Parental Rights Triggers Lawsuit For Same-Sex Couple

Posted by in Sperm Donation

Kami and Angie RoeAngie and Kami Roe were married on December 20, 2013 in Utah, and they have the court papers to prove it. They joined in union after a federal judge deemed same-sex marriage as constitutional.

The natural progression after they were married was to start building a family. In May 2014, the wives agreed upon using a sperm donor and that Kami would carry the baby.

Their daughter, Lucy, was born this past February.

The couple is now in a legal snafu, and the ACLU of Utah is stepping in to help.  Recently, the couple launched a lawsuit against the Utah Department of Health arguing that Angie should be permitted on the baby’s birth certificate.

Annie Cutler of Fox 13 Now reports, “Right now in the eyes of the law I’m not her parent,” Angie Roe said. “We just want to be treated the same under the law as opposite sex couples are.”

According to Cutler, Angie and Kami Roe want to be acknowledged under the state’s assisted reproduction statutes. In doing so, there is no reason for Angie to be forced into a stepparent adoption process for legal guardianship which could take up to a couple months.

Leah Farrell, attorney with the ACLU of Utah told the media, “A couple of months of waiting is not nothing. The security or the lack of security that are in those months is a real thing but beyond that there’s just the principle of equality that they are being treated differently just because of the gender of one of the people in the couple and that’s not right.”

There are some who claim to support equality, but feel that this process really is the road toward legal due diligence.

This group is voicing that Angie is being viewed by the law as a stepparent. For heterosexual couples, they say, a stepparent must go through the adoption process to become a legal guardian. The argument from this corner says it sounds “equal” since a child cannot possibly have two mothers, so the adoption process is more than fair since heterosexual couples who marry into an established family go through the same procedure.

This argument doesn’t sit well with me because the Angie and Roe were legally married at the time of conception.

The ACLU fires away in their court papers indicating, “A same-sex spouse and a different-sex spouse whose wife conceives through donor insemination are similarly situated in all relevant aspects.”  They continue, “The purpose of the statutes is to immediately establish parentage for a spouse who has consented to bringing a child into the world, whether or not that spouse shares a genetic relationship with the child.”

On the other side of the courtroom, the Utah Department of Health didn’t speak to the media but did release the following statement:

“While we have not had the opportunity to review today’s filing, we have been working for several months with both the ACLU and the plaintiffs in an attempt to reach a solution. Our hope is to resolve the issue at hand in a manner that serves the best interest of all parties.”

While other lawsuits have been heard in the courtroom referring to same-sex couples and parentage rights through adoption, this case is a trailblazer because it relates to assisted reproduction statues in the state of Utah.

Jennifer Dobner of The Salt Lake Union Tribune reports the court papers filed say, “Under Utah laws that govern assisted reproduction, however, only the husband of a woman who conceives through the use of donated sperm is automatically recognized as a child’s parent.”

The stepparent adoption that Angie Roe is being asked to do requires filing a petition for adoption, background check, a hearing for the judge’s ruling, and, of course, financial costs.

Angie Roe adds in her ACLU statement, “All we are asking is to be treated the way that other married couples are already treated under state law.”

With the changing climate in building families with third-party reproduction, state laws have to be more progressive and not so prohibitive for same-sex couples.

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Has Fertility Medicine Gone Too Far?

Posted by in IVF

55-year-old mom with daughterA recent case involving Annegret Raunigk of Berlin has many people questioning the point at which the curtain should close on fertility treatments.

Raunigk, a sixty-five year old school teacher, had her 13th baby when she was fifty-five and is now entering her third trimester of pregnancy with quadruplets.

According to USA Today’s reporter, Arden Dier, “Raunigk plans to add four more bundles of joy to her already large family. Raunigk underwent numerous attempts at artificial insemination over 18 months using donor eggs and sperm after her youngest daughter, Leila, asked for a baby brother or sister.” The media report continues, “While a pregnancy was planned, Raunigk says it was ‘a shock for me’ when doctors found she was carrying quadruplets.”

This type of medical intervention should not be condoned. In so many ways, this situation truly parallels the American Octomom case.

I say this because there are parental, medical and sociological responsibilities and ramifications here.

As of yet, it has not been revealed whether or not Raunigk underwent any form of psychological counseling with a trained therapist. This would be not only recommended, but vital before proceeding with fertility treatments.

