UK High Court awarded woman damages for surrogacy following missed cervical cancer diagnosis

In a legal first, the UK High Court has awarded costs of £74,000 to a woman for surrogacy following a delay in detecting cancer in smear tests and biopsies.

This first of its kind award from a UK High Court formed part of an overall damages award of £580,600.

As a result of a delayed diagnosis, the claimant developed invasive cancer of the cervix and required chemo-radiotherapy treatment.  This treatment rendered her infertile and caused severe damage to her bladder, bowel and vagina.  The late diagnosis meant she was unable to undergo fertility sparing surgery, which would otherwise have been available to her. The claimant, then 29, had always wanted a large family and postponed urgent cancer treatment twice for alternative medical opinions.  She also underwent a cycle of ovarian stimulation and harvested and froze 12 eggs before undergoing surgery and chemo-radiotherapy. The Defendant admitted liability and the case focused on the level of damages to be awarded to the Claimant.UK high court

Women awarded damages for surrogacy following missed cervical cancer diagnosis

In a legal first, the English High Court has awarded costs of £74,000 to a woman for surrogacy following a delay in detecting cancer in smear tests and biopsies. This first of its kind award formed part of an overall damages award of £580,600.

Michaelmores Blog by By Louisa Ghevaert

As a result of a delayed diagnosis, the claimant developed invasive cancer of the cervix and required chemo-radiotherapy treatment.  This treatment rendered her infertile and caused severe damage to her bladder, bowel and vagina.  The late diagnosis meant she was unable to undergo fertility sparing surgery, which would otherwise have been available to her. The claimant, then 29, had always wanted a large family and postponed urgent cancer treatment twice for alternative medical opinions.  She also underwent a cycle of ovarian stimulation and harvested and froze 12 eggs before undergoing surgery and chemo-radiotherapy. The Defendant admitted liability and the case focused on the level of damages to be awarded to the Claimant.

In giving judgment Sir Robert Nelson allowed the claim for the cost of two surrogacies in the UK but rejected the claim in respect of costs for surrogacy in California on UK public policy grounds.  He also rejected a claim for the cost of donor eggs saying this was not truly restorative of the claimant’s loss.

Louisa Ghevaert, Head of the Fertility and Parenting team at Michelmores, provided expert evidence in this case.  In doing so, Louisa expressed the view that surrogacy law in the UK is “due for reform as life has moved on”.  In relation to that evidence Sir Robert Nelson stated:

“… Ms Ghevaert may be right in saying that attitudes have changed and are indeed changing in relation to surrogacy but such change must be brought about by the Law Commission and Parliament, or perhaps the Supreme Court.”

Michelmores Blog by By Louisa Ghevaert, September 19, 2017

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Utah couple heads to state Supreme Court over law that prevents married gay men from having biological children through surrogacy

Jon and Noel started talking about having a family not long after they married in 2013.

An author and a professor who have been together more than a decade, the couple considered adoption, but settled on surrogacy out of a strong desire to have a biological child.more gay couples are embracing surrogacy

That plan was derailed last year when a southern Utah judge denied their petition to enter a surrogacy agreement with a woman who wanted to help make their family complete.

Jon and Noel started talking about having a family not long after they married in 2013.

An author and a professor who have been together more than a decade, the couple considered adoption, but settled on surrogacy out of a strong desire to have a biological child.

That plan was derailed last year when a southern Utah judge denied their petition to enter a surrogacy agreement with a woman who wanted to help make their family complete.

The Salt Lake Tribune – by Jennifer Dobner

September 13, 2017

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Israeli government ends opposition to same-sex adoption

The Israeli government on Tuesday formally ended its opposition to adoption rights for same-sex couples.

Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper, cited media reports that indicate the Israeli Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services told the State Attorney’s Office “it has no objection to the practice.”

Same-sex couples in Israel are able to adopt children, but Haaretz reports they can “only adopt children for whom no adoptive heterosexual married couple can be found.” The newspaper notes gay and lesbian couples must wait longer to adopt than those who are heterosexual and Israeli law considers adoptive parents who are of the same sex “individual adoptive parents.”Israel Surrogacy

The Association of Israeli Gay Fathers and the Israel Religious Action Center challenged the law in a petition with the Israeli Supreme Court it filed against the Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services and Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit. Haaretz last month reported Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government in a brief said, “it has been decided by the professional bodies in the Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services Ministry not to act at the present time to change the existing law.”

