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


Friday, May 29, 2015

Maternity leave for gay dads?

Have you ever thought that maternity leave should also apply to men?

When last did you revise your company’s maternity leave policy?

If this is at the bottom of your ‘to do list’ we suggest that you reconsider your priorities in light of the ground-breaking case that recently confirmed that it is discriminatory to refuse maternity leave to gay men who become parents through surrogacy.

MIA v State Information Technology Agency (Pty) Ltd

This recent decision of the Labour Court concerned a married gay couple who had entered into a surrogacy agreement with a woman to carry a baby for them. It was agreed between the two parents that one of the men would take on the role of the “mother” by taking immediate responsibility for the baby after its birth.

In anticipation of the birth he applied to his employer for four months’ maternity leave. This was contested by the employer on the basis that the Basic Conditions of Employment Act only contemplated granting maternity leave to female employees. The employer eventually granted him two months’ paid adoption leave and two months’ unpaid leave.

This, according to the applicant, amounted to unfair discrimination on the grounds of gender, sex, family responsibility and sexual orientation in terms of the Employment Equity Act.

The court agreed and found that the right to maternity leave is not only linked to the physiological welfare and health of the child’s mother but also considers the best interest of the child. In addition, because our law allows for same-sex marriages and regulates the rights of parents who enter into surrogacy agreements, employer’s policies pertaining to maternity leave should recognise or be interpreted to adequately protect the rights that flow from the Children’s Act and the Civil Union Act.

Accordingly, the court was of the view that there is no reason why a gay man who becomes a parent through surrogacy and assumes the role of primary care giver should not be entitled to maternity leave for same amount of time as birth mothers.


Legally, it is envisaged that the legislation may have to be amended to broaden the definition of maternity leave.

This judgment not only extends the rights of men who are fathers to be in same-sex marriages, but also opens the door for heterosexual fathers, who will be the primary caregivers for their babies, to argue that they too are entitled to maternity leave.

Another important consideration is the maternity rights of parents who adopt new-born babies, as it is arguable that in light of this judgment that the primary caregiver should also be entitled to full maternity leave.

Concluding Remarks

It is advisable that employers consider aligning their company’s policies with the shift in affording both male and female primary caregivers equal opportunity to claim maternity leave. If they don’t, employers may face potential exposure to similar claims which may prove to be a costly exercise - not to mention a losing battle.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Germaine Greer slams Elton John as his husband David Furnish is named 'mother' on their sons' birth certificates

The feminist author launched a scathing attack on the couple who have two sons together, while hitting out at IVF

Germaine Greer has hit out at Sir Elton John and his husband David Furnish, after they chose to name David as their sons' mother on their birth certificates.

The feminist author, 76, claimed the concept of motherhood had "emptied out", and went on to launch an attack on the process of IVF.

Sir Elton and his husband have sons Zachary, four, and Elijah, two, together - both born to the same surrogate mother, who the singer says they love "like a sister", as well as both sharing the same anonymous egg donor.

This latest attack comes shortly after the star was involved in a high profile row with Italian fashion designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, who called their IVF children 'synthetic'.

Claiming the concept of motherhood has "been deconstructed", Germaine hit out at the pair for naming a man the boys' mother.

Speaking at the Hay Festival, Greer said: "Sometimes I think that really the problem is the concept of motherhood, which we can't give any real structure to.

"Sir Elton John and his 'wife' David Furnish have entered on the birth certificate of their two sons that David Furnish is the mother. I'm sorry. That will give you an idea of how the concept of motherhood has emptied out. It's gone. It's been deconstructed."

She went on to hit out at the process of IVF, according to Mail Online.

"We now have a 'genetic' mother, who supplies eggs. It depends entirely on where she is if she is going to be allowed to know what happens to the eggs. And women tend to care," she said.

"An egg is not a sperm, we do not produce 400million of them in one go. One miserable little egg pops every month."

She added: "I'm sorry. Did we talk about this? Did we sit down and talk about what eggs mean to women?"

She even goes on to claim the 1967 Abortion Act was only introduced because of lobbying from the fertility industry.

We have contacted Germaine, and Sir Elton decline to comment.

Comment: Surrogacy law reform is a gay issue

Surrogacy is in the news, and gay men looking to become parents should pay attention, says Natalie Gamble from law firm Natalie Gamble Associates

Earlier this month, High Court judge Ms Justice Russell ruled that a UK gay couple should have main care of their 15 month old baby daughter after a ‘surrogacy dispute’ with the baby’s mother.

