Israel Evacuating Babies Born to Surrogate Mothers in Nepal

Newsweek by Conor Gaffey – April 27, 2015

Israel has begun evacuating surrogate children and their Israeli parents from Nepal in the wake of the earthquake which has killed almost 4,000 people.

Families of 26 babies born to Nepalese women on behalf of Israeli parents appealed to Jerusalem for assistance, with the first three families arriving in Israel yesterday night.

Israeli law only allows for heterosexual partners to pursue surrogate pregnancy in the country, forcing single people and same-sex partners to go abroad to find surrogate parents.

The Times of Israel reported that the Israeli justice ministry also approved a request to receive four Nepalese surrogate mothers carrying babies for Israeli couples.

Approximately 100 surrogate mothers in Nepal are pregnant with Israeli children, according to the Jerusalem Post. Tel Aviv-based company Tammuz Surrogacy International said its 52 Israeli clients were awaiting evacuation in hotels or the Israeli embassy in Nepal’s capital Kathmandu.

The Israel Defence Forces said an 80-member humanitarian aid delegation would travel to Nepal today and would be joined by around 170 military personnel who will set up field hospitals for those injured in the earthquake. Some 150 Israeli travellers are also believed to be missing.

A bill to allow gay couples to go through surrogacy passed its first reading in the Knesset in October but has yet to be adopted into law.

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Expensive, Exhausting, And Deeply Unsexy: Babymaking While Queer

April 21, 2015 by Lindsay King-Miller at Buzzed.com

My partner Charlie and I had been married for a little over a year when we decided to start trying to have a baby in August 2013. Despite being the butch in our relationship and using male pronouns, Charlie knew from the start that he wanted be the gestational parent. He’s always had a fascination with pregnancy and birth — a fascination that once led him to briefly pursue a midwifery apprenticeship — and he was excited to experience all the highs and lows of carrying a child. I, on the other hand, dread physical pain, and was overjoyed by the prospect of becoming a parent without going through pregnancy.

Charlie’s cycle operates with clocklike precision, so we figured it would be easy enough to identify the opportune moment. We started by trying to conceive at home — all you need is a syringe and a clean jar. We painted our guest room in pastels, recruited a dude we know and love to donate sperm, and got underway.

Unfortunately, the magic I’d anticipated was pretty much gone the first time I went for a walk around the block so that our friend could jerk off in our bathroom. After that, we decided that it would be less awkward if he made his donation at his own home, then dropped by with the jar — sperm can live outside the body for several hours, especially if they’re kept warm — but calling and saying, “Charlie’s ovulating, can you come over?” wasn’t very romantic either. We had to skip insemination one month because our donor couldn’t escape his roommates, who didn’t know about our conception attempts, for the requisite five minutes. Also unforeseen was the discomfort of making small talk every time he dropped off his jar, camouflaged in a paper bag — no one really wants to chat about how work is going at such a moment, but without a little conversation the whole thing felt too transactional. “Thank you for your genetic material, Unit B. Your service is no longer required.”

And there was a squick factor that neither Charlie nor I anticipated. We were competent, sex-positive adults who wanted to have a baby — surely we could handle a jar with a little semen in it! Turns out that other people’s bodily fluids are disconcerting, no matter how chill and mature you promise yourself you’ll be about the whole thing. I’m sorry to contribute to the body-shaming and negativity that pervades our culture, but let’s be real: A jar of sperm is super gross. Every month, Charlie would calmly draw up the sperm into the syringe while I shrieked and covered my eyes as though it was the gory scene in a horror movie (no, that’s not true — movie gore bothers me way less).

The insemination wasn’t much better. We had originally looked forward to this part — the two of us alone in our room, sharing the beautiful, intimate moment of creating our future child. Inseminating just before or even during sex is supposed to up your odds of success, which we figured was a bonus. We’d read about it online and it seemed easy, straightforward, and even fun. But it was almost impossible to get into the moment, since we were pressed for time (sperm were dying by the second!) and limited by the necessity that Charlie stay lying on his back with a pillow under his hips. I tried to help with the syringe, but couldn’t find a comfortable angle, so Charlie had to take over.