Haaretz on Tuesday reported the ministry’s new adoption criteria “will address the potential parents’ suitability for a given child, regardless of sexual orientation.” The Knesset has to formally act on amending the country’s adoption law in order for the proposed regulations to take effect.

“By acknowledging that same-sex couples are able to be parents and adopt, the Ministry of Social Services has straighten line (sic) with experts and the Israeli public,” Chen Arieli, chair of the Aguda, the Israeli National LGBT Task Force, told the Washington Blade in a statement. “Now it’s time for members of the Knesset to do their part, and we expect them to change the law as soon as possible.”

by Michael Lavers – washingtonblade.com, August 30. 2017

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Chilean president introduces same-sex marriage, adoption bill

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet on Monday introduced a bill that would extend marriage and adoption rights to same-sex couples.

Ronaldo Jiménez, president of the Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation, a Chilean LGBT advocacy group, is among those who attended the announcement that took place at the presidential palace in the country’s capital of Santiago. Nicolás Levy, the Washington Blade’s correspondent in Chile, was also in attendance.

“The president begins the act of signing a marriage equality bill,” said Jiménez in a tweet that included a picture of Bachelet at the ceremony. “That’s how we like Chile.”

Same-sex couples have been able to enter into civil unions in the South American country since October 2015.

The Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation in 2012 filed a lawsuit with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on behalf of three same-sex couples who are seeking marriage rights in the South American country. Bachelet’s government agreed to introduce a marriage and adoption bill as part of an agreement it reached with the group in June 2016.

by Mike Lavers, Washingtonblade.com, August 28, 2017

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TIAA adds LGBT benefit to help female couples with family planning

Investment advisory firm TIAA has added reciprocal IVF assistance to its family planning benefits package as an LGBT inclusion measure.

The New York City-based firm officially added the benefit July 1 after conversations with its LGBT employee resource group during Pride Month in June.

“The addition of reciprocal IVF [meaning one partner supplies the eggs to be used for IVF, while the other partner is the gestational carrier of the pregnancy] could significantly help female couples achieve their family planning goals, and we want to provide them with the same support other employees already receive,” says Skip Spriggs, senior executive vice president and chief human resources officer at TIAA. “It wasn’t a cost issue, but it was about creating the right environment.”TIAA

Prior to this benefits addition, employees had to go through a pre-certification process with a claims administrator to verify infertility, says TIAA. Now, employees can have IVF services covered without verifying that they tried natural or artificial insemination. Similarly, female couples don’t have to provide infertility to gain access to IVF as a covered benefit, the firm says.

Only 57% of employers offer a type of infertility service coverage, and 25% of the employers cover IVF, according to Mercer’s 2016 “National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans.”

by Amanda Eisenberg, August 21, 2017 – benefit news.com

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India Declares Freedom Of Sexual Orientation A Fundamental Right

India’s Supreme Court – “Equality demands that the sexual orientation of each individual in society must be protected on an even platform.”

Another win for love. 

India’s Supreme Court has given the country’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans community the freedom to safely express their sexual orientation. In a historic decision on Thursday, the nine-judge panel declared that an individual’s sexual orientation is protected under the country’s Right to Privacy law.gay family law

“Sexual orientation is an essential attribute of privacy,” the decision reads. “Discrimination against an individual on the basis of sexual orientation is deeply offensive to the dignity and self-worth of the individual. Equality demands that the sexual orientation of each individual in society must be protected on an even platform.”

Although the Supreme Court did not directly overturn any laws criminalizing same-sex relationships, the language of the court decision offers hope to the LGBTQ community. The judges expressly state sexual orientation falls under an individual’s right to privacy, a constitutional right, and that no individual should be discriminated against based on their orientation.  

Going forward, this can establish a precedent as organizations challenge discriminatory laws in court, and offer protection against discrimination in places such as the workforce.

This could even deliver a death blow to an oppressive and controversial law in the Indian Penal Code. Section 377 is a law that limits a citizen’s right to express their gender identity or sexual orientation in consensual relationships. In 2013, another panel of the Supreme Court upheld Section 377. 

India’s traditional culture can make it difficult for people who are LGBTQ to be open about their orientation, but some are still challenging the country’s norms. Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil came out in 2006, making him the country’s first openly gay prince. Since then, he has been fighting for the Indian LGBTQ community. 

Prince Manvendra started a grassroots campaign in 2014 called “Free Gay India” to campaign for LGBTQ rights. He has put a spotlight on the oppression as a guest on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and was recently on an episode of “Keeping Up With The Kardashians.” 