We have to scrutinize why a fertility doctor would allow a woman at her age to be pregnant with quadruplets. It’s not only a dangerous situation for this senior, but may also put these babies at risk, too.

Raunigk told reporters, “I always find it very aggravating that one has to fulfill certain clichés.” She goes on to say, “I’m not actually afraid … I simply assume I’ll remain healthy and fit.”

Her gynecologist has told the media that while Raunigk is doing well to date, there is a risk of premature births.

Let me chime in here by saying that the most recent set of quadruplets in the news, the “Gardner Quadruplets” , is a completely different scenario. Two embryos were split in two to create sets of identical twins. That should be the only time someone is pregnant with quads from a fertility treatment. Above all, the mother, Ashley Gardner was in her twenties at the time of her pregnancy and the couple struggled several years with infertility.

All media reports concur that Raunigk, already a grandmother of 7 children, has children between the ages of 9 to 44.

According to Fox2Now News, despite the medical analysis backlash, Raunigk is telling naysayers, “They can see it how they want to, and I’ll see it the way I think is right.”

And she is also quoted saying, “Children keep me young.”

Really, is that so?

Having children in a woman’s twenties and thirties is physically difficult and takes its toll on the body even more so if one is in their forties and fifties.

It is mind boggling to fathom a grandmother in her sixties will be enduring pregnancy, delivery, rearing four newborns, and chasing around toddlers.

Medical professionals are agreeing that Raunigk will be unable to give birth naturally and will ultimately result in a C-section.

The aftercare, however, is another valid concern.

According to the BBC, reporter Michelle Roberts, spoke with Dr. Sue Avery, a fertility expert with Birmingham Women’s Fertility Centre and also a member of the British Fertility Society.

Avery shares in the United Kingdom that a small number of clinics offer IVF treatments to women more than 50 years of age.

Roberts reports Avery saying, “We have to consider the welfare of the child when making a decision,” and ends her statement by adding, “…it is up to individual clinics to decide if a woman, who at the age of 65 might reasonably expect to live for another 20 years or so, should be eligible for treatment.”

For the welfare of these babies, let’s all hope that future plans will be in place so these children receive the best medical, emotional and educational care possible.

 

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A Breakthrough for Gay Parental Rights

Posted by in Surrogacy, Uncategorized

Gay Dad Paternity leaveTo counter last week’s post about gay men being denied parental rights, here’s a story from the opposite end of the spectrum.
This week the Labour Court in Durban, South Africa ruled that gay men who become fathers through surrogacy are eligible for maternity leave when the baby is born.

Let’s revise that by saying they are “entitled” to it.
This is a trailblazing judgment.
In Times Live, writers Ernest Mabuza and Nomahlubi Jordaan report, “The court ordered the applicant’s employer, the State Information Technology Agency, to pay him for the two months’ unpaid leave he took to care for his newborn baby.” It continues, “The ruling, which has been welcomed by activist groups, would apply to heterosexual men as well.”
Irvin Lawrence, who represented the applicant, said this ruling also transcends to heterosexual fathers who declare themselves as the primary caregiver to their newborn.
The reason why Lawrence was brought into this court battle was that the petitioner’s employer, State Information Technology Agency, refused to pay their staff member when he took two months off to care for his baby.
Around the globe, gay rights activists cheered this case on finding the actions of the employer to be unconscionable, knowing it was time for a change.
The reporters wrote, “The father, whose identity cannot be revealed to protect the privacy of the child, challenged his employer’s refusal to grant him four months’ paid maternity leave on the grounds that he was not the child’s biological mother.” They added, “The man married his partner in a civil union in 2010 and a year later the couple entered into an agreement with a woman to carry a baby for them.”
For the applicant, he conveyed to the court that he and his spouse agreed that he would undertake the role as the primary caregiver for their infant following the birth.
Lawrence told reporters that the judge’s ruling may spur an amendment to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act. In a new era of parenthood, descriptions and definitions must be expanded to include every facet of parenthood in the 21st century.

