Family Law Prof Blog

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

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Artificial Sperm?

"Thousands of infertile men might benefit from a world first in which scientists artificially created sperm in a test tube. The scientist in charge of the project said it was possible some forms of male infertility could be treatable within five years. In some infertile men, all the right apparatus exists to make sperm but they do not do so, suggesting an "environmental" rather than genetic problem." By Ian Johnston, Link to Article (last visited 7-10-06 NVS)

July 11, 2006 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Israel’s Chief Rabbi Allows Impoverished Woman to Use Surrogate to Carry Her Child

In what is described as a “pioneering ruling,” Israel's Chief Rabbi has allowed a poor woman that went through five abortions to use a married surrogate to carry her child. The current Jewish and Israeli laws do not permit married women to serve as surrogates, and the decision is viewed as representing a breakthrough. The 1966 Surrogates Law says that only unmarried women can serve as surrogates.  Source. Haim Levinson, Jewish Scene, For the complete story, please click here (last visited June 11, 2006, reo).

June 11, 2006 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, June 8, 2006

Cloning Human Embryos

"Scientists at Harvard and Children's Hospital Boston announced Tuesday they have the green light to clone human embryos that could generate stem cell lines for specific diseases. The researchers join a small cadre of scientists worldwide attempting to do what a South Korean scientist claimed to have done, only to have his work unravel when it was exposed as a fraud. "We are convinced that work with embryonic stem cells holds enormous promise," Harvard's Steven Hyman said. Embryonic stem cells are the precursor cells to almost every tissue in the body; growing them could provide replacement tissues for diseases such as diabetes and cancer. In theory, the body would not reject the tissues from cloned embryos. Cloning requires inserting a cell from a patient into an egg and chemically triggering division of their union. So far, only a team at the U.K.'s University of Newcastle Upon Tyne apparently has created a cloned human embryo." By Dan Vergano. USA Today, Yahoo News Link to Article (last visited 6-7-06 NVS)

June 8, 2006 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Bidding War for Women's Eggs Heats Up

News reports from Arizona indicate that a bidding war for women’s eggs has broken out in that state.  According to the reports, women can make thousands of dollars for giving up the microscopic cells to enable other women to get pregnant. It says that “proximity to California, described as a `madhouse’ of egg demand, only makes the market hotter.”  Arizona women are routinely being offered as much as $7,500 to $10,000 as egg donors and some may be paid as much as $24,000.  Source.  Jodie Snyder, Arizona Republic, For the compete story, please click here (last visited May 31, 2006, reo).

May 31, 2006 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 4, 2006

Children Concieved Via Assisted Reproduction Are Well-Adjusted

"Children born as a result of assisted reproduction technologies are generally well adjusted, survey results suggest. However, children who lack a genetic link to one of the parents -- by reason of donor insemination or egg donation -- are unlikely to be told of the circumstances of their birth. On the other hand, most children born by in vitro fertilization (IVF) using egg and sperm from their actual parents are told. Dr. Susan Golombok, from the University of Cambridge, UK and associates previously reported that when children were approximately 4-1/2 years old, egg donation was associated with greater parental psychological well-being compared with donor insemination, IVF and adoption -- and none of the children exhibited psychological problems." Reuters Health, Medlineplus Link to Article (last visited 5-3-06 NVS)

May 4, 2006 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 3, 2006

Survey Article: “Custody Disputes Involving Frozen Embryos are Increasing; Law Remains Unclear”

Readers of this Blog may find John Crawford’s survey of the issues surrounding frozen embryos and which party obtains custody of them when a couple divorce of interest. Source. John Crawford, The Times, To read the article by Mr. Crawford, please click here (last visited May 3, 2006, reo).

May 3, 2006 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, May 1, 2006

Outsourcing Pregnancy

"Women are getting paid as surrogate mothers to help Western couples with infertility problems. Is s1uch outsourcing a logical outgrowth of India's fast economic growth or an ethically troubling trend?" By Henry Chu, Toronto Star Link to Article (last visited 5-1-06 NVS)

May 1, 2006 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, March 19, 2006

College Campuses Fertile Ground For Finding Egg Donors

USA Today reported in Wednesday’s edition that fertility clinics and brokers are “bidding up prices for eggs sold by cash-strapped college women with top test scores and picture-perfect looks.”  According to the report, advertisements are being run in campus newspapers and on websites on a daily basis.  Although the average  gg donor in a state like Arizona receives between $2,500 and $3,500, an advertisement in a California student newspaper offered $10,000. Source. Jim Hopkins, USA Today, For the complete story, please click here (last visited March 19, 2006, reo).

March 19, 2006 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Irish Couple Battle Over Ownership of Frozen Embryos

Following her divorce, an Irish woman is taking her battle for control of three frozen embryos to Ireland’s High Court. The embryos were conceived during IVF treatments in 2001 and she and her then husband had a child after those treatments. The remaining three embryos were stored for future use, with both parties signing a joint consent form. The woman is now seeking to have the embryos thawed and implanted so she can have more children, however, her ex-husband has a new relationship and is unwilling to consent. Last week the European Court of Human Rights ruled against a woman in an identical situation.  Supporters of the woman contend that because Ireland’s constitution guarantees the right to life of an unborn child, that this factor makes the Irish case unique.  Source:  Gudrun Schultz, For the complete story, please click here (last visited March 15, 2006, reo).

