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

Click here to read the entire blog.

Ethical Surrogacy – Making the Right Choices

Ethical surrogacy is, and must be, the goal of an intended parent (IP) who is looking to have a family with the assistance of a surrogate mother.

Because of the different parties involved and the roles that they play, there must be a guiding, ethical roadmap for intended parents to follow to ensure that everyone has a successful and positive experience, an ethical surrogacy. Up until very recently, no such roadmap existed for intended parents.  Doctors have such guidelines in the ASRM (American Society of Reproductive Medicine) Recommendations for Practices Utilizing Gestational Carriers.  Attorneys also have such guidance in numerous articles and section committees dedicated to issues surrounding surrogacy.

Respect Ethics Honest Integrity Signpost Meaning Good Qualities

Now there is a place where intended parents can go to review best practices and baseline protocols for ethical surrogacy, ensuring that each IP has the tools to create an ethical journey. Men Having Babies (MHB), a non-profit organization of which I am the board chairperson, recently introduced A Framework for Ethical Surrogacy for Intended Parents, available online in English, French, German, Spanish, Italian and Hebrew.  This comprehensive document is supported by several LGBT organizations in America and abroad.

What is Ethical Surrogacy?

MHB’s ethical surrogacy framework revolves around the notion that surrogacy can be a wonderful and fulfilling experience for all parties involved, even if the surrogate is compensated for her efforts, risk and inconvenience. While compensation is part of the process, the act itself is not commercial because the IPs are not buying anything, particularly a child, which is a claim made by some anti-surrogacy activists.  A surrogate efforts should be compensated, even if the journey does not result in a pregnancy or in the case of a miscarriage.

How can Ethical Surrogacy be Achieved?

Regulation is the key to achieving ethical surrogacy. Having laws in place that require independent representation for all parties ( in their home languages), ensuring that all parties are vetted medically and psychologically, limiting compensation so as not to create irresistible incentives for participation and making surrogacy legal in each state and in each country so IPs and surrogate mothers do not have extraordinary distances between them, all work together to create an ethical surrogacy environment.

Reasonable and appropriate legislation should be enacted to allow perspective parents, donors and surrogates enter into legally enforceable agreements for surrogacy arrangements without having to cross state lines or country borders. This fosters more successful and fulfilling relationships between surrogate mothers and IPs.  Steps must also be taken to limit any medical risks that donors and surrogates face in the surrogacy process.

Baseline Protocols for Providers

Several baseline protocols should be implemented by service providers to ensure an ethical surrogacy experience including, but not limited to: informed consent from all parties, medical screening, social and psychological screening, independent legal representation (with language interpretation is required) before any treatments begin, medical insurance review from the surrogate mother and an agreement regarding contact during and after the surrogacy journey.

Best Practices

Best practices are suggestions for “above and beyond” thinking that is required of IPs because so much of the integrity of the journey depends on them. Among these suggestions is the creation of a long term vision about your family.  Who will be the biological parent?  How many journeys do you anticipate? What will the relationships be during and after the surrogacy?  How will you explain your family make-up to your child?  These questions are just a few of those that need to be asked and answered in the surrogacy process.

Above all, the autonomy of your surrogate mother must be respected and supported. While it may be your child that she is carrying, it is her pregnancy.  Insuring that she knows that you, as IPs, understand this distinction is critical to supporting her autonomy.  Her family and community will also play a role in her pregnancy, so getting to know her circle of support is a wonderful way of bolstering that support, making the journey a happy and healthy one for your surrogate mother.

While the MHB Framework for Ethical Surrogacy for Intended Parents goes deeper into the specifics of making your journey an ethical one, this article is designed to begin a conversation about the quality and success of your surrogacy journey.  After all, your family is worth it!  For more information, go to timeforfamilies.com or email Anthony at Anthony@timeforfamilies.com.

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A Perfect Father’s Day: MHB Puts Surrogacy Within Reach

Men Having Babies, MHB, started back in 2005 as a “peer support network for biological gay fathers and fathers-to-be,” according to the group’s website.

 

“We were heartbroken.”

“We just figured it wasn’t going to happen for us.”

“We spent everything — all of our savings — over nine years.”

“We took one look at the price tag, and figured it wasn’t within reach.”

These are the statements of two couples — Jay and Victor, and Daniel and Ricardo — who, at one point or another, came close to giving up on their hopes to become fathers.

