iSperm lets your iPad analyze your swimmers at home

CNET.com, by Michael Franco – July 20, 2015

The iPad can be used to show home movies — including films of babies as they come home from the hospital, take their first steps, and later, lock themselves in their rooms with loud music and their cell phones. Soon, iPads might be able to show a home movie of what a baby looked like before it was even created, by beaming live-action movies of your sperm swimming around.

That will be the case if Taiwanese startup Aidmics has its way.

The company has already invented a device called iSperm which according to Reuters has been sold to almost 200 farmers around the world. They use it to analyze the sperm counts of their boar to maximize the success of breeding programs. The news agency reports that Aidmics has announced plans to seek approval from the US Food and Drug Administration next year to expand the device’s use to men.

“Morphological assessment of sperm head and tail has never been this easy,” says the iSperm website.

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Italy failing same-sex couples says European court

by Reuters – July 21, 2015

The European Court of Human Rights condemned Italy on Tuesday for failing to provide legal recognition to same-sex couples and said the country should introduce some form of civil union for homosexual couples.

Italy is the only major western European country that does not recognize either civil partnerships or gay marriage.

The country was taken to the Strasbourg-based European Court by three homosexual couples who all complained that Italy discriminated against them because of their sexual orientation.

In their ruling, a panel of seven judges said same-sex couples in Italy needed greater legal rights.

“The Court considered that the legal protection currently available in Italy to same-sex couples … not only failed to provide for the core needs relevant to a couple in a stable committed relationship, but it was also not sufficiently reliable,” it said.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said at the weekend his government would introduce a law on civil unions by the end of the year, convincing a junior minister to end a hunger strike he had started in early July to protest at the lack of legislation.

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India must regulate its booming surrogacy business and stop women being exploited as just a ‘womb for hire’

South China Morning Post, July 13, 2015 by Amrit Dhillon

Surrogate mothers in India are a sad lot, their lives wrapped in layers of exploitation. At the bottom of the social heap, poor and uneducated, they spend their days in drudgery either in an urban slum or a rural shack.

Poverty has forced these women to “willingly” rent their wombs to rich Indian and foreign couples. In practice, this often means that when the surrogacy contracts are being signed, they give their uninformed consent to all manner of procedures without understanding a word of what is written.

If this wasn’t bad enough, the findings of a new study on Delhi’s fertility clinics – by researchers at two Indian universities, University of Delhi and Jawaharlal Nehru University, and Aarhus University in Denmark – show that their situation is even worse, with doctors doing their utmost to please the commissioning couples, often at the risk of harm to the mother.

The study found that some doctors implant several embryos in the womb – sometimes up to five or six – to ensure a higher success rate even though medical guidelines say that transferring more than three embryos can pose a serious health risk to the mother. “In a majority of clinics, doctors alone made the decisions about the number of embryos to transfer. Some of them involved the commissioning parents but few involved the mothers,” one of the researchers said.

What is unconscionable is how the Indian government has let this billion-dollar industry continue for so long with little or no regulation.

As cases of exploitation began being reported, the government came out with the draft Assisted Reproductive Technologies bill in 2010. It provides surrogates with a range of safeguards and also lays down regulations for the thousands of fertility clinics in the country.

But, for five years, the bill has been in limbo as lawmakers are apparently too busy to discuss it.

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Federal judge orders Utah to put same-sex couple on their child’s birth certificate

July 15, 2015 – Fox13Now.com

SALT LAKE CITY — A federal judge has ordered the Utah Department of Health to put a same-sex couple on their child’s birth certificate, ruling that the state is discriminating against them.

U.S. District Court Judge Dee Benson said that in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage, Utah would need to change its laws to reflect that new reality.

“I’m just still trying to see if there’s any way you can, now that same sex marriage is legal, tell me Utah has a rational basis in discriminating against this woman,” he told lawyers for the Utah Attorney General’s Office.

Kami and Angie Roe sued the state after health officials refused to list Angie as a parent of their child. The couple married after Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage was overturned. Kami is the birth mother of their child, Lucy. Angie Roe said she took the exact same steps that a man would if his wife used assisted reproductive services (such as a sperm donor), including signing the same paperwork. But the Utah Department of Health refused to issue a birth certificate with Kami and Angie Roe’s names on it.