March 15, 2006 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, March 8, 2006

European Court of Human Rights Denies British Woman’s Use of Embryos Without Partner’s Consent

The European Court of Human Rights ruled 5-2 Tuesday that a British woman could not use embryos created in 2001 with her fiancé because he had since withdrawn his consent. They also ruled unanimously that an embryo has no independent right to life and that the woman had not been discriminated against for being infertile. The woman, who was left infertile after cancer treatment, said that she was devastated by the ruling.  She and her then fiancé had begun IVF treatment in 2001 after she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Six embryos were placed in storage before her ovaries were removed. Source:  Alexandra Frean, Timesonline,  For the complete story, please click here (last visited March 8, 2006, reo).  The Ruling by the European Court of Human Rights can be found here.  Live interviews and analysis on NPR may be found here. (last visited March 8, 2006, reo).

March 8, 2006 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 9, 2006

A Surrogate's Story

"I began my research, and to my surprise I felt more kinship when I visited online surrogacy sites. I could see that the surrogates were deeply proud of what they were doing. They valued their families and wanted to give other couples the same chance. Even more selflessly, they risked the disapproval of family and friends to do so. So, rather impulsively -- I didn't expect anyone to respond and hadn't even discussed it with Jerry -- I posted an ad on" By Lisa Baker, New York Times, featured in the StarTribune Link to Article (last visited 1-8-06 NVS)

January 9, 2006 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Chinese Surrogates?

""We need volunteers for surrogate pregnancy. No sex services. Women with high education preferred. For your loving heart, you'll receive compensation of 40,000 yuan (US$4,900) or more." This is an ad on a surrogate pregnancy website, AA69 Loving Heart Surrogate Pregnancy Net. It claims it is a non-profit service whose sole purpose is to help infertile couples in a way that is "harmless to society" and out of "respect and gratitude to surrogate mothers."

It is not the only website engaged in such nominally "public service" activities. But they all operate in a grey area because they used to be shut down by authorities. Some legal experts point out that Chinese law does not specifically forbid "using another person's tummy to give birth to your own child." But a regulation by the Ministry of Health prohibits hospitals or any professional medical personnel rendering such a service." By Wang Zhuoqiong and Raymond Zhou (China Daily) Link to Article (last visted 1-8-06 NVS)

January 9, 2006 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, December 7, 2005

Bassett Expecting Twins From Surrogate

People Magazine is reporting that the 47-year-old star of How Stella Got Her Groove Back and What’s Love Got to Do With It, Angela Bassett, and her husband, actor Courtney B. Vance, are expecting twins via a surrogate.  The babies are due in a couple months.  Source: K.C. Baker, PeopleNews, For more information, please click here (last visited December 7, 2005, reo).

December 7, 2005 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, December 4, 2005

California Court Rules Doctors Religious Beliefs Are Basis to Refuse Artificial Insemination of Unmarried Female

A California appeals court has ruled that two fertility doctors had the right to refuse to artificially inseminate a lesbian based on her marital status because it would have violated their religious beliefs. Friday's ruling reversed a lower court decision that Drs. Christine Brody and Douglas Fenton could not use religion as a defense against a lawsuit filed by Guadalupe Benitez. The panel found that the doctors were within their rights because they based their decision on Benitez's unmarried status and that discrimination based on marital status is not prohibited by state law. Source: For more information, please click here (last visited December 4, 2005, reo).

The case is N. Coast Women's Care Med. Group v. Superior Court, 2005 Cal. App. LEXIS 1860 (December 2, 2005)
Opinion on the web at (last visited December 4, 2005 bgf) The court's of appeals decision reversed the trial court's grant of summary judgment, holding that "We conclude the summary adjudication was erroneous because evidence presented by defendants in opposition to [plaintiff's] motion raises a triable issue of fact as to whether Dr. Brody's and Dr. Fenton's religiously-based refusal to perform IUI for [plaintiff] was based on her marital status and not her sexual orientation, and marital status discrimination was not prohibited by the Unruh Act [California Civil Rights Act] when defendants' alleged violation of the Act occurred."

December 4, 2005 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, November 21, 2005

Uniting Children of Anonymous Sperm Donors

"Like most anonymous sperm donors, Donor 150 of the California Cryobank will probably never meet any of the offspring he fathered through sperm bank donations. There are at least four, according to the bank's records, and perhaps many more, since the dozens of women who have bought Donor 150's sperm are not required to report when they have a baby.

But two of his genetic daughters, born to different mothers and living in different states, have been e-mailing and talking on the phone regularly since learning of each other's existence last summer. They plan to meet over Thanksgiving.

The girls, Danielle Pagano, 16, and JoEllen Marsh, 15, connected through the Donor Sibling Registry, a Web site that is helping to open a new chapter in the oldest form of assisted reproductive technology. The three-year-old site allows parents and offspring to enter their contact information and search for others by sperm bank and donor number.