It’s frustrations such as these, which are unfortunately all too commonly heard from would-be gay fathers, that prompted a group of gay men to form “Men Having Babies” or MHB,  a resource organization to help prospective gay dads navigate the often-troubled waters of surrogacy.

The organization started back in 2005 as a “peer support network for biological gay fathers and fathers-to-be,” according to the group’s website. Originally, the group operated as a small program out of New York City’s LGBT Community Center. In 2012, however, it morphed into a standalone non-profit organization, and has since expanded to offer workshops and seminars for gay men interested in becoming biological fathers from cities ranging from Los Angeles to Tel Aviv.MHB, gpap

While many other resource organizations exist to help LGBT parents, MHB is, to their knowledge, the only of its kind focused on easing the considerable financial burden of surrogacy for prospective gay fathers — the average cost of which is roughly $120,000.

“There are a dozen or so foundations that provide financial assistance to infertile people,” said Ron Poole-Dayan, the executive director and founding member of MHB, “but none offer to help to gay men, even though they need substantial third party assistance in order to become parents.”

Ron pointed out that as a category, gay men can face more obstacles in their quests to become parents than others. “These include biological, legal, and social constraints, as well as significantly higher financial costs.”

One of the main aspects of the organization’s mission, then, is to promote the affordability of surrogacy. It’s a cause close to the hearts of all those involved with MHB. According to A.J. Edge, the director of operation and finance for MHB, all of the organization’s board members have previously gone through their own surrogacy processes.

“They know that surrogacy is not something that’s open to anyone,” A.J. said. “And that it can be overwhelming and daunting — so that’s why GPAP was born.”

MHB created GPAP — or the Gay Parenting Assistance Program — to assist prospective gay parents who cannot afford the full cost of biological parenting on their own. The program is split into two “stages.” Those approved for Stage 1 become eligible for substantial discounts off the cost of surrogacy services from dozens of leading service providers. Stage II assistance, though more selective, is even more comprehensive — those accepted are provided with direct cash grants and free services to cover a considerable portion of the cost of surrogacy.

“In the last two years, more than 300 couples became eligible for substantial discounts off the cost of surrogacy services,” said Ron Poole-Dayan, the executive director of MHB, “and more than 40 couples have received direct financial assistance, including grants and free services. Ten babies were already born to Stage II couples, and many more are on their way.”

Without this type of assistance, the cost of surrogacy can be prohibitively expensive for many gay dads, or at least those who don’t happen to have an extra $120,000 hiding under their mattresses.

This sticker price was enough to deter Jay Todd and Victor Gonzalez, a couple of 17 years, when they took their first steps towards becoming fathers five years ago.

“We thought you needed to be like Elton John to have kids through surrogacy,” Jay joked. “It just seemed out of reach for most families — like such a fantasy.”

So instead, the couple first tried to adopt, a process that proved to be more emotionally fraught and expensive than they had hoped. “We spent thousands of dollars,” Jay said, “and it was very emotionally difficult time for everyone involved.” The couple came close to completing an adoption a couple of times — once with a child in Indiana, and a second time with a sibling group in Colombia — but neither worked out in the end.

The couple stresses that they have no regrets, and wish nothing but the best for the birth parents and their children. Still, the experience left them emotionally exhausted, and they decided to sideline their dream of becoming fathers. “We had to give up,” Jay admitted. “We just figured it wasn’t going to happen for us.”

Then, the couple learned about GPAP, and were approved for Stage I assistance. “We got substantial discounts from Simply Surrogacy and CT Fertility,” Jay said. “It probably saved us around $10,000.”

June 19, 2016 via Gayswithkids.com

Click here to read the entire article.

Gay couples are becoming reproductive refugees as more countries outlaw surrogacy

The options for becoming parents are narrowing for gay couples as both developed and developing nations increasingly outlaw surrogacy, many becoming reproductive refugees.

Gay couples who need surrogacy to start a family are now reproductive refugees as more and more countries outlaw surrogacy, according to advocacy group Families Through Surrogacy.

With surrogacy criminalized in many Western countries, would-be parents have typically turned to developing nations including Thailand, India and Nepal to find surrogates. But even these countries have, in recent years, closed their doors to international surrogacy. What’s more, countries that do still allow international surrogacy – such as Ukraine, Georgia and Israel – do not extend that offer to same-sex couples.