Nothing kills a mood like a syringe.

(Originally Posted Marrh 19, 2015)

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Surrogate mother banned from keeping her own daughter after parents who hired her were ruled unfit

DailyMail.co.uk – April 18, 2015 by Jenny Awford

A surrogate mother has been banned from keeping her own daughter after it emerged that the woman who hired her had three of her children taken away.

The little girl was given up for adoption after a judge ruled that giving her birth mother, 28, custody would traumatise her other daughter.

The surrogate, from Tyne & Wear, who already has a five-year-old girl, said she broke down when the family court ruled she could not raise her own baby or even visit her.

‘They said if she was to come back to me it would affect the daughter I already have, it would get to her emotionally,’ she told The Sun.

‘But I couldn’t stop crying. I just broke down. I would have loved to have brought her up.’

She said she first became concerned when the parents she gave birth for vanished the day after she handed over the baby in 2013.

The 28-year-old then realised the couple, who she had met via a website, had lied about their address and background.

She refused to sign over parental control and it later emerged the other woman already had three children taken away from her by social services.

It then took more than a year before the girl was finally removed from their family home in the North East.

A family court later ruled they should not keep the child but instead chose a third adoptive family over the surrogate.

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French Court OKs Adoption by Lesbian Partners

Associated Press – April 16, 2015

PARIS — A French court has authorized four lesbian women to adopt children born to their wives abroad through artificial insemination.

While France has legalized gay marriage and adoption, only heterosexual couples are allowed to have medically assisted fertilization. Supporters of gay rights praised Thursday’s ruling, which allows these children to have two legal parents.

The Versailles appeals court overturned a ruling delivered by a lower court a year ago, according to the lawyer for one of the four couples.

In April 2014, a lower court in Versailles had said the birth mother in that case had committed fraud by having artificial insemination in Belgium. It was then the first court ruling against adoption by a lesbian couple since the gay marriage law had been enacted in May 2013. Several other ones had followed since then.

France’s highest court later ruled that seeking fertilization abroad is “not an obstacle” to allowing lesbian women to adopt the children of their partners, even if this way of having babies is forbidden to lesbian couples in France.

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Florida Legislature Repeals State Ban on Gay Adoption

New York Times, April 14, 2015 by AP

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida’s ban on gay adoption is getting tossed out by the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature.

The Florida Senate on Tuesday voted 27-11 for an adoption bill that repeals the law first passed in 1977. It now heads to Gov. Rick Scott.

Sen. Don Gaetz, the sponsor of the bill, called the current ban “meaningless” because it is no longer enforced. An appeals court ruled it unconstitutional in 2010.

But Sen. Alan Hays called the repeal of the ban “a poison pill.” He urged legislators to consider the long-term implications of repealing the ban.

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First IVF baby born after new technique to eliminate genetic disease

by Rachel Brown, April 13, 2015 – bionews.org

The first baby in Europe has been born following a new IVF-based technique developed to prevent the inheritance of genetic disease.

The screening technique, called karyomapping, is a type of PGD (preimplantation genetic diagnosis) procedure. Current PGD methods are developed on a case-by-case basis to test embryos for the presence of a specific mutation found in one or both of the parents’ DNA and can involve months of laboratory work.

Karyomapping, on the other hand, can test for the same diseases, but can be completed much faster and is no more expensive than traditional PGD methods. It can also be used to check that embryos have the correct number of chromosomes.

Mrs Carmen Meagu suffers from Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, a group of rare disorders of the peripheral nervous system that cause muscle degeneration and sensation loss in the feet and hands. She inherited the disease from her father, and had a 50 percent chance of passing it on to her children.

Speaking to The Telegraph, Mrs Meagu said: ‘For me the risk was too high. I was told I could try and get pregnant and have a test at 16 weeks, but that really wasn’t an option for me because it would have been too hard to have an abortion at that stage.

‘Then we were told about a clinic in London which could screen the disease out, and we felt we had to try’.

