Family Law Prof Blog

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

Friday, January 16, 2009

Test Tube Families - new book

Cahn Family Law Prof Naomi Cahn of George Washington has a new book from NYU Press: TEST TUBE FAMILIES.

Here's a bit from the publisher's materials:

Incorporating real-life stories to illustrate her arguments, Cahn provides specific suggestions for legal reforms. The book sets out a series of controversial proposals, including an end to donor anonymity and a plea for states to clarify parentage decisions. She also calls for the federal government to regulate ART processes to ensure that donors are adequately protected against exploitation, that recipients receive the gametes they have been promised, and that the market functions ethically as well as efficiently.

It certainly looks like a book worth reading.  And for Family Law Profs teaching courses with a writing component, it seems a great book for a student essay-review. 


January 16, 2009 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

British conference on Family Law/Bioethics


The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008: New Directions in Biolaw and Bioethics
A CentreLGS Workshop on Monday 30 March 2009 @ Keele University

Confirmed speakers include:

Emily Jackson, London School of Economics; and Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority

Julie McCandless, Oxford Brookes University and Sally Sheldon, University of Kent

Derek Morgan, University of Sheffield

Jackie Scully, University of Newcastle

Aleardo Zanghellini, Marquarie University Sydney, Australia

Following a lengthy review and consultation process the UK’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act finally received Royal Assent on 14 November 2008.  The new legislation makes important changes to the law governing issues such as reproductive cloning, the creation of hybrid embryos for use in research, the circumstances in which ‘saviour siblings’ may be created, and how parenthood is defined.

This CentreLGS workshop aims to provide an informed analysis of some of the key and most controversial features of the new legislation, focusing particularly on provisions governing the use and manipulation of embryos for research and reproductive purposes and revisions to definitions and understandings of legal parenthood. Leading commentators will explore these topics in the light of concepts and tropes underpinning the legislation, including reproductive choice and autonomy, dignity, human rights, the natural/unnatural dichotomy. In addition to constructive critique of the new provisions, the workshop will also provide a platform from which to consider directions for future academic research on the governance of reproductive technologies.

Please keep an eye on our website for updates on speakers and a programme (soon available):

For further information about this workshop, please contact Marie Fox (

For registration, payment or other administrative queries, or if you a legal or health care professional interested in claiming CPD points, please contact Helen Farrell.

Places are limited and should be booked by 10th March 2009 at the latest. Please return the completed form to:

Helen Farrell, RI Law, Politics and Justice, CM1.12 Moser Research Centre, Keele University, Keele, Staffordshire, ST5 5BG.

Tel:  01782 733641
Fax: 01782  734592


January 15, 2009 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Case Law Development: Access to Fertility Treatments by Lesbians

The California Supreme Court has unamiously ruled medical personnel’s claims to First Amendment rights (based on religion and speech) must yield to the state’s anti-discrimination law in the provision of medical services, including fertility treatments.  As stated by the court in its August 18, 2008 opinion:

Do the rights of religious freedom and free speech, as guaranteed in both the federal and the California Constitutions, exempt a medical clinic’s physicians from complying with the California Unruh Civil Rights Act’s prohibition against discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation?  Our answer is no.

The case was based upon a doctor’s refusal to perform intrauterine insemination on the plaintiff, Guadalupe Benitez, because the doctor’s religious beliefs precluded her from performing the procedure on a lesbian, or perhaps on an unmarried woman. 

North Coast Women’s Care Medical Group, Inc. v. Superior Court, (California  Supreme Court, August 18, 2008)
Read the opinion online (last visited August 19, 2008  RR)


August 19, 2008 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Case Law Development: Child Born As Result of Implantation of IVF Embryo After Father's Death Not Entitled to Inheritance Rights

Answering a certified question from the US District Court, the Arkansas Supreme Court has held that  A child born in a test tube and implanted in his mother's womb after his father's death cannot necessarily be considered as an heir to his father's property.  The critical issue according to the court was whether the date of conception for her child should be considered when the embryo was created or when the embryo was implanted in the mother's womb.

