Monday, November 11, 2013

Egg donor gets parental rights

The Wash. Post reports:
The Florida Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a woman who donated an egg to her lesbian partner has parental rights to the child and ordered a lower court to work out custody, child support and visitation arrangements.

The case involves two women, identified only by their initials, who had a child together. One donated an egg that was fertilized and implanted in the other, who gave birth in 2004.

But two years later the Brevard County couple split up, and the birth mother took the girl and left the country. The other woman, who identifies herself as the biological mother, used a private detective to find her former partner in Australia, and a custody fight ensued.

The birth mother tried to use a Florida law that prevents sperm or egg donors from claiming parental rights to children born to other couples. Her lawyer also cited a standard form donors are required to sign relinquishing parental rights. The court rejected both arguments, saying the law doesn’t apply in this case because the couple clearly planned to parent the child together.
The whole point of Rule of Law is to have written rules and predictable outcomes. This ruling is contrary to Rule of Law.

I do not agree with the term "biological mother" to refer to the egg donor. A pregnancy is certainly a biological process, and the egg donor and birth mom can both claim to be the biological mother. I would say that neither is really the biological mother. Wikipedia says "Biological parents consist of the male who sired the child and the female who gave birth to the child."
The court wrote that the case didn’t have to be an “all-or-nothing decision” on which parent had rights to the child. ...

A trial judge ruled for the birth mother and said the biological mother has no parental rights under state law, adding that he hoped his decision would be overturned.

The 5th District Court of Appeal in Daytona Beach sided with the biological mother and said both women have parental rights.

“It would indeed be anomalous if, under Florida law, an unwed biological father would have more constitutionally protected rights to parent a child after a one night stand than an unwed biological mother who, with a committed partner and as part of a loving relationship, planned for the birth of a child and remains committed to supporting and raising her own daughter,” the court wrote.
No, that is not an anomaly. In one case, you have a real biological father and mother, along with parental rights that have been understood for centuries. In the other, there is no legal father, no biological mother, and no committed partnership.

More and more, courts are just throwing away the rules about child custody, and just deciding on their own how to micro-manage peoples' lives. We are not a free society when this happens.

Here is another judge, trying to cope with a so-called lesbian marriage:
The judge hearing the case was an older man—old enough, in fact, to be the grandfather of the couple’s children, and how those children came into the world seemed to transfix the judge’s mind to the point that it became a sticking-point in the proceeding. Befuddled by the formula the women had devised, hung up on the lengths to which they had gone to ensure their kids’ origins, fascinated and at the same time repelled by a situation utterly foreign to his experience, he simply could not get past what he persisted in calling the couple’s “lifestyle.”

His emphasis on this issue was irrelevant and wide of the mark, as both lawyers agreed, and the judge’s insistence on raising it was both time-consuming and offensive. It was Melissa who first hit the bursting-point, proposing to Jennifer that the two take their fate out of the hands of a guy who struck her as very much a caricature of the quirky judges on “The Good Wife.” He simply could not get his head around who they were as people and what they had at stake.

Melissa and Jennifer were not comfortable with this person making decisions that would affect their lives—lives he clearly did not understand. Instead, the couple agreed to go to mediation to settle the issue on their own. And that’s exactly what happened.

To me, this case seemed to exemplify the disconnect between outmoded perceptions and current reality when it comes to relationships and their dissolution. To oversimplify a bit: On one side was the generation the judge embodied, still clinging to the idea that “family” means father, mother, two kids, refrigerator, and split-level—a template that was never as pervasive as claimed but that served as a kind of Madison Avenue standard for many years.

On the other side was a family configuration that shattered that notion noisily, and then had the temerity to break up and seek resolution in the law, which, by the time the twenty-first century rolled around, in fact protected the new configuration.


marilynn said...

Hi I reunite separated families for free many were separated by parents that abandoned their offspring as part of the terms of their gamete donation contracts. I'm pretty outspoken activist in favor of changing the law so that it obligates all people with offspring equally and their offspring would all then have equal rights. As it is now most people with offspring follow a certain set of rules, while another small segment of people with offspring follow another set of rules and the result is that they don't have equal rights to basic things like accurate medical/vital records, they loose kinship rights in their biological families and the right to identifying information/vital records of their relatives and their relatives also loose those rights with regard to them.

Parenthood begins once a child is born, before that we refer to people as expectant parents. If a woman has a miscarriage and years later someone asks if she's a mother and does she have any children it would be a lie for her to say yes, right? So biological relationships are measured between living individuals. Kinship measures distance just like a mile or an inch measures distance or a pound measures weight. A person who has reproduced, who has offspring is a parent in the biological sense of the word, in the medical, scientific, genealogical, sense of the word. Women are biologically related to their offspring in the exact same way that men are related to their offspring - their genes are reproduced in the bodies of their offspring.

If a woman gives birth to another woman's offspring she is the legal birth mother of record. They have no shared biology. Even when she is gestating the fetus, they share not one drop of blood. Two people are reproducing themselves in the body of a third.
The woman who gives birth can damage the biology of the child she's carrying by drinking or drugs or stress but she's' not otherwise going to alter the biology of the person she delivers. The best she can do is no harm.

So the person she delivers is not actually related to her. The pregnancy is a novelty which is usually for the carrier's enjoyment - that is someone else could have carried the pregnancy or their own mother could have carried the pregnancy and the results (barring damage during pregnancy) would be the same. The resulting person is the offspring of the woman who reproduced. The person delivered is the biological child of the woman whose cell biology reproduced her relatives are their relatives.

So I don't know if that changes your feelings at all on the matter. I think it is an outrage that people name themselves parents on birth records of people that are not their own offspring. I think it is an outrage that we exempt some people from being named parents on their own children's birth records. It falsifies their medical records, undermines medical research on birth defects and heritable disease because the CDC uses birth records as the statistical basis for research. Really it all has to stop. Of course the biological mother should be awarded custody of her own child. The woman that gave birth is not related to the child.

marilynn said...

I mean kinship measures distance between born individuals (not necessarily living)

George said...

Your objections would also apply to adoption. Almost everyone accepts adoption.

I believe that England now has laws as you suggest, and as a result, no one wants to be an egg or sperm donor over there.

marilynn said...

Oh absolutely adoption does also need an overhaul.

Egg and sperm recipients are not even actually recipients the way one might be the recipient of a donated lung. Despite remaining the donor's lung with the donor's dna, a transplanted lung at least operates in support of the recipients healthy respiratory function, whereas donated eggs and sperm are never actually received by the people we refer to as recipients and the donated genes never stop operating in support of the healthy reproductive function of the donor. The donated egg or sperm does not help the recipient's body reproduce itself. The donated egg reproduces the donor as if it were never donated at all. All the donor is doing is reproducing with medical assistance in order to provide people with their children to raise. It just makes abandoning their offspring as promised in their agreements an efficient unemotional endeavor.

So why would it be a bad thing if everyone was held to the same standards as being responsible for their offspring? So what if it meant fewer people were willing to abandon their offspring for others to raise? They'd just be acting responsibly with regard to family planning the way we encourage the rest of society to try and avoid having children they don't want to raise. I think it would be fantastic if fewer people were willing to have offspring they were not planning to raise themselves. It's responsible reproductive behavior. Why is that a bad thing? Why do we encourage irresponsible reproductive behavior? Simply to supply people with children because they want them? We are talking about human beings here. The offspring of a gamete donor is just as human as any other child abandoned by a bio parent. Making the arrangements all before hand before they are born does not change the ultimate bottom line which is their bio parent is not raising them and if commerce or altruism is the reason for it then we have an ethical human rights issue on our hands.