Family Law Prof Blog

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

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.


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.


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.


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.


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

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Fertility Laws Unclear in Canada

From CBC News:

A lack of government regulation overseeing reproductive technology is failing to protect prospective parents and their would-be kids, lawyers and infertility support groups claim — one year after a landmark Federal Court ruling on the private industry.

Uncertainty about rules on matters such as the collection of donor information, the number of embryos that can be implanted, and compensation for donors and surrogates were expected to be settled following the December 2010 Supreme Court of Canada decision.

But little about the fertility laws has been made clear since then, said Diane Allen, who used assisted reproductive technology 27 years ago to conceive her son, Chris.

Read more here.


January 5, 2012 in Alternative Reproduction, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Octomom in Land of One-Child Policy?

A story that might be a hoax and is under investigation, from USA Today:

BEIJING – The photo was undeniably cute: a studio portrait of eight babies in identical onesies and perky white cotton hats, sporting an array of expressions from giggly to goofy, baffled to bawling.

Intended as an advertisement for the studio, the photo grabbed a different kind of attention: In a country that limits most couples to one child, many Chinese were amazed to learn that a couple had spent nearly a million yuan ($160,000) and illegally enlisted two surrogate mothers to help have the four boys and four girls.

The incident has highlighted both the use of birth surrogates, a violation of Chinese law, and how wealthy Chinese do as they please, with scant regard for the rules that constrain others. The most common reaction, though, has been simple disbelief.

Read more here.


December 31, 2011 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, November 14, 2011


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

On the Need for the Regulation of Fertility Market


"Oct. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Naomi Cahn, law professor at George Washington University Law School and author of "Test Tube Families: Why the Fertility Market Needs Legal Regulation," and Bloomberg Law's Jason Brocks talk about federal and state regulation of sperm donations and the welfare of donor-conceived children.  They speak with Spencer Mazyck on a Bloomberg Law podcast."


October 19, 2011 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, September 30, 2011

First Generation of Sperm Donor-Conceived Children

From the Washington Post:

LaBounty is part of the first documented generation of donor-conceived children: those born in the late 1970s to mid-1980s, when sperm banks began to spread in the United States. These children are now adults, and caring for them has prompted a host of unanticipated issues, ranging from a lack of medical histories to the psychological impact of knowing the circumstances of their conception. Many donor-conceived children are finding out, often only by chance, that they are predisposed to certain illnesses. In one recent case in the news, a donor-conceived teen learned that his biological father, who provided sperm for at least 24 children, carried a genetic disorder that causes a potentially fatal heart defect.


In July, a law went into effect in Washington state giving adults the right to medical and identifying information about their sperm donor. Although the law gives donors the option of vetoing disclosure of their identities, it guarantees that offspring will be able to access their medical histories in every case.

“It’s really landmark legislation,” said Naomi Cahn, a family law professor at George Washington University, though there are still questions about how it will be implemented. For example, sperm is often shipped across state lines. “In the absence of federal law,” Cahn notes, “it’s unclear what the rights are of any individual in each state.”

Read more here.


September 30, 2011 in Alternative Reproduction, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Study of Donor-Conceived People

Wendy Kramer and Professor Naomi Cahn recently published an interesting article in BioNews:

The largest study to date of donor-conceived people has just been published in Human Reproduction (1). Its findings show the need to address two different effects of anonymous donating: first, when should children find out that their parents used donor sperm or eggs; and second, should children ever find out the identity of their donors? The researchers, from California State University and the Donor Sibling Registry, provide definitive answers to these questions. The majority of the 751 respondents believed that early disclosure was important. Three quarters recommended that only 'known' or 'willing to be known' donors should be used.

Today, disclosure turns on the type of family. Study participants who grew up in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) or single-parent households were more likely to learn of their origins at an earlier age than those of heterosexual couples. They, in turn, had a healthier or more positive view of their means of conception. The study also found that children in LGBT households are more comfortable expressing curiosity about the donor than those of heterosexual parents, and that they are significantly more likely to express this interest at a younger age. For example, twice as many LGBT offspring expressed an interest in their donor by the age of 11.

Read more here.