In this particular case, the surrogacy agreement between the couple and the woman was a court order. The surrogate relinquished her parental rights, and the gay couple finalized their parentage order.
The petitioner, preparing for the birth of his baby, requested “paid” maternity leave for a total of four months.
“The State Information Technology Agency refused on the grounds that its policies and the Basic Conditions of Employment Act made provision for maternity leave only for female employees and were silent on leave for people who became parents through surrogacy,” the reporters wrote.
The employer indicated the employee could be offered what was called a leave for “family responsibility” or “special unpaid leave.”
As time pushed on, the employer then offered a total of two months of paid adoption leave. The other two months the employee would choose to take off would be unpaid.
“The father said these terms constituted discrimination against gay men. The agency denied its policy was discriminatory and said maternity leave was due to, and a right of, only female employees,” the article highlighted.
But Judge David Gush thought otherwise.
Gush’s ruling stated the following: “Given these circumstances there is no reason why an employee in the position of the applicant should not be entitled to maternity leave and, equally, no reason why such maternity leave should not be for the same duration as the maternity leave to which a natural mother is entitled.”
The authors also wrote that the judge ordered the State Information Technology Agency to recognize civil unions and also forbid the company to discriminate against those who became parents through surrogacy.
According to Johan Meyer, a health manager at Out, he told the media, “This is a breakthrough for future cases and for LGBT rights. It means that they can enjoy equal rights.”

 


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Texas Dads Deprived of Services by Texas Surrogacy Clinics

Posted by in Surrogacy, Uncategorized

TX dadsA Texas fertility clinic has denied Joe Riggs and Jason Hanna service because the state of Texas does not recognize the validity of their marriage.

Hanna and Riggs were married in Washington D.C., where same-sex marriage is legal and returned home to Dallas to celebrate their wedding with family and friends.

If the intended fathers’ names sound familiar to you, it is because this isn’t the first time that they have had to fight for their parental rights and the right to have a family. They were recently involved in a heated legal battle to co-adopt their biological twin sons who were born in April 2014. Their first attempt was denied by the judge, and after an appeal, they succeeded with a new judge who gave them the parental rights they justly deserved.

Texas has laws which deny same-sex couples the right to marry as well as denying the validity of the union if the marriage took place elsewhere.

Tyler Curry, a writer for The Advocate, explained in his article that following the ruling of their co-adoption, the couple wanted to move forward with another surrogacy. Rather than using the agency that they used for their previous surrogacy process, they chose an agency which was closer to their residence in Plano.
Hanna told The Advocate, “The phone conversation began with Hanna speaking to the clinic’s office manager.” After listening to the protocol which included expenses, Hanna was then transferred to the nurse coordinator.

A friendly conversation suddenly became cold.

He told the reporter, “I explained that we were looking for a second surrogacy and we had a conversation for several minutes. Then she asked why we were seeking a gestational carrier and I told her that we are a same-sex couple. I was immediately put on hold for about three to five minutes. Then the woman from the front desk finally picked up the line and began to tell me that they only service married couples.”
The receptionist apologized to Hanna, adding that it wasn’t her view, but that of the doctors in the clinic.

Hanna’s resolve willed him to make another phone call to another regarded Texas clinic known for surrogacy named, IVFMD.

Hanna told The Advocate, “I asked a handful of questions to the person who answered the phone and she said that I needed to speak with the office manager.” He continued, “Then I asked her if they service same-sex couples and she said no. She added that they have served same-sex female couples, but not male couples.”

Is something wrong with this picture? Gay women get the green light whereas gay men get a red one?
The Advocate decided to do some of their own research in this matter. They called the Dallas/Fort Worth Fertility Associates and spoke with the same office manager that Hanna did. She confirmed that they did not provide surrogacy for gay couples.

When pressed for clarification as to whether the clinic provides the service of implanting an embryo into a surrogate, Curry wrote, the manager curtly said, “No,” adding that while the clinic does offer this service, it is only available to couples who are legally married in the state of Texas.
Then The Advocate asked if same-sex marriage were legal in Texas, would they take on surrogacy cases? The red tape answer was the clinic would need to perform its own review if that were to happen.

Next, The Advocate contacted IVFMD. On the other end of the line was Tina Vu, an IVF coordinator.
Curry reported that Vu, “…would not tell The Advocate why the clinic’s policy did not allow services for same-sex male couples or single males. She just said that these policies were decided on when the practice first opened, and although it may not reflect what she believes, it is current policy.”

However, according to Curry, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals is to arrive at a decision which contests same-sex marriage bans in the sates of Mississippi, Texas and Louisiana.

