SurrogacyIndia’s focus is in fertility, not infertility. Making babies, is possible. ‘Possible’ is what we believe in.


Saturday, November 29, 2014

Thai legislature approves ban on surrogacy

BANGKOK (AP) — A lawmaker says Thailand’s interim parliament has given initial approval to a bill banning commercial surrogacy, the practice of hiring a woman to carry a fetus to term.

Thailand was rocked by several surrogacy scandals earlier this year. One involved an Australian couple who took home a healthy baby girl born from a Thai surrogate mother but left behind her twin brother who had Down syndrome. The other case involved a Japanese man who fathered at least 16 babies via Thai surrogates.

National Legislative Assembly member Chet Siratharanon said the bill passed its first reading on Thursday. The interim government installed after a military coup in May vowed to outlaw commercial surrogacy and punish offenders with up to 10 years in prison.


Friday, November 28, 2014

Commercial surrogacy bill passes first reading with 177 to 2 votes

THE NATIONAL Legislative Assembly yesterday passed the first reading of a bill that seeks to outlaw commercial surrogacy.

First reading passed with 177 to 2 votes. Six NLA members abstained.

The interim chamber set up a special committee of 18 members to vet the bill in 30 days.

The bill was approved by the National Council for Peace and Order in late August after it was reported that an Australian couple had left a Down syndrome baby with his Thai surrogate mother.

The bill seeks to regulate assisted reproductive technologies (ART) by setting up a committee to protect babies born through such methods. The committee would also be in charge of regulating and monitoring ART services and ethics.

The bill also seeks to punish women who agree to become surrogate mothers for money. Each would be liable to a maximum 10-year imprisonment and a maximum fine of Bt200,000.

A surrogate mother would also be required to sign a contract with the biological parents that the baby will become the child of the parents legally.

Social Development and Human Security Minister Pol General Adul Saengsingkaew told the NLA that the bill sought to specify the legal status of the biological parents and to prevent abuse of ART technologies.

During the debate before the passage of first reading, NLA member Pirom Kamolratanakul said the reference to artificial insemination in Article 2 should be removed from the bill because artificial insemination could be carried out without having a surrogate mother.

NLA member Wallop Tangkhananurak said he disagreed with the penalties specified in the bill because clinics and doctors would receive less severe punishments than surrogate mothers in cases of commercial surrogacy.

Adul replied that the bill sought to punish all sides involved in commercial surrogacy and it was aimed at protecting surrogate babies and suppressing human trafficking.


Overseas surrogacy needs greater regulation, Western Australian review finds

More regulation of overseas surrogacy arrangements is needed, a long-awaited review of Western Australia's surrogacy laws has found.

The review was already underway when the case of baby Gammy made international headlines earlier this year.

The baby's Thai surrogate mother accused convicted sex offender David Farnell and his wife of abandoning Gammy, who has Down syndrome, and only taking his healthy twin sister.

The case prompted calls for a tightening of the state's surrogacy laws, particularly relating to overseas commercial deals.

WA's Department of Health has been conducting a review of the operation and effectiveness of the state's 2008 Surrogacy Act.

Its report, tabled in State Parliament today, made several recommendations, including that further research on international arrangements be encouraged and facilitated.

It also recommended the Government support the proposal for the Australian Law Reform Commission to conduct an inquiry into the issues raised by international surrogacy, and its impact on both national and state legislation.

Among the 17 submissions received was a joint submission from four Liberal MPs, including Nick Goiran and former mental health minister Graham Jacobs.

They had called for the state's laws to be changed to make it illegal for West Australians to pay surrogate mothers overseas to have their children.

But the review instead recommended further research be done on international commercial surrogacy trends, including which countries people were travelling to and the demographic of the parties involved.

Indian surrogacy market worth $450m

The report stated the global surrogacy market was a growth industry, with the Indian market alone estimated at $450 million a year.

The report stated such global marketing undermined domestic regulation.

"The risks of exploitation of participants in international commercial surrogacy arrangements, uncertainty of legal parentage and nationality of the child, and failure to protect their right to a biological and genetic identity, are now a matter of public concern," it found.

But it said a global regulatory response could be born out of work by the Hague Conference on Private International Law, with the organisation tasked with building bridges between legal systems.

Health Minister Kim Hames said a meeting of state and territory leaders in Canberra last month addressed overseas surrogacy arrangements.

"In the very late stage of the review process, COAG gave consideration to international surrogacy arrangements," he said.

"Itnoted the Commonwealth will fund a new service to work with existing state services to assist families and adoptees throughout the overseas adoption process.

"The review I now table finds that the Surrogacy Act generally provides a robust framework for the regulation of surrogacy, but more work is required at a national level on national and international arrangements."

Review examines altruistic surrogacy

The review also examined the eligibility of couples able to access "altruistic surrogacy", an arrangement that involves no financial or material gain, and is permissible in Australia under certain conditions.

It noted that more than one-third of respondents stated access to surrogacy should be restricted to heterosexual couples, including the Liberal MPs who made the joint submission.

However, other respondents stated that current laws unreasonably restrict access to surrogacy for male same-sex couples.

"The nature of the submissions reflects that the interpretation of family life and personal relationships is value-laden," the report stated.

"There are many different traditional and non-traditional family configurations in today's society."

It stated that in Western Australia single men and same sex male couples cannot access surrogacy, because the Act's eligibility requirements state surrogacy can only be conducted for medical reasons.


Same-sex surrogacy: Landmark decision in Victoria as gay man recognised by court as father of child born through surrogacy

THE Family Court has recognised a gay man as the father of a child born overseas through commercial surrogacy and given him and his partner equal parenting responsibilities.

The couple’s lawyer said it was a landmark Victorian decision, declaring a sperm donor as a parent, and it opened the way for the father’s partner to apply for step-parent adoption.

Paul Boers said the decision also highlighted the “absurdity’’ of different State commercial surrogacy laws.

The gay couple moved from NSW to Victoria, where commercial surrogacy is not illegal, before making arrangements to have a child born in India.

It is illegal for Queensland, NSW and ACT residents to pay an overseas surrogate mother to give birth.

“They are over the moon,’’ Mr Boers said of the couple’s reaction to the November 6 decision by Justice Sharon Johns.

“This case will apply to same-sex and opposite sex couples in Victoria,’’ he said.

Mr Boers said if the partner wanted to adopt the child as a stepfather they would have to move interstate, as it was illegal for same sex couples to adopt in Victoria.

The couple, aged 32 and 36, engaged a commercial surrogacy agency in India and obtained a donor egg from an anonymous donor, via an organisation in the Ukraine.

One of the gay men provided his sperm, which was used to create the embryo, and in August last year an Indian surrogate gave birth to a baby girl, the Family Court heard.

The baby was granted Australian citizenship by descent, after a DNA test confirmed the sperm donor partner as the biological father, and the couple returned to Melbourne with the child.

The surrogate signed an affidavit saying she accepted she permanently extinguished all parenting responsibilities and legal custody.


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Surrogacy Bill may be introduced in the Winter Session of Parliament

New delhi: The much-awaited Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) Bill, which aims to regulate surrogacy in India, is likely to be introduced during the ongoing Parliament session.

Other than this, the Union health ministry proposes to introduce two key Bills — the Bio-medical and Health Regulation Bill and the Recognition of New Systems of Medicine Bill, 2014 in the Winter Session.

Health ministry officials say they aim to approach the Cabinet soon so the Bill can be introduced in the Winter Session.

The proposed Bio-medical and Health Research Regulation Bill, once approved, will cover research, clinical studies involving human participants or material for development and evaluation of tools and strategies for promotion, prevention, amelioration and rehabilitation of diseases, or diagnostic tests required to understand diseases.


