Fertility Clinics Stay Open Despite Unclear Guidelines

fertility clinics stay open

Fertility clinics stay open – Many providers have continued seeing patients through the pandemic, forcing them to choose between clients and staff safety.

Since March, fertility stay open clinics across the country have halted treatments for tens of thousands of people because of Covid-19, forcing patients to suspend their family planning. In recent days, some clinics have reopened, resuming services and procedures despite ongoing coronavirus concerns.

But shifting guidelines and minimal oversight have left clinics to decide for themselves when and how to resume in vitro fertilization, or I.V.F. At clinics where I.V.F. is ramping back up, or never slowed at all, some staff members are concerned about a lack of adequate protective equipment and safety policies.

On April 24, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine issued recommendations for restarting operations, leaving it up to individual clinics to determine how to proceed. The professional society had previously advised fertility clinics to avoid starting new treatments, postpone nonemergency surgeries and shift to telemedicine.

The shutdown generated a flurry of media attention and pushbackfrom fertility doctors and patients. Most clinics paused starting new I.V.F. cycles, which are highly time-sensitive. But a few remained open, even operating at full capacity, causing the industry to debate when to resume care and what counts as medically urgent.

“Fertility treatment is by no means elective,” said Leyla Bilali, a nurse at a fertility clinic in New York City, referring to the consensus that infertility is a disease. “It’s just, right now, it’s not a matter of life or death.”

Clinics that stayed open scrambled to implement protocols compliant with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, such as temperature checks, masks and physical distancing. Still, people have gotten sick. At Reproductive Medicine Associates of New York, seven staff members have tested positive for Covid-19. At Vios Fertility Institute in Chicago, clinicians have reported flulike symptoms but have not been tested because of limited test availability. And several employees at Extend Fertility, an egg-freezing clinic in Midtown Manhattan, fell ill with possible cases of Covid-19.

“We really didn’t feel it was appropriate to go out on a limb, outside major A.S.R.M. guidelines, and keep things open,” said Dr. Bat-Sheva Maslow, M.D., a reproductive endocrinologist at Extend Fertility who tested positive and recovered from the virus in March. “Covid-19 is almost impossible to control at this point. That weighed very heavily with us.” Extend Fertility has since closed its offices to virtually all patients.

Amid the pandemic, clinics face a dizzying array of vague and, at times, conflicting instructions from states, cities and health agencies like the C.D.C. Doctors must interpret guidelines as they see fit — often the case in fertility services, which are largely paid out-of-pocket and where patient care and profit can be at odds.

Because of unclear guidance, in most states it is difficult to tell whether remaining open during the pandemic is legal or if fertility procedures are considered an essential service. New York is an exception: On April 7, the state’s health department issued an advisory deeming infertility treatment an essential service, thus exempt from closure. New Jersey’s governor, in an executive order responding to the coronavirus crisis, made a similar but less specific exemption, referring to general family planning services but not directly to infertility.

NYTimes.com, by Natalie Lambert, May 1, 2020

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Source: Time for Families

How Co-parenting Has Equipped Queer Families To Handle The Coronavirus Pandemic

Co-parenting Coronavirus

Co-parenting families are drawing on the resiliency that comes from living on the margins in the Coronavirus pandemic.

Co-parenting families are drawing on the resiliency that comes from living on the margins in the Coronavirus pandemic. Four months ago, Lisa Lo, from Calgary, separated from the father of her two young children, ages two and five, in part because she wanted to open her marriage to relationships with both men and women.Co-parenting Coronavirus

Lo, whose name has been changed to protect her family’s privacy, is polyamorous, and she’s had three relationships since her separation, one of which has ended, and two of which have been complicated by pandemic living arrangements.

Some of these relationships have brought big feelings, but through it all, Lo is mindful of keeping an emotional balance for her kids, who spend most of their time with her. “They pick up on my emotions,” she said. “If I’m happy, they’re happy. If I’m stressed and upset, then they’re stressed and upset.”

But that was all pre-pandemic: “Now, dating has been put on hold,” she told HuffPost Canada. Lo’s priorities are different these days. She is very much focused on the challenges COVID-19 poses to all multi-household families: creating consistent self-isolation protocols, navigating the handing-off of children, communicating in a time of stress, finding legal counsel.

