Family Law Prof Blog

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

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)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

South Dakota Surrogacy Legislation Fails

From the Associated Press:

A measure that would have outlawed surrogacy birth arrangements in South Dakota was defeated Monday by a state House panel.  The Judiciary Committee voted 9-3 to reject the measure after even its main sponsor said the issue needs more study before state law is changed.

Hunt said Monday's hearing demonstrated that South Dakota must eventually adopt laws to regulate surrogacy, particularly cases involving commercial arrangements that pay a lot of money to women who carry other people's babies.

"It's coming. This is going to be a big business. We're going to have to deal with the situation where it's for money," Hunt said.

The bill would have made any surrogacy arrangement or contract unenforceable. It would have kept parental rights with the woman who gives birth to a child, even if she was not the genetic mother.

People involved in such surrogacy agreements could have faced civil penalties and criminal charges.

However, Tom Barnett, director of the South Dakota State Bar, said the measure would likely have prevented all surrogacy births. He said the State Bar, doctors and others could work on a model law that would regulate surrogacy arrangements but not prevent them.

"Surrogacy arrangements are a legitimate method for a loving couple to have their own child. What can be wrong with that?" Barnett said.

Harold Cassid,y of Shrewsbury, N.J., a lawyer who has worked on surrogacy disputes, said surrogate mothers often develop deep ties with a fetus. Surrogacy contracts determine child custody without any consideration of a child's best interests, he said.

Brokers are now inducing women to be surrogate mothers in exchange for money, Cassidy said.

"It calls for a breeding class of women who are to be discarded," Cassidy said.

Read more here.


February 16, 2011 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

CA Fertility Ruling

From the Globe and Mail:

A long-awaited Supreme Court ruling that takes the business of regulating the clinical world of baby-making out of Ottawa’s hands has raised questions about the future of fertility treatments in Canada, and fears that the black market for human eggs and sperm will continue to thrive.

Judges found the power to regulate and license doctors and clinics offering fertility treatments belongs to the provinces, as an area involving the practice of medicine. But the ruling, released Wednesday, upholds other elements of the federal Assisted Human Reproduction Act, including those governing the use of human embryos in stem cell research.

Read more here.



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

Friday, January 21, 2011

Triplets Born Eleven Years Apart

From ABC News:

Ryleigh Shepherd was conceived in 1998, the same year as her 11-year-old twin sisters, but she wasn't born until 2010.

The three girls from Walsall, in Great Britain, who were born more than a decade apart in two different centuries, are actually fraternal triplets born through in vitro fertilization (IVF).

Ryleigh came from the same batch of embryos that had allowed her parents -- Lisa and Adrian Shepherd -- to give birth to twins Megan and Bethany.

British experts say they know of no other case in their country in which three siblings from the same round of fertility treatment have been born with such an age gap.

The longest interval between freezing and conception was in the case of a woman from New York City whose embryo had been stored for 20 years, according to a report in the journal Fertility and Sterility.

"It seemed strange to think that we were using embryos that we had stored all those years ago, that were conceived at the same time as the girls," Lisa Shepherd, 37, told Britain's Daily Mail newspaper.

"We knew that if we had another baby it would in effect be the girls' triplet as they were all conceived at the same time," she said. The girls look exactly alike, according to their mother. "It was uncanny."

How long embryos can be frozen and still viable is still not known, but American fertility experts say they have great confidence in the success of new reproductive techniques.

"It's incredibly common for people to go back and second and third time," said Barbara Collura, executive director of RESOLVE, the National Infertility Association. "There have been recorded cases of kids born far longer apart. This doesn't tip the scales."

Fertility experts estimate that about 400,000 embryos are currently in frozen storage in the U.S., and a more comprehensive survey will be underway in the spring.

Read the full article here.


January 21, 2011 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Global Baby

From the Wall Street Journal on international baby creation markets:

In a hospital room on the Greek island of Crete with views of a sapphire sea lapping at ancient fortress walls, a Bulgarian woman plans to deliver a baby whose biological mother is an anonymous European egg donor, whose father is Italian, and whose birth is being orchestrated from Los Angeles.

