India to have new surrogacy law soon

November 16, 2014 – FirstPost.com

New Delhi, Nov 16 (IANS) Much in the news for all the wrong reasons, surrogacy in India will soon be a regulated sector with the government bringing in a law to govern all aspects of the process like compensation, age and consent of the surrogate mother.

“The final draft bill is now lying with the law ministry and, after being cleared, will be presented before the cabinet for approval,” V.M. Katoch, secretary, department of health research under the health ministry, told IANS.

Surrogacy is a method of reproduction where a woman – the surrogate – agrees to carry a pregnancy to term for a fee.

A study backed by the United Nations in July 2012 estimated that surrogacy is a more than $400 million business a year in India, with over 3,000 fertility clinics across the country.

India now has only the guidelines the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) released in 2002.

In Oct 2008, the Supreme Court ruled that “commercial surrogacy is legal and an industry in India”, making it a legally protected and viable option for international couples.

Named the Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill, 2013, it seeks to address issues like how many pregnancies can be allowed for a surrogate mother, the age of the mother and due compensation to be paid to her.

“The issues addressed in the bill are compensation, informed consent and health of the women involved,” Katoch said.

He said that the bill might also provide a punishment framework for violators.

It has been cleared after rounds of discussions with various ministries and could be passed as early as the winter session of parliament in November-December, said Katoch, who is also the ICMR chief.

The bill will also provide a framework for letting foreigners use Indian surrogate mothers.

Surrogacy in India has always been a controversial subject with activists blaming foreigners for exploiting poor women.

In 2012, an Australian couple left behind one of the twins born to an Indian surrogate mother because they could not afford to bring up two children back home.

Earlier in 2010, a German couple, Jan Balaz and Susan Lohle, had to wait for two years before they could take their twin babies home.

Their twin sons, Nikolas and Leonard, were trapped in a citizenship limbo ever since an Indian surrogate mother gave birth to them in February 2008.

The boys were refused passports by their parents’ homeland because German nationality is determined by the birth mother. The issue was finally settled after a prolonged court battle.

Centre for Social Research Director Ranjana Kumari told IANS: “Surrogate motherhood has grown exponentially in India to become part of a thriving globalized industry.

However, it raises difficult ethical, philosophical and social issues”.

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Gay Men Creating Families Through Surrogacy

villageq.com by on November 17, 2014

On Sunday, November 2nd, Men Having Babies hosted its 10th annual workshop in New York City in an effort to bring together prospective parents, service providers, and experts on the subject of surrogacy. I spoke with a number of participants and attendees who agreed that surrogacy is becoming a more accessible and normative option for gay men looking to start families. Still, surrogacy in the United States presents the kind of obstacles Odysseus faced on his return to Ithaca after the fall of Troy. Men Having Babies tries to take the Sirens and Cyclops out of the equation by hosting these surrogacy workshops, which prove to be an oasis of information and resources. The gods were definitely with everyone that day, providing a safer passage on rocky seas.

“We started 15 years ago. It was literally just a handful of men at The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center who really wanted to gather as much information as we could,” explained Anthony Brown, Chairman of the board at Men Having Babies. “We invited service providers in and basically anybody who could answer the questions that we had. We did it in the form of monthly workshops which we still have the 2nd Wednesday of every month, 6:30-8PM here at the JCC (in New York City), and people can also go online at menhavingbabies.org to events, workshops for information on the whole schedule.”

While surrogacy provides an option for infertile straight couples, Men Having Babies structures panels and break-out sessions specifically for gay men. The speakers at the conference dealt with many of the issues gay men face on their surrogacy journey. Costs are very high. Surrogacy laws and LGBT discrimination laws vary from state to state and can be prohibitive. Surrogacy is unregulated, which means that participants are vulnerable to unethical practices. Fortunately, the prospective parents at Men Having Babies workshop benefit from the knowledge and experience of those who have gone down this path previously and were able to speak to the issues at hand.

THE PRICE TAG

Adding up the cost of egg donors, surrogates, agency fees, legal costs, and trips to visit surrogates, a couple could face a bill close to $150,000, not to mention the emotional costs that accompany the process. Finding the right surrogate and negotiating the kind of relationship a couple wants to have with her can be tricky not to mention the reality of failed transfers or failed pregnancies.

International surrogacy is much less expensive at about one-third of the cost of domestic surrogacy. However, while the financial stresses may be alleviated, some agencies may not act as ethically as others, exploiting poor women for their own economic gain. It is important for prospective parents to do their homework in sourcing agencies who work with surrogates who are financially stable.

I spoke with Ralph, a New Jersey father of three via two different surrogates in the United States. He said, “Neither of our surrogates needed the money. They were solidly middle class. They wanted to do it, and that was important to us. In general, the better agencies wouldn’t allow a woman to come into the program if it was a life and death situation for her.”

Men Having Babies, which is a nonprofit organization, recognized the economic barrier of surrogacy and started a financial relief service, Gay Parent Assistance Program (GPAP). Funding comes from surrogacy agencies that contribute to the GPAP program. Those agencies then receive discounts on the fees to participate in Men Having Babies events. Agencies benefit from partnering with Men Having Babies seminars in major markets such as New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Tel Aviv, and Brussels.

THE WILD WEST AND NO SHERIFF IN TOWN

A major obstacle for egg donors, surrogates, and gay men is that surrogacy is unregulated in the United States. There is no licensing body, and there are no requirements requiring agencies to know anything about the law or psychology or insurance or anything else that may support or protect parties from embarking on this journey. Because surrogacy laws are handled at the state level, there is no opportunity for the federal government to enforce laws to protect surrogates and hopeful parents. Recommendations and track records are important factors when shopping for providers.