Making sense of surrogacy

Gita Aravamudan’s “Baby Makers” explores in depth the changing notion of motherhood and the complex ethical issues involved in surrogacy. We live in a world where mothers are no longer who we traditionally thought they were: now women’s wombs like houses can be rented, mothers are sourced and surrogates relinquish parental rights over the children they bear.

Nor do we live in that simple world where the act of conceiving requires sexual intercourse between a man and woman. Babies can be produced without sex and they can also be produced for couples of the same sex. We have now entered an age in which reproduction is not a mere biological natural activity but a commodity, a flourishing business where agreements are signed between parties, and deals, if broken, can be met with devastating consequences.

Baby making can even become a full-time occupation for some women. There are women in Aravamudan’s stories who sell their eggs and produce children in quick succession because they feel it pays well, feeds hungry poor families and is gratifying.

To make a baby, the journalist-author finds, requires crisscrossing nations, meeting strangers in unknown lands and from alien cultures — an effort that is accompanied by many problems too. She explores these through personal narratives: couples attempt to manoeuvre their way through hazy ethics, surrogates wrestle with conflicting emotions, governments and courts stand as obstacles to babies grappling with problems of nationality and citizenship. Also, couples try hard to justify their unconventional decisions to friends and families and are forced to trust strangers with crucial decisions.

Baby makers, apart from being a guide to understanding surrogacy in India, is also sociologically interesting as it explores the lives of those with money (often the couples) and those without (often the surrogates). Manisha, a Nepali, whose sister Bina tells her how she sold her eggs in Mumbai and is ready to bear a child, is horrified when her sister suggests that she try it. How are eggs even sold, she wonders. Does it involve physical contact with another man? Do husbands mind their wives bearing children for other couples, she asks Bina. “Isn’t it better than selling one’s own body?” Bina replies. She manages to convince Manisha — her fair skin and good looks will be much sought after, she says. However, we learn in the end that by being forced to donate more and more eggs, much more than her fragile body can handle, Manisha becomes sick. The surrogates’ situation is juxtaposed with the couples who come to clinics in Anand in Gujarat, or in Mumbai — they are all rich.

However, Aravamudan does not reveal her opinions or say that surrogacy is indeed exploitation. She takes great pains to stay clear of opinion and reveal both sides of the picture in every story. She says the book is “a non-judgmental, open-minded enquiry into surrogacy laws (rather, the lack of them)…” And indeed it is. We also read a lot of what we already know about India. To foreigners, surrogacy in India is an inexpensive process compared to their countries. Laws are still fledgling here and can be circumvented and the industry is booming. India may be “poor and filthy,” as a U.S. woman Cathy ponders, but she goes there anyway after watching Oprah’s show “Sperms in an autorickshaw.”

To Indians who consider the option, there are different kinds of problems. They are met with horror-struck parents and discouraging friends. The woman is always blamed for not being able to produce. We see this in a partially literate girl’s parents-in-law simply asking their son to marry again if he wants children, and a Tamil Brahmin couple constantly grumbling that their daughter-in-law is “issueless.”

A feminist friend in one story launches into a tirade on the abject commodification of women. “You don’t have to prove that you’re a woman by producing a genetically related child,” she says to a confused Meena to which the latter retorts, “You have proved yourself as a woman. You have produced two sons. You can afford to talk and preach.” These stories show how important a functional womb continues to be in defining the woman’s role in society.

We also read about other countries and their surrogacy laws. In the U.S., surrogacy is expensive and there are legal tangles; Korea, we find, is like India, where “women are defined by their womb and their ability to reproduce gives them their status in society.” Girl children are unwanted and Koreans ask if sex can be determined before birth.

A couple living in Australia discover after they get their child that their DNA needs to be tested and preferably in their country. Further, the baby requires DNA testing in Delhi or Mumbai by “specific panel doctors only, failing which citizenship will not be granted to the child.” “Developing" countries like India and Thailand and East European countries like Czech Republic have surrogacy laws in place, but the more developed countries like the U.S. don't.

Apart from these facts that are revealed through Aravamudan’s reportage, we also learn about landmark cases in surrogacy that gave rise to more difficult questions — the Elizabeth Kane case, the Baby Manji case, the Pearl Linda Van Buren Green case and the Baby M case, among others. These provide context to the stories and help in understanding why surrogacy laws are so complicated.

“Baby makers” is written in simple prose. Aravamudan, who describes the process of writing the book as being “akin to stepping into a swirling whirlpool” seems to want to drive home her point in as basic a manner as possible. But given that there is so much information to pack in such little space, and given the necessity to address all the complexities in the subject — that really do make it a “whirlpool” — this style makes for easy reading. Interlude 5 in the book alone stands out oddly though, for all that could not be incorporated in the rest of the book seems to have spilt over here. But for that, “Baby Makers” is informative, well-researched and compelling.


Couples seek tech-savvy surrogates

Till late, it was women from under privileged backgrounds and from poor educational background who opted to rent out their wombs. Now, educated women are opting to be surrogates.

"They do it mostly for financial reasons," says Hari G Ramasubramanian, who runs Indian Surrogacy Law Centre, a legal consultancy firm in India specialising in fertility law, and also GiftLife Egg Bank. He says couples seeking surrogates prefer to work with educated women as it is easier to make them understand the legalities and they seem more committed."Recently , for an Indian client in the US, we identified a woman who could speak Hindi, English, and had access to computers as they wanted to communicate with her through Skype and email," he says.

A few surrogates, like Ashwathy*, 28, start out as egg donors. "I saw an ad in a Tamil paper and donated my egg last year, for which I was paid Rs25,000," says Ashwathy . "I then found out about surrogacy and decided to opt for they offered Rs 4 lakh plus expenses," she says and adds that she had to quit her job as a customer care executive earning Rs 7,000 a month to look after her son. "My husband works as a transport in-charge for a school and we are facing financial problems," says Ashwathy , who is saving the money she earns from surrogacy for her son.

In Anand, India's surrogacy capital, and Ahmedabad, young and educated women are renting out wombs. In Chennai, fertility expert and chairperson of Prashanth Hospital, Dr Geetha Haripriya, says the availability of educated surrogates is something that she has seen only in the last four to five years. "Women usually approach us online," she says. "But educated surrogates charge twice the money. About 10% of the commissioning parents though are willing to pay more for educated surrogates, she adds.

According to Dr Thankam Varma, medical director, Institute of Reproductive Medicine and Women's Health, Madras Medical Mission, in the last 15 years, they have hardly got three or four surrogates who are graduates. "Most have studied only till Class 6 or Class 10," she says.

Educated surrogates, who have been through the process once, say they are willing to do it again. "I took more than a year's break to be a surrogate but was able to get back to work quickly," says 32-yearold Ananya *, a surrogate, who works as a communicative trainer. For her services, apart from Rs4 lakh which she was paid, her expenses, including food and travel were met. The intended parents also paid for her accommodation and hired her a maid. "Being a surrogate helped me financially and I felt I was doing something good. I still have Rs2 lakh debt so I would do it again," says Ananya.

She admits she sometimes thinks of the baby she gave up. "I saw him when he was born. I wonder how he is doing. The other day, I thought I saw his mother and had tears in my eyes," she Ananya.


Educated women become surrogate moms for money

CHENNAI: When Ananya* was six months pregnant, her husband abandoned her. Burdened by debt and a baby to care for, she came to Chennai in search of work after her son was born. But earning 10,000 a month as the administrative staff at of a private company was not sufficient to repay her loans. So Ananya, a postgraduate in zoology, took a bold step. She rented her womb.

Ananya is among the handful of educated women who are now coming forward to become surrogate mothers. It's no longer the illiterate and poor who opt to become surrogate mothers - a considerable number of educated women like Ananya are taking the step for monetary reasons.