The decision followed a battle over what had been agreed, and a history of the mother breaching court orders and conducting a homophobic smear campaign against the father and his partner.

The judge’s decision focused on what was in the child’s best interests, and she ruled that the fathers were better able to meet the child’s needs.

The decision was, at one level, not any kind of legal precedent, but just another dispute between parents in the family court (although how wonderful is it that the fathers’ sexuality didn’t matter?).

But it highlights the dangers of informal family-building arrangements for gay fathers in the UK.  The judge said that such cases were on the increase because of the ‘lack of a properly supported and regulated framework’ for surrogacy.

Last week Mrs Justice Theis, another High Court judge addressing a conference in London, talked about the ‘ticking timebomb’ of children born through surrogacy overseas.

It is estimated that 1,000 to 2,000 children are born to UK parents through surrogacy each year, with 95% born outside the UK.

However, each year the court only makes around 200 parental orders (which secure legal parentage in the UK).  That means that the majority of UK parents through surrogacy are living under the radar, caring for children who are not in fact legally theirs.

As the judge said, this could have all kinds of legal implications for the child if the parents separate, die or even in respect of simple things like making medical decisions and renewing the child’s passport, issues we are now starting to see play out in practice.

The judge told the conference ‘we need legislative reform to provide a legally supported framework’.

The overall message is clear: UK surrogacy law is in a mess, and reform is needed.

On the one hand in the UK surrogates are scarce, agreements are not recognised or legally binding, and surrogacy is essentially an informal adventure for all involved.

This is the legacy of 30-year-old laws which bar agencies and advertising, and make agreements unenforceable and illegal for lawyers to draft.

While thankfully disputes like the one reported last week are rare, there is no structure for recognising surrogacy in the UK which might help prevent them.  Neither are genuine surrogates properly supported if they decide to help someone else have a family.

On the other hand, the lack of options for gay men in the UK is driving parents overseas to countries like the USA, Mexico and Thailand.

In those countries, surrogates are more readily accessible and parents have the security of a professionally-managed process.

However, even if you ignore the ethical issues, international surrogacy creates considerable legal problems: children are frequently born stateless and parentless because laws don’t match up, stuck in an overseas country until the UK authorities exercise a discretion to allow them to come home.

Even then the parents who brought them into the world are not recognised as their legal parents in the UK (even if they have a US court order confirming their parentage) unless they apply to the family court for a parental order.

So UK law is failing surrogate children, both those born in the UK and those born overseas.

While this is not often talked about as a gay issue, make no mistake – it is.

Same-sex couples are no less likely to have an instinct for parenthood than any others – it is the most natural and wonderful thing in the world.

But, of course, gay men always need a surrogate (or a co-parent) to conceive a child.

We have worked at the heart of the surrogacy world for many years, and have seen the proportion of same-sex parents we work with grow and grow.

As non-traditional families become more accepted and with gay marriage now well established, we don’t see this changing any time soon.

We are even starting to see ‘grandparent pressure’ from the older generation who love the idea of their gay children having families.

What we need is a proper structure in the UK to recognise and support ethical surrogacy.

We want to see a process for parents and surrogates at the outset, to ensure that everyone goes into an arrangement fully informed and consenting.  There should then be a structured process for establishing parentage, so the right people can be named on the birth certificate from the outset.

This is how surrogacy is managed in other jurisdictions (such as many US states), and it protects everyone involved.

Well-managed surrogacy is the very best of human collaboration, and we should be doing everything we can to support it.  Until we do, parents and children will be put at risk, an increasing proportion of them same-sex parents.


Irish justice minister admits surrogacy issue is unsettled

Ireland’s justice minister has revealed that the government chose not to address questions about surrogate parenthood until after the nationwide referendum that allowed for legal recognition of same-sex marriage.

“There’s a huge amount of work to be done in that area,” said Frances Fritzgerald. She said that the government is beginning a long-term process that should eventually produce new laws governing assisted reproduction, including surrogacy.

Opponents of same-sex marriage had argued that approval of the referendum on that topic could allow same-sex couples to arrange for surrogate parents. Fitzgerald conceded that this argument had an impact, showing that surrogacy is “a very broad area in need of legislation.”