TX Dads post- gay marriage
“If the Fifth Circuit overturns such ban, clinics like Dallas/Fort Worth Fertility Associates would face legal ramifications if they chose to continue their discriminatory policies,” Curry writes.

As for Hanna and Riggs, Curry says their choices for their next surrogacy journey will be locating a practice which approves working with gay couples.

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The Ultimate Grandmother: Gay man becomes a father with his mother’s help

Posted by in Infertility, IVF, Surrogacy


UK dad cassonThis recent story hailing from the United Kingdom has surged a wave of dialogue. It’s not something that one often stumbles upon in the media in terms of surrogacy.

While one group is cheering another is quite baffled by the scenario.

A woman decided to help her gay son become a father by being his surrogate. And according to the new father, Kyle Casson, 27, using his mother as his gestational carrier wasn’t his first choice.

According to NewNowNext.com, Casson was in search of a surrogacy agency to help him but his requests were met with denials because he was a single parent. Reporter, Joe Ehrman-Dupre, writes that following so many rejections, he turned to his family for help and his mother decided to carry the baby.

One thing needs to be made perfectly clear. An egg donor was used.  Casson’s mother, Anne-Marie Casson, 46, is not the biological mother of this child.

As Miles turns eight-months-old, Kyle has just been designated by the courts as his adopted father.

Ehrman-Dupre reports, “British law forbids children from being adopted by a single parent, but since Miles and Kyle are technically brothers, the High Court made an exception, though Kyle’s father is listed on Miles’ birth certificate ‘because he consented to the pregnancy.’”

Casson is fully aware that there are people out there who are voicing some harsh disapproval, finding the whole scenario unsettling.

In response to the verbal backlash, Casson told The Daily Mail, “As people can provide a home, and they have the support, I don’t see why anyone should be denied the right to be a parent.”

Casson’s mother has told the media that the baby is in no way “biologically tied” to her. In the same breath, Miles is her grandson.

She shared with reporters, “I love being a parent, and for Kyle to experience that, I would do that for him.”

As this story settles into its very own discussion niche, legal commentaries have emerged from within and outside the courtroom.

According to Thaddeus Baklinski of LifeSiteNews.com, “The UK’s 2008 Human Fertilization and Embryology Act, which governs surrogacy arrangements, generally discourages surrogate mothers from acting on behalf of a single parent. Under the law it is illegal to hand over a child to only the biological father. Instead, the child must be given to a couple ‘in an enduring family relationship.’” He continues, “However, in this case a judge ruled that while Anne-Marie Casson and her husband are the legal parents of the child, Kyle can legally adopt the baby boy, because the newborn and his father are brothers.”

He also quotes High Court Justice Theis in her ruling which said the following: “Miles was born following a surrogacy arrangement whereby the gestational surrogate was [the man’s] mother. [Her husband] fully supported this.”

Theis called this arrangement unusual, and to her knowledge, something that the court has not faced before.

While this arrangement was rare, Baklinski writes that Theis said that the ruling fell under lawful considerations and relevant statutory provisions.

Theis told the court the arrangement was, “entered into by the parties after careful consideration, following each having individual counseling and with all the treatment being undertaken by a fertility clinic licensed by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA).”

According to Baklinski, critics have called this ruling “dubious” in tandem with a cry for reform.  By remodeling the Human Fertilization and Embryology Act, they hope to ward off future abuses of this kind.

Baklinski quotes a policy analyst and writer, Jill Kirby, telling the Telegraph that she found this surrogacy arrangement to be, “very disturbing that any mother would consider it healthy or appropriate to give birth to her son’s child.” She continued, “What is even more worrying is that the High Court has granted the son an adoption order, partly based on the ‘closeness’ of the relationship between the family members involved.”

My question is how does this surrogacy arrangement differ from a sister, aunt or cousin carrying a baby for a family member in need?

Really, there is none.

The argument from the start was Casson’s relationship status.. His attorney had the wherewithal to know the legal framework within the United Kingdom and reframed it so Casson could finally experience fatherhood.

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Baby Gammy is Declared to be an Australian Citizen

Posted by in Infertility, Surrogacy

Baby Gammy Australia

 

Many people following the Baby Gammy ordeal were undoubtedly ecstatic to learn that he was recently granted Australian citizenship and with this citizenship, access to healthcare.