"My ex-husband was unemployed. He sold all my gold and made me take a lot of loans while we were married, which I had to pay off even after he left me," says Ananya. "I had heard of surrogacy, and I decided to give it a try." She read spent hours reading about surrogacy on the net, contacted local hospitals and finally settled for GG Hospital as she felt comfortable with the doctors there. After a thorough health checkup and counselling, Ananya she underwent the medical procedure in October 2013. On June 8, 2014, she delivered a healthy baby boy who was handed over to the biological parents. With the 4 lakh that she was paid, Ananya managed to settle a big part of her debt.

With expert medical care, greater availability of surrogates and mushrooming IVF clinics, people from across the country and abroad are heading to Chennai looking for wombs on rent. "With more than 30 IVF centres, Chennai is a hub for surrogacy," says Dr Thankam Varma, medical director, Institute of Reproductive Medicine and Women's Health, Madras Medical Mission.

According to fertility expert Dr Priya Selvaraj, with Chennai emerging as a medical destination, the fertility industry has got a boost. "People who come down to treat other ailments also check out fertility clinics and go for consultations," she says.


Known donation and co-parenting: seek legal advice early

Richard Perrins is part of the team of specialists at fertility and family law firm Natalie Gamble Associates. He explores issues around known donation and co-parenting arrangements with regards to UK law

For same-sex couples who are looking to start a family there are a variety of options available in order to do this.

For lesbian couples a common preference is to conceive a child through a licensed UK fertility clinic with the assistance of the sperm from an anonymous donor.

For many couples this option has its appeal due to the relative security in knowing that the donor will have no legal status and will be unknown to the child (at least until the age of 18 when child can find out the identity of their donor if they choose). Such donations will also have undergone medical screening.

This, of course, is not an option for would-be gay dads whose most realistic option is surrogacy: if they want children to whom they are biologically related. Surrogacy is an increasingly used route to parenthood and the results are overwhelming positive. However, the options for surrogacy in the UK for gay men can be limiting and overseas surrogacy can be cost prohibitive for many.

For many, a commonly used route to becoming parents is through known donation and subsequent co-parenting. It is not uncommon for a lesbian couple to conceive artificially at home with the assistance of a known donor who may be a long-standing friend, or, in some cases, someone they met over the internet.

There are many reasons why people choose to conceive children in this way. Many women prefer for their child to know their father in some capacity as they grow up. From the donor’s perspective they may wish to simply help out old friends or, in many cases, actually have an involvement – whether as a parent or in a more limited role.

However, the extent of this role can become extremely contentious in practice and lead to difficult issues. Co-parenting is not always a three-way relationship but often involves a set of two couples that decide to start a family together: typically both couples being of the same sex.

For the main part these arrangements work very well and are increasingly common. However, as with all walks of life problems can arise within such families, leading to relationship breakdown. There are a number of complex legal as well as practical issues that can arise.

There has been some high profile reported cases involving known donors over the years with the most recent being the reported case of Re A and B (Children) [2013] EWHC 2305 (fam). The case involves a dispute between a lesbian couple and a known donor father (and his male partner) and the level of contact that should take place between the fathers and the children.

This case is notable in that it has been on-going for six years and involves such a high level of acrimony between the parties involved that the court was almost at a loss as to how to progress without causing harm to the children involved.

The mothers in the case are so resistant to contact that the fathers applied to the court (amongst other things) to have the mothers committed to prison for breaching court orders and not making the children available to contact.

Although the original circumstances of conception are only part of the backdrop of this very sad situation – and not the key feature – the case remains proof of how badly things can go wrong.

Another important case involving known donors was Re G, Re Z (Children: Sperm Donors: Leave to Apply for Children Act Orders) [2013]. This was actually two separate but connected cases, with one being the first of its type: a biological father made an application to court when he did not have the automatic legal right to do so.

The mothers in the case were in a civil partnership at the time the child in question was conceived meaning the father, automatically, did not have any legal status (as was intended originally). However, the role of the donor was a hotly contested issue and he sought to have more involvement in the child’s upbringing.

In a landmark decision, the Judge allowed the father permission to apply for an order, meaning that he would at least have his opportunity to have the case heard, although this did not necessarily mean he would have contact with the child.

There are a range of issues that can crop up with known donation and co-parenting agreements, and getting specialist advice at an early stage can be incredibly valuable.

As well as the underlying legal position in terms of parenthood and financial responsibility, it is important to address all practical issues from an early stage.

In the cases where the relationship breaks down it is a common feature that the level of understanding and expectation between the parties is often wildly different. If, at an early stage, the respective roles of all the parties and level of involvement the donor is to have is decided, this can be hugely beneficial.

If at such an early stage of discussions there is a significant difference then it is far better to allow things to fall apart before proceeding to conception or beyond.

If possible, a co-parenting agreement or pre conception agreement can be entered: ideally identifying all the relevant factors. Whilst this holds no legal weight as such, it could be a very useful tool in either preventing or managing future disputes.

Family disputes are never welcome and there are many alternatives before getting the courts involved. This includes negotiation through solicitors, family mediation and arbitration. There is a wealth of further information at the official website of Natalie Gamble Associates.


Surrogacy bill to be tabled soon?

The much-awaited Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) Bill, that aims to regulate surrogacy in India, is likely to be introduced during the ongoing Parliament session. Other than this, the Union health ministry proposes to introduce two key bills the Biomedical and Health Regulation Bill and the Recognition of New Systems of Medical Bill, 2014, in the Winter Session.

While the draft ART bill is with the law ministry, the health ministry officials say that they aim to approach the Cabinet soon so that the bill can be introduced in the Winter Session without any further delay. The draft bill has been pending for years. Significantly, a new law to regulate all bio-medical and health research activities involving human participants is also in the making, with the health ministry considering to introduce the draft bill in this session. The proposed law, the Biomedical and Health Research Regulation Bill, 2013, seeks to have penal provisions for unauthorized research work and unethical practices and will have research related injury relief fund for paying compensation.

The proposed bill, once approved, will cover research, clinical studies involving human participants or material for development and evaluation of tools and strategies for promotion, prevention, amelioration and rehabilitation of diseases, or development of diagnostic tests or procedures, storage and use of biological materials, and scientific investigations required to understand processes which affect health, cause disease and influence human well-being, and transnational study taking new leads.


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Happy Birthday! to Zelma and Cindra also Alexander

Have a wonderful happy, healthy birthday and many more to come. Happy Birthday! to Zelma and Cindra also Alexander

‘Couples in late 50s may be barred from surrogacy’

MUMBAI: The much anticipated Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) Bill, 2014, is said to have specified an upper age-limit for couples wanting to commission surrogacy in India. Likely to be tabled in the winter session of Parliament, the Bill, sources say, specifies that a couple has to be in their early 50s to have a child through a surrogate.

The existing Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) guidelines do not say anything about an age limit for commissioning couples, leaving it to discretion of individual clinics or doctors. In the past, there have been controversies in the country and abroad with couples in their sixties and even early 70s commissioning surrogacy. "It is important to ensure that the parents are agile enough in the child's growing up years," said Dr Nandita Palshetkar, an invitro-fertilization (IVF) expert. She added that leading clinics in the city anyway maintain a cut-off of 45 to 50 years.

The ART Bill to regulate the IVF industry, including surrogacy, has been in news for a plethora of regulations. Discussions about some drastic regulations have been rife. "There were strong recommendations to disallow single parents and same-sex couple commission surrogacy in India," said a Union health ministry source. The Bill also specifies that a surrogate has to be between the age of 21 to 35 years.

The medical fraternity is worried if all social aspects will be taken into consideration. "What if a single woman in her 30s wants to adopt a child? The law should allow her that freedom," said Dr Reshma Pai, vice-president, Indian Society of Assisted Reproduction.

IVF expert Dr Pushpa Bhargava, credited with creating the first IVF bill in 2000, said anyone who is eligible to adopt a child should be allowed to have one through surrogacy. "It will also be unfair to not allow same-sex couples or single parents from having a child through a surrogate," he said.