She won't be keeping the child. The parents-to-be—an infertile Italian woman and her husband (who provided the sperm)—will take custody of the baby this summer, on the day of birth.

The birth mother is Katia Antonova, a surrogate. She emigrated to Greece from Bulgaria and is a waitress with a husband and three children of her own. She will use the money from her surrogacy to send at least one of her own children to university.

The man bringing together this disparate group is Rudy Rupak, chief executive of LLC, a California company that searches the globe to find the components for its business line. The business, in this case, is creating babies.

Mr. Rupak is a pioneer in a controversial field at the crossroads of reproductive technology and international adoption. Prospective parents put off by the rigor of traditional adoptions are bypassing that system by producing babies of their own—often using an egg donor from one country, a sperm donor from another, and a surrogate who will deliver in a third country to make what some industry participants call "a world baby."

They turn to PlanetHospital and a handful of other companies. "We take care of all aspects of the process, like a concierge service," says Mr. Rupak, a 41-year-old Canadian.

For years couples have turned to sperm donors, egg donors or surrogate mothers to help them become parents. Now the process is being taken to a level that is stretching legal and ethical boundaries. WSJ's Linda Blake reports from India.

Clients tend to be people who want children but can't do it themselves: families suffering from infertility; gay male couples. They may also have trouble adopting because of age or other obstacles.

And they're price sensitive. PlanetHospital's services run from $32,000 to around $68,000, versus up to $200,000 for a U.S. surrogate.

Overseas surrogacy has other advantages. Surrogates in some poorer countries have little or no legal right to the baby. In Greece, a surrogate can be prosecuted for trying to keep a child. By contrast, some U.S. surrogates have tried to legally claim the children they've carried.

The process can bring profound dilemmas. In some cases, clinics end up creating more fetuses than a couple needs, forcing a decision over whether to abort one or more pregnancies. Babies carried to term occasionally find themselves temporarily unable to get a passport.

Mr. Rupak is learning to navigate the uncharted nature of his field—the stateless babies, the ethical complexities. His expansion to Greece, a European Union member nation, is specifically intended to lessen the likelihood of the passport problem for European parents-to-be.

Some of his own clients have faced the abortion decision, Mr. Rupak says. "Sometimes they find the money" to pay for more children than they expected, he says. After all, they went to such lengths. And if they decide otherwise, Mr. Rupak says, "We don't judge."

Critics say the business is strewn with pitfalls. "The potential for abuse on many levels is big," says Arthur Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, discussing the industry in general terms. "You're straddling all these [international] boundaries to buy the ingredients and the equipment." Mr. Caplan calls it the "wild, wild west of medicine."

Laws are vague and can conflict from country to country. In 2008, baby Manji was born to an Indian surrogate just weeks after the divorce of her Japanese parents-to-be. (The family wasn't a PlanetHospital client.) According to a Duke University case study in legal ethics, it led to a tangle of Indian and Japanese law that first prevented the little girl from being issued a birth certificate, and later made it difficult for her father bring her home to Japan. Months went by. To fix the problem, Japan issued a special humanitarian visa.

"This area of law is very unsettled," says Evgenia Terehova, PlanetHospital's lawyer. "There can be all sorts of unforeseen circumstances."

Read the full article here.


December 30, 2010 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Octegenarian Dads?

From Reuters:

While age is key in a woman's odds of conceiving, whether naturally or via assisted reproduction, there is no consistent evidence that a man's age affects the chances of success with infertility treatment, a new research review finds.

In an analysis of 10 studies mostly conducted in the past decade, Israeli researchers found that most of the studies showed no clear relationship between men's age and couples' odds of success with in-vitro fertilization (IVF) or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).

Both IVF and ICSI involve joining a woman's egg and a man's sperm in a lab dish, then—if fertilization is successful— transferring one or more embryos to the woman's uterus. ICSI is typically used for male fertility problems, including a low sperm count or poor sperm quality. It involves isolating a single sperm and injecting it directly into the egg.

It's known that women's fertility declines after age 35, and drops sharply after about age 40. And the odds of having a baby through assisted reproduction show a similar decrease.

