Sperm donor secrets emerge as Australia law erases anonymity

For Peter Peacock, fate arrived in the form of a registered letter.

The letter, at least initially, looked to be a bit of a letdown. Peacock had gone to the post office expecting the delivery of a big, furry aviator jacket he’d ordered online. And so it was with little fanfare that the Australian grandfather and retired cop tore the envelope open as he walked back to his car — at which point he stopped dead in his tracks.

“Dear Mr Peacock,” the letter began. “The Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority (VARTA) has received an enquiry of a personal nature which may or may not relate to you. The matter concerns a record held in relation to a project you may have assisted with at Prince Henry’s Institute.”

Prince Henry’s? The Melbourne clinic where he’d donated sperm nearly 40 years ago?

There could be only one reason for such a letter, he thought. Someone out there had come to life through his donation.

His mind raced. How on earth was he going to tell everyone? How would he break it to his two grown daughters? And how could this person even know who he was? He had been promised that his donation would be anonymous.

And for decades it was, until a new law in one Australian state retroactively erased the anonymity of sperm and egg donors. Their offspring now have the legal right to know who they are.

Which is why a week after receiving that letter, Peacock found himself staring at a photograph of a woman named Gypsy Diamond, whose face looked so much like his own that he felt an instant and overwhelming connection. He gazed in wonder at her dark, almond-shaped eyes. His eyes.

“God almighty, I looked at it and I thought — ‘Bloody hell. I can’t deny that girl,’” he says. “She was my child from the start.”

By KRISTEN GELINEAU AP.com, August 2, 2018

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Compensation for Canadian Sperm And Egg Donors Will Help LGBTQ Couples Build Families

It’s currently illegal to pay, offer to pay or advertise payment for sperm, eggs, or surrogacy services in Canada.

The Canadian government is considering amendments to the Assisted Human Reproduction Act (AHRA) that will benefit the LGBTQ community.

On May 29, Member of Parliament Anthony Housefather introduced a private members bill to the House of Commons. He is seeking decriminalization of surrogacy services and consideration of reasonable compensation for egg and sperm donation in Canada.canada

It’s currently illegal to pay, offer to pay or advertise payment for sperm, eggs, or surrogacy services. Under the Assisted Human Reproduction Act of 2004, any compensation beyond reasonable expenditures is a criminal offence punishable by 10 years in prison and a $500,000 fine. What constitutes a legitimate expense has yet to be clearly defined by the government, leading to criticism of the Act by many doctors and legal experts.

Housefather’s proposed change will affect many Canadians who don’t have their own eggs or sperm to start a family: single women, sterile men, older women who no longer produce viable eggs and people who carry genetic diseases they do not want to pass on.

It will also be of significant importance to LGBTQ couples.

As a fertility doctor, I know that having children is important to LGBTQ couples. However, most require the help of a fertility clinic to obtain donor sperm or eggs.

The intention of sections 6 and 7 of the Act were to prevent commercialization of donors and surrogates in Canada. In reality, the criminalization of potential donors has led to a complete lack of egg and sperm donors willing to provide their reproductive material for free. Donor sperm and donor egg banks are virtually non-existent in Canada. Surrogacy services are only available through recruiting agencies that operate in a “grey area” of the Act.

Did Republicans Vote to Make It Legal to Ban Gays and Lesbians from Adopting?

In a party line vote, the Republicans in the majority in the House Appropriations Committee approved an amendment to a funding bill that would allow federally-funded adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ families.

The news came at a moment when LGBTQ activists were still reeling from a 2 July Supreme Court decision siding with republicans and a Colorado baker sued for violating the state’s anti-discrimination law by refusing, on religious grounds, to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. In their narrow ruling, the justices upheld the law itself but found that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission did not act with sufficient neutrality with respect to the baker’s religious beliefs.

The vote on gay adoption (which also turned on the issue of religious objections to same-sex relationships) did, in fact, take place during consideration of a funding bill for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education by the House Appropriations Committee on 11 July 2018.

Among the amendments proposed to the bill was one offered by Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Alabama) forbidding the federal government, and state and local governments that receive federal funding for child welfare services programs, to act against individual providers who decline to supply services to anyone — including promoting adoption, recruiting adoptive parents, assisting adoptions, and supporting adoptive families — for religious or moral reasons. 

The committee approved Aderholt’s amendment by a vote of 29 for and 23 against, with all 22 Democrats and only one Republican (Rep. Scott Taylor of Virginia) opposed. The full bill still has to pass both the House and Senate and be signed by the president before it can become law.