Monday, November 24, 2014

Indian Baby Boy Delivered Today 24th Nov 2014

Indian Baby Boy Delivered Today 24th Nov 2014, SurrogacyIndia is happy and congratulate the Intended Parents

Happy 2nd birthday Nila Sophie from Norway!

A baby girl like you is rare. You are so cute and nice that you deserve a superb gift from everybody. Happy 2nd birthday Nila Sophie from Norway! May all your days be full with ever increasing happiness!




Indi and Mala, Growing so well!

Indi and Mala, 2 of our jewels which are shining as they are getting developed from nourishments

The potential minefield of gay parenthood

Gay parenthood can be joyful – or go disastrously wrong, as two recent news stories have shown. What are the dangers of surrogacy and co-parenting?

Two news stories in the past month have shown very different outcomes of gay parenting.

Last week, Daryl Lee and Luke Harris, from Surrey, told a newspaper that they were expecting three children by three different surrogate mothers in the space of just a few months. After meeting in 1999 and years of planning to have children, Lee, 41, said: “While it is unorthodox to have three surrogates at the same time, we couldn’t turn down what could be our only chance to have the big family we’d always dreamed of.”

The couple, who initially planned to adopt but started to research surrogacy after reading this was how Elton John had his son, are already extending their home to accommodate the new arrivals.
Lee’s parents are set to move in to help with childcare, both men are planning to work part time, and all three surrogate mothers say they are happy with the arrangement.

On the other hand, a court report from the start of November showed a gay couple in a bitter custody battle after entering into a co-parenting arrangement with lesbian friends.

The two couples had one child around 13 years ago and another a few years later, but fell out soon after – leading to a “bruising and distressing” rift which had “irredeemably harmed” the two children, according to the judge presiding over the case.

“The case illustrates all too clearly the immense difficulties which can be unleashed when families are created by known-donor fertilisation,” Mr Justice Cobb said, before ruling that the children should stay living with their mothers.

The two stories illustrate the advice that those who work in surrogacy and co-parenting support will always give potential gay parents: to know and trust the people they are getting involved with – and to have discussed every aspect of childrearing – long before conception.

“With surrogacy, you can’t have a contract that legally obliges the surrogate mother to give up the baby,” says Sarah Jones, chair of the support organisation Surrogacy UK. “That’s why there has to be a really strong friendship and a strong bond, so you can all trust each other.”

The surrogate mother has legal rights over the child from conception until six weeks after birth, at which point the couple can apply for a “parental order”, under which they both become the baby’s legal guardian.

In the UK it is illegal to actively advertise for surrogate mothers or pay them any more than expenses during pregnancy – though groups like Surrogacy UK can help introduce women hoping to be surrogate mothers to gay couples, or straight couples with fertility issues.

The group insists that all couples have a “getting to know you” period of at least three months with potential surrogate mothers before attempting conception, whether through host surrogacy – in which the egg is taken from a separate donor – or straight surrogacy, in which the egg used is the surrogate’s own.

“I’ve seen times when people have gone down the surrogacy route independently [of a support group] and things haven’t gone to plan,” says Jones. “You can meet someone and get on really well, but it’s sort of a honeymoon phase. By the time you realise you don’t actually get on that well, the surrogate might already be pregnant.
“I know of one time when the surrogate ended up keeping the baby. She had fallen out with the intended parents and felt more bonded with the baby, whereas in a surrogacy arrangement you should feel more bonded with the couple. If you decide you don’t like the couple, those maternal instincts are more likely to kick in. But in 12 years of following this it’s the only time I can think of that happening.”

The 37-year-old, who has three children of her own and has been a surrogate for three more – the first two being raised by heterosexual couples and the third by same-sex partners – says that helping gay men begin a family can be “a very joyous thing.”

She explains: “They haven’t had all the negative things that a straight couple will have had. They haven’t suffered miscarriages or still births; once they’ve decided they want a genetic child this is one of the only ways to go. It’s a much happier, more positive experience.”

Alan Coates, a London-based concert promoter who along with his same-sex partner is currently searching for a surrogate, echoes the importance of getting to know a potential surrogate properly before conception.

“You have to make sure you’re on exactly the same page,” says the 44-year-old, who is half of one of 240 couples hoping to find a surrogate mother through Surrogacy UK – though the organisation only has around 90 of them registered. In 2010, just 83 surrogate births took place in the country, though the number is expected to rise to 200 for this year. It is thought that thousands more pursue surrogacy abroad, but no official figures exist for this.

“It can be something as mundane as ‘Would you mind eating only organic good during the pregnancy?’ or ‘Do you plan on drinking during the pregnancy?’ which we would both be cool with, but others wouldn’t. But you also have to talk about those awful scenarios: what you would do if there are problems during pregnancy?”

Coates - who estimates the whole process will cost around £25,000, from fertility clinic to mother’s expenses - adds that he has received only positive reactions from friends and colleagues and says he feels confident that he and his partner will eventually “get the call” from a surrogate match.

One who went into it with a little less planning is Tim*, who was working in the media when he started researching co-parenting online five years ago. “I was about 26 and I was doing it for a number of different reasons,” he says. “It was partly that messiah moment, that I could give the gift of life, and partly that I’m quite a caring person, sensitive to the plight of others, and I wanted to help out a couple and help raise a child.

“I found a lesbian couple that were looking for sperm donors. I went in with the idea that I would want to be fully involved as a dad, but they didn’t see it that way. It wasn’t explored in the way that it should have been.”

Tim expected it would take the intended mother several months to get pregnant with his donated sperm, but in fact she conceived on the first attempt.

“I had this romantic idea that I would support them all the way through the pregnancy, but actually they moved from London to the north of England before the baby was born. They hadn’t told me anything about it because they didn’t realise I would want to be so involved.

“I was there for scans and there for the birth, but for the first two or three years after the birth of my son, contact was very difficult. There was a lot we didn’t discuss; being a co-parent is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”

Tim, who now has regular visits with his five-year-old son, says he wishes he and the lesbian couple had planned how they would raise a child more, but adds that starting a family is rarely straightforward.
“Everyone has different approaches to raising kids,” he says. “People pay more attention to gay parents and co-parents because it’s unusual, but there’s no such thing as a ‘normal family’.”


Friday, November 21, 2014

Reproductivity VS Productivity

By offering to freeze eggs of female employees, IT companies want to boost their profits

The controversial decision of Facebook and Apple to offer women workers special perks to postpone their motherhood has revived old concerns about the status of women in the technology business. The financial incentives to women workers to freeze their eggs so that they can have children at any stage past their reproductive years is being seen as a deadly weapon in what is dubbed as ‘perks arms race’ in the Silicon Valley. On the face, it appears that tech companies are genuinely interested in the welfare of women employees, while in reality women workers are being offered a bait to trade their reproductivity for their work productivity. The number of women employed in the technology sector is dwindling. Information technology companies are using advancements in human reproductive technologies to boost their own productivity and profits. Fertility of women workers has been reduced to a material input in the highly competitive technology business in its pursuit of markets and profits. It is critical to focus on this sector – more than manufacturing – since it is expanding with the growing consumption of digital products globally.

The relationship of women with the technology business dates back to the electronics industry which began to expand outside America in the 1960s. Women were considered ‘ideal’ for operations in labour-intensive electronic assembly lines as the work involved precision which could be executed by people with nimble hands and good eyesight. This was in addition to the low cost of such a workforce in Asian countries. This is what drew American electronics firms to Asia and led to the development of Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia as hubs of electronics manufacturing in 1960s and 1970s. The adverse impact of chemicals and solvents used in the electronics industry on the health of the women, including on their reproductive systems, was overlooked. American hardware firms came to India too, but they were driven away due to socialist policies that dictated production caps and investment limits. However, when the indigenous electronics industry developed in India later on, it followed the same model of employing semi-skilled women.

