War Of The New York Surrogacy Bills Erupts

New York surrogacy

New York is lagging behind the rest of the country as one of the few remaining jurisdictions in the United States that does not permit compensated surrogacy.

Things just took a bizarre turn in the New York legislature when it comes to surrogacy. Last week, New York State Senator Liz Kruger (SD-28) introduced S7717. That’s a new bill to legalize compensated surrogacy in New York. Great, right? Well, there’s already a different bill that’s both much further along and also, like, way better than S7717. So what gives?New York surrogacy

As astute readers know, New York is lagging behind the rest of the country as one of the few remaining jurisdictions in the United States that does not permit compensated surrogacy. And while a handful of jurisdictions once also had this legal prohibition, most have reversed course. Fortunately, New York has been looking poised to do the same with the smart, well-drafted Child-Parent Security Act. However, that’s a separate bill — and quite different from S7717.

What’s going on?

Last year, the Child Parent Security Act (CPSA) came very close to passing. But then it didn’t. Instead, it fell victim to the legislative sausage-making process.

After passing the Senate, and having the full and vocal support of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, it was never brought up for a vote on the Assembly floor. So eventually, it died at the end of the 2019 legislative session. It didn’t help that at the last minute, noted feminist icon Gloria Steinem, published an incendiary op-ed against surrogacy.

 

gestational carriersSo incendiary that some people had to do some real soul searching as to whether we were still, in fact, feminists, while Steinem argued that permitting compensated surrogacy was exploitative of women. It was sort of surreal to hear Steinem on the side of having the government tell women what they can and can’t do with their bodies.

However, after all that, this should be the CPSA’s year. Except now comes along S7717, which looks like an attempt to muddy the waters.

The CPSA takes the approach of following the generally accepted standards and best practices concerning surrogacy arrangements, including those recommended by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM); S7717, in contrast, takes a very different approach.

To give it some credit, it does seem to provide a clearer path for compensation for “genetic surrogacy” –- where the surrogate is genetically related to the child. However, most surrogacy in the United States is “gestational surrogacy” –- where the surrogate is not genetically related to the child. She is, instead, providing a way to help intended parents, who could not have a genetic child otherwise, bring their child to birth. Here especially, S7717 takes a new and strange direction.

  • Everyone Must Live In New York. S7717 requires all parties to be either a United States citizen or a legal permanent resident and to be residents of New York for the past 12 months. There is an exception if the parties are “immediate” family and there is no compensation. But that’s a very narrow band. Penalizing and disqualifying someone for living across state lines or being a second cousin versus an “immediate” family member is a harsh line to draw. 
  • Random Restrictive Medical Requirements. If that weren’t enough, S7717 requires that a woman wishing to be a surrogate under the proposed law *must* be under 35 years old, and cannot have more than three births. It’s not exactly clear where these numbers came from though, since the ASRM guidelines provide that a woman can be a surrogate up to the age of 45 (ten more years!) and can have five prior births.
  • Impossible(?) Financial Requirements. The bill also requires what would often be impossible requirements. The intended parents would be required to have a life insurance policy in place for the surrogate for a minimum of $750,000, as well as a short-term and long-term disability policy. While maybe obtainable in some cases, and definitely good things to have in place in a perfect world, sometimes it can be very difficult to find such policies. For instance, some disability policies are not readily available to anyone if not provided by an employer, or require at least a year of being in place prior to eligibility for the benefits. So if no policy is available, it’s another no go.
  • Surrogate Can Keep The Child?! OK, the restrictions described above aren’t great. But probably way worse is the bill language providing that the surrogate is permitted to terminate the agreement at *any* time. And that specifically includes any time during the pregnancy. Even though the intended parents would be required to be financially responsible for the child at all times, a surrogate could decide to be a parent to the child.

Consistent with that madness, S7717 provides that hopeful intended parents can only be judicially recognized as the sole legal parents of the child after the surrogate submits a written declaration — no sooner than eight days following the birth of the child — stating that she is voluntarily consenting to disclaim and renounce her parental rights. But until such a waiver is submitted, the surrogate retains decision-making responsibility for the child (but still not financial responsibility). Whoa. That does not sound right.

AboveTheLaw.com by Ellen Trachman, February 19, 2020

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Commercial Surrogacy – a Complicated Legal Picture

finding a surrogate mother

Commercial Surrogacy’s Complicated Legal Picture

After trying to conceive through nine cycles of IVF, unsuccessfully, Alexis Cirel’s doctor suggested she and her husband take a different route: a gestational surrogate and commercial surrogacy.commercial surrogacy

“It was a hard decision and it took months of introspection,” says Cirel, an attorney in New York City. Ultimately, she agreed with her doctor. But surrogacy wasn’t legal in her home state, and she worried about the risk that her “biological child would not be my legal child” under state law.