To create a situation that worked for everyone, Lo had to have hard conversations with her ex-husband about whether to integrate any of her existing polyamorous relationships into their isolation cohort.

They settled on Lo living with one somewhat-ex-partner (it’s complicated). They are also still employing a nanny in both households, in part, because this is supportive of Lo’s mental health. The negotiations about child schedules and hand-offs between households have been complex.

Lo has also been challenged by some of her loved ones about having non-immediate family members in her household “pod” during the pandemic. But, she was able to take that in stride.

She said being queer has given her a lot of practice with tough discussions: “I’m used to being outspoken about things that are unconventional. I’m done being in the closet about anything.”

Rachel Farr is an assistant professor of Psychology, and she runs the FAD (Families, Adoption, and Diversity) research lab at the University of Kentucky. She said that for LGBTQ2 families, this pandemic both feeds into existing patterns of resilience and creates new ones.

“Some of the emotional dynamics I think are true for any family trying to negotiate [this pandemic],” she told HuffPost, “but there are added layers of sensitivity and vulnerability for queer families, who also face stigma and various forms of silencing through institutional discrimination or lack of legal protections.”

Huffingtonpost.ca by Brianna Sharpe, April 23, 2020

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New York State Legalizes Gestational Surrogacy

legal surrogacy in New York

 

New York State Legalizes Gestational Surrogacy

A protracted battle over the future of compensated gestational surrogacy in New York was resolved on April 2 when state lawmakers approved a budget that included legislation proposed by out gay Manhattan State Senator Brad Hoylman and Westchester Assemblymember Amy Paulin that legalizes gestational surrogacy once and for all.legal surrogacy in New York

Although New York was one of just a small handful of states that had yet to legalize the practice, which entails a surrogate carrying a baby who has no biological relation to her, the campaign to pass such legislation in the state was stymied last year by concerns that the surrogates who carry babies — as well as those women donating eggs — were not afforded sufficient protection and rights. The bill put forth by Paulin and Hoylman, who had his two daughters via surrogacy, cleared the upper chamber last year but never reached the Assembly floor following resistance from some women in the lower chamber, including out lesbian Assemblymember Deborah Glick, who told The New York Times that gestational surrogacy was “pregnancy for a fee, and I find that commodification of women troubling.”

Among other issues with last year’s bill, Glick and others expressed uneasinessabout the reality that most working people could not afford to spend tens of thousands of dollars to have children through gestational surrogacy. The bill primarily benefits wealthier individuals in addition to those who are looking for financial compensation by donating eggs or carrying babies.

Hoylman, however, told Gay City News in February that he hopes the push towards universal healthcare means that such reforms could eventually alleviate some of the healthcare costs of surrogacy.

The dispute over the future of surrogacy in the state continued into this year when Manhattan State Senator Liz Krueger and Assemblymember Didi Barrett of Dutchess and Columbia Counties introduced a separate surrogacy bill that would have included, among other provisions, a controversial eight-day window during which the surrogate and intended parents would share legal responsibility for the child — raising questions about whether the surrogate might refuse to turn the child over or seek some ongoing legal relationship with them — something Hoylman described in a February interview with Gay City News as a “non-starter.”

The eight-day window was not included in the final version of Hoylman and Paulin’s bill, but some elements of Krueger’s legislation appear to have been incorporated, such as additional protections for the surrogate and the egg donor. Hoylman and Paulin had long defended their own bill as boasting the “strongest protections in the nation for surrogates” by placing significant responsibility on the intended parents to pay for her healthcare, legal representation, and other costs tied to the pregnancy. Additional protections for egg donors were also included in this year’s bill.

By Matt Tracy, Gay City News, April 2, 2020

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Legal Surrogacy in New York – Albany lawmakers pass landmark legislation

legal surrogacy in New York

Legal Surrogacy in New York – Albany lawmakers pass landmark legislation

Legal Surrogacy in New York – Albany lawmakers pass landmark legislation, The Child Parent Security Act.  In a marathon budget session, New York lawmakers passed The Child Parent Security Act, the most protective and forward-thinking surrogacy legislation in the country.  Only Michigan and Louisiana continue to ban gestational surrogacy for LGBT individuals and couples, Michigan banning gestational surrogacy for all Michiganders.legal surrogacy in New York

While legal surrogacy in New York seemed doomed after it failed to be brought to the floor for a vote last year in the Assembly after passage in the Senate and vocal support of the Governor, this year the Child Parent Security Act was tied to the budget.  This move forced lawmakers to affirmatively support or oppose the Bill, something that they had been reticent to do in June of 2019.  The bill becomes the law of New York on February 15, 2021.