In the new assembly lines of the 21st century – business process outsourcing and software services – women are employed for similar reasons: their dexterity and dedication. However, unlike women in the electronics assembly lines of the 1960s and 1970s, the information technology workers of today are technically educated and qualified. Yet the bulk of women workers handle jobs at the bottom of the ladder: testing, quality assurance and other such low-end jobs. Very few of them are in software development, project management, product development and similar high-end work. Since the Indian technology industry is mostly geared for outsourcing to America and Europe, night shifts for IT workers are routine.

Several surveys and studies have pointed out to the impact of high-pressure jobs in the technology sector on health – fertility in particular – of workers: both men and women. A survey of mid-level technology workers in the US, done by Stanford University and the Anita Borg Institute for Women in Technology in 2012, concluded that employee advancement in a high-tech workplace culture comes at the cost of family and health. The majority of mid-level men and women surveyed described themselves as family-oriented, but believed that being family-oriented is not associated with success in the technology industry. Many women workers interviewed described their jobs as a “family penalty,” while men too saw family responsibilities as a potential roadblock to advancement. It was found that mid-level women are more likely than mid-level men to suffer poor health as a result of work demands. They are more likely than men to report forgoing having a marriage or partnership in order to achieve career goals. Offers of huge allowances to opt for surrogacy or to freeze their eggs being made by tech firms further strengthen the notion that work comes first, notwithstanding facilities like daycare centres at work and paternity leaves. Smaller studies and anecdotal evidence from Indian technology hub, Bangalore, point to rising trend of infertility among men and that they opting to freeze their sperm for future use.

Non-medical use of assisted reproductive technologies (ART) is dangerous for women’s health, besides having serious ethical, legal and societal implications. Egg freezing is not as simple a procedure as popping a pill. It is a traumatic experience for any woman to undergo as such a procedure is all invasive and carries the danger of long-term consequences for her reproductive system. These procedures are repetitive too – failure rate is high - and put women under a lot of stress. Women are put on super-ovulation drugs in order that they produce more eggs, which can then be retrieved through invasive procedures carried out under sedation. Such drugs put women at risk of a medical condition known as ‘ovarian hyperstimulation’.

All such reasons make it unethical to promote assisted reproductive techniques as elective procedures for perfectly healthy women. They ought to be resorted only when medically required for couples facing fertility problems, and not because your employer is paying for it.  Women about to undergo cancer treatment also opt for egg freezing as cancer treatment can often affect their fertility. The science of cryopreservation or deep freezing of eggs and sperms is still evolving. While it is true that egg freezing is no more at an experimental stage, still there are scientific issues relating to success of live births from frozen eggs and sperm, and about the age limit for a woman when frozen eggs can help her to be pregnant and to give birth.

The fertility market is all about commerce and not ethics. The idea of offering employees a perk to postpone their motherhood must have emanated from ART industry, which is very aggressive in marketing itself and falsely projecting these technologies as tools of women’s liberation and freedom. Fertility experts in India have lauded Facebook and Apple for the so-called fertility incentives, as they help expand their own business. An institutionalised promotion of ARTs in the West is bound to boost the surrogacy business in ‘medical tourism’ destinations such as India for reasons of cost and convenience. A single round of egg freezing in America can cost $10,000  or more. Preservation costs are additional. In India costs are as low as Rs 50,000. The same cost advantage holds for all related procedures. As it is, the surrogacy business in India is booming due to the absence of regulation and the inflow of Western medical tourists. Given the close relationship of India’s own technology business with the West, future outsourcing deals will perhaps come bundled with vouchers for fertility tourism in India.


Thursday, November 20, 2014


Concern over pedestrian fatalities keeps the City of Angels on alert, while debate rages over a new minimum wage and a defamation lawsuit over ‘American Hustle,’ and a surrogacy divorce nightmare fuel gossip fires.

On Halloween weekend, Los Angeles received yet another devastating reminder of how dangerous it is to walk or bike in the city.

Three 13-year-old girls—a pair of twins and their friend—were struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver while trick-or-treating. The girls had just left the Fairhaven Apartment complex, where they lived. The twins wore face paint and carried plastic pumpkin baskets. Their friend was dressed as a skeleton and carried a pillowcase to fill with candy. They were passing through the crosswalk on four-laned Fairhaven Avenue, when they were hit by a speeding Honda CR-V that fled the scene. All three girls died instantly.

About 30 minutes later, 10 miles away in Irvine, a 65-year-old man was trick-or-treating with his 4-year-old son when they were hit by a woman driving a Mazda. The man died from his injuries; his son remained, at the time of this reporting, in critical condition. The woman stayed at the scene and has cooperated with police while they continue to investigate the accident.

The day after Halloween, in Anaheim, a 44-year-old woman riding a bicycle was struck by a driver in a white pick-up truck in another hit-and-run incident. The woman later died of her injuries at the hospital.

These accidents highlight the lethal car-centric culture that has kept Los Angeles at or near the top of nationwide pedestrian death statistics for years. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s most recent report, the city ranked second to New York City for the most pedestrian deaths in the country in 2012. The state of California counted the highest number of pedestrian deaths that year, with a total of 612. Texas ranked a distant second with 478 deaths.

During the last decade, Los Angeles has made an effort to make its streets more pedestrian- and bike-friendly. Parking spaces have become small parks, street corners have become plazas, and bike lanes have appeared on many streets.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is also considering a controversial diagonal crosswalk design that would further curb motorists. The crosswalks, also known as “pedestrian scrambles,” let people cross intersections on the diagonal. They are considered much safer than traditional crosswalks because all cars at an intersection must be stopped while people cross. For motorists, however, it means longer wait times at already-crowded intersections. Pedestrians can currently use diagonal crosswalks in Beverly Hills and Pasadena. Since the 1950s, LA has occasionally installed diagonal crosswalks at intersections only to remove them later, after extensive complaints from drivers.

For some neighborhoods, Halloween marks one of the only nights during which people walk down their streets and sidewalks. While diagonal crosswalks could bring more safety to areas with many pedestrians, the question of what measures would best ensure pedestrian safety at intersections like the one on Fairhaven Avenue remains unanswered.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has proposed gradually raising the Los Angeles minimum wage from $9 an hour to $13.25 an hour by 2017. On the same October day that Vice President Joe Biden put his support behind Garcetti’s plan, a committee of LA lawmakers proposed going a step further: raising the minimum wage to $15.25 by 2019.

City Council members Curren Price, Nury Martinez, Gil Cedillo, Mike Bonin, Paul Koretz and Paul Krekorian are requesting a study about how to accomplish the proposed wage hike.

“The 13.25 figure gets most families that are living underneath the poverty line just over the poverty line, but that’s still a precarious position,” City Council member Mike Bonin told the Los Angeles Times. “That is one parking ticket or moving violation away from economic catastrophe for some families. So we wanted to give an added boost.”

Garcetti later said that he supported the study to reach the higher wage. Yet some businessmen and industry groups contend that the wage hike will put small business owners out of business and lead to job loss. Some have argued that it will push businesses to move just outside the city limits and even lead to price increases.

Research by University of California-Berkeley economist Michael Reich—commissioned by Mayor Garcetti—in response to the $13.25 wage increase found that minimum wage increases had little effect on overall employment rates. Those who favor the increase have argued it will boost the local economy. “The economic cost of having so many low-wage workers is untenable for our city,” Garcetti has said. “We don’t have the spending and buying power that we need to see here.”

UC Berkeley research indicates that a minimum wage hike in Los Angeles would profoundly impact the city because of its significant number of low wage: A wage increase would affect about 567,000 LA residents. City council members aim to complete the study early in 2015 and hope to vote on the issue soon thereafter.43

It was one subtle line in a scene about a microwave in David O. Russell’s comedic drama, “American Hustle”. Rosalyn, played by Jennifer Lawrence, is defending her innocence after starting a fire in the new “science oven” that her husband, Irving (portrayed by Christian Bale) brought home.