Israel High Court says it’s in favor of surrogacy for same-sex couples

Assistant chief justice indicates it’s time to widen access to additional family units; ruling delayed for 6 months

The High Court of Justice in Israel has said gay people have the right to become parents through surrogacy, giving campaigners hope of amending legislation that makes only a man and woman eligible.

However, a final ruling has been delayed for six months.finding a surrogate mother

Assistant Chief Justice Salim Joubran on Thursday told gay couples, single women and advocacy groups who petitioned the court that it was time for “widening access to surrogacy in Israel to additional family units which are not included today,” according to documents seen by AFP.

“I find it hard to agree with a situation which prevents single people and same-sex couples fulfilling their right to become parents through surrogacy agreements,” he said.

“I myself cannot see any justice in giving preference to heterosexual parenting over same-sex parenting,” added Joubran, whose comments in court came the same day as thousands attended a Gay Pride parade under police protection in Jerusalem.

But Joubran, in his last decision before retiring from the bench, postponed for six months a ruling on the suit, in order to allow a new draft law, currently before parliament, to be finalized.

“The time is not yet ripe to rule on the petitions in light of the legislative process in process in parliament,” he said.

The new bill has passed its first reading and is now before a committee preparing it for its second and third readings.

As it stands, the draft still bars same-sex couples and single gay men, but it would extend surrogacy to single women on condition that the host is genetically related to the woman whose eggs are implanted into her.

The judge said the bill was likely to be amended at the committee stage to reflect at least some of the concerns raised by the petitioners, and the court could then make its ruling based on the final document.

August 4, 2017

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In Breakthrough, Scientists Edit a Dangerous Mutation From Genes in Human Embryos

Scientists for the first time have successfully edited genes in human embryos to repair a common and serious disease-causing mutation, producing apparently healthy embryos, according to a study published on Wednesday.

The research marks a major milestone and, while a long way from clinical use, it raises the prospect that gene editing may one day protect babies from a variety of hereditary conditions.

But the achievement is also an example of genetic engineering, once feared and unthinkable, and is sure to renew ethical concerns that some might try to design babies with certain traits, like greater intelligence or athleticism.

The study, published in the journal Nature, comes just months after a national scientific committee recommended new guidelines for modifying embryos, easing blanket proscriptions but urging it be used only for dire medical problems.

“We’ve always said in the past gene editing shouldn’t be done, mostly because it couldn’t be done safely,” said Richard Hynes, a cancer researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who co-led the committee. “That’s still true, but now it looks like it’s going to be done safely soon,” he said, adding that the research is “a big breakthrough.”

“What our report said was, once the technical hurdles are cleared, then there will be societal issues that have to be considered and discussions that are going to have to happen. Now’s the time.”

Scientists at Oregon Health and Science University, with colleagues in California, China and South Korea, reported that they repaired dozens of embryos, fixing a mutation that causes a common heart condition that can lead to sudden death later in life.

If embryos with the repaired mutation were allowed to develop into babies, they would not only be disease-free but also would not transmit the disease to descendants.

The researchers averted two important safety problems: They produced embryos in which all cells — not just some — were mutation-free, and they avoided creating unwanted extra mutations.

“It feels a bit like a ‘one small step for (hu)mans, one giant leap for (hu)mankind’ moment,” Jennifer Doudna, a biochemist who helped discover the gene-editing method used, called CRISPR-Cas9, said in an email.

“I expect these results will be encouraging to those who hope to use human embryo editing for either research or eventual clinical purposes,” said Dr. Doudna, who was not involved in the study.

New York times – August 2, 201 – by Pam Belluck

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Trump just eviscerated his claim to being an LGBT ally

Things could have been worse for the gay rights community under a Republican president. President Trump tried to court them during the campaign, and he seemed to go out of his way to avoid limiting their rights when he signed an executive order underscoring religious freedom.

That dynamic changed drastically Wednesday. Trump announced on Twitter an unequivocal ban on transgender people serving in the military, reversing a groundbreaking decision set in motion by the Obama administration.

After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow……

 

….Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming…..

….victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you

It’s a major attack by the president on the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, and advocates say it’s a big one. While the White House says the intent is to improve military readiness and is not based in politics, the message the LGBT community is hearing from the president is this: Transgender people are other, are different, are too costly to be treated like the rest of America.

