent of all infants born in the United States each year are conceived using ART, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a process by which an egg is fertilized by sperm in a petri dish. Once an embryo has been created, it is then transferred—inserted inside a woman’s uterus—for possible implantation. IVF also can be used with an egg donation, where the woman providing the egg does not gestate the embryo. Sometimes potential parents, also known as intended parents, use surrogates to carry the embryos to term.

“The concept of parenthood is changing these days,” says Naomi Cahn, the John Theodore Fey Research Professor of Law at The George Washington University (GW) where she specializes in family law and reproductive technology. “One major problem is the concept of an embryo comes with political implications.”

Read more here.

MR

August 23, 2012 in Alternative Reproduction, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Indians Turning to Surrogacy Too?

Are Indians turning to surrogacy themselves after becoming an international fertility tourist destination?  From IBNLive:

New Delhi: Aamir Khan and Kiran Rao are among the first celebrities to talk about it openly, but how many Indians are turning to surrogacy? Or even know about the possibilities of IVF? It's a pressing issue given that 30 million couples in India struggle with infertility.

...

At this point, India doesn't have a law governing IVF or surrogacy but there is a draft bill in the works that aims to protect the rights of surrogates, and regulate the assisted reproduction industry in India estimated to be worth more than Rs 25,000 crore. That's even as a debate is raging worldwide.

Read more here.

MR

January 11, 2012 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)