The reality of legal surrogacy in New York is the product of a massive effort on the part of many organizations and individuals.  From Men Having Babies to The Women’s Bar of New York, several organizations have stepped up to the plate to make legal surrogacy in New York a reality.  Ron Poole-Dayan, Executive Director of Men Having Babies, the non-profit organization that has spearheaded educational and ethical surrogacy initiatives around the world, said, “The CPSA is the most comprehensive, thoughtful and ethical surrogacy legislation ever drafted. It is particularly important now in the midst of a health crisis, to pass this legislation that provides New Yorkers an ethical and affordable path to the realizing their parenthood dreams.  This is landmark legislation and we are proud of our lawmakers for taking this important step to help LGBT families prosper.”  “It’s an amazing day and it’s nice to be able to celebrate in these dark times.  The bill only passed when the issue grew into a moment and everyone played an important role,” stated Denise Seidleman, the New York attorney who was instrumental in drafting the legislation.

“We are overjoyed for New York families, as they finally are able to access gestational surrogacy if they need it to build their family.  This has been a marathon, with many teammates along the way.  This kind of win takes people raising their voice and advocating – we thank everyone who did just that.  A huge thanks to RESOLVE advocate Risa Levine, and the Protecting Modern Families Coalition that got this over the finish line. We are honored to work alongside an incredible coalition,” said Barb Collura, CEO and President of RESOLVE, The National Fertility Association.

“This is a game changer!  It will bring so much opportunity for our local IP’s, as well as our local clinics and potential surrogates.  Being an east coast based agency, Circle has a lot of intended parents who live in NY and the entire tri-state area,” said Jen Rachman, the New York Representative for Circle Surrogacy, a Boston based surrogacy agency.

How This Law is Unique

legal surrogacy in New YorkThis legislation is unique in several ways.  First, it contains a Surrogates Bill of Rights, which is the first of its kind in the country.  It provides specifically for independent counsel, health and welfare decision making authority during the pregnancy and full medical and legal informed consent of all New York women acting as surrogate mothers for intended parents.  It also provides for psychological counseling, life insurance and the ability of the surrogate to terminate the agreement prior to embryo transfer. 

The Child Parent Security Act also creates two formal, but voluntary, registries, one for egg donors and the other for surrogate mothers, which tracks information on the number of times someone has served as a donor or surrogate, their health information and any other information that the Health Commissioner deems appropriate.  The legislation also allows for consultation with The American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) to develop the best medical screening guidelines for potential surrogates.

Establishment of Parentage

The Child Parent Security Act, while creating legal surrogacy in New York, also provides for the establishment of parentage for intended parents of surrogacy, as well as lesbian couples who use a known sperm donor to assist them in having their families.  The process is known as a Pre-Birth Order and allows a court to issue a court order which terminates the rights of the surrogate and her spouse, or the known sperm donor, and affirms the legal parentage of the intended parents in a fully recognized court order which goes into effect at the moment of birth of the child.  The law also officially recognizes parentage orders from other states, ensuring that NY parents who have previously had children with surrogates in other states and obtained birth orders in those states to establish parentage, can rest assured that the other state’s order will be recognized by statute in New York.

Before this law’s passage, intended parents who resided in New York had few options to establish parentage.  Second or step parent adoption, a time consuming and somewhat invasive process, was the only way of establishing parental rights in New York.

The Ethics of The Child Parent Security Act

Regulation is the key to achieving ethical surrogacy. The Child Parent Security Act provides for more than just baseline protections and suggested protocols for an ethical journey.  The Surrogates Bill of Rights is a huge step toward ensuring that the process is balanced and that the woman acting as a surrogate mother has agency and support throughout the process.  The law also provides for the security of parentage, which assures that all parties are working toward a single goal of creating a family for the intended parent or parents. 