Men are capable of fathering a child even into their golden years. However, studies have indicated that they do have a biological clock of sorts. Sperm quality, research suggests, may decline after age 40, and so too may the chances of having a baby; one study, for example, found that when the man was older than 40, a couple's risk of miscarriage was higher compared with couples in which the man was younger.

However, only a handful of studies have looked at the relationship between men's age and fertility-treatment outcomes.
For the new review, reported in the journal Fertility and Sterility, Dr. Lena Dain and colleagues at Carmel Medical Center in Haifa, Israel, pulled together 10 international studies that have looked at the question. Each involved anywhere from about 200 to 2,000 couples who underwent fertility treatment.

Overall, the researchers found, most of the studies failed to find an association between men's age and sperm quality, the odds of couples' conceiving or the chances of ultimately having a baby.

Read more here.


December 3, 2010 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

20-Year-Old Frozen Embryo Yields Baby

From My Fox New York:

NewsCore - A healthy baby boy was born from an embryo frozen for almost 20 years in what was hailed Sunday as scientific breakthrough that could allow women to start families much later in life.

The infant's mother, who is 42, underwent infertility treatment for 10 years before she was given the embryo last year. She gave birth to a baby boy in May this year.

News of the birth, reported in the medical journal Fertility and Sterility, comes as British lawmakers extend the period that embryos can be stored for up to 55 years.

The baby boy was born from a batch of five embryos frozen in 1990 in the U.S. by a couple who no longer needed them after they conceived their own child through IVF treatment.

Read more here.


November 18, 2010 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Fertility Saving Procedure Performed on Youngest Ever Toddler

The New York Post reports on the youngest child ever to have a fertility saving procedure performed in the wake of a serious illness:

Thanks to a new miracle surgery, the hope that little Violet Lee can one day have children won't be killed by chemotherapy.

The plucky, 2-year-old Brooklyn girl is set to become the youngest person ever to undergo a fertility procedure when a New York doctor removes one of her ovaries Tuesday and freezes it while she undergoes treatment for a serious immune disease.

The tiny organ will be put on ice for 20 years or more, ready for re-implantation if and when a grown-up Violet decides to have kids of her own.

"It was important that I found a way to allow her to have children," her mom, Tikesha Lee, 32, told The Post.

Violet is set to begin chemo Wednesday, to help her with a bone-marrow transplant she must undergo because of her immune-system troubles.

Both chemo and radiation therapies can render patients sterile.

"It was hard enough to find out your baby needs to go through chemotherapy, but to hear your daughter will be sterile after the treatment -- that one thing gets healed, but another destroyed -- I felt someone punched me in the stomach," her mom said.

The day before the chemo, little Violet will head to Westchester to visit Dr. Kutluk Oktay, who will perform the experimental "fertility preservation" procedure.

The doctor has already performed the surgery on some 40 girls under the age of 18. The previous youngest was 3 years old.

Ovary transplants have already worked in adults. Of the few dozen women who have had the procedure, which Oktay pioneered in 1999, about one-third have had children, he said.

But adult patients are only separated from their ovaries for a couple of years -- not decades, like Oktay's kid patients.

"This is experimental -- down the road, they may or may not get any benefit," Oktay said.

Read more here.


July 22, 2010 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

IVF Raises Risk of Cerebral Palsy

Findings from a new study on IVF and cerebral palsy:  

A new study confirms that children conceived via infertility treatment may have a higher-than-average risk of cerebral palsy -- explained largely by their higher rates of multiple births and preterm delivery.

The study, of nearly 590,000 children born in Denmark between 1995 and 2003, found that those conceived through assisted reproduction were about twice as likely to be diagnosed with cerebral palsy as children who were conceived naturally.

The findings, reported in the journal Human Reproduction, confirm those from a number of past studies. They also suggest that the increased risk of cerebral palsy can be largely attributed to the heightened odds of twin or higher-order births, as well as preterm delivery, with assisted reproduction.

However, the absolute risk of having a baby with cerebral palsy is still quite low for couples undergoing infertility treatment.

Read more here.


July 8, 2010 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Changes in Indian Law to Make Outsourcing Pregnancy More Difficult

From the New York Daily News:

Foreign tourists visit India by the hundreds each year to hire surrogate moms to carry their babies for them.