Monday, May 25, 2015

Germaine Greer slams Elton John because his husband David Furnish is named as 'mother' on birth certificates of their two sons

Sir Elton is listed as 'father' and Furnish as 'mother'  for Zachary and Elijah
She said it's example of how motherhood concept has been deconstructed
The activist also criticised IVF - the process in which his sons were born
Singer was embroiled in another high-profile row with Docle & Gabbana

Germaine Greer has criticised gay parents Elton John and David Furnish for listing a man as the mother on the birth certificates of their two sons.

She said the move was an example of how the concept of motherhood has 'been deconstructed' - before going on to criticise the process of IVF.

Sir Elton is listed as the father and Furnish as the mother on the documents for their sons Zachary, four, and Elijah, two.

Both children were born to the same California-based surrogate mother – who the couple said they love 'like a sister' – and both share the same anonymous egg donor.

She is the latest celebrity to voice disapproval of Sir Elton, 68, and Furnish, 52.

Sir Elton was recently embroiled in a high-profile row with Italian fashion designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana who called their IVF children 'synthetic'.

The singer hit back at the comments made by Dolce to an Italian magazine and called for a boycott of the fashion house.

Sir Elton said: 'How dare you refer to my beautiful children as 'synthetic'. And shame on you for wagging your judgemental little fingers at IVF - a miracle that has allowed legions of loving people, both straight and gay, to fulfil their dream of having children.'

Speaking at the Hay Festival, 76-year-old Miss Greer said: 'Sometimes I think that really the problem is the concept of motherhood, which we can't give any real structure to.

'Sir Elton John and his "wife" David Furnish have entered on the birth certificate of their two sons that David Furnish is the mother. I'm sorry. That will give you an idea of how the concept of motherhood has emptied out. It's gone. It's been deconstructed.'

Miss Greer, who penned best-selling book The Female Eunuch in 1970, went on to criticise the process of IVF, by which the couples' children were born.

'We now have a "genetic" mother, who supplies eggs. It depends entirely on where she is if she is going to be allowed to know what happens to the eggs. And women tend to care.

'An egg is not a sperm, we do not produce 400million of them in one go. One miserable little egg pops every month.

'Then they give you follicle stimulating hormones and you have seventeen or something [eggs] and they give you cut price IVF and distribute the rest of your eggs where they see fit.

'In some places you are allowed to know what happens to them, in other places you are not. What you get is a reduced bill for IVF because a child is being born by the people involved using your eggs.

'I'm sorry. Did we talk about this? Did we sit down and talk about what eggs mean to women?'

The Australian-born activist went on to make the bold claim that she suspects the 1967 Abortion Act was only introduced because of lobbying from the fertility industry.


Eamon Gilmore calls for action on surrogacy

Former tánaiste Eamon Gilmore called on the Government to listen to the concerns of the No campaign and deal with the issue of surrogacy.

Mr Gilmore, who championed same-sex marriage when he was leader of the Labour Party, has described the outcome of the referendum as a “very liberating day” for gay people.

He described the strong Yes vote as “a national act of inclusion”.

“I think it was a day of liberation for gay people,” the Dún Laoghaire TD said.

“I think it was a very powerful declaration of equality by Irish people.

“It is also a very powerful statement to the rest of the world, in many parts of which homosexuals are still persecuted and in many parts of which human rights are still denied,” he said.

Two years ago, Mr Gilmore described same-sex marriage as the civil rights issue of this generation and said there “probably wasn’t a great deal of support for that point of view” at the time.

“Somebody has to take a step out on to the ice at some stage. But anyone who wants to put that theory to the test has only to look at the enormous turnout yesterday and the enthusiasm of young people in particular to come and vote for this issue.”

Mr Gilmore said the No side was very generous in conceding defeat and said its concerns should be addressed.

He said: “Some issues arose in the campaign.

“The issue of surrogacy needs to be addressed by way of legislation. The Government has been preparing that legislation.

“It needs to take on board the concerns that were raised during campaign by people on the No side.”

Mr Gilmore said surrogacy was a complicated area that was separate from the referendum.

However, he said those questions, including that of commercial surrogacy, must be addressed by the Government.

The former Labour leader also said the engagement by families was a strong feature of the campaign, adding: “In a way, yesterday’s decision has moved Ireland away from a situation where if you were different in a family you were somehow excluded.

“I felt that families were expressing their views. You knew that families had discussed this and you knew that families were coming together and making a decision, sometime collectively as a family, for all the members of their family.

