New York State Legalizes Gestational Surrogacy

 

New York State Legalizes Gestational Surrogacy

A protracted battle over the future of compensated gestational surrogacy in New York was resolved on April 2 when state lawmakers approved a budget that included legislation proposed by out gay Manhattan State Senator Brad Hoylman and Westchester Assemblymember Amy Paulin that legalizes gestational surrogacy once and for all.legal surrogacy in New York

Although New York was one of just a small handful of states that had yet to legalize the practice, which entails a surrogate carrying a baby who has no biological relation to her, the campaign to pass such legislation in the state was stymied last year by concerns that the surrogates who carry babies — as well as those women donating eggs — were not afforded sufficient protection and rights. The bill put forth by Paulin and Hoylman, who had his two daughters via surrogacy, cleared the upper chamber last year but never reached the Assembly floor following resistance from some women in the lower chamber, including out lesbian Assemblymember Deborah Glick, who told The New York Times that gestational surrogacy was “pregnancy for a fee, and I find that commodification of women troubling.”

Among other issues with last year’s bill, Glick and others expressed uneasinessabout the reality that most working people could not afford to spend tens of thousands of dollars to have children through gestational surrogacy. The bill primarily benefits wealthier individuals in addition to those who are looking for financial compensation by donating eggs or carrying babies.

Hoylman, however, told Gay City News in February that he hopes the push towards universal healthcare means that such reforms could eventually alleviate some of the healthcare costs of surrogacy.

The dispute over the future of surrogacy in the state continued into this year when Manhattan State Senator Liz Krueger and Assemblymember Didi Barrett of Dutchess and Columbia Counties introduced a separate surrogacy bill that would have included, among other provisions, a controversial eight-day window during which the surrogate and intended parents would share legal responsibility for the child — raising questions about whether the surrogate might refuse to turn the child over or seek some ongoing legal relationship with them — something Hoylman described in a February interview with Gay City News as a “non-starter.”

The eight-day window was not included in the final version of Hoylman and Paulin’s bill, but some elements of Krueger’s legislation appear to have been incorporated, such as additional protections for the surrogate and the egg donor. Hoylman and Paulin had long defended their own bill as boasting the “strongest protections in the nation for surrogates” by placing significant responsibility on the intended parents to pay for her healthcare, legal representation, and other costs tied to the pregnancy. Additional protections for egg donors were also included in this year’s bill.

By Matt Tracy, Gay City News, April 2, 2020

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The UK Supreme Court awards damages for commercial surrogacy

A landmark ruling by The UK Supreme Court awards damages to a woman for Californian commercial surrogacy following a delay in detecting cancer in smear tests and biopsies.

Louisa Ghevaert provided expert evidence on surrogacy to the UK Supreme Court, donor conception and fertility law in this case and comments:UK Supreme Court

“This legal ruling from the UK Supreme Court is an important watershed in the development of medical negligence, fertility and surrogacy law in the UK. It enables a ‘surrogacy’ head of claim in cases where a person’s fertility and ability to conceive a child has been lost or impaired through medical negligence, including claims for overseas commercial surrogacy in appropriate cases. It marks a real step forward in recognising the value and importance of individual fertility and surrogacy. However, there is still more that needs to be done to preserve and protect people’s fertility and their ability to have children”.

Background

The Defendant admitted failing to detect signs of cancer from smear tests in 2008 and 2012 and biopsies in 2012 and 2013. As a result, the  Claimant developed invasive cancer of the cervix which required chemo-radiotherapy treatment that rendered her infertile and caused severe radiation damage to her bladder, bowel and vagina.

Due to the late cancer diagnosis and the increased size of the tumour, the Claimant was unable to have fertility sparing surgery and suffered a complete loss of fertility. This was a devastating blow as she had always wanted a large family of her own.  She was so devastated by the diagnosis that she postponed her cancer treatment twice to obtain further medical opinions about the viability of fertility sparing surgery. On learning this was not available to her, she underwent a cycle of ovarian stimulation in June 2013 and harvested and froze 8 mature eggs.  A few days later, she underwent surgery followed by chemo-radiotherapy. This caused irreparable damage to her uterus and ovaries so she could not conceive or carry a pregnancy and it caused her to enter premature menopause.

The Claimant therefore sought damages to enable her to enter into a commercial surrogacy arrangement in California to have a much wanted family of her own. In contrast to the informal and legally restricted nature of surrogacy in the UK, commercial surrogacy in California operates through a well established system which offers legally binding surrogacy arrangements and pre-birth orders in the Californian court.