The case arose when a mother applied for child insurance benefits for her child implanted and born after father's death.  Arkansas social service officials denied her request, saying the child was "conceived" after the father had died. The Arkansas social security administration argued that "conception" was defined as the onset of pregnancy or the implantation of an embryo in the womb. Mother argued that her child was "'conceived' at the time her egg was fertilized by the father's sperm,"

The court said the law on inheritance did not address in vitro fertilization and was adopted before the procedure was developed. But the court declined to offer a legal definition of conception, saying that was "not our role."  "Were we to define the term 'conceive,' we would be making a determination that would implicate many public policy concerns, including, but certainly not limited to, the finality of estates." Instead, it urged the state legislature to address the question.

Finley v. Astrue, Arkansas Supreme Court (January 10, 2008)
Opinion online (last visited January 15, 2008 bgf)

January 15, 2008 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Saving Eggs from Young Cancer Patients

"Doctors have removed eggs from young female cancer patients and -- for the first time -- brought the eggs to maturity before freezing them, giving the girls a better chance to one day have children. Previously, scientists had thought viable eggs could only be obtained from girls who had undergone puberty.

''We didn't expect young girls to have eggs that could withstand the process of maturation,'' which involves adding hormones, said Dr. Ariel Revel, who led the research at the Hadassah Hospital in Israel."

By Associated Press, N.Y. Times Link to Article (last visited 7-3-07 NVS)

July 3, 2007 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Sperm Donor Liable for Child Support

"A sperm donor who helped a lesbian couple conceive two children is liable for child support under a state appellate court ruling that a legal expert believes might be the first of its kind in the U.S.

A Superior Court panel last week ordered a Dauphin County judge to establish how much Carl L. Frampton Jr. would have to pay to the birth mother of the 8-year-old boy and 7-year-old girl.

"I'm unaware of any other state appellate court that has found that a child has, simultaneously, three adults who are financially obligated to the child's support and are also entitled to visitation," said New York Law School professor Arthur S. Leonard, an expert on sexuality and the law."

Associated Press Link to Article (last visited 5-10-07 NVS)

May 10, 2007 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, April 2, 2007

Donating Frozen Embryos for Stem-Cell Research

"There are a half-million or so frozen human embryos stored in freezers across the country, and two of them belong to Jodi Kreiser and her husband.  Like thousands of couples trying to have families through in-vitro fertilization (IVF), they faced a wrenching choice: what to do with embryos they created at great financial and emotional cost that are not destined to become their children. Most couples keep them frozen indefinitely, and eventually, experts say, they are destroyed.

Now, the Kreisers are among the first in the state to have a new choice. Their embryos will be donated to the University of Minnesota for embryonic stem-cell research. The step is emerging as an option amid intensifying political debate on the use of stem cells." By Josehine Marcotty, Star TRibune, Link to Article (last visited 4-2-07 NVS)

April 2, 2007 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Should Doctors Help Parents Choose Sex of Baby?

"If people want to choose their baby’s sex before pregnancy, should doctors help? Some parents would love the chance to decide, while others wouldn’t dream of meddling with nature. The medical world is also divided. Professional groups say sex selection is allowable in certain situations, but differ as to which ones. Meanwhile, it’s not illegal, and some doctors are already cashing in on the demand. There are several ways to pick a baby’s sex before a woman becomes pregnant, or at least to shift the odds." By Denise Grady, N.Y. Times Link to Article (last visited 2-7-07 NVS)

February 7, 2007 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

World's Oldest New Mother

"A 67-year-old woman who is believed to be the world's oldest new mother told a British Sunday newspaper she lied to a U.S. fertility clinic -- saying she was 55 -- to get treatment. Carmela Bousada said in her first interview since she gave birth to twin boys on Dec. 29 that she sold her house in Spain to raise $59,000 to pay for in vitro fertilization at a California clinic, The News of the World reported.