July 14, 2018, Snopes.com

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Adoption agencies could refuse same-sex couples under measure OK’d by House panel

The House Appropriations Committee passed an amendment on Wednesday that, if implemented, would allow adoption agencies to refuse gay couples based on their moral or religious beliefs.

The amendment, which was introduced by GOP Rep. Robert Aderholt of Alabama, would allow child welfare providers to decline to “provide a service that conflicts with its sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions,” according to the congressman.Bribes congress
 
Because of this provision, the amendment would allow more religious organizations, such as Catholic Charities and Bethany Christian Services — examples Aderholt provided — to operate child welfare agencies.
 
“The reason for this is simply because these organizations, based on religious conviction, choose not to place children with same-sex couples,” he said in a statement.
 
He continued: “The amendment I introduced seeks to prevent these (state) governments from discriminating against child welfare providers on the basis that the provider declines to provide a service that conflicts with its sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions,” he said in a statement.
 
The amendment could have consequences for LGBTQ-friendly states. It would require the US Department of Health and Human Services to withhold 15% of the federal funds for child welfare services from states and localities don’t meet the same standards for protecting religious adoption groups.
 
Progressive Democrats in the House are speaking out against the amendment, saying it would deny same-sex couples the right to adopt.
“Same-sex couples are six times more likely to foster and four times more likely to adopt. Denying kids loving parents is wrong,” Democratic Rep. Mark Pocan, a gay congressman from Wisconsin, said in a tweet.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called the amendment a “disgusting, deeply immoral and profoundly offensive effort.”
 
“House Republicans chose to sacrifice the well-being of little children to push a bigoted, anti-LGBTQ agenda, potentially denying tens of thousands of vulnerable children the opportunity to find a loving and safe home,” the California Democrat said in a statement.
 
The office of House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

By Daniella Diaz, CNN.com, July 12, 2018 

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My Family’s Story

My husband Gary and I were able to share our family’s story with Robin and Jaimie of the hit podcast, If These Ovaries Could Talk.

 We spoke about being a known donor, having our son with a known egg donor and gestational carrier, as well as our commitment to inviting others to get to know us through honest question and answer.  Anthony Brown

This podcast is really important.  Not only are Jaimie and Robin helping others to have their families, they are demysifying the process and helping others to know that our families are just like theirs.

Go to www.ovariestalk.com for information and you can download their podcast on all podcast platforms.

Click here to listen to our episode, “They Met at the Disco.”

LGBT Couples Could be Denied Adoption on Religious Grounds in Kansas and Oklahoma

Lawmakers in Republican-controlled legislatures in Oklahoma and Kansas approved bills granting legal protection to faith-based agencies that refuse adoptions to LGBT families on religious grounds.adoption ban

Supporters of the legislation believe that the new regulations will help address the need for foster families by attracting more adoption agencies to their state and protect religious liberties. Critics such as the LGBT advocacy group Human Rights Campaign (HRC) believe the laws give “license to discriminate.”  

In Oklahoma, bill SB 1140 was approved by the House of Representatives in a 56-21 vote on Thursday without discussion or debate, Reuters reported. The abrupt move was vocally opposed by Democrat lawmakers.

“The abomination of process & justice in the OK House of Reps makes me weep for democracy,” Representative Cory Williams, a vocal critic of the bill which he described as “homophobic and bigot,” wrote on Twitter about the vote.

Newsweek.com by Sofia Lotto Persio, May 4, 2018

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Colorado Anti-LGBTQ Adoption Bill Fails in Senate

This morning, the Colorado Senate considered a bill that would not only endanger children, but would allow adoption and foster care agencies to turn away any potential parent or family from providing a loving home to a child, simply because that parent or family doesn’t meet their religious requirements.

When debated before the full Senate, Senate Bill 241 failed on 2nd reading by a voice vote. Senator Kevin Lundberg, sponsor of the bill and perennial proponent of anti-LGBTQ measures, pushed an amendment to revive the bill. But all members of the Colorado Senate Democratic Caucus, and Senators Cheri Jahn, Don Coram, and Beth Martinez Humenik voted no, ensuring the bill’s defeat by a vote of 19-16.colorado anti-gay

Daniel Ramos, Executive Director of One Colorado, the state’s leading advocacy organization for LGBTQ Coloradans and their families, released the following statement on the bill’s defeat:

“I commend the State Senators who came together to vote down this harmful and mean-spirited legislation. After seeing a very similar bill just pass in Oklahoma, I am pleased to see that a bipartisan group of Senators united to defeat this bill, sending a clear signal that hateful legislation like this has no place in Colorado.”

May 1, 2018 – one-colorado.org

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Gestational Carrier Bill Clears New Jersey Legislature

Twice-vetoed New Jersey Surrogacy legislation that would sanction the type of surrogacy-for-hire contracts famously deemed unenforceable three decades ago in the state Supreme Court’s In re Baby M case has now passed the Legislature.