New York is currently one of three states (along with Louisiana and Michigan) that don’t allow surrogacy contracts (though the remaining states vary greatly in their regulation of surrogacy) but may soon join the majority, with legislation on the table to make paid (aka commercial) surrogacy legal.

In the absence of a national policy, state legality issues date back to 1984, when a couple put an ad in the newspaper seeking a surrogate. Mary Beth Whitehead, of New Jersey, responded, and gave birth to Baby M. But everything soured when she wanted to keep the baby, which was conceived with her own egg. The New Jersey Supreme Court found that the payment to Whitehead was illegal, but ruled against her on the issue of custody: Baby M. went to the intended parents, though Whitehead received parental rights.

After the debacle, New York criminalized gestational surrogacy by fining parents and anyone who assists them, says Anthony Brown, New York-based founder of Time For Families Law, and the founding chairman of Men Having Babies, a nonprofit organization that educates gay men about surrogacy. The law was created to address traditional surrogacy (fertilizing the surrogate’s egg), but was extended to prohibit gestational surrogacy, where the child has no genetic relationship with the surrogate, rendering any contracts for “altruistic” surrogacy void and all commercial surrogacy contracts illegal.

Many people think it’s time to revisit the issue.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently launched a campaign to legalize gestational surrogacy, after a 2019 effort failed, and he has support from families, attorneys, LGBTQ rights groups, and even celebrities (Bravo’s Andy Cohen was present for the campaign announcement).

“This antiquated law is repugnant to our values, and we must repeal it once and for all and enact the nation’s strongest protections for surrogates and parents choosing to take part in the surrogacy process,” Cuomo said in a statement.

The new legislation would create protections for surrogates so they could make their own health care decisions, including whether to terminate a pregnancy; would create legal protections for parents of children conceived by reproductive technologies such as artificial insemination and egg donation; and would eliminate barriers to second-parent adoption (a single visit to court to recognize legal parenthood while the child is in utero would suffice).

Many New Yorkers use surrogates but travel to other states to use them. Repealing the bill would simply make it easier and safer for everyone involved, Cirel says. She switched from her corporate law role to become a family law and matrimonial attorney after going through the surrogacy process, and she is a member of New York’s Love Makes a Family Council, created in conjunction with the proposed law.

Romper.com, February 19, 2020 by Danielle Braff

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Fertility Fraud: The U.S. Is Experiencing An Explosion Of Legislation. And That’s A Good Thing

More and more cases of fertility fraud have been uncovered. And more and more lawsuits have been filed. However, each prosecution or lawsuit has faced an uphill battle.

Direct-to-consumer DNA kits have changed our reality. The wall of secrecy that was once behind conception and parenting — including adoptions, affairs, and the use of donor eggs, sperm, and embryos — is crumbling. One major facet of this reckoning with the truth has been the stark realization that many, many doctors were using their own sperm, a form of fertility fraud, to “treat” their unknowing patients.fertility fraud

Sometimes this practice was in place of “anonymous donor” sperm; sometimes, it was actually in place of the spouse or partner’s sperm. It’s pretty gross to think about. But even grosser is the complete lack of accountability for the doctors who must have known of the ethical and moral shortcomings of their actions.

The Justice System Has Been Failing Us

A doctor using his own sperm to impregnate a patient, without her knowledge or consent as to the source of the sperm, must be a crime, right? Or at least a pretty solid tort – fertility fraud? For many states, you guessed wrong. More and more cases of those doctors’ egregious practices have been uncovered. And more and more lawsuits have been filed. However, each prosecution or lawsuit has faced an uphill battle.

Take, for example, the case of Donald Cline, formerly a licensed medical doctor in Indiana. In one of the most notorious cases of fertility fraud in the United States, DNA tests have shown Cline to have used his sperm in unknowing patients, resulting in at least sixty children. When the betrayed patients and offspring sought legal remedies against Cline, they were unsuccessful. After all, the patients had consented to Cline inseminating them with sperm. Cline did plead guilty to two charges of obstruction of justice, after lying to officials about using his own sperm with patients. But that, to most victims, was not sufficient.