Sam Everingham, executive director of Australian advocacy group Families Through Surrogacy, told The Atlantic that outlawing reproductive rights for gay couples in their own countries sent them on ‘a constant chase’ across the globe, with more and more countries officially outlawing the practice as time goes on.

According to Doron Mamet, the head of Israeli surrogacy agency Tammuz, surrogacy has become such a political sticking point that it may not be available anywhere within the next ’10 to 15 years’. Interestingly, Mamet points out, while politicians and anti-surrogacy activists are eager to stamp out the practice, ‘The only group that wants it to continue are the people in need and the surrogates.’surrogacy refugees, international surrogacy, gay dads

Why outlaw surrogacy in developed countries?

In Australia, couples found to have practised commercial surrogacy in the country can go to jail for three years.

Australia’s federal government has recently ordered a review of the nation’s surrogacy laws, following high-profile cases of surrogacy gone wrong abroad. The government appears to be in favor of commercial surrogacy remaining illegal in the country, forcing gay parents to fork out huge sums for surrogates in the US, as cheaper options in developing countries dwindle.

UK gay couples find themselves with the same problem, as UK law also criminalizes commercial surrogacy.

In an interview with Gay Star News, the founder of gay parenting blog Gay Dads Australia, Rodney Chiang-Cruise, told of the frustration the gay community felt about criminalization of commercial surrogacy in Australia. He argued that legalizing the process within Australia would help make it ‘a fair, equitable, respectful process for all parties’. See more on that here.

While altruistic surrogacy is legal in Australia, figures from Families Through Surrogacy show that just 35 babies were born through altruistic surrogacy in Australia in 2013. Conversely, more than 400 babies were born to Australians through surrogacy abroad.

The cost of going through the surrogacy process in the US is around AUD $200,000.

GayStarNews.com by Laura Chubb, June 7, 2016

Click here to read the entire article.

Top Concerns for Gay Men Considering International Surrogacy

International surrogacy poses many questions, and potential obstacles for gay couples.

A gay couple made global headlines last year when their plans for having a baby together went horribly wrong. Manuel Santos and Gordon Alan “Bud” Lake III chose to move forward with a surrogate in Thailand, but after their baby was born, the surrogate refused to sign the final papers, chose to back out of the contract, and eventually decided to fight for custody. International surrogacy was back in the news.

Their case eventually went to court, but was complicated by the fact that the law in Thailand does not recognize same-sex marriages. On top of that, a new law that bans commercial surrogacy went into effect after their baby was born. The odds were stacked against them and the couple had to turn to crowd-funding to help pay for the legal fees and the costs of staying in the country during the battle. Thai surrogate mother

“Our lives have been turned upside down,” the couple explained on Fundly. “Our jobs are in danger, our family is now divided, false allegations and criminal charges have been brought against us. What was supposed to be the happiest time of our lives, bonding with our new baby girl — our daughter and our son’s new little sister – has turned into an absolute nightmare.”

I’ve heard similar stories like this before. I recently published a book titled, Journey to Same-Sex Parenthood: Firsthand Advice, Tips and Stories from Lesbian and Gay Couples, to help LGBT people understand the pros and cons to the various paths to parenthood. The book compares adoption, surrogacy, foster care, assisted reproduction, and co-parenting. One section in the book tells the story of David and Josh, a gay couple who decided to have a baby through international surrogacy but wound up stranded in India for a month after the government refused to grant exit visas for their newborn twins.

David and Josh were eventually allowed to bring their children home to the U.S. I’m also happy to announce that on April 26, Santos and Lake won their court battle in Thailand too, although the couple is still not able to take their child out of the country right away because of the possibility of an appeal by the surrogate mother.

I don’t want to make it sound like surrogacy is bad, or that all people who choose international surrogacy are destined to have horrible experiences, but I do want to raise awareness about the challenges that LGBT people may encounter when choosing to move forward on this path. Here are the top three things you should be aware of when considering international surrogacy.

Possible legal complications – If you are thinking about going to another country for surrogacy, consider the potential emotional and financial cost if you run into complications. Depending on your situation, you may not be able to bring your baby back to the United States or you may have lengthy delays before you can return. International surrogacy is complex and doesn’t have clear protections. Do your research to understand what legal rights the surrogate will have if any, and how the county protects LGBT couples. Consult with a lawyer that specializes in international surrogacy prior to moving forward so that you can be knowledgeable about the situation ahead of time.