“I read that it takes all of the nutrition out of our food,” says Rosalyn, who has already been established as a compulsive liar. When Irving dismisses her comment, she continues: “I read it in an article. Look, by Paul Brodeur.” Reviewers raved over the scene, which exaggerates the characters’ confusion over 1970s cutting-edge microwave technology for a contemporary audience’s delight.

Paul Brodeur, however, did not find it funny. Brodeur, a former staff writer and investigative reporter for The New Yorker wrote about the dangers of microwave radiation during his career. However he never wrote or said anything about a microwave taking nutrition out of food. He filed a defamation suit against the producers of the movie in October.

The movie, which is loosely based on the Abscam scandal of the 1970s, never purports to be true. Before the opening scene, the film displays the message: “Some of this actually happened”—a wry twist on the traditional “based on a true story.”

In the lawsuit, Brodeur, now 82 and living in Tavernier, Fla., claims that he has been subject to ridicule in the scientific community as a result of the movie and that his reputation has suffered. In addition to $1 million in damages, he also seeks a court order to have his name removed from all copies of the film.

Sherri Shepherd, the actor, writer, and comedian who spent seven seasons as a host on The View, is involved in a bitter, complicated divorce with her husband, Lamar Sally. The twist: The couple had a baby born via a surrogate mother after the divorce was filed. Shepherd claims that Sally is using the child to blackmail her for money.

Shepherd and Sally both filed for divorce separately last May, citing irreconcilable differences after being married for three years. At the time, a surrogate mother was carrying their son, who was born in August in Pennsylvania. The child was Sally’s biological son—but not Shepherd’s—because they used an egg donor. Shepherd was not present for the boy’s birth.

When Sally filed for divorce, he requested full custody of the child. Shepherd claims that Sally only wanted the child in order to file for divorce, take custody, and receive child support payments from her. Sally, a TV writer, has been unemployed; meantime, Shepherd’s net worth is reported to be $10 million.

Sally filed for divorce in California, a state that recognizes surrogacy-birth agreements. Shepherd filed for divorce in New Jersey, which doesn’t generally recognize such agreements. Questions arose over whether or not Shepherd would legally be considered a parent of the child.

In September, Sally rejected a $100,000 divorce settlement and $3,000 a month in child support. According to the gossip website Radar Online, Sally is requesting $10,000 a month in child support, and the couple is likely to go to trial.

Shepherd already has a 9-year-old son with special needs from a previous marriage. After a lengthy legal battle with the child’s father, she finally won custody in July.

In late September, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law three bills that aim to target child sex-trafficking. The bills are part of Los Angeles County’s “War on Child Sex Trafficking” legislative package.

One bill proposed increased fines and penalties for anyone convicted of pimping or purchasing a child. The second bill authorizes the use of wiretapping to catch human traffickers. And a third bill allows victims to testify against traffickers in only one courtroom so they don’t have to face those that exploited them multiple times.

“I am absolutely thrilled that Governor Brown has heard the voices of sex trafficking victims and signed these major bills into law,” Don Knabe, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman, said in a press release. “These new laws attach the economy of the child sex trade, on both the supply side as well as the demand side.”

According to the United Nations, human trafficking generates an estimated $9.5 billion in the United States. Los Angeles is one of three California cities (along with San Diego and San Francisco) that appear on the FBI’s list of the nation’s highest child sex trafficking locations.


Firms sign up to better paternity deal

Deloitte and PwC are among the first UK businesses to announce their intention to offer enhanced paternity packages

Nick Clegg today urged more companies to follow suit as the Big Four firms, along with global energy company Shell, announced plans to improve the access to paid leave fathers are offered after the birth of their children.

The announcements coincide with the release of a new study by online parenting community Mumsnet, which revealed that 39% of fathers took paid annual leave to get time off after the birth of a child, and 80% of parents said they would have preferred the father to take more paternity leave.

Clegg said he was “delighted” the firms were taking positive steps by providing flexible working arrangements.

He said, “ I’m calling on employers to set an example when it comes to offering flexible working arrangements so that working parents are empowered to make their own decisions in their own time. We know this boosts productivity, loyalty and retention of staff in the workplace so this is not just about common sense. It makes financial sense too.”

In April 2015, new legislation will allow mothers, fathers, partners and adopters to opt for Shared Parental Leave, which will see eligible parents sharing a period of their maternity or adoption leave with their partner, including sharing statutory pay.

Deloitte today said its shared parental leave will match its current maternity package of 16 weeks' full pay, followed by 10 weeks' half pay.

Emma Codd, managing partner for talent at Deloitte, said that for the government's policy on improving the help available for working families to be successful, more wide-spread adoption would be needed.

She said, “We’re encouraged by the changes that the government is introducing, which have the potential for a hugely positive impact, but meeting that potential requires wide-spread adoption.

“Beyond SPL, we are introducing additional enhanced parental policies, including paid time off for fathers and partners to attend ante-natal appointments, and for co-adopters to attend adoption appointments. Additionally, we’ll be offering those who become parents through surrogacy the same leave and pay entitlement as other parents.”

Gaenor Bagley, head of people at PwC, said, “We have always offered flexible working to all and will now offer fathers the same benefits we offer to mothers through our enhanced maternity package.

“I see this as being a critical move to level the playing field, and an integral part of PwC's strategy, to ensure that all of our employees have the same options and opportunities."


FAMILY: Problems

Will I cope with step kids?

I am planning to get married in the New Year to a man who has custody of his three children. I like them a lot and we get on really well whenever we do anything together, but that’s only been for the occasional outing, not living together. I am beginning to worry how they (and I) will react when we have to share a home together all the time. I have never looked after children before, except to baby-sit, and am beginning to panic. My fiance says his children think the world of me, but I can’t help myself from panicking. JA

Fiona says:

I am not surprised you are concerned as becoming a step-mother is never easy, especially when you've never looked after children before. I think you've got a head start in as much as the children like you, but that won't stop a lot of confused and powerful emotions coming into play. I think you'd find Deborah Fowler's book, Loving Other People's Children particularly helpful – it’s an excellent guide to step-parenting.

Is it my fault my son’s gay?

My 19-year-old son has just told me that he is gay and while I’m not totally surprised, I can’t help but feel sad. He’s my only child and knowing that he will never have a family is making me quite weepy. I don’t want to show him how I feel though and while I know it’s silly to expect some sort of miraculous change, I can’t help but hope. I also can’t help but wondering if it's something I did. My husband walked out on us when he was only five and so he’s always been brought up by women – me, my mum, my sister. Is it possible that this has affected him? HR

Fiona says...

No, I don’t think it has anything to do with the fact that he was brought up by women, so lease, please stop feeling guilty and stop thinking that your son's sexual orientation has anything to do with what you did, or didn’t do, when he was younger. He is a normal young man and the fact that he’s able to be open with you is a wonderful thing. There are many gay couples who marry or enter into civil partnerships. Many too have children, either through adoption or surrogacy, so you can't assume there will be no grandchildren. However, for now I think you should try to concentrate on loving and supporting your son.


Christian lobby seeks constitutional ban on abortions in Russia

An assembly gathered by Russian Orthodox Christians has passed a resolution seeking legislative changes to ban all abortions, claiming that human life begins at the moment of conception.

The assembly united about 400 people and included federal and regional lawmakers, members of the Public Chamber, medical experts and members of various church-related groups from 40 regions across Russia. The session took place in Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral – the most important Orthodox place of worship in the Russian capital.

“The human right for life from the moment of conception should be guaranteed by the Constitution and the process of changing the Constitution should be launched by a nationwide referendum,” newspaper Izvestia cited the resolution as saying. The politicians and activists are also seeing changes to federal laws on healthcare, on medical drugs, on medical insurance and on guarantees of children’s rights.