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For Two Moms, a Battle to Be on a Birth Certificate

July 14, 2015 – Yahoo Parenting by Esther Crane

Spouses Keri Roberson and Molly Maness-Roberson of Texas, married in 2012, are now fighting for the right to have both of their names on their son’s birth certificate. (Photo: Facebook)

Most parents don’t give a second thought to filling out a new baby’s birth certificate. But for some same-sex spouses like Keri Roberson and Molly Maness-Roberson, who have been legally married since 2012, this routine state document has become a battleground.

Maness-Roberson gave birth to son Boston earlier this month; he was conceived from Keri Roberson’s egg, and donor sperm, according to the Dallas Morning News. Yet the Fort Worth–area couple’s bliss over Boston’s coming into the world was overshadowed by the fact that Texas law currently does not permit both women to be listed as Boston’s parents.

“It just really breaks your heart, that’s the only way I can describe how I felt,” Maness-Roberson told the Dallas Morning News. Roberson and Maness-Roberson did not respond to Yahoo Parenting’s request for comment.

Just like birth certificates in many other states, Texas’ birth document has one line for the name of a father and another line for a mother; there’s no line for two parents of the same gender. The recent Supreme Court decision affirming marriage rights for same-sex partners forced Texas to amend its marriage license — but an equally important document, a child’s birth certificate, still reflects a pre–marriage equality era.

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A Mexican Judge Wants to Allow Same-Sex Couples to Adopt Children Nationwide

July 15, 2015 – towleroad.com via The Global Post – By Ioan Grillo

MEXICO CITY — The Mexican capital’s churches have a new challenge: where to seat same-sex parents during their adopted child’s baptism.

Traditionally, the father sits on the right, the mother on the left. But since a law reform in 2009, various same-sex couples have brought their adopted children to be baptized.

“It creates confusion. So we normally seat them in the order of how they appear on the register,” says the Rev. Hugo Valdemar, spokesman for the archdiocese of Mexico City.

The Roman Catholic Church is against same-sex marriage and opposes adoption by gay and lesbian couples. But it will not refuse to baptize any children.

That baptism seating dilemma could soon be shared across this very big country.

Mexican Supreme Court Judge Margarita Luna announced on July 6 that she will present a motion to make it unconstitutional to deny adoption to same-sex couples.

This would make adoption laws already approved in the Mexican capital, a heartland of socially liberal reforms, effective throughout the country, including in much more conservative states.

In June, Mexico’s high court also ruled it unconstitutional to deny marriage to people of the same sex — shortly before the US Supreme Court did exactly the same thing.

Under a leftist city assembly, Mexico City became the first place in Latin America to legalize gay marriage with the 2009 reform. Adoptions by couples who married under this law have been taking place since 2010.

The northern state of Coahuila, which borders Texas, also legalized gay marriage, in September 2014. And last month, two women became the state’s first same-sex couple to adopt a child.

Still, nationwide, Mexico is not exactly the bastion of liberalism it may sound like. Eighty-two percent of Mexicans identify themselves as Catholic, according to the census. And more staunchly conservative parts of the country are pushing in quite a different direction from Coahuila and Mexico City.

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Gay families: Exploring gay families around the world

July 12, 2015 – pinkfamilies.com

Have you heard the saying “10%” of the population is gay? I have. I’ve heard this many times throughout my life and sometimes it’s comforting to know that 1 out of 10 people might be gay. But how many children have two moms or two dads? How many gay families are out there in the world?

Gay families: Global trends

worldIn recent years, the numbers of those who have said they are in a same-sex household have increased. This is probably due to better  reporting systems that allow people to report more openly about their gay families. Also, as it’s becoming more acceptable to have a gay family people are more likely to share information about their sexual orientation, their household and their families. With this openness, trends are beginning to emerge.

When looking at what’s happening in some countries, it’s clear that more female same-sex couples as compared to male same-sex couples have children in their homes. When gay families have children they, on average, have one child. Gay families also usually have fewer children than the national average and fewer than straight couples.

Similarities and differences become clearer when you look at what’s happening in a number of countries. For example, when you look at what’s happening in the US, the UK, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.

Gay families in the US

How many same-sex households are there?

Over the past ten years, US census data has shown an increase in 52% of those in same-sex households.

Since 2000 same-sex unmarried partner households increased by 62%. Same-sex spousal households (those that are married) increased by 38%.

The 2010 census showed that the total number of same-sex couple households in the US was 901,997. This was just under one percent (0.78%) of all US households.

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Alaska issues first birth certificates to same-sex parents

KTVA.com, July 7, 2015 by Shannon Ballard

ANCHORAGE–   Like most people who haven’t lived in Alaska long, Amanda and Pam Bowers learned quickly to get outdoors.