Possible breach of contract – Even though all parties sign a contract in the beginning, it is still possible for a surrogate to violate her end of the agreement. There is a risk the birthmother could voluntarily have an abortion without the consent of the intended parents or refuse to have an agreed-upon abortion when recommended by the physician. It is also possible that the surrogate could use drugs, consume alcohol or fail to follow other behavioral restrictions laid out in the contract. In the case of Santos and Lake, the surrogate decided to back out of the contract all together after the baby was born.

by Eric Rosewood, HuffingtonPost.com, April 28, 2016

Click here to read the entire article.

Gay couple wins custody of their one-year-old daughter from Thai surrogate mother

A same-sex American-Spanish gay couple won a high-profile custody battle Tuesday against a Thai surrogate mother who gave birth to their child but then decided she wanted to keep the baby when she found out they were gay.

Bangkok’s Juvenile and Family Court ruled that the legal guardian of the 15-month-old child, named Carmen, is her American biological father, Gordon Lake, and against the child’s Thai surrogate mother, said Lake’s lawyer Rachapol Sirikulchit.

‘The court has granted legal custody of Carmen Lake to Gordon Lake, my client, and (said) that my client is her only guardian,’ Rachapol said.international surrogacy

Lake and his partner, Spaniard Manuel Santos, both 41, have been stuck in Thailand since launching their legal battle after Carmen was born in January 2015.

Santos emerged from the court smiling and with tears in his eyes.

‘We won,’ he told reporters. ‘We are really happy. … This nightmare is going to end soon.’

‘After 15 months, Carmen will fly to Spain,’ where the couple lives, Santos said.

Rachapol said the couple would not be able to take Carmen out of the country right away pending the possibility of an appeal by the Thai surrogate mother, Patidta Kusolsang. She was not in court and her intentions could not immediately be learned.

Lake and Santos celebrated their legal victory on the ‘Bringcarmenhome’ Facebook page set up to support their custody fight.

‘There is no way to express with words what we are feeling!’ they posted. ‘We are crying, our family is crying, our friends are crying, and we are sure all the Thai people who showed their love for us during this time are crying too.’

‘Today is a huge day for love, for family and for truth. And it is also a big day for LGBT rights,’ said their posting, referring to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights.

The case was seen as complicated by the fact that Thai law does not recognize same-sex marriages and also by a new law that bans commercial surrogacy, which took effect after Carmen’s birth. Rachapol said the court’s ruling was based on a transitory clause in the law allowing the intended parents of any baby born before the law took effect to request to be the legal parents.

Click here to read the entire article.

DailyMail.co.uk by Associated Press – April 26, 2016

Surrogacy Ban In China Reversed?

Surrogacy Ban In China Reversed?

Last week Chinese authorities also decided to drop a plan to ban surrogacy. Now aspiring parents can seek the help of Chinese women to act as surrogate mothers to gestate and give birth to their children. If China had banned the use of surrogate mothers, only those Chinese wealthy enough to hire surrogates overseas, in countries such as the United States, would have been able to use the practice.

Surrogacy

The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, which is the main law-making body in China, decided last week to withdraw the draft legislation for banning use of surrogates. The move was surprising because China rarely reverses itself on a draft law after it has been publicized. Such a move could be seen as the government being indecisive, which could hurt its public image.

January 1 marks the official end of China’s one-child policy that for 36 years has forced couples to limit their offspring to slow the country’s population growth and now may plan to reverse their ban on surrogates.

“Some members of the Standing Committee argued the surrogacy cannot be totally forbidden,” Zhang Chunsheng, head of legal affairs at the National Health and Family Planning Commission, said at a news conference.

Even if there was a law banning it, “rich people would still be able to go abroad to countries where surrogacy is allowed,” Zhang said.

Surrogacy usually costs between $125,000 and $175,000 in countries such as the United States. The cost is somewhat less expensive in other countries, such as Thailand, India and Nepal, sources said.

Infertility rates rising

Some legislators argued that domestic surrogacy should be allowed because infertility rates are rising in China, and many aspiring parents need the option to have their own babies. A ban would only encourage the vast black market in the surrogacy business, which often results in exploitation of women, legislators said.

January 1, 2016 – VOANews.com by Saibal Dasgupta

Click here to read the entire article.