One of the main sponsors of the initiative, the head of the “For Life” movement Sergey Chesnokov, told the newspaper that although Russia ratified the International Convention on Children’s Rights in 1990, the authorities still do nothing to “protect children before birth.” Every year about 1 million women in Russia have induced abortions and only 10 percent of them are carried out for health reasons, Chesnokov said.

According to the resolution, any induced abortion is “murder” and must be banned. This also includes contraceptives “with an abortive function” – morning-after pills and intra-uterine devices – whose production, sale and use in Russia would also be banned. Members of the assembly quoted the state statistics agency, Rosstat, as stating that the number of Russian women who use abortive contraception is now about 9 million.

The document also suggests introducing criminal liability for doctors who perform abortions, for mothers who have them and also for anyone forcing or pressuring a woman to have an abortion. “Medical workers must always consider the [unborn] child as their second patient and make efforts, using all possibilities, to keep this child alive,” the resolution states.

The authors of the motion are also seeking to stop the practice of paying for abortion from universal state medical insurance, claiming that pregnancy is not a medical condition that requires intervention but a natural state. State Duma expert Olga Ponomaryova told the assembly that doctors receive about 6 billion rubles annually as fees for abortions, and if this was stopped, the money could be used for supporting motherhood.

The move is not the first attack by the Christian lobby against pro-Choice activists, but all previous proposals have been rejected by the government over fears that the ban would only lead to a growing number of back-street, illegal abortions, and lead to more risks to women’s lives and health.

In October 2013, an official representative of the Russian Orthodox Church attacked abortions and surrogacy as a “mutiny against God,” and less than a month later State Duma Deputy Elena Mizulina said in a speech that the community must urgently stop tolerating abortions and surrogacy as they threaten to wipe out the population of Russia and the world as a whole.

The move gained little support from other politicians, however, and shortly afterward Mizulina played down her statements, saying that she merely wanted to draw attention to the problem and start a discussion, not introduce any legislative bans.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

China mulls commercial surrogacy ban

Chinese officials are debating stricter legislation and larger fines for illegal agencies that offer the increasingly popular service of surrogate parenthood, Xinhua News Agency's China Comment website has reported.

The report claimed the booming industry charges up to 1.2 million yuan ($196,000) for a surrogate pregnancy with options for foreign citizenship for the newborn. The illegal packages allegedly provide a healthy surrogate mother, hospital delivery and official birth certificates,.

A Guangzhou-based surrogacy company, which handles about 300 cases a year, said it charges 510,000 yuan on average for a single surrogacy case. The company said it charges 180,000 yuan to select a baby's gender, 190,000 yuan in payment to the surrogate mother, and 50,000 yuan for hospitals and other expenses.

Prices are reportedly higher for those seeking foreign citizenship for their children.

Surrogate mothers typically sign contracts with clients and surrogacy agencies ensuring benefits during pregnancy and compensation for failed operations. Such contracts are illegal, however, so mothers have no legal recourse if things go wrong.,

For example, a 32-year-old surrogate mother from Hubei lost twins in a miscarriage six months into her pregnancy. She asked for 30,000 yuan from her agency and clients, but they refused to pay her.

An Aug 2001 regulation by the former Ministry of Health, which has since been incorporated into the National Health and Family Planning Commission, forbid doctors and medical agencies from conducting surrogacy operations. Since then, any agencies caught conducting surrogacy can be fined up to 30,000 yuan.

In a bid to further discourage the practice, officials from the National Health and Family Planning Commission said they will push for laws banning surrogate parenthood nationwide. They are also looking to raise the fine for surrogacy agencies, said the report.



“The fact of being men gives us the strength to take care of our families, because a real man does anything to see their loved ones smiling” HAPPY MEN'S DAY!!

Israel: Gay-friendy ID cards introduced for children of same-sex parents

Israel has begun issuing new ID cards to children of same-sex parents – as previous cards only allowed for a ‘mother’ and a ‘father’.

The new cards – which can instead list two mothers or two fathers – came about after a number of gay families signed a petition addressed to the Interior Ministry, calling for the change.

The state has allowed same-sex parents to adopt their partner’s children since 2006, and legalized adoption for children not related to either parent in 2008.

The Population and Immigration Authority confirmed today that it has begun issuing cards with two same-sex parents listed, where before the couple had to pick which of them would be listed as the wrong gender.

A statement said: “When the first child arrived to request a [same-sex parent] ID card, they were issued one in accordance with the law.”

LGBT activist Chen Arieli told Israel Hayom: “Issuing the IDs is another step in recognizing same-sex parents.”

A bill legalizing surrogacy in Israel passed its first reading through the Knesset last month, overcoming a hurdle and becoming one step closer to law.

There has been conflict over gay rights in Israel’s ruling coalition. Last year, the Bayit Yehudi party vetoed the bill after it objected to language in the bill which gave legal recognition to homosexual couples.

In December, a bill allowing for same-sex civil marriage was defeated in the Israeli Knesset.

Also in December, the Israeli Tax Authority issued instructions that same-sex couples with children should receive child tax benefits immediately.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Jasmine Linnea and Sarah Rose

Born on November 16, 2014 at 7:47 a.m. and 7:55 a.m. (Indian Time) at Hiranandani Hospital in Mumbai, India.
The babies were carried and naturally birthed by Surrogate Mother, the gestational surrogate. Surrogate Mother is recovering well.
Jasmine was the first to arrive at 3 pounds 15 oz.  Sarah’s birth weight was 4 pounds 13 oz.  Both are healthy and beautiful and quickly learned to nurse.  So far both babies have been fed solely on Kirstin’s breast milk.

We have created a blog where we will post news and photos during our next eight weeks in India. You can access it by going to:

We feel so grateful to have you in our lives and look forward to introducing you to Jasmine and Sarah!

Bill would ban commercial surrogacy

Proposed legislation banning commercial surrogate services and limiting surrogacy to relatives-only will be proposed to the cabinet on Tuesday.

PM's Office Minister Suwaphan Tanyuvardhana said the whip committee of the National Legislative Assembly examined the bill on Monday, and then approved it for presentation to the cabinet.

He said the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security and the Ministry of Public Health proposed the bill.

The draft law allowed surrogacy services only on the condition it involves registered married couples and the use of the wife's eggs, and that surrogate mothers were relatives of either the husbands or the wife, Mr Suwaphan said

The bill also prohibits doctors from providing surrogacy services commercially.

The whip committee discussed the question of how to enforce the ban effectively, the minister said.

He also said the cabinet would also consider on Tuesday a bill that would lead to the formation of a national rubber committee and a fund to stabilise rubber prices and sponsor research on national rubber management,  in which the government and the civil sector could participate.


Bill on assisted child birth brought forward

THE GOVERNMENT whip has agreed to push forward draft legislation on the protection of children born through assisted reproductive technologies so the National Legislative Assembly can consider it today, Prime Minister's Office Minister Suwapan Tanyuwattana said.

After a lengthy meeting at Government House yesterday, Suwapan said the whip agreed to deliver the bill today along with the Rubber Act draft bill that was designed to stabilise rubber prices and promote research and development.

The law on assisted reproductive technologies proposed by the Social Development and Human Security Ministry, which includes content relating to the Public Health Ministry's regulations on such technologies, would also cover surrogate pregnancy.

Suwapan said its key content included allowing married couples struggling to have a child naturally to use a surrogate, clarity about what doctors can and cannot do regarding surrogacy, and the clear prohibition of commercial surrogacy.

Meanwhile, 10 pharmacist representatives, led by Rangsit University pharmacy lecturer Kraisorn Chairoj-kanjana, have submitted a petition with some 1,600 signatures to the Pharmacy Council of Thailand in a bid to get a Pharmacy Profession Act amendment withdrawn from NLA consideration.