The technique involves using DNA from Mrs Meagu, her husband Gabriel, and another family member, to compare roughly 300,000 different points across the genome called SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms). This allows scientists to find characteristic features that are unique to the chromosome carrying the defective gene. Following a standard IVF cycle, embryos are biopsied to find out which ones are free of the genetic disease.

Mr Paul Serhal is the founder and medical director of the Centre for Reproductive and Genetic Health, where the technique was used in December 2013. Also speaking to The Telegraph, he explained: ‘Essentially, karyomapping finds a fingerprint that is unique to the chromosome that carries the defective gene.

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China to crack down on surrogacy industry

Xinhua News Agency,

BEIJING, April 9 (Xinhua) — China will launch a nationwide cross-department campaign to crack down on illegal surrogacy starting this month.

The nine-month campaign will last until the end of this year and will involve 12 government departments focusing on spotting and punishing medical personnel and intermediary agencies that help perform surrogate pregnancy services, the National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) announced Thursday.

Internet website, TV, radio and print media that carry surrogacy ads will also be cleansed, while the authorities will step up supervision over the sale and circulation of assisted reproductive technology (ART) drugs and medical equipment, it said.

Surrogacy is strictly banned in China, but the wombs-for-rent businesses has thrived in the world’s most populous country, where some studies indicate an estimated one in eight couples face fertility problems.

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Obama to Call for End to ‘Conversion’ Therapies for Gay and Transgender Youth

New York Times by Michael D. Shears, April 8, 2015

WASHINGTON — A 17-year-old transgender youth, Leelah Alcorn, stunned her friends and a vast Internet audience in December when she threw herself in front of a tractor-trailer after writing in an online suicide note that religious therapists had tried to convert her back to being a boy.

In response, President Obama is calling for an end to such therapies aimed at “repairing” gay, lesbian and transgender youth. His decision on the issue is the latest example of his continuing embrace of gay rights.

In a statement that was posted on Wednesday evening alongside a WhiteHouse.gov petition begun in honor of Ms. Alcorn, Mr. Obama condemned the practice, sometimes called “conversion” or “reparative” therapy, which is supported by some socially conservative organizations and religious doctors.

The petition has received more than 120,000 signatures in three months.

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Sperm-donor shock spurs Port Hope couple’s lawsuit – Self-reporting nightmare

by Theresa Boyle – TheStar.com, April 6, 2015

A couple from Port Hope thought they had done their due diligence when they chose a sperm donor for their son, now aged 7.

Angela Collins and Margaret Elizabeth Hanson picked Donor 9623 because of his impressive background. Touted by the U.S. sperm bank Xytex Corp. as its “best donor,” he was said to have an IQ of 160, a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience, a master’s in artificial intelligence, and a PhD in neuroscience engineering in the works, according to a lawsuit the pair has filed against the company and donor.

The women were stunned to learn last year that Donor 9623 was nothing like he had been billed. After Xytex released his name to them, they learned he has schizophrenia, is a college dropout, had been arrested for burglary and is an ex-felon, according to their complaint, filed March 30 in a Georgia court.

What’s more, a photo of him provided by Xytex had been doctored and a large mole on his cheek removed, their complaint alleges. It goes on to state that he appears to have fathered 36 children.

In their lawsuit — which has garnered international attention — against Xytex and the donor, the couple is seeking damages for pain, suffering and financial loss.

“They feel frightened, scared, upset and misused, the way that you would feel if you found out that you had been misled in such a sensitive area,” their San Francisco-based lawyer Nancy Hersh said in an interview. She is representing about 15 other clients who might be joining the lawsuit. Their children range in age from toddlers up to age 12.

Hersh said the case highlights how the fertility industry is in dire need of more regulation and oversight.

In a written statement to the media, Xytex said it “absolutely denies any assertion that it failed to comply with the highest standards for testing.”

The Star was unable to reach the man listed in the complaint as the donor: James Christian “Chris” Aggeles.

He was charged with one count of burglary in 2005, but the case was discharged under terms of the First Offender Act, a spokesperson for the Cobb County District Attorney’s Office told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. The Superior Court Clerk’s office said he served eight months in jail, with the rest of his 10-year sentence on probation.

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