It's a bargain for the would-be parents, costing them around $23,000, or about one fifth of the going rate here in the U.S., according to Time. The surrogate mom typically gets about $7,500 – paid in installments.

Now, though, the booming rent-a-womb industry in India, which has become the international capital of outsourced pregnancies, will soon be subject to new restrictions that will make it harder for foreigners to hire a surrogate.

Under consideration now is a government bill banning IVF clinics from arranging surrogacy transactions, and calling for the establishment of an "ART bank" that would locate surrogate moms and reproductive donors. Only on the operating table would the fertility clinic have contact with the surrogate.

While some in the medical community may not like the new legislation, it may mean a better life for India's surrogate moms, who could have more freedom in negotiating their fees and getting health insurance from the couple or single who has hired them to carry a baby. The new law would only permit a woman to be a surrogate up to five times and would set a 35-year age limit. This is to ensure that Indian women desperate to be surrogates can't put themselves at risk.

Read the full article here.


June 17, 2010 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Surrogate Motivations - Money or Mitzvah?

Interesting piece in the Jewish Exponent on what motivates women to become surrogates:

What motivates a surrogate mother to carry a baby that is not genetically related to her through nine months of pregnancy, only to give the child up just moments after it's born?

Elly Teman, an Israeli anthropologist at the University of Pennsylvania, has been researching this question -- and other issues relating to surrogacy -- for the past decade. In her recently published Birthing a Mother: The Surrogate Body and the Pregnant Self, Teman explores the cultural assumptions about surrogacy, debunking some along the way, as well as misunderstandings that surround the controversial process.

"There is a common belief that surrogate mothers bond with the baby they carry, and later decide to keep it," she said in a recent interview. "The truth is that less than one-tenth of 1 percent of cases end up in court. Surrogates don't bond with the babies. They bond with the women -- the women they are making into mothers."

Teman's research focused on Israel, one of the few countries where surrogacy is legal and also tightly regulated. Unlike in the United States, where surrogacy is legal only in select states, close distances between the surrogate and the intended mother in Israel meant that the women were constantly interacting.

"In the U.S., the surrogate could be in Oregon and the intended parents could be in New York, so most of the communication is done through e-mail and the phone," she said. "But in Israel, the intended mother sees the surrogate's belly growing, and she goes with her to ultrasound appointments. The Israeli version is intensified because they see each other so often."

In Israel, some of the intended mothers even started to develop symptoms of pregnancy -- rashes, bloating, weight gain -- because they were so close to the women who were carrying their genetic child.

The costs of surrogacy are prohibitive for many couples in the United States, often running upwards of $100,000, which includes the cost of in-vitro fertilization. In Israel, where IVF is covered by the state, the cost is about half.

Surrogacy has been legal in Israel since 1996; the first baby born to a surrogate mother came two years later. The bill to legalize it passed through the Knesset in record time, and as a result, Israeli law is very strict in regulating the process.

Criteria for the surrogate, as well as the intended couple, are determined by a state committee.

And the committee is strict: a woman must be married to be eligible, and she needs to have gone though at least seven failed IVF attempts or have other medical problems to prove her infertility.

"Surrogates are doing it for the money and for the mitzvah," she said. "These two don't contradict each other, and they don't take away from each other. That's sometimes hard for people to digest.

"People think that if there's money involved, then it's a business transaction, and if there is no money, then it's a mitzvah. But the surrogate gives more than money can buy."

Read the full article here.


June 10, 2010 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, June 4, 2010

Religion & Fertility Treatments

The Wall Street Journal recently printed a fascinating editorial discussing Judaism and the children resulting from egg donation:

What does a Jewish child need most from a mother? Forget about the chicken soup—it's all about the eggs, say a growing number of prominent rabbis. Several recent rabbinic rulings on fertility treatment dictate that a child conceived in vitro is Jewish only if the egg came from a Jewish woman.

The issue is most pressing in Israel, in part because tight restrictions on egg donation have long compelled infertile women to procure eggs abroad, where most donors are not Jewish. But decisions in Israel favoring the genetic mother over the gestational one are also likely to increase the already high demand for Jewish eggs in the U.S., and could call into question the religious status of thousands of children born to Jewish women around the world.

Read more here.