“This was an enormous decision by everyone yesterday to say we want every member of our family to be part of this family.

“People were going out and doing it not just for themselves, they were doing it for brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles. That sense of family was very much a feature of the campaign.”


Baby Gammy scandal forces states to crackdown on Aussies using international ‘rent-a-womb’ services

THE baby Gammy surrogacy scandal will lead to a crackdown on Australians using international “rent-a-womb” services, with all state attorneys-general agreeing to push for consistent laws on international surrogacy to put the best interests of children first.

At a meeting on Friday, all seven attorneys-general — led by NSW Attorney-General Gabrielle Upton — agreed inconsistencies in surrogacy laws were putting children at risk.

A working group will be created for the “priority” issue to examine “whether a national legislative response to the issue of international surrogacy should be pursued, including any further work on harmonisation of surrogacy and parentage laws as they relate to international surrogacy”.

Commercial surrogacy is banned in NSW but there is nothing to stop a person moving to NSW from interstate after paying for a baby from overseas.

It is understood the attorneys-general were particularly concerned about the Northern Territory, which has no surrogacy laws even though commercial surrogacy is banned in all other states and territories.

Ms Upton said the baby Gammy case showed a further crackdown on commercial surrogacy and consistent national laws were needed to protect children.

“My fear is children are falling through gaps in the law,” she said.

“Children deserve to be raised in safe, secure and loving homes. They deserve good parents who will adore them because this gives children the best chance at better, happier life ...

“In NSW, the law puts the child’s interests front and centre. However, recent cases — including the baby Gammy case — have highlighted the lack of a consistent approach across Australia to surrogacy.”

The baby Gammy case sparked an international scandal, after a Thai surrogate accused a West Australian couple of abandoning a baby boy born with Down syndrome in Thailand, while taking his healthy twin sister home.

The father of the twins — David Farnell — is a convicted paedophile and was allowed to retain custody of the girl.

NSW, Western Australia and Victoria have two year jail terms as penalty for commercial surrogacy, in Queensland it is three years’ jail and South Australia and the ACT both have one-year jail penalties.

Despite this, the Commonwealth will often approve visas or citizenship to children born of commercial surrogacy overseas if a biological connection with an Australian parent can be proven.

Ms Upton said new consistent laws would help children above all.

“The end goal is consistent approach to international surrogacy across Australia, an approach which puts the child’s interests above all else,” she said.


Germaine Greer: abortion suited IVF barons

Germaine Greer has suggested that the Abortion Act was passed to allow the fertility industry to “manipulate the process of conception”. The outspoken feminist said the industry “needed legalised abortion” and that the “powerful medical legal establishment” had lobbied for the bill.

Harvesting eggs from aborted foetuses and implanting them in infertile women is not yet permitted despite scientific advances showing it is possible and could be a solution to a donor shortage. Greer told the Hay Festival that the “whole discourse” about IVF had been distorted by the fertility industry.

The author of the The Female Eunuch, said that the “concept of motherhood” had been reduced to a “genetic mother who supplies eggs”. Women having fertility treatment were offered “cut-price IVF” in exchange for their eggs which were then “distributed” by fertility clinics [for research and use].

“In some cases you are told what has happened to them, and in other cases you are not. What you get instead is a reduced bill for IVF because the people involved are using your eggs. I have got a suspicion that we got legalised abortion precisely because the fertility industry needed it. They were the ones who wanted to be able to terminate pregnancies and manipulate the process of conception at will.”

When told that David Steel, now Lord Steel of Aikwood, had introduced the act in 1967 for honourable reasons Greer replied: “David Steel is a politician. He could only make the act after fertility barons told him what they needed. The medical legal establishment is very powerful.”

The writer said that to illustrate how “the concept of motherhood has gone” people should consider Elton John and his partner David Furnish.

“David Furnish has been entered on the birth certificate of their two sons as the mum. That shows how the concept of motherhood has gone. It has been deconstructed. It has gone.”

Greer also rounded on Jane Fonda for suggesting that women should try to stay young to attract men. Fonda said that men are “very visual”, but Greer responded: “Jane, why not say older women want gorgeous boys? Men want younger women. So let them. There’s no shortage out there.”


65-year-old German grandmother gives birth to quadruplets, the oldest woman ever to do so

For many people, 13 children would be more than enough. But not for Annegret Raunigk.