As many already know, Baby Gammy was born via a Thai surrogate and was diagnosed with Down’s syndrome. His healthy twin sister, Pipah, was taken home by Australian intended parents, David and Wendy Farnell. The parents chose not to take Baby Gammy and left him behind

There was a global outcry. A situation such as this is rare and heart-wrenching, but Baby Gammy’s future is looking brighter.

He’s thriving under the love and care of his surrogate mother Pattaramon Chanbua, 21.

Baby Gammy

According to the BBC, “Surrogate mother Pattaramon Chanbua said she sought Australian citizenship to safeguard Gammy’s future. Gammy, who turned a year old in December 2014, is eligible for Australian citizenship because David Farnell is his biological father.” The report goes on to say, “He will now have access to healthcare in Australia and is eligible for an Australian passport.”

Along with Down’s syndrome, Baby Gammy was also diagnosed with a congenital heart condition at the time of his birth. These particular health issues must be dealt with as well as assessing any new challenges on the medical horizon. Securing medical care in Australia is a huge achievement and justly deserved for Baby Gammy.

The BBC also states that Baby Gammy garnered donations worldwide. These monies are being managed by an Australian-based charity. To date, these funds have helped pay for hospital bills and new home for Chanbua and her family.

 

 

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Egg Donors Face IRS Taxation

Posted by in Egg Donation, Infertility

In California, we are not guaranteed four distinguishable seasons, however, every year, without fail, comes tax season.

3.5.14-Tax-Season

The term “egg donor” can be a little misleading in that it may lead one to believe that the eggs are simply donated with no compensation.   While many donors are altruistic, there is also the aspect of monetary compensation.  Is this compensation taxable income?

In Forbes Magazine, contributing writer, Tony Nitti covers this tax revelation in his article, “New Ruling: IRS Can Tax Payments To Egg Donors As Income.”

It is important to relay that egg donation is not an instantaneous process.  It entails medical and psychological screening, injections to trigger multiple ovum and lastly, surgically harvesting these eggs for fertilization.

Nitti writes, this, “…has led to a rather big tax conundrum: do the amounts received by the donor in exchange for her eggs constitute taxable income?” He continues, “The issue has been a huge topic of conversation on egg donor message boards (yes, there is such a thing) and in the fertility industry at large. And for good reason: because until today, there was no answer. Hours ago, however, that all changed, when the Tax Court concluded that amounts received by a donor represented taxable compensation income.”

Nitti reports, “The tax consequences of dealing in the human body are largely unsettled, and they probably should be.” He continues, “As a result, the IRS and the courts have tread lightly in establishing such precedent. In fact, over 100 years of tax law reveals little more clarity about the tax consequences of dealing in the human body than 1) breast milk is considered property, the donation of which may result in a charitable contribution, and 2) donating blood may be either the sale of property or the performance of a service, dependig on the court.”

This all recently changed when the United States Tax Court decided on taxable income in Perez v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, (2015).

Nichelle Perez,a California resident, and she entered into a contract with a California-based agency to help a woman conceive.  The case states in 2009 she underwent two donation cycles and earned $20,000.  Two contracts were drafted: one for Donor Source International, LLC and the anonymous intended parent.

“The contract with Donor Source made clear that Perez was not selling her eggs, intimating instead that she was being compensated for her physical suffering.”

While Section 61 of the IRS code defines gross income from however it is derived, “including compensation for services,” there is an exemption.

The code exemption indicates that, “Section 104(a)(2), however, which excludes from taxable income the amount of any damages (other than punitive damages) received on account of personal injuries or physical sickness.”

Perez fought hard, claiming that her compensation was from the egg donation process which involved physical sickness.

Nitti goes on to say that Perez did not report the $20,000 of taxable income, despite the fact that Donor Source issued her a 1099 tax form in that amount.

“The IRS disagreed, arguing that regardless of the contractual language, the $20,000 Perez received was in exchange for services provided; in essence, while Perez may not have been selling her eggs, she was providing a service when she went through the process of donating her eggs,” Nitti reports. “The tax law is harsh and unforgiving, and often times, precedent must be decided with an eye towards the future, and with consideration of the inevitable abuse of the authority established by enterprising taxpayers.  Thus, while the decision in Perez is sure to be unpopular, it was the correct one.”

So there you have it.  The swing of the gavel echoed taxation for egg donation.

OVA

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