June 4, 2010 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, May 21, 2010

What's Better than Sex?

According to a new study, IVF!

Having sex to conceive a child will become unnecessary within a decade, as in-vitro fertilization becomes more popular among 30-somethings, scientists predicted Monday.

Calling human natural reproduction "a fairly inefficient process," Australian veterinarian John Yovich told London's Daily Mail that sex will soon become just a recreational activity.

"Within the next five to 10 years, couples approaching 40 will assess the IVF industry first when they want to have a baby," said Yovich, a veterinary doctor from Murdoch University in Perth, Australia.

He said in-virto fertilization will advance to the point of having "a near 100% success rate."

Currently, about 15% to 20% of women ages 38 to 40 are able to conceive using IVF, according to the American Pregnancy Association. That figure drops to about 6% to 10% after age 40.

The predictions, which Yovich and Australian vet Gabor Vajta co-wrote with two other scientists, were published in the medical journal Reproductive BioMedicine.

Read more here.


May 21, 2010 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Embryo Adoption Dispute Between Two Married Couples

Two Missouri couples are battling over the fate of unimplanted embryos transferred by contract in 2009:

Edward and Kerry Lambert of Pleasanton filed suit this week in Alameda County Superior Court seeking to regain power over two frozen embryos they donated - or, as both religious families put it, gave up for adoption - to Patrick and Jennifer McLaughlin.

Jennifer McLaughlin also filed suit in Missouri to maintain legal custody of the embryos.

Kerry Lambert and Jennifer McLaughlin met in January 2009 via a Web site designed to facilitate embryo donation. The Lamberts had four embryos left over from an in-vitro fertilization procedure that had successfully given them a son in 2007.

All of their embryos were created in 2006 using the sperm of Edward Lambert, now 53, and the egg of an anonymous donor. The Lamberts considered their family complete, but didn't want to destroy the extra embryos or donate them to science.

Jennifer and Patrick McLaughlin, a 42-year-old attorney, had tried getting pregnant without success. They had already adopted five children, now ages 4 to 11, but wanted to expand their family.

Both families signed a contract in February 2009 granting custody of the embryos to the McLaughlins. The contract was a pro forma one previously drafted to satisfy the Catholic church's doctrine regarding the sanctity of life, according to Al Watkins, the attorney for Jennifer McLaughlin.

The contract is unusual in that it states that if the McLaughlins didn't implant the embryos within a year, the Lamberts could revoke the agreement. Watkins called the clause "a safety valve" so that if the embryos aren't used, the donors can find another solution.

The four embryos have always been stored at a fertility clinic in San Ramon, and McLaughlin flew to the Bay Area, where two of them were implanted on May 21, 2009. She gave birth to brown-haired, blue-eyed twin girls - Sarah Estelle and Anna Isabelle - on Jan. 8.

She said she delayed making a final decision about what would happen to the two remaining embryos.

The former first-grade teacher said she knew raising seven children would be incredibly demanding and wanted to see how she and her family coped before deciding whether to add two more to their brood. She has now decided she wants to try to give birth to the remaining embryos.

"I've always wanted to have a big family," she said. "Siblings should be kept together."

But she said she got e-mails from Kerry Lambert starting in December, saying she'd found another family to take the remaining embryos.

Last week, Jennifer McLaughlin received a phone call from the San Ramon fertility clinic saying the Lamberts intended to reclaim the embryos, prompting the filing of the lawsuits.

The Lamberts have refused to provide more details about why they want the embryos back. Jennifer McLaughlin, on the other hand, has hired a publicist and appeared on national television to discuss the case.

The San Ramon clinic has agreed to keep the embryos until the case is resolved in court. A hearing date in the Missouri case is set for Wednesday.

Read more here.


April 23, 2010 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Egg Donors and SAT Scores

A new report brings to light interesting data on parents' willingness to genetically trait select in the egg donation process.  

Would people shell out big bucks for offspring with preferred traits? Yes. They already do. The evidence comes from an analysis by Aaron Levine, a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, in the Hastings Center Report.  Levine documents what anecdotes have long suggested: Buyers of "donor" eggs offer more money to women who are likely to yield smarter kids.