New York Adapts to Modern Family Creation

New York, in the midst of a global pandemic, and under the powerful and consistent guidance of Governor Andrew Cuomo, has brought its family law into the 21st century.  Many, myself included, could not comprehend how such a progressive and diverse state could lag so far behind the rest of the country in its recognition and support of assisted reproduction.  I was fortunate to sit on the Governor’s commission for the passage of The Child Parent Security Act and am a constituent of Assemblyperson Deborah Glick, who had opposed the legislation until last June.  To her credit, she met with me to discuss the legislation and I was able to correspond with her staff about surrogacy on several occasions. 

The passage of this legislation was truly a collaborative effort and the hard work of every person who worked on the coalition to pass the Child Parent Security act deserves credit for making legal surrogacy in New York a reality.  Whether a cancer survivor, an infertile couple or an LGBT New Yorker, this law now allows for the option of remaining in New York to create a family.  Finally, I want to thank Governor Cuomo for having the confidence in this law’s wisdom to add it to the budget bill.  This strategy was instrumental in its passing and the Governor deserves a great deal of credit and gratitude.  Legal surrogacy in New York!  I have waited to celebrate this moment for years!

April 2, 2020 by Anthony M. Brown, Esq.

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Source: Time for Families

How Coronavirus Is Affecting Surrogacy, Foster Care and Adoption

How Coronavirus Is Affecting Surrogacy

How Coronavirus Is Affecting Surrogacy – The pandemic is not just impacting parents and pregnant people — all prospective parents are facing new challenges.

How Coronavirus Is Affecting Surrogacy – Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has upended life for those who are or hope to become pregnant in the United States. Fertility doctors have indefinitely postponed all advanced fertility treatments, and some major hospitals in hard-hit areas are trying to ban partners and doulas from delivery rooms.

But the pandemic is affecting expectant parents forming families through surrogacy, foster care and adoption as well.

Global travel restrictions have left surrogacy agencies in the United States scrambling for exemptions for their international clients — particularly for those whose surrogates are scheduled to give birth in the next month or two.How Coronavirus Is Affecting Surrogacy

Circle Surrogacy, an agency based in Boston, has 15 international clients with due dates before May 1. “We’ve had our legal team prepare letters for each of these families, which has gotten many of them into the country despite travel bans,” said Sam Hyde, the agency’s president. Still, he said, his foreign clients were at the mercy of individual immigration officials. “Some have been sympathetic to the plight of our clients, others have not — it’s really been a case-by-case basis.”

 

Some intended parents, as clients of surrogacy agencies are known, who are currently struggling to gain entry into the United States are hoping to do so after completing a 14-day quarantine in a country with less severe travel restrictions.

Last week, for instance, Johnny and Patty — a Chinese couple working with a surrogate living in South Carolina — traveled from Shanghai to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, to begin two weeks in isolation at a local hotel. The couple, who work for an international company and use these westernized names, asked that their last name be withheld since surrogacy is still relatively uncommon in China. They hope to complete their quarantine in time to witness the birth of their daughter, who is due in mid-April, and claim guardianship over her.

But with travel restrictions tightening seemingly daily, they worry their effort may still be in vain. “First we bought plane tickets to travel through Thailand, but now travel is restricted there,” Johnny said in an interview from their hotel on the second day of his quarantine. “Then we tried Dubai, but that is now also restricted.” Traveling via Cambodia, he said, was the couple’s “last hope” to reach the United States in time for their daughter’s birth.

Though they would be disappointed to miss the delivery, the couple said they were even more concerned, in that scenario, about the baby’s well-being in the ensuing days before they are allowed to travel. “Who will take care of our baby if we can’t arrive before she’s born?” Patty said.

Will Halm, a managing partner at International Reproductive Law Group, said surrogacy agencies were creating contingency plans for clients living abroad who may be prohibited from entering the United States over the next few months. “Plan A is absolutely to have parents in the U.S., joyfully watching their child being born,” he said. “If they can’t get into the country in time, that’s when we look to plans B, C and D.”

 

In one of the better scenarios, agencies hope friends or family members living in the United States can temporarily assume guardianship of the baby until the intended parents are granted entry into the country. As a backup, however, caseworkers are also preparing strangers — health care professionals, child care providers and even surrogates themselves — to care for the newborns until travel restrictions are eased.

“These babies will not be abandoned,” said Dr. Kim Bergman, founder of Growing Generations, a surrogacy agency with dozens of international clients who may be impacted by travel bans in the coming months. “We have an army of former surrogates who are ready and eager to act as helpers and guardians for as long as necessary.”