On Tuesday they went for a walk around Kincaid Park. Amanda carried their 8-week-old daughter Ellie Lou Bowers strapped to her chest.

“She was born in Alaska so we have to get her out there to see as much as she can,” Amanda said.

The couple has been legally married since 2008. Amanda gave birth to Ellie but both of the new moms say motherhood feels so natural, which is the reason the Bowers want each of their names on Ellie’s birth certificate.

“Even though I didn’t carry her, she’s my baby, she’s my daughter,” Pam said.

However, Alaska statutes didn’t give that option. If a mother is married when she gives birth, the father’s name would appear on the birth certificate, according to Alaska’s laws. That didn’t apply to the Bowers’ case, as well as several other same-sex couples.

“What would happen is we’d have to go through second parent adoption procedures, which involve getting a lawyer and thousands of dollars,” Pam explained.

But now all that has changed. Acting State Register Andrew Jessen says the statute has been reworded: the word “father” has been replaced with “spouse.”

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Don’t blame gay men for the surrogacy industry’s troubles

By Avi Rose, July 2, 2015 – haaretz.com

Two-thirds of Israelis who use foreign surrogates are women, so why is the vitriol focused on gay fathers?

The U.S. gay community scored a major victory last week with the Supreme Court decision allowing same-sex marriage in all 50 states. Such a move is unlikely here in Israel, partly due to the fact that the community has placed a greater emphasis on parenting, and less on lobbying for marriage rights. This makes sense in a country that practically makes child-rearing a citizenship requirement.

Though gay men are putting much of their time, money and emotion into fulfilling this duty, they are hardly being praised for it. Following the earthquakes in Nepal, and the subsequent rescue of Israeli babies born to local surrogate mothers, critics from various sectors of Israeli society unleashed especially vitriolic criticism of gay men who engage in fertility commerce. Statements by media figures such as Irit Linor and Keren Noibach, leaders of the LGBT community such as former Jerusalem Open House director Elinor Sidi and politicians such as Moshe Feglin and Merav Michaeli, left the public with the impression that gay men are the primary consumers of reproductive services that exploit (mostly third-world) women.

For most Israelis unable to gestate a child on their own, surrogacy, often coupled with sperm and egg donation, are the best — if not only — way to become parents. As a gay parent of twins born though this process, I am open to critical discussion about surrogacy but unwilling to disproportionally shoulder the blame for a national fertility program that is deeply flawed and unbalanced, and an international trade that is ethically questionable, especially when I represent a minority of those who use these services.

Israel’s desire to increase its Jewish population at any cost has created a tangle of legal and medical practices that are contradictory and often counterproductive. We spend more on IVF than any other country, yet rates of success are relatively low. Our adoption policies are antiquated; racially and religiously biased in such a way as to be practically ineffective. Co-parenting arrangements – where unmarried individuals create a child – are based on contracts that are essentially unenforceable, leaving the father vulnerable to the loss of custody rights. Surrogacy has been legal here for almost two decades, but is so limited – to a few heterosexual married couples – that most potential parents are forced to seek services outside our borders. There, in the hands of the private sector, both the providers (mostly poor women) and the purchasers of surrogacy services are exploited, with little real support from government at home or abroad.

Though people from all segments of society are involved in these activities, for women and non-gay couples, the process is often cheaper and involves almost no public judgment. At home in Israel, women are given almost endless, low-cost conception assistance, including anonymous sperm and egg donation. If they need a surrogate, they can first seek domestic arrangements, and if they must go abroad, they face little public scrutiny afterward – society turns a blind eye, as if they gestated their children on their own.

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Surrogate children can now claim French citizenship, top court rules

RT.com/news July 3, 2015

France’s top court has ruled that two surrogate children born abroad will now have legal status in the country. They can obtain birth certificates and claim citizenship despite a ban on surrogacy in France.

“Surrogate motherhood alone cannot justify the refusal to transcribe into French birth registers the foreign birth certificate of a child who has one French parent,” saysa statement from the Court of Cassation, one of France’s courts of last resort which has jurisdiction over all matters.

The court said in its press release that it was asked to consider two cases. In each of them, a French citizen claimed to be father to a child born by a surrogate mother in Russia.

The court said that the plaintiff “asked for the transcription of the Russian birth certificate into the French birth registers.”

“…the rules pertaining to transcription into French civil status registers, construed in the light of Article 8 of the European Human Rights Convention, should apply to this case. Therefore the theory of a fraud cannot hinder the transcription of a birth certificate,” the court said in the statement.

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