Legal Ruling

The case was first heard in the English High Court in June 2017, where a limited damages award for two altruistic UK surrogacies was made in the sum of £74,000.  

Louisa Ghevaeart Blog, April 1, 2020

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Shielding the Fetus From the Coronavirus

New studies suggest the Coronavirus can cross the placenta to the fetus, but newborns have been mildly affected if at all.

Newborns and babies have so far seemed to be largely unaffected by the coronavirus, but three new studies suggest that the virus may reach the fetus in utero.coronavirus fetus

Even in these studies, the newborns seemed only mildly affected, if at all — which is reassuring, experts said. And the studies are small and inconclusive on whether the virus does truly breach the placenta.

“I don’t look at this and think coronaviruses must cross across the placenta,” said Dr. Carolyn Coyne of the University of Pittsburgh, who studies the placenta as a barrier to viruses. She was not involved in the new work.

Still, the studies merit concern, she said, because if the virus does get through the placental barrier, it may pose a risk to the fetus earlier in gestation, when the fetal brain is most vulnerable.

Pregnant women are often more susceptible to respiratory infections such as influenza and to having more complications for themselves and their babies as a result. It’s still unclear whether pregnant women are more likely to contract the new coronavirus, said Dr. Christina Chambers, a perinatal epidemiologist at the University of California in San Diego.

“We don’t have any knowledge of that at all — that is a complete open question at this point,” she said. It’s also unclear what effect the virus has on the fetus, she added.

The placenta usually blocks harmful viruses and bacteria from reaching the fetus. And it allows in helpful antibodies from the mother that can keep the fetus safe from any germs, before and after birth.

Still, a few viruses do get through to the fetus and can wreak havoc. The most recent example is Zika, which can cause microcephaly and profound neurological damage, especially if contracted in the first and second trimesters.

Neither the new coronavirus, nor its more familiar cousins, has seemed to belong to this more dangerous category. If so, “we would be seeing higher levels of miscarriage and preterm delivery,” Dr. Coyne said.

NYTimes.com by Apoorva MAndavilli, March 27, 2020
 
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Richard E. Weber, Beloved Lawyer Dies From Coronavirus Complications

Richard E. Weber will be remembered as having brought ‘joy and exuberance’ to everything he did.

We have some unfortunate news today from New York, where an esteemed member of the legal profession passed away due to complications of coronavirus.Richard E. Weber

Richard E. Weber, 57, was a partner at Gallo Vitucci Klar as well as a board member of the LGBT Bar Association of New York. Big Law Business has some additional details on his death:

“Everyone at Gallo Vitucci Klar LLP is heartbroken and devastated by the loss of Richard,” senior partner Howard P. Klar said in an emailed statement. “He was a wonderful attorney and shining light at our firm. Our thoughts right now are with his family.”

Klar said the firm’s Manhattan office has been closed since Weber disclosed his symptoms on March 10. Attorneys and staff have been working remotely and the office was deep cleaned and disinfected. No one else at that office or the firm has had any Covid-19 symptoms or a positive diagnosis, he said.

According to Eric Lesh, executive director of LeGaL, Weber had been hospitalized and tested positive for COVID-19. Three days before Weber died, he have a conversation with Lesh where he “convey[ed] … that this was the sickest he’d ever been and that he was recovering and on the mend.” From the LGBT Bar’s Facebook 

“It is with heavy hearts that we reach out to LeGaL’s members and friends with news of devastating loss of our longtime board member, Richard Weber, to Coronavirus complications.

We cherish Richard’s memory and hold his partner, Antonio, and family in our hearts. Richard gave generously of his time and talents to improve the lives of LGBTQ New Yorkers.”

AboveTheLaw.com, March 20, 2020 by Staci Zaretsky

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Israeli Supreme Court rules same-sex couples be given access to surrogacy

In an apparent rebuke to government, the Israeli Supreme Court justices say current law that excludes LGBT couples, harms ‘right to equality’ and gives the state one year to amend the existing legislation; LGBT organizations laud ‘historic decision’

In a unanimous verdict, the Israeli Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that same-sex couples and single men be given access to domestic surrogacy services.Israel Supreme Court

The five-justice panel declared that the current arrangements within the Embryo Carrying Agreements Law disproportionately “harms the right to equality” and the right of parenthood of these groups, and are therefore illegal.
Following a 4 to 1 vote, the court gave the state a maximum of 12 months to amend the current legislation.
Justice Uzi Vogelman wrote in his verdict the current Surrogacy Law inherently discriminates not only against LGBT community but against the concept of fatherhood as well.
“The current arrangement echoes the deep social construct that motherhood is preferable to fatherhood, and that a family made up of a male and female or only a female is much more ‘preferred,’ ‘deserving’ and ‘accepted’ than the more complicated forms [of family],” he wrote.
“This is a harmful message on the part of the administration, disregarding the basic duty of the state to respect all forms of life and all family units.”
 
ynetnews.com, by Yael Friedson, Amir Alon February 27, 2020
 
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South Dakota Senate panel narrowly defeats commercial surrogacy ban

A South Dakota Senate committee on Wednesday narrowly rejected a measure that would have criminalized commercial surrogate pregnancy agents, making it unlikely for such a ban to win approval this year.