Time To Change The Law

Since current law has been failing the victims, many have sought, and are currently seeking, to change the law. State by state, if necessary. Last year, two successful bills were passed. One was in Indiana, unsurprisingly, as ground zero of the Cline fiasco. Another was in Texas, where Eve Wiley led the charge. (Listen to this podcast where Wiley and her believed-donor tell the twisting and fascinating tale of uncovering the truth of Wiley’s genetic history.) In Texas, without a civil cause of action due to the state’s recent tort reforms, and without a viable criminal cause of action to charge him, Wiley’s “doctor daddy” is still actively practicing medicine even today. That’s crazytown.

Now other states are following suit, and closing the legal loopholes that existed for doctors to take advantage of their patients in this most intimate of areas. And while I doubt that as many doctors are so casually using their own sperm these days, there are certainly modern horror stories involving assisted reproduction, including that of a staff member at a Utah clinic swapping out countless sperm samples with his own.

The states currently making progress in this area include my own home state of Colorado with HB20-1014 (Go, Representative Kerry Tipper!), Nebraska with LB 748, Ohio with HB 486, and Florida with SB 698. Other states, as well, appear poised to introduce their own fertility fraud legislation. While the proposed laws vary, they are consistent in their goals of ensuring or clarifying that this type of behavior by trusted medical professionals is not acceptable and not legal, and providing a path forward for justice.

AboveTheLaw.com, by Ellen Trachman, February 12, 2020

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Source: Time for Families

Paying gestational carriers should be legal in all states

gestational carriers

Every year, hundreds of thousands of babies are born in the U.S. using assisted reproductive technologies, including the use of gestational carriers, a multibillion-dollar industry that is controversial and largely unregulated.

One of the controversies involves the use of paid gestational carriers, women who agree to carry a fertilized embryo, created from another woman’s egg, give birth, and give the baby to its parents. This is different from tradition (or genetic) surrogates, who provide both their own eggs and their own wombs. Gestational surrogacy now constitutes 95% of all surrogacy in the U.S.gestational carriers

State laws about arrangements for gestational carriers vary widely and are in flux. This kind of surrogacy is currently allowed in 10 states; prohibited but with various caveats and additional legal proceedings in 30; practiced with potential legal obstacles and inconsistent outcomes in five; practiced but with legally unenforceable contracts in two and prohibited in three. Several of the 40 states with real or potential legal hurtles require that couples be married and heterosexual, or allow surrogates to choose at any point to keep the baby.

Commercial surrogacy first gained wide attention in the 1980s through the Baby M case. Elizabeth Stern had multiple sclerosis and feared that pregnancy would worsen it. Through a newspaper ad, she and her husband connected with Mary Beth Whitehead, who agreed to carry a fetus for them as a traditional surrogate, providing both an egg and a womb. But after giving birth, Whitehead decided to keep the child. A New Jersey court awarded the Sterns custody of Baby M, but banned all such future surrogacy contracts.

Since then, practices have changed and the use of gestational carriers has grown dramatically. In many states, however, prospective parents need to travel to other states, like California, to avoid legal obstacles. Some seek surrogates in the developing world, which has its own set of problems.

Competing proposed bills in New York state highlight the conflicts involved in gestational surrogacy.

In June 2019, the New York state Senate voted to legalize gestational surrogacy. The pushback was swift and strong. Noted feminist Gloria Steinem argued strongly against the proposal, raising concerns that poorer women of color would disproportionately serve as gestational carriers. She also pointed out that the bill would require surrogates to be state residents for only 90 days, which could prompt human traffickers to bring women to New York to serve as surrogates. The State Assembly then rejected the proposal. Lawmakers are now considering at least two different revised versions of the bill — one from Gov. Andrew Cuomo and one from the bill’s original sponsor — that address these criticisms.

I believe the state should legalize gestational surrogacy, providing it includes protections to avoid the problems Steinem highlighted.

In the debates in New York, as well as those in other states, both sides have been arguing in the relative absence of data, without acknowledging this deficit. In fact, the limited data available so far do not suggest that women become gestational carriers because of financial distress, nor do the demographics reflect racial disparities.

StatNews.com, by Robert Klitzman, February 12, 2020

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Putin says he won’t allow for LGBTQ families or marriages in Russia

Putin

Putin told reporters that he’s considering a constitutional amendment that would ensure that all parents of children “will be dad and mum.”

Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin, said to a pool of reporters on Monday that he will not allow same-sex adoption or support marriage equality  “as long as [he’s] president” – currently set to be at least to 2024.russia gay

The comments were made at a press conference regarding a state-approved commission that will consider potential changes to the Russian constitution. Putin is supposedly trying to shape Russia’s laws and constitutionality in a way that would allow him to maintain power after his current term ends.

A reporter asked if a proposal that would “add a line in the constitution defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman” would be considered. Putin replied, “We need only to think in what phrases and where to do this.”