''I think everyone should become a mother at the right time for them,'' Bousada said in a video of the interview provided to Associated Press Television News." By Associate Press, N.Y. Times Link to Article (last visited 1-29-07 NVS)

January 30, 2007 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Donor-Conceived Child Speaks Out

"When she was 32, my mother -- single, and worried that she might never marry and have a family -- allowed a doctor wearing rubber gloves to inject a syringe of sperm from an unknown man into her uterus so that she could have a baby. I am the result: a donor-conceived child. And for a while, I was pretty angry about it.I was angry at the idea that where donor conception is concerned, everyone focuses on the "parents" -- the adults who can make choices about their own lives. The recipient gets sympathy for wanting to have a child. The donor gets a guarantee of anonymity and absolution from any responsibility for the offspring of his "donation." As long as these adults are happy, then donor conception is a success, right?

Not so. The children born of these transactions are people, too. Those of us in the first documented generation of donor babies -- conceived in the late 1980s and early '90s, when sperm banks became more common and donor insemination began to flourish -- are coming of age, and we have something to say. I'm here to tell you that emotionally, many of us are not keeping up. We didn't ask to be born into this situation, with its limitations and confusion." By Katrina Clark, Link to Article (last visited 12-18-06 NVS)

December 19, 2006 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Shortage of Egg Donors in UK

"British couples desperate for a baby are travelling abroad for fertility treatment because of a shortage of egg donors in the UK. Patients blame the change in the law that gives children born through egg or sperm donation the right to trace their biological parents.

Some UK hospitals have closed their waiting lists because they are unable to recruit egg donors. Women are going abroad or making their own efforts to find egg donors at home." By Helen Briggs, BBC News Link to Article (last visited 12-18-06 NVS)

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

Thursday, October 26, 2006

New In-vitro Fertilization Recommendations

"Medical groups representing U.S. fertility experts, alarmed by rising numbers of multiple births, on Tuesday advised limiting the number of embryos implanted in women undergoing in-vitro fertilization. The latest medical evidence "clearly indicates" that high pregnancy rates can be achieved even with fewer embryo transfers, Dr. Marc Fritz, chair of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine's practice committee, said in a statement. Some patients and clinics have opted for transferring several embryos during a single cycle in order to increase the odds of success but pregnancies involving two or more fetuses are at risk of complications including premature delivery, which increases a baby's odds of suffering medical and developmental problems.

The new recommendations to fertility specialists, which are not enforceable, call for transfer of no more than two embryos for women under age 35, and say the transfer of a single embryo should be considered." Reuters, Yahoo News Link to Article (last visited 10-25-06 NVS)

October 26, 2006 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, September 22, 2006

Sex Selection in Fertility Clinics

The New York Times reports that "Almost half of U.S. fertility clinics that offer embryo screening say they allow couples to choose the sex of their child, the most extensive survey of the practice suggests.  Sex selection without any medical reason to warrant it was performed in about 9 percent of all embryo screenings last year, the survey found. Another controversial procedure -- helping parents conceive a child who could supply compatible cord blood to treat an older sibling with a grave illness -- was offered by 23 percent of clinics, although only 1 percent of screenings were for that purpose in 2005. For the most part, couples are screening embryos for the right reasons -- to avoid passing on dreadful diseases, said Dr. William Gibbons, who runs a fertility clinic in Baton Rouge, La., and is president of the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, which assisted with the survey."

Read the whole story in the New York Times (last visited September 22, 2006 bgf)

September 22, 2006 in Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, August 4, 2006

Embryo Selection Pondered

"The Government is pondering over a report suggesting that legal changes be made to enable parents to decide the sex of their progeny through embryo selection. Sex- selection, by analyzing an embryo's genetic make-up, is prohibited in New Zealand, Britain and most of Europe, but not in the States." By  Link to Article (last visited 7-3-06 NVS)

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

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)