Egg donors and surrogates face a significant amount of risk if they do not have sufficient support. There are no requirements to educate women about the physical tolls that result from donating eggs and carrying babies. Ralph echoed the opinion of many dads at the workshop when he said, “It shouldn’t be easy for young women to donate a zillion times and risk their health and fertility.”

Unfortunately, for some surrogacy agencies, money is more important than providing would-be parents with a family. Attendant and hopeful father Doron said, “I have dealt with a few agencies, some better than others. This is an industry. It’s a business. There are good people and bad people, and I landed with some bad people.”

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Paternity Leave: The Rewards and the Remaining Stigma

New York Times – November 7, 2014 by

Claire Cane Miller

Five months after Todd Bedrick’s daughter was born, he took some time off from his job as an accountant. The company he works for, Ernst & Young, offered paid paternity leave, and he decided to take six weeks — the maximum amount — when his wife, Sarah, went back to teaching. He learned how to lull the fitful baby to sleep on his chest and then to sit very still for an hour to avoid waking her. He developed an elaborate system for freezing and thawing his wife’s pumped breast milk. And each day at lunchtime, he drove his daughter to the elementary school where Sarah teaches so she could nurse. When she came home at the end of the day, he handed over the baby and collapsed on the couch.

“The best part was just forming the bond with her,” said Mr. Bedrick, who lives in Portland, Ore., and went back to work in June. “Had I not had that time with her, I don’t think I’d feel as close to her as I do today.”

Social scientists who study families and work say that men like Mr. Bedrick, who take an early hands-on role in their children’s lives, are likely to be more involved for years to come and that their children will be healthier. Even their wives could benefit, as women whose husbands take paternity leave have increased career earnings and have a decreased chance of depression in the nine months after childbirth. But researchers also have a more ominous message. Taking time off for family obligations, including paternity leave, could have long-term negative effects on a man’s career — like lower pay or being passed over for promotions.

In other words, Mr. Bedrick is facing the same calculus that women have for decades.

Women’s role in society and the economy has been transformed over the last half-century. Today, 70 percent of women with children at home are in the labor force, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But only recently have men’s roles begun to change in significant ways.

Paternity leave is perhaps the clearest example of how things are changing — and how they are not. Though the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 requires companies with more than 50 employees to provide 12 weeks of unpaid leave for new parents, it requires no paid leave. The 14 percent of companies that do offer pay, like Ernst & Young, do so by choice. Twenty percent of companies that are supposed to comply with the law, meanwhile, still don’t offer paternity leave, according to the 2014 National Study of Employers by the Families and Work Institute. And almost half the workers in the United States work at smaller companies that are not required to offer any leave at all.

Even when there is a policy on the books, unwritten workplace norms can discourage men from taking leave. Whether or not they are eligible for paid leave, most men take only about a week, if they take any time at all. For working-class men, the chances of taking leave are even slimmer.

“There is still some stigma about men who say, ‘My kids are more important than my work,’ ” said Scott Coltrane, a sociologist studying fatherhood who is the interim president of the University of Oregon. “And basically that’s the message when men take it. But the fact that women are now much more likely to be at least a principal breadwinner, if not the main breadwinner, really changes the dynamic.”

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Court Upholds Four States’ Bans on Same-Sex Marriage

New York Times by Erik Ekholm, November 6, 2014

By a 2-to-1 vote, a federal appeals court in Cincinnati upheld the right of states to ban same-sex marriage, overturning lower-court decisions in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee that had found such restrictions to be unconstitutional.

The long-awaited decision, written by Judge Jeffrey S. Sutton, an appointee of President George W. Bush, ​was the first by an appeals court to uphold a ban on same-sex marriage, contradicting rulings by four other federal circuit courts. The ruling appeared almost certain to force the Supreme Court to decide the same-sex marriage issue for the nation.

“This is the circuit split that will almost surely produce a decision from the Supreme Court, and sooner rather than later,” said Dale Carpenter, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Minnesota. “It’s entirely possible that we could have oral arguments in coming months and a Supreme Court decision by next summer.”

In the decision, by a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, Judge Sutton said that it appears almost inevitable that American law will allow gay couples to marry, but the more fundamental question, he wrote, is “Who decides?”

Judge Sutton said that such a profound change in the institution of marriage should be decided not by “an intermediate court” like his, but by “the less expedient, but usually reliable, work of the state democratic processes.” He dismissed the reasoning issued in the last year by several other federal courts, which have ruled that barring same-sex marriage violated equal protection or due process clauses of the Constitution and have no rational basis.

n the decision, by a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, Judge Sutton said that it appears almost inevitable that American law will allow gay couples to marry, but the more fundamental question, he wrote, is “Who decides?”

Judge Sutton said that such a profound change in the institution of marriage should be decided not by “an intermediate court” like his, but by “the less expedient, but usually reliable, work of the state democratic processes.” He dismissed the reasoning issued in the last year by several other federal courts, which have ruled that barring same-sex marriage violated equal protection or due process clauses of the Constitution and have no rational basis.

Michael C. Dorf, a constitutional expert at Cornell Law School, said that “the essence of this opinion is that the issue should be left to the democratic process or to the Supreme Court, but I’m not going to do this as an appeals court judge.”

In a stinging dissent, Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey, an appointee of President Bill Clinton, called the majority opinion “a largely irrelevant discourse on democracy and federalism” that treated the couples involved as “mere abstractions” rather than real people suffering harm because they were denied equal status.

Click here to read the entire article.

Children born via surrogacy to gay dads share their stories – Part 1 Men Having Babies NYC 2014