The ongoing crisis has created an uncertain environment for foster care parents and children as well. “Basically, everything is on pause until things are back to normal,” said Trey Rabun, who works as a services supervisor at Amara, a foster care agency based in Seattle, Wash. — one of a growing number of states ordering its citizens to work from home.

Amara, whose staff members are included in the state’s proclamation, has been able to continue some aspects of the licensing process for foster parents online, such as initial interviews. But other critical components, like home inspections, need to be done in person, Rabun said.

As a result, the number of foster homes, already all too scarce in Washington before the crisis hit, will remain static for the state’s over 10,000 foster care children until the pandemic subsides and business returns to normal, Rabun said. Of bigger concern to him, and other foster care professionals throughout the country, is the impact that “stay at home” orders may have on children not yet accounted for in the system.

“We know abuse and neglect happen more in high-stress situations,” Rabun said. But the people who would normally notice and report these sorts of problem, like teachers and doctors, will be unable to do so in the days and weeks ahead. “No one has eyes on them,” he said.

With courts and other government offices closed in many states, parents who had hoped to finalize adoptions within the next couple of months are also now navigating a drastically changed landscape — particularly for parents completing adoptions abroad.

 

Early in the year, when the coronavirus was barely registering as a news story outside of Asia, Holt International — an agency that facilitates adoption placements between Chinese orphanages and adoptive parents in the United States — was already closely monitoring and responding to the outbreak.

NYTimes.com, by David Dodge, April 1, 2020

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The UK Supreme Court awards damages for commercial surrogacy

UK Supreme Court

A landmark ruling by The UK Supreme Court awards damages to a woman for Californian commercial surrogacy following a delay in detecting cancer in smear tests and biopsies.

Louisa Ghevaert provided expert evidence on surrogacy to the UK Supreme Court, donor conception and fertility law in this case and comments:UK Supreme Court

“This legal ruling from the UK Supreme Court is an important watershed in the development of medical negligence, fertility and surrogacy law in the UK. It enables a ‘surrogacy’ head of claim in cases where a person’s fertility and ability to conceive a child has been lost or impaired through medical negligence, including claims for overseas commercial surrogacy in appropriate cases. It marks a real step forward in recognising the value and importance of individual fertility and surrogacy. However, there is still more that needs to be done to preserve and protect people’s fertility and their ability to have children”.

Background

The Defendant admitted failing to detect signs of cancer from smear tests in 2008 and 2012 and biopsies in 2012 and 2013. As a result, the  Claimant developed invasive cancer of the cervix which required chemo-radiotherapy treatment that rendered her infertile and caused severe radiation damage to her bladder, bowel and vagina.

Due to the late cancer diagnosis and the increased size of the tumour, the Claimant was unable to have fertility sparing surgery and suffered a complete loss of fertility. This was a devastating blow as she had always wanted a large family of her own.  She was so devastated by the diagnosis that she postponed her cancer treatment twice to obtain further medical opinions about the viability of fertility sparing surgery. On learning this was not available to her, she underwent a cycle of ovarian stimulation in June 2013 and harvested and froze 8 mature eggs.  A few days later, she underwent surgery followed by chemo-radiotherapy. This caused irreparable damage to her uterus and ovaries so she could not conceive or carry a pregnancy and it caused her to enter premature menopause.

The Claimant therefore sought damages to enable her to enter into a commercial surrogacy arrangement in California to have a much wanted family of her own. In contrast to the informal and legally restricted nature of surrogacy in the UK, commercial surrogacy in California operates through a well established system which offers legally binding surrogacy arrangements and pre-birth orders in the Californian court.

Legal Ruling

The case was first heard in the English High Court in June 2017, where a limited damages award for two altruistic UK surrogacies was made in the sum of £74,000.  