"The first time we were on the phone, it was awkward," Danielle said. "I was like, 'We'll get over it,' and she said, 'Yeah, we're sisters.' It was so weird to hear her say that. It was cool."

For children who often feel severed from half of their biological identity, finding a sibling - or in some cases, a dozen - can feel like coming home. It can also make them even more curious about the anonymous father whose genes they carry. The registry especially welcomes donors who want to shed their anonymity, but the vast majority of the site's 1,001 matches are between half-siblings." By Amy Harmon, New York Times Link to Article (last visited 11-20-05)

November 21, 2005 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Alternative Reproduction Teleseminar

The ABA Section on Family Law is presenting a teleseminar on assisted reproduction and alternative families on Tuesday, November 15, 2005 from noon until 1:30 p.m. EST. "Assisted reproduction and alternative families are becoming increasingly important in family law and litigation. The rise in the use of assisted reproductive technology (ART) by same-sex and different-sex unmarried couples or those in domestic partnerships, single-parent families, civil unions or post-divorce families brings new questions and issues to the family law attorney. This teleseminar will discuss what a lawyer needs to know when confronted with a case involving alternative families and ART." Presenters are Professor Charles P. Kindregan and Maureen McBrien. By ABA Section of Family Law Link for Information (last visited 10-19-05 NVS)

October 20, 2005 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Case Law Development: Child Custody Dispute Between Cohabitants Results in Gestational Mother Being Given Custody Rights Even Though She has No Genetic Connection to the Children

In a groundbreaking and controversial 4-1 decision, the  Supreme Court of Tennessee granted custody of triplets to their gestational mother as against the children's genetic father.  The couple had lived together and intended to raise the children together.  Father's sperm was used to fertilize donated eggs for his partner.  Because Mother had no genetic connection to the children, Father argued that she should have no right to custody of the children. 

The majority opinion filed Wednesday and written by now-retired Chief Justice Frank F. Drowota, III, upheld the lower court decisions that awarded joint custody to the parents, with the mother as primary custodian, providing for visitation for the father and ordering him to pay child support.  The Supreme Court decision was based, in part, on the triplets’ unmarried parents’ “demonstrated” intent prior to and during the pregnancy that the woman who bore them would be the mother. In addition, the majority concluded that “sound policy and common sense favor recognizing gestation as an important factor for establishing legal maternity.”

In a separate dissenting opinion, Justice Adolpho A. Birch, Jr., said the majority “reached beyond existing law to produce a palatable result....Unless our legislature acts, I fear that this narrowly tailored solution designed for this specific case will be used as precedent for other cases involving reproductive technolgy,”

In Re C.K.G., 2005 Tenn. LEXIS 812 (October 6, 2005)
Opinion on the web at (last visited October 9, 2005 bgf)

Read the article in The Tennessean, quoting Professor Susan Brooks of Vanderbilt regarding the importance of the case.

Read the Tennessee Courts’ Press Release on the decision.

October 11, 2005 in Alternative Reproduction, Cohabitation (live-ins), Custody (parenting plans) | Permalink

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Conneticut requires coverage of infertility aid

STRATFORD, Conn. A new law to take effect Saturday, will make Connecticut the 15th state to mandate insurance coverage for infertility treatments. But it will become the only state to deny the benefit to women 40-and-over, and women's advocates are concerned that more states will follow suit.  . . . Most states that mandate infertility coverage don't have age limits, although New York cuts off coverage at 44 and New Jersey ends coverage at 46. According to the Centers for Disease Control, success rates for women who use assisted reproductive technology decline steadily once they reach their mid-30s. By:  Susan Haigh, Associated Press news.For the complete story, click here (last visited September 28, 2005, REO.)

September 28, 2005 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

85 percent of embryos transferred during in vitro fertilization fail to become live births

Researchers at Yale School of Medicine have found that 85 percent of embryos transferred during in vitro fertilization fail to become live births, highlighting the need for improving diagnostic techniques to identify viable embryos. Published in the August issue of Fertility and Sterility, the study reviewed seven years of U.S. statistics from all the fertility clinics that report data on reproductive techniques. Director of the Yale Fertility Center, Pasquale Patrizio, M.D., professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences led the project. By: News-Medical.Net. For the complete story, click here (last visited September 28, 2005, REO).

September 28, 2005 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, September 9, 2005

Case Law Development: Jurisdiction and Parentage Decision in Surrogacy Contract Situations

The Ohio Court of Appeals needed to unweave the tangled web of assisted reproduction and jurisdiction in this case involving three parents, from three different states, each claiming to be the legal parent of triplets.  The case has made some news simply because the story is so intriguing. For law professors, this would make a great case study to help the students trace through the provisions of the UCCJA and PPKA and differentiate parentage determinations from custody decisions.

Rice v. Flynn, 2005 Ohio 4667; 2005 Ohio App. LEXIS 4205 (September 7, 2005)
Opinion on the web at
(last visited September 9, 2005)

Continue reading

September 9, 2005 in Alternative Reproduction, Jurisdiction, Paternity | Permalink