The Trump administration had already revoked federal guidelines on transgender student rights in February. If anyone in the gay community still held out hope that Trump would live up to his pro-LGBT campaign rhetoric (and not-as-anti-LGBT presidency), Trump just eviscerated that.

President Trump is most pro-LGBTQ rights @POTUS in history. Why’s that story not written in mainstream media? http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/jan/31/white-house-tries-calm-fears-gay-rights-rollback/ 

Photo published for White House tries to calm fears of a gay-rights rollback
That optimism will be hard to square now. 

“There is no gloss, no makeup, no lipstick on any of this,” said Bob Witeck, a Washington-based consultant to businesses and nonprofit organizations on LGBT issues. “This is a full-frontal attack.”

It’s also a politically potent one. Transgender policy is the tip of the spear in the gay rights battle.

North Carolina became a national battlefield in 2016 for limiting what public restrooms transgender people can use. Texas is in the process of trying to pass a similar law. Closing the door on transgender people is akin to closing the door on the entire LGBT community, Witeck said.

Trump’s action Wednesday is an about-face from his repeated and off-brand-for-Republicans attempts to reach out to the community during the campaign.

Washington Post by Amber Phillips, July 26, 2017

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Czech Republic Constitutional Court Recognizes Same-Sex Couple’s Parenthood

The Czech Republic Constitutional Court decided on 24 July 2017 in a landmark ruling to recognize a same-sex couple’s parenthood which was already valid in a foreign country.

The decision is about a Czech and a Dane who were married in the USA and raise two children by surrogate mother. California laws consider both men parents since the children’s births, and both men’s names are in the California birth certificate. The parents have been trying to get both their names, not just one, written in the Czech birth certificate, a move the Czech Supreme Court has rejected in the past, claiming it would go against the public order. The Constitutional Court’s ruling today gives both partners, who have been raising together the children ever since they were born, the hope that their rights and obligations towards the children will be recognized in the Czech Republic, as well, and that the children will be entitled to receive care from both parents.Czech Republic

“We are happy that the Constitutional Court decided in our favor. We hope that we will soon be able to obtain Czech birth certificates for our children, and both our names will be on them, as parents. We will be less afraid of all the complications that might occur during our visits to my family in the Czech Republic, or in case we decide to move to the Czech Republic”, said Jiří Ambrož, the Czech father of the two children.

Today’s ruling of the Constitutional Court, however, only applies to parenthood originating abroadGays and lesbians in the Czech Republic are still unable to adopt children as a couple, nor can one of them adopt the partner’s child. Today’s ruling therefore leaves the gay and lesbian parents in a half-way position. It is the same situation as in the case of last year’s ruling by the Constitutional Court, which repealed the ban for a person living in `registered partnership` to adopt children individually, but did not make possible joint adoptions by the two partners. Moreover, today’s decision to recognize parenthood originating abroad does not apply to surrogate parenthood in the Czech Republic, something that exists, but is not regulated by specific laws. The Czech state is thus spinelessly ignoring the needs and legal certainties not only of a considerable number of children growing up in the families of same-sex couples, but also of the children born to heterosexual couples by surrogate mothers.

Surrogate motherhood

Substitute or surrogate motherhood is a procedure where the biological parent’s embryo is carried and delivered by a substitute mother. She gives birth to the child and then give up her parenthood rights. This service is used by childless heterosexual couples, but also by gay couples who use an ovule from a donor. While in many Western countries this substitute motherhood is a regulated procedure, with licensed agencies, in the Czech Republic surrogate motherhood is kept in a ‘gray’ legal area.international surrogacy

The case of Jiří Ambrož’s family –background

Jiří Ambrož and his husband have two children, a 5 year-old daughter and a 4 year-old son. Founding his claim on the principle that a child born to a Czech citizen, or adopted by such a citizen becomes a Czech citizen, the Czech father of the two children asked the Czech population register office (“matrika”) to register the two children, issue them a Czech birth certificate and confirm their state citizenship.

In the case of the young boy, the Supreme Court recognized the Czech citizen’s parenthood. The boy was therefore registered by the Czech population office and has a Czech birth certificate and a confirmation that he is a Czech citizen, but in those papers there is just one parent name. The application for the registration of the second parent was rejected by the Supreme Court because it would go against the public order, since the Czech law does not allow two people of the same sex to jointly adopt children. The Supreme Court identified in that reality a fundament of the Czech law, which it said should be observed. The two parents and their legal representatives decided therefore to file a constitutional complaint.

Press release from www.praguepride.cz – July 24, 2017

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