Levine analyzed more than 100 ads placed in 63 college newspapers to recruit egg donors. Of these ads, 21 specified a minimum requisite SAT score. Half offered more than $5,000, and among this group, 27 percent specified an "appearance requirement." The bigger the money, the choosier the client: Above the $10,000 level, most ads "contained appearance or ethnicity requirements."

But the big story is SAT scores. "Holding all else equal, an increase of one hundred SAT points in the score of a typical incoming student increased the compensation offered to oocyte donors at that college or university by $2,350," Levine reports. When the ad was placed for a specific couple, the premium was higher: $3,130 per 100 SAT points. And when an egg donor agency placed the ad on behalf of the couple, the bonus per 100 points rose to $5,780.

Read more here.


April 4, 2010 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, March 5, 2010

First Ovarian Transplant to Produce Two Babies

A woman has given birth to two children after her fertility was restored using transplants of ovarian tissue, the first time the complex treatment has produced two babies from separate pregnancies.

Claus Yding Andersen, the Danish doctor who treated the woman, said the case showed how this method of storing ovarian tissue was a valid way of preserving fertility and should encourage the technique to be used more in girls and young women facing treatment that may damage their ovaries.

"This is the first time in the world that a woman has had two children from separate pregnancies as a result of transplanting frozen and thawed ovarian tissue," said Andersen, who reported the case in the Human Reproduction medical journal.

Andersen's patient, Danish woman Stinne Holm Bergholdt, had ovarian tissue removed and frozen during treatment for cancer, and then restored once she was cured.

She gave birth to a girl in February 2007 after receiving fertility treatment. She then conceived naturally and gave birth to another girl in September 2008.

Nine children have been born worldwide as a result of transplanting frozen and thawed ovarian tissue.

Read the full story here.


March 5, 2010 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, February 26, 2010

Mother Seeks Surrogate to Give Birth to Child Created From Dead Son's Sperm

A Texas mother is seeking an egg donor and/or surrogate to give birth to a baby using the sperm of her son, whose sperm was extracted after he died from a gunshot wound last year.

But now his mother is hoping for a legacy -- a grandchild culled from her son's sperm after his death on April 5, 2009. She has heard from hundreds of women who have offered to be egg donors or surrogate mothers for her future grandchild.
Advances in the fertility industry have allowed wives, fiances, girlfriends and even parents to seek post-mortem sperm retrieval when a man dies unexpectedly.

The first report of post-mortem sperm retrieval was in 1980 involving the case of a 30-year-old man who became brain dead after a car accident, according the journal "Human Reproduction."

A birth was first reported in 1999, but since then more than 1,000 such requests are made each year. Most do not result in pregnancy attempts.

"Often parents change their minds," said Dr. Daniel Williams, assistant professor of urology at University of Wisconsin-Madison.

In post-mortem sperm retrieval, sperm is surgically removed from the testes, epididymus and vas deferens then preserved in nitrogen vapor.

Frozen, it can be kept indefinitely, with "no obvious risk to offspring," according to Williams.

The science is easy, say medical experts, but the ethics are not so clear.

"It's an area that is steeped in ethical issues, emotional issues and financial issues," he told "These issues can become very challenging because there are no guidelines or laws or rules on how to handle the requests. Often they are handled on a case-by-case basis."

Many doctors suggest that parents like Evans, who are still grieving for a lost child, should have a "quarantine period" as they heal to consider all the ramifications of having a baby from sperm retrieval, including the welfare of the unborn child.

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February 26, 2010 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Approval of Altruistic Surrogacy throughout Australia

Queensland Parliament [on February 11, 2010] decriminalised altruistic surrogacy - whereby another woman has a baby for no payment - bringing the state into line with the rest of Australia.

The law extends to same-sex couples after Opposition attempts to have them excluded failed.

Under the reforms, legal parentage of a child born in an altruistic surrogacy arrangement will transfer from the birth mother to the parent or parents who commissioned the birth.

Queensland Law Society says although commercial payment for such an arrangement is illegal it would be difficult to prevent under-the-table payments or gifts to the surrogate mother.

"Clearly that sort of thing would be difficult to monitor," Queensland Law Society president Peter Eardley said.

Read more here.


February 21, 2010 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)