While the question was about same-sex marriage, Putin’s response focused on ruling on the potential of LGBTQ families being legal parents.

“As far as ‘parent number 1’ and ‘parent number 2’ goes, I’ve already spoken publicly about this and I’ll repeat it again,” Putin said, “as long as I’m president this will not happen. There will be dad and mum.”

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French Senate passes bioethics law allowing lesbians to artificially procreate

French Senate

The bill passed by the French Senate is watered down but still extremely transgressive.

The French Senate adopted the draft bioethics law currently under discussion in that body by a relatively small margin of 10 votes on Tuesday. One of its most spectacular elements, the legalization of access to artificially assisted procreation for single women, including those in lesbian relationships, was confirmed, as well as the widening of possibilities for research on human embryos. Other articles of the law were modified by the Senate, which canceled some of its more shocking propositions.French Senate

Although the higher chamber in France still has a right-of-center majority, the text, which remains deeply transgressive, obtained 153 votes in its favor, while 143 senators voted against and 45 abstained. The voting was not uniform right and left — 97 of the 144 “Les Républicains” mainstream right-wing senators rejected the law presented by Emmanuel Macron’s left-wing government, while 25 voted for the text, thus bearing responsibility for its adoption.

The presidential party “La République en marche” (LREM), created for the last presidential election and not very strong in the Senate, was itself divided: six of its 24 senators voted against the text.

Almost all the 348 senators were present, a sign that the revision of France’s bioethics laws is being taken seriously. The first such law was adopted in 1994 and was already transgressive because it legalized artificial procreation and embryo selection.

From the start, it was decided that the bioethics law would be revised every five years in order to take medical and scientific progress and new techniques into account. As a matter of fact, the laws were revised over larger intervals. Each time, new possibilities for embryo research, pre-implantation diagnosis, and other such transgressions were added.

The draft bioethics law now being discussed has been substantially amended by the Senate and will therefore return before the National Assembly, probably in April. Laws are adopted definitively without a second reading in France only when adopted by both chambers in exactly the same terms.

Lifestienews.com, by Jeanne Smits, February 7, 2020

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Fresh Eggs For IVF Offer Slightly Better Birth Outcomes

fresh eggs

Using fresh donor eggs for in-vitro fertilization (IVF) provides a small but statistically significant advantage in birth outcomes compared to frozen donated eggs, research finds.

The national study in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology was the largest head-to-head comparison of the two IVF approaches, measuring the likelihood of a good perinatal outcome, defined as a single baby without prematurity and with a healthy birth weight.fresh eggs

“Our study found that the odds of a good birth outcome were less with frozen than with fresh, but it was a small difference,” says lead author Jennifer L. Eaton, medical director of assisted reproductive technology and director of the Oocyte Donation Program at the Duke Fertility Center.

“From a clinical standpoint, given that frozen eggs have many benefits such as ease, cost, and speed, the decision to use fresh or frozen donor eggs should be made on an individual basis after consultation with a physician,” Eaton says.

Eaton and colleagues, including senior author Alex Polotsky of the University of Colorado Advanced Reproductive Medicine, studied three years of data from the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology. Nearly 37,000 IVF attempts were analyzed, including 8,381 (22.7%) that used frozen eggs and 28,544 (77.3%) using fresh.

Controlling for factors such as the quality of fertilized eggs and the age of both mother and donor, the researchers found that fresh eggs resulted in a good perinatal outcome in 24% of fertility attempts compared to 22% of the attempts with frozen eggs. Implantation, clinical pregnancy, and live birth rates were all significantly higher among the women using fresh eggs vs. frozen.

“As IVF with donor oocytes has become standard treatment for women with decreased egg supply or advanced reproductive age, there has been an increased demand for donor oocytes, making frozen eggs an attractive option,” Eaton says. “In general, IVF with frozen donor eggs is cheaper and faster than with fresh donor eggs.

Fututiry.org by Sarah Avery-Duke, February 7, 2020

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The Number of Employers Who Offer Fertility Benefits is on the Rise

fertility benefits

Fertility benefits rank high on the list of valuable benefits that make recruiting top talent, retaining valuable employees, and reducing turnover easier. Providing coverage for family building options has been shown to increase employee retention and loyalty.

According to a recent FertilityIQ survey, 68 percent of millennials consider fertility benefits when choosing an employer, and 9 out of 10 employees with fertility issues will switch jobs for benefits.fertility benefits

This scenario was very true for millennial, Katie Goad and her husband Adam. They had an 8-year-old daughter and wanted to expand their family. After giving birth to her first child, Katie had surgery that meant she would have to undergo in vitro fertilization (IVF) in order to have another child.