The group wants the council to call a special meeting so there can be widespread industry debate on the matter.

The amendment passed first reading in the legislature, with two more readings left.

Meanwhile, a network of ethnic and indigenous people yesterday submitted a petition to the National Reform Council asking it to improve their rights. NRC president Tienchay Keeranant Thienchai Kiranan received the petition.

Separately, Thienchai also recei-ved a petition from a network backing reinstatements of Thai citizenship, which urged the government to reform the country's policy when dealing with stateless individuals and the process for granting citizenship to exiled Thais.

The group said as certain ethnic Thais live in exile between country borders, they had never been granted citizenship.

The government had some 30,000 documented cases of such individuals and only 2,000 had been granted citizenship, it said.


Monday, November 17, 2014

India to have new surrogacy law soon

New Delhi: Much in the news for all the wrong reasons, surrogacy in India will soon be a regulated sector with the government bringing in a law to govern all aspects of the process like compensation, age and consent of the surrogate mother.

"The final draft bill is now lying with the law ministry and, after being cleared, will be presented before the cabinet for approval," VM Katoch, secretary, department of health research under the health ministry, told IANS.

Surrogacy is a method of reproduction where a woman - the surrogate - agrees to carry a pregnancy to term for a fee.

A study backed by the United Nations in July 2012 estimated that surrogacy is a more than $400 million business a year in India, with over 3,000 fertility clinics across the country.

India now has only the guidelines the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) released in 2002.

In Oct 2008, the Supreme Court ruled that "commercial surrogacy is legal and an industry in India", making it a legally protected and viable option for international couples.

Named the Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill, 2013, it seeks to address issues like how many pregnancies can be allowed for a surrogate mother, the age of the mother and due compensation to be paid to her.

"The issues addressed in the bill are compensation, informed consent and health of the women involved," Katoch said.

He said that the bill might also provide a punishment framework for violators.

It has been cleared after rounds of discussions with various ministries and could be passed as early as the winter session of parliament in November-December, said Katoch, who is also the ICMR chief.

The bill will also provide a framework for letting foreigners use Indian surrogate mothers.

Surrogacy in India has always been a controversial subject with activists blaming foreigners for exploiting poor women.

In 2012, an Australian couple left behind one of the twins born to an Indian surrogate mother because they could not afford to bring up two children back home.

Earlier in 2010, a German couple, Jan Balaz and Susan Lohle, had to wait for two years before they could take their twin babies home.

Their twin sons, Nikolas and Leonard, were trapped in a citizenship limbo ever since an Indian surrogate mother gave birth to them in February 2008.

The boys were refused passports by their parents` homeland because German nationality is determined by the birth mother. The issue was finally settled after a prolonged court battle.

Centre for Social Research Director Ranjana Kumari told IANS: "Surrogate motherhood has grown exponentially in India to become part of a thriving globalized industry.

However, it raises difficult ethical, philosophical and social issues".

"Surrogacy essentially turns the unique biological ability of a woman`s body to reproduce into a commercial business when a monetary transaction is involved. This is complicated further by the lack of strong legal provisions to safeguard the interest of the surrogate mother, the resultant child or the commissioning parents in India," she said.

Sources in the health ministry told IANS that the bill was apparently stuck till now due to differences between the ministries of health and home over allowing single parent surrogacy.

According to a 2012 study by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), an estimated 10,000 foreign couples visit India for reproductive services and nearly 30 percent are either single or gay.

In earlier versions - in 2008 and 2010 - the bill relied on contract law to establish a relationship between the commissioning parents and the clinic.

In the current version, the bill states that a professional surrogate will be hired by a government-recognized ART Bank and not private fertility clinics, which is the current practice.

The compensation, as per the 2013 draft, will be a private negotiation between the surrogate mother and commissioning parents.


Urgent need for laws on assisted human reproduction

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court handed down judgment in a landmark case concerning the legal motherhood of a child born through a surrogacy arrangement. While the High Court seemed willing to stretch existing laws to accommodate this novel situation, and suggested that the Constitution required it to do so, the Supreme Court took the opposite view.

It found that Irish law had failed to keep up with scientific progress in human reproduction and that in the absence of specific legislation, the courts could do nothing to remedy that failure.

The case, MR vs An t-Árd Chláraitheoir, involved an agreement between two sisters. One sister (the genetic mother) suffered from a medical condition that meant that while she could produce eggs, she could not carry a pregnancy to term.

Her sister (the gestational mother), who already had children of her own, agreed to carry the pregnancy as a surrogate. In contrast to recent reports of surrogacy arrangements that ended in disaster, this agreement worked precisely as planned.

The gestational mother gave birth to twins and handed them over to the genetic parents. The only damper on an otherwise happy ending was the fact that, according to the chief registrar, legal motherhood could only be attributed to the woman who gave birth to a child, whatever that child’s genetic makeup. The genetic mother and father challenged the absolute nature of this rule.

The Supreme Court bluntly acknowledged that Irish law was woefully inadequate in failing to provide for familial relationships arising from surrogacy and other forms of assisted reproduction.

Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman vividly described this legislative inertia as akin to a situation where “road traffic law had failed to reflect the advent of the motor car”. Although sympathetic to the plight of the genetic parents, the Supreme Court found that it would be wholly inappropriate for the courts to try and fill that vacuum.

Regulating assisted reproduction was the job of the Oireachtas, it said, and although subject to the Constitution, the job of the Oireachtas alone.

This is not the first time that the court has admonished the legislature for a failure to regulate assisted reproduction. It did so in the case of Roche vs Roche in 2009, when the Supreme Court criticised the legislature for failing to make any provision for legal protection of the human embryo. Now, five years later, the court’s disapproval has grown even more pronounced.

After MR vs An t-Árd Chláraitheoir, the message from the Supreme Court is abundantly clear: Irish law is inadequate to deal with the novel relationships created by assisted reproduction, and it is the job of the Oireachtas to fix that. In many ways, this is a laudable approach.


Saturday, November 15, 2014

Serbia Prepares Surrogacy Law

The first draft of the future Civil Code provides an introduction for surrogate motherhood in Serbia. This means the possibility of concluding a contract between the future mother or father, and a woman who will carry and give birth to their baby. Cash compensation for the service is not predicted, RTS reported.

The possibility of surrogate motherhood is long anticipated and welcomed news for approximately 300,000 couples in Serbia who can not conceive naturally.

Angelina Radulovic from the Association “Parent” said that given such a large number of couples is being treated for infertility, all possibilities that could increase their chances of becoming parents are certainly good news.

Olga Cvejic Jancic from the Commission to the Civil Code, said that this method of birth may only be used as a method of treating infertility, or when due to severe health issues, it is not advisable to conceive naturally or through other forms of assisted fertility in order to prevent transmission of hereditary diseases onto the child.

“It is anticipated that in the case of surrogacy, fertile cells of at least one of the intended parents shall be used, therefore, he or she will be the genetic parent of the child”, said Jancic.

Agreement on surrogacy is between the woman who will carry the child and married couples or those living common-law. In certain instances, such an agreement is possible for single individuals who do not have partners.

The contract can not be concluded between close and distant relatives. Furhter details will be determined through public consultation.

Slavica Djukic Dejanovic, President of the Committee for Health and Family in the Serbian Parliament, stated that it is vital to establish rules of competence and ethics around this possibility for our citizens.

The Ministry of Health stated that surrogate motherhood in Serbia is prohibited, punishable by imprisonment of three to ten years and that the Directorate of Biomedicine at the Ministry of Health has not been consulted nor informed of any initiative around recognition of surrogate motherhood.

The Serbian Orthodox Church strongly opposes the possibility of surrogacy. Countries like Austria and Italy are facing the same challenges, as the influence of the Catholic Church has been strong, yet surrogacy has now been made available to their citizens.