Louisa Ghevaeart Blog, April 1, 2020

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ASRM Guidelines on Fertility Care During COVID-19 Pandemic

ASRM guidelines COVID-19

ASRM Guidelines on Fertility Care During COVID-19 Pandemic: Calls for Suspension of Most Treatments

ASRM Guidelines on COVID-19: The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), the global leader in reproductive medicine, today issues new guidance for its members as they manage patients in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Developed by an expert Task Force, of physicians, embryologists, and mental health professionals, the new document recommends suspension of new, non-urgent treatments.ASRM guidelines COVID -19

Specifically, the recommendations include:

  1. Suspension of initiation of new treatment cycles, including ovulation induction, intrauterine inseminations (IUIs), in vitro fertilization (IVF) including retrievals and frozen embryo transfers, as well as non-urgent gamete cryopreservation.
  2. Strongly consider cancellation of all embryo transfers, whether fresh or frozen. 
  3. Continue to care for patients who are currently ‘in-cycle’ or who require urgent stimulation and cryopreservation.
  4. Suspend elective surgeries and non-urgent diagnostic procedures.
  5. Minimize in-person interactions and increase utilization of telehealth.

The above recommendations will be revisited periodically as the pandemic evolves, but no later than March 30, 2020, with the aim of resuming usual patient care as soon and as safely as possible.  ASRM has been closely monitoring developments around COVID-19 since its emergence. Data on its impact on pregnancy and reproduction remains limited. However, the task force used best available data, and the expertise and experience of the members to develop the recommendations. Until more is known about the virus, and while we remain in the midst of a public health emergency, it is best to avoid initiation of new treatment cycles for infertility patients. Similarly, non-medically urgent gamete preservation treatments, such as egg freezing, should be suspended for the time being as well. Clinics who have patients under treatment mid-cycle should ensure they have adequate staff to complete the patient’s treatment and should strongly encourage postponing, the embryo transfer.

Ricardo Azziz, CEO of the ASRM stated, “This is not going to be easy for infertility patients and reproductive care practices. We know the sacrifices patients have to make under the best of circumstances, and we are loath to in add, in any way. to that burden. And it will not be easy for our members. The disruption to routines, the stress on staff members and the very real prospect of economic hardship loom large for ASRM members all over the world.  But the fact is that given what we know, as well as what we don’t, suspending non-urgent fertility care is really the most prudent course of action at this time.”

Dr. Racowsky added, “We should recognize that the situation on the ground is fluid, and as such we will continue to revisit and review our recommendations at least every two weeks, to provide providers and their patients with the best information and support we possibly can.”

ASRM Press Release – May 17, 2020

Click here to read the entire release

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The Latest Study on Regulation of Compensated Gestational Surrogacy in New York

compensated gestational surrogacy

The Latest Study on Regulation of Compensated Gestational Surrogacy in New York

The Latest Study on Regulation of Compensated Gestational Surrogacy in New York underscores the need to pass this legislation and shows that it would provide the most comprehensive protections for gestational carriers in the US.compensated gestational surrogacy

This report on the regulation of compensated gestational surrogacy in New York, issued in March 2020 to the New York State Legislature by Weill Cornell Medicine and the Cornell Law School is one of the most comprehensive reports of its kind and leads the reader to now other conclusion but that New York’s pending legislation, The Child Parent Security Act, would be the most protective of gestational carriers, or surrogate mothers, of any piece of legislation in existence in the US.  Surrogacy legislation  can be ethical and comprehensive.

To quote from the article, “The trend among state legislatures in the United States is to permit rather than prohibit compensated gestational surrogacy. Since 2000, fifteen states and the District of Columbia have acted to explicitly permit compensated gestational surrogacy. On the other hand, only four states have taken a prohibitive approach since 2000 and two of those states permit uncompensated gestational surrogacy.”

“In forty-four states there is no prohibition on surrogacy by statute or there is explicit or implicit permission. Even in the six states that have statutes that appear to prohibit surrogacy, courts have granted pre-birth orders to intended parents and have issued other pro-surrogacy decisions. Consequently, surrogacy in varying ways, including by approving pre-birth orders.”

“In sum, the health and medical literature does not weigh in favor of continuing to prohibit gestational surrogacy in New York. There are generally no disparate health outcomes for gestational carriers as compared to non-gestational carriers using assisted reproductive technology (ART) nor are their disparate health impacts on children. Additionally, there are no disparate psychological impacts on gestational carriers as compared to women who have had spontaneously conceived pregnancies. States across the country are moving to legalize and regulate gestational surrogacy in the last decade.”

March 20, 2020 by Cornell Weill Medical Center and Law School 

Click here to read the entire article.

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Source: Time for Families

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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The post Fertility Fraud: The U.S. Is Experiencing An Explosion Of Legislation. And That’s A Good Thing appeared first on Time For Families.


Source: Time for Families