Twice-vetoed legislation that would sanction the type of surrogacy-for-hire contracts famously deemed unenforceable three decades ago in the state Supreme Court’s In re Baby M case has passed the Legislature a third time.new jersey surrogacy

Lawmakers were hardly unanimous on the issue. On Thursday, S-482 passed the Assembly by a vote of 51-16, with six abstentions. Earlier, on March 26, it passed the Senate 25-10. The votes were along party lines, with majority Democrats voting in favor, and Republicans voting against or abstaining.

S-482 could be met with a friendlier reception from new Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, than its predecessors, which were blocked twice by former Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican.

The legality of such contracts has been a historically contentious issue in New Jersey.

Surrogacy arrangements made national headlines in 1988 when the state Supreme Court issued its watershed ruling in In re Baby M, which voided surrogacy-for-hire contracts. In that case, the mother initially agreed to carry the fetus to term and surrender the baby to the biological father and his wife, but had a change of heart—to which the court held she was entitled, given the public policy in favor of biological parents maintaining parental rights to their children.

But, as proponents of gestational carrier legislation in recent years have pointed out, science has advanced since Baby M, and a woman can carry a fetus with no biological connection.

In 2012, the court, in a 3-3 split in In the Matter of the Parentage of a Child by T.J.S. and A.L.S., let stand a lower court ruling that parental rights do not vest in the wife of a man who fathered a child through an anonymous egg donor, which was carried by an unrelated surrogate.

Baby M, meanwhile, has remained good law.

Christie vetoed the legislation in 2012 and 2015. Last year the measure once again passed the Senate, though the Assembly didn’t take action before the close of the legislative session. In his 2012 veto, Christie said not enough research had been done to study the possible ramifications. “While some will applaud the freedom to explore these new, and sometimes necessary, arranged births, others will note the profound change in the traditional beginnings of a family that this bill would enact,” Christie said in a veto statement at the time. In his 2015 veto message, he said the sponsors had done nothing to allay his concerns since the prior attempt.

by David Gialanella, NJ Law Journal

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Oklahoma Adoption Bill Allowing Discrimination Against Gay Couples Clears House Panel

An Oklahoma House committee has approved a bill that seeks to allow religious child welfare organizations, including adoption and foster care agencies, to discriminate against same-sex couples.

Senate Bill 1140 cleared the Senate last month with an overwhelming 35-9 vote in Oklahoma adoption matter.

The bill states: “To the extent allowed by federal law, no private child placing agency shall be required to perform, assist, counsel, recommend, consent to, refer, or participate in any placement of a child for foster care or adoption when the proposed placement would violate the agency’s written religious or moral convictions or policies.”adoption

Senate Majority Floor Leader Greg Treat, a Republican from Oklahoma City, has defended his bill, arguing that it would increase the number of adoptions in Oklahoma by expanding the pool of faith-based organizations participating.

The House Judiciary Committee advanced the bill to the full House for consideration, adding an amendment that excludes agencies that receive state funding.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest LGBT rights advocate, said that the bill does not take into account the best interest of children.

“SB 1140, if passed, would allow state-licensed child-placing agencies to disregard the best interest of children and turn away qualified Oklahomans seeking to care for a child in need,” Cathryn Oakley, state legislative director and senior counsel at HRC, said during a press conference. “This would include LGBTQ couples, interfaith couples, single parents, married couples in which one prospective parent has previously been divorced or other parents to whom the agency has a religious objection.”

by Carlos Santoscoy, ontopmag.com, April 12, 2018

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Arizona Governor Signs New Human Embryo Law

When a couple is unable to conceive naturally or medical treatments — like chemotherapy — make future pregnancies unlikely, there are a variety of fertility options available, including harvesting a woman’s eggs, freezing them and using them at a later date.

Up until now, reproductive fertility law specialists in Arizona would help couples navigate any tricky ethical issues that might arise in the future, like what happens if you split up or divorce before you decide to use the eggs.Arizona Embryo

But, a new law signed Tuesday by Gov. Doug Ducey has the potential to upend any contractual agreements written between husbands and wives or domestic partners, and dictates who is allowed to keep frozen eggs after a breakup.

Cathi Herrod, President of Center for Arizona Policy, said the new human embryo law helps make the law clearer and it is a positive step for Arizona.

“Just like a judge will decide when there are disputes over property, disputes over who gets the family dog — now who gets the family embryos will also be decided by a judge according to the law,” Herrod said.

by Lauren Gilger, KJZZ.com, April 4, 2018

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