The South Dakota Senate Health and Human Services voted down the surrogacy ban bill 4-3 after a debate pitting some families who have used surrogates for pregnancy against critics who argue the practice exploits and endangers women and babies.South Dakota

Sen. Arthur Rusch, a Republican from Vermillion, cast the deciding vote against the legislation after initially moving to approve it and send it on to the full Senate. He called it “one of the most difficult decisions that I’ve made.”

The House had previously passed the bill, which deals with the practice of having a woman being impregnated with an embryo from another couple.

The proposal would have made acting as a surrogacy agent a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail. It would have made South Dakota one of a handful of states to criminalize the practice. Lawmakers said they would be more open to regulating surrogacy rather than passing an outright ban.

Rep. Jon Hansen, the Dell Rapids Republican who introduced the bill, argued that commercial surrogacy makes women and babies vulnerable to commercial contracts.

“Human beings are not property to be bartered for,” he said.

During testimony Wednesday, supporters of the commercial ban pointed to situations in other states where commercial surrogates have had to go to court over disputes arising from the contracts. They argued that commercial surrogacy targets women who are poor and from vulnerable communities.

Jennifer Lahl, an activist against commercial surrogacy from California, said surrogate pregnancies have higher health risks than normal pregnancies and pointed to the deaths of several women who died from complications during a surrogate pregnancy.

The bill also had the support of anti-abortion groups, an influential force in the conservative state. Many surrogacy contracts address “fetal reduction,” in which one fetus may be aborted if a woman has twins or triplets. They argued that the contracts could be used to pressure women into getting an abortion.

Women from a group of families that have had children through surrogacy opposed the bill. They have been frequent visitors to the Capitol as the bill progressed through the Legislature, making their case to lawmakers.

They argued that the bill is based on worst-case scenarios, mostly from other states, and that the commercial contracts protect both the women acting as surrogates and the intended parents.

TheHour.com by Stephen Groves, February 26, 2020

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Fertility Fraud: The U.S. Is Experiencing An Explosion Of Legislation. And That’s A Good Thing

More and more cases of fertility fraud have been uncovered. And more and more lawsuits have been filed. However, each prosecution or lawsuit has faced an uphill battle.

Direct-to-consumer DNA kits have changed our reality. The wall of secrecy that was once behind conception and parenting — including adoptions, affairs, and the use of donor eggs, sperm, and embryos — is crumbling. One major facet of this reckoning with the truth has been the stark realization that many, many doctors were using their own sperm, a form of fertility fraud, to “treat” their unknowing patients.fertility fraud

Sometimes this practice was in place of “anonymous donor” sperm; sometimes, it was actually in place of the spouse or partner’s sperm. It’s pretty gross to think about. But even grosser is the complete lack of accountability for the doctors who must have known of the ethical and moral shortcomings of their actions.

The Justice System Has Been Failing Us

A doctor using his own sperm to impregnate a patient, without her knowledge or consent as to the source of the sperm, must be a crime, right? Or at least a pretty solid tort – fertility fraud? For many states, you guessed wrong. More and more cases of those doctors’ egregious practices have been uncovered. And more and more lawsuits have been filed. However, each prosecution or lawsuit has faced an uphill battle.

Take, for example, the case of Donald Cline, formerly a licensed medical doctor in Indiana. In one of the most notorious cases of fertility fraud in the United States, DNA tests have shown Cline to have used his sperm in unknowing patients, resulting in at least sixty children. When the betrayed patients and offspring sought legal remedies against Cline, they were unsuccessful. After all, the patients had consented to Cline inseminating them with sperm. Cline did plead guilty to two charges of obstruction of justice, after lying to officials about using his own sperm with patients. But that, to most victims, was not sufficient.