August 10, 2011 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Redefining the Family

Interesting New York Times piece about the cohabitation of a mother, her child, the child's sperm donor, and his domestic partner:

The setup is complicated. Griffin’s mother, Carol Einhorn, a fund-raiser for a nonprofit group, is 48 and single. She conceived through in vitro fertilization with sperm from Mr. (George) Russell, 49, a chiropractor and close friend. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday nights, Mr. Russell stays in the spare room of Ms. Einhorn’s apartment. The other three days he lives on President Street with his domestic partner, David Nimmons, 54, an administrator at a nonprofit. Most Sundays, they all have dinner together.

“It’s not like Heather has two mommies,” Mr. Russell said. “It’s George has two families.”

Two addresses, three adults, a winsome toddler and a mixed-breed dog officially named Buck the Dog. None of this was the familial configuration any of them had imagined, but it was, for the moment, their family. It was something they had stumbled into, yet had a certain revisionist logic.

Such is the hiccupping fluidity of the family in the modern world. Six years running now, according to census data, more households consist of the unmarried than the married. More people seem to be deciding that the contours of the traditional nuclear family do not work for them, spawning a profusion of cobbled-together networks in need of nomenclature. Unrelated parents living together, sharing chores and child-rearing. Friends who occupy separate homes but rely on each other for holidays, health care proxies, financial support.

“Some of the strictures that were used to organize society don’t fit human change and growth,” said Ann Schranz, chairwoman of the Alternatives to Marriage Project, a 10-year-old organization. “What matters to us is the health of relationships, not the form of relationships.”

And so here on Plaza Street, four people are testing the fuzzy boundaries of an age-old institution, knowing there is no single answer to what defines family or what defines love.

Griffin, now almost 3, calls Mr. Russell “Uncle George” and Mr. Nimmons “Dave.” At some point, Ms. Einhorn intends to tell her son the truth. Mr. Russell worries about that moment. He never wanted to be a parent; he saw the sperm donation as a favor to a friend. He did not attend the birth or Griffin’s first birthday party. His four sisters were trying to figure out whether they were aunts.

Read more here.


June 20, 2011 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Appleton & Pollak: "Exploring the Connections between Adoption and IVF: Twibling Analyses"

Susan Appleton (Wash. Univ. School of Law St. Louis) & Robert Pollak (Wash. Univ. Saint Louis Buss. School) have posted "Exploring the Connections between Adoption and IVF: Twibling Analyses" (95 Minn. L. Rev. Headnotes 60 (2011)) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

This essay responds to Trading-Off Reproductive Technology and Adoption: Does Subsidizing IVF Decrease Adoption Rates and Should It Matter?, in which I. Glenn Cohen and Daniel L. Chen analyze what they describe as an arm-chair principle called “the substitution theory”–the claim that facilitating treatment for infertility, including subsidizing in vitro fertilization (IVF), decreases adoptions. Cohen and Chen venture well beyond the arm chair, closely interrogating the substitution theory both normatively and empirically and concluding, contrary to the substitution theory, that IVF subsidies do not decrease and might actually increase adoptions.

Returning to the arm chair, this Response offers two different perspectives. First, we use a family law lens to focus on important elements of Cohen and Chen’s analysis, both explicit and implicit, including adoption, IVF, genetic connections, reproductive autonomy, and gender. We show how these elements are shaped by the authors’ assumptions, prevailing legal principles, and our culture more generally. Next, we use an economic lens to reveal how mandated subsidies for IVF produce varied conduct, depending on the preferences and resources of those who would consider adoption and IVF. Approaching Cohen and Chen’s analysis from these two different vantage points demonstrates that arm-chair theorizing, properly done, can illuminate the relationship between IVF and adoption.


May 15, 2011 in Adoption, Alternative Reproduction, Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Fertility Vacation in Barbados, Anyone?

From USA Today:

In this latest twist on the growing trend of going overseas for cosmetic surgery, dentistry and other medical treatment, the Caribbean island's Barbados Fertility Centre, located in what the tourist board describes as "a plantation-style facility" in Christ Church, offers treatments for $400-$8,500 . IVF -- in which an egg is fertilized outside the body and then placed in a woman's uterus -- starts at about $6,000, not including medications, which can add a couple of thousand dollars. But that's cheaper than the $10,000 and up typical in the USA. Fertility packages, including air, lodging and certain treatments are available.

Read more here.


May 2, 2011 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)