Lacking insurance for IVF, Katie was determined to expand her family without going into debt in the process, so she explored her employment options and discovered that Starbucks offered benefits to cover IVF, even to hourly, frontline workers. Starbucks is revered for being among the first to provide fertility benefits to hourly and part-time employees.

“I was honest with them in my interview about what my goal was, and what my intentions were,” Goad said in a recent interview with Benefit News.

She landed the job and started working as a part-time barista.

In a recent survey, FertilityIQ, author of the extensive Family Builder Workplace Index, found that 73 percent of fertility patient respondents felt more gratitude toward their employer because of fertility benefits, 61 percent said it made them feel more loyal, and 53 percent said it influenced them to stay with a particular employer longer.

“In this tight labor market, millennials are entering the family building years and flooding the workforce. Companies eager to recruit top talent know that offering fertility benefits, paid parental leave, and flexible schedules fosters a great sense of loyalty,” said Patty Stull, Chief Marketing Officer of SGF.

Once Katie qualified for health benefits through Starbucks, she began fertility testing and treatment under the care of Dr. Mark Perloe at Shady Grove Fertility Atlanta.

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Virginia Senate approves bill to prevent surrogates from being forced to abort multiples

Virginia Senate

The Virginia Senate unanimously approved a bill Tuesday that would prevent surrogates from either being required to or prohibited from aborting multiples in their surrogacy contracts.

The bill passed through the House of Delegates in January, and the Virginia Senate proposed an amendment that will see it sent back to the House for final approval.new Va. surrogacy

With the amendment from the Virginia Senate, the bill reads: “Any contract provision requiring [or prohibiting] an abortion or selective reduction is against the public policy of the Commonwealth and is void and unenforceable.”

TheJurist.com, by Angela Mauroni, February 5, 2020

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I Just Wanted a Baby, But Surrogacy Gave Me So Much More

compassionate surrogacy

When I started telling people I was having a baby with a gestational surrogate, the responses ranged from awkwardly supportive to just awkward.

A woman at a party congratulated me, praised me for being so clever, so ahead of the times. “Ugh, you’re brilliant,” she told me. I’d have someone else do the dirty work of motherhood for me. Genius.compassionate surrogacy

Others wanted me to know I was in good company: Kim Kardashian had just been through the process. So had Gabrielle Union. And Andy Cohen. And now me!

My traditional Indian mother, fiercely private and surprisingly sneaky, had another idea. She thought it might be better if we made up a story that the baby was adopted. “People aren’t going to understand this,” she said.

Misguided, to be sure, but my mother (as usual) had a point: There is still an incredible amount of secrecy around the gestational surrogacy process. And wherever there is silence, stigma isn’t far behind. It’s for rich people, it’s immoral, it’s dystopian, it’s exploitative…

I know that these are just a few of the thoughts swirling in people’s heads when I tell them that this month a woman named Amber in Kansas will deliver my son. For me, and for countless other families who struggle with fertility, surrogacy isn’t a luxury or shortcut: It’s the light at the end of a very long and lonely tunnel.

The first time I got pregnant, I had just started running for Public Advocate in New York City. It was unexpected, but welcome news. My husband, Nihal, and I were so excited. We told family and friends with abandon (12-week rule be damned!). We changed our destination wedding date so I wouldn’t have to travel in the third trimester. That was almost eight years ago, and we were blissfully, naively unaware of what was ahead of us.

I remember fantasizing about being pregnant while running for office. I imagined how I would march my big fat, swollen feet all over the five boroughs knocking on doors. I would be a symbol of feminine power on the campaign trail: a knocked-up Rosie the Riveter. My baby would be a born public servant, just like me.

When we went to the doctor for our first appointment and saw the solemn look on her face, we didn’t understand. We were no strangers to failure. I had publicly bombed a race for Congress two years before. Nihal, an entrepreneur, had learned resilience from running start-ups. But this was supposed to be easy. Isn’t this what we were born to do? We were shocked that something like this could happen, that we could lose our baby.

Two nights later I put on a brave face and got on stage to introduce President Obama at a fundraiser. It should have been the best night of my life, but I was dying inside, literally, the entire time.

Six months later I miscarried again, hours before I was slated to give a huge pitch for my nonprofit to the “who’s who” of New York City. My job was to be dazzling. I felt so much rage knowing it was easier to betray myself and go through the motions than to admit why I couldn’t.

Vogue.com by Resma Saujani, January 24, 2020

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Source: Time for Families