Time To Change The Law

Since current law has been failing the victims, many have sought, and are currently seeking, to change the law. State by state, if necessary. Last year, two successful bills were passed. One was in Indiana, unsurprisingly, as ground zero of the Cline fiasco. Another was in Texas, where Eve Wiley led the charge. (Listen to this podcast where Wiley and her believed-donor tell the twisting and fascinating tale of uncovering the truth of Wiley’s genetic history.) In Texas, without a civil cause of action due to the state’s recent tort reforms, and without a viable criminal cause of action to charge him, Wiley’s “doctor daddy” is still actively practicing medicine even today. That’s crazytown.

Now other states are following suit, and closing the legal loopholes that existed for doctors to take advantage of their patients in this most intimate of areas. And while I doubt that as many doctors are so casually using their own sperm these days, there are certainly modern horror stories involving assisted reproduction, including that of a staff member at a Utah clinic swapping out countless sperm samples with his own.

The states currently making progress in this area include my own home state of Colorado with HB20-1014 (Go, Representative Kerry Tipper!), Nebraska with LB 748, Ohio with HB 486, and Florida with SB 698. Other states, as well, appear poised to introduce their own fertility fraud legislation. While the proposed laws vary, they are consistent in their goals of ensuring or clarifying that this type of behavior by trusted medical professionals is not acceptable and not legal, and providing a path forward for justice.

AboveTheLaw.com, by Ellen Trachman, February 12, 2020

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Putin says he won’t allow for LGBTQ families or marriages in Russia

Putin told reporters that he’s considering a constitutional amendment that would ensure that all parents of children “will be dad and mum.”

Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin, said to a pool of reporters on Monday that he will not allow same-sex adoption or support marriage equality  “as long as [he’s] president” – currently set to be at least to 2024.russia gay

The comments were made at a press conference regarding a state-approved commission that will consider potential changes to the Russian constitution. Putin is supposedly trying to shape Russia’s laws and constitutionality in a way that would allow him to maintain power after his current term ends.

A reporter asked if a proposal that would “add a line in the constitution defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman” would be considered. Putin replied, “We need only to think in what phrases and where to do this.”

While the question was about same-sex marriage, Putin’s response focused on ruling on the potential of LGBTQ families being legal parents.

“As far as ‘parent number 1’ and ‘parent number 2’ goes, I’ve already spoken publicly about this and I’ll repeat it again,” Putin said, “as long as I’m president this will not happen. There will be dad and mum.”

French Senate passes bioethics law allowing lesbians to artificially procreate

The bill passed by the French Senate is watered down but still extremely transgressive.

The French Senate adopted the draft bioethics law currently under discussion in that body by a relatively small margin of 10 votes on Tuesday. One of its most spectacular elements, the legalization of access to artificially assisted procreation for single women, including those in lesbian relationships, was confirmed, as well as the widening of possibilities for research on human embryos. Other articles of the law were modified by the Senate, which canceled some of its more shocking propositions.French Senate

Although the higher chamber in France still has a right-of-center majority, the text, which remains deeply transgressive, obtained 153 votes in its favor, while 143 senators voted against and 45 abstained. The voting was not uniform right and left — 97 of the 144 “Les Républicains” mainstream right-wing senators rejected the law presented by Emmanuel Macron’s left-wing government, while 25 voted for the text, thus bearing responsibility for its adoption.

The presidential party “La République en marche” (LREM), created for the last presidential election and not very strong in the Senate, was itself divided: six of its 24 senators voted against the text.

Almost all the 348 senators were present, a sign that the revision of France’s bioethics laws is being taken seriously. The first such law was adopted in 1994 and was already transgressive because it legalized artificial procreation and embryo selection.

From the start, it was decided that the bioethics law would be revised every five years in order to take medical and scientific progress and new techniques into account. As a matter of fact, the laws were revised over larger intervals. Each time, new possibilities for embryo research, pre-implantation diagnosis, and other such transgressions were added.

The draft bioethics law now being discussed has been substantially amended by the Senate and will therefore return before the National Assembly, probably in April. Laws are adopted definitively without a second reading in France only when adopted by both chambers in exactly the same terms.

Lifestienews.com, by Jeanne Smits, February 7, 2020

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Virginia Senate approves bill to prevent surrogates from being forced to abort multiples

The Virginia Senate unanimously approved a bill Tuesday that would prevent surrogates from either being required to or prohibited from aborting multiples in their surrogacy contracts.

The bill passed through the House of Delegates in January, and the Virginia Senate proposed an amendment that will see it sent back to the House for final approval.new Va. surrogacy

With the amendment from the Virginia Senate, the bill reads: “Any contract provision requiring [or prohibiting] an abortion or selective reduction is against the public policy of the Commonwealth and is void and unenforceable.”

TheJurist.com, by Angela Mauroni, February 5, 2020

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