The 65-year-old German grandmother recently gave birth to quadruplets, making her the oldest woman ever to do so.

The new arrivals increase her progeny to a total of 17 children. And let’s not forget her seven grandchildren.

Raunigk, a single mother, gave birth last week to three boys and one girl after a pregnancy of just under 26 weeks, the German broadcaster RTL reported.

The newborns — whose names are Neeta, Dries, Bence and Fjonn — were delivered by C-section and are being kept in incubators for premature babies, according to RTL.

Daughter wanted a younger sibling

Raunigk, a teacher from Berlin, made headlines 10 years ago when, at the age of 55, she gave birth to a daughter, Leila. And it was apparently Leila’s plea for a younger sibling that encouraged her mother to try again.

“I myself find life with children great,” Raunigk said earlier this year. “You constantly have to live up to new challenges. And that probably also keeps you young.”

To become pregnant, she used in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment with donated eggs that were fertilized.

One doctor tried to persuade her to abort one or two of the fetuses, but she refused to consider it.

Indian woman holds record

Raunigk, who had her first child at 21, is still not the oldest woman to give birth.

That record is held by Rajo Devi Lohan, an Indian woman who at 70 became the world’s oldest known first time mother after three rounds of IVF.

Her daughter Naveen will turn 7 later this year.


No Voters Offer CONGRATULATIONS in wake of Irish Gay Marriage Victory.

Anti-Gay marriage groups offer 'CONGRATULATIONS' to campaign in wake of Irish Marriage Equality Victory.

Whilst the outcome of yesterday’s historic vote in Ireland was widely predicted, the big surprise of the day was the unprecedented and gracious behavior of the two main organizations behind the No campaign. When they conceded defeat they both issued statements congratulating the equality side's victory.

Catholic-based anti-gay marriage activist group Iona Institute, which had aired a series of misleading fear ads ahead of the referendum vote, sent out the following press release:

‘We would like to congratulate the Yes side on winning such a handsome victory in the marriage referendum. They fought a very professional campaign that in truth began long before the official campaign started. For our part, The Iona Institute is proud to have helped represent the many hundreds of thousands of Irish people who would otherwise have had no voice in this referendum because all of the political parties backed a Yes vote.’

Mothers & Fathers Matter, the organisation behind last week's video featuring two gay men explaining their opposition to same-sex marriage, said:

"We offer our warm congratulations to the YES campaign on their victory. There are thousands of people who worked hard for them to achieve this result, and they can be justifiably happy with their efforts today. Though at times this campaign was unpleasant for people on all sides, nobody who involves themselves in a campaign does so with anything but the good of their country at heart. There is no better way to resolve difference than the way we are using today. From our point of view, we have represented a proportion of the population greater than those who support any political party. One in three Irish people in this campaign was not represented by the political establishment, the media, or the institutions of state. We are proud to have fought on behalf of those voices when nobody else would. Today’s result was achieved by the Government after they issued certain promises about surrogacy, adoption, and a range of other issues. A lot of voters believed those assurances and they must now be kept."


Benjamin deserved a better and more private start in life

To know you were rejected by your mother must be devastating, says Judith Woods, even more so under the gaze of the public eye.

How heartbreaking to see baby Benjamin, the unwanted child of a Slovak mother, being returned to his “home” country. Now six months old, he was presumably passed over to social workers at, or shortly after, birth; his mother decided long before the labour ward that she couldn’t or wouldn’t keep him.

Although she and her Slovak partner are entitled to stay in the UK, any babies born to immigrants from the European Econonomic Area only gain citizenship when their parents have been living in the UK for five years prior to the birth. And so Benjamin, who has been living with foster carers in Liverpool, has now been flown - effectively deported - to Bratislava where, initially, a place in a children’s home awaits.

It’s hard – well nigh impossible - not to judge. Who can fail to wonder why a mother would turn her back on her own baby? There is surely some painful story there, not least because handing over your newborn never to see them again is no easy thing to do.

The Slovak authorities say he will be passed to a surrogate family before adoption. A lot of turmoil for such a little boy.

Because Benjamin’s photograph has been published in newspapers and online, his sorry fate has been made public, which was, I feel, a terrible, humiliating breach of his privacy. I pray he goes on to a secure and happy home and somehow overcomes this terrible start in life. After all, no matter how loved we were subsequently, which of us would want the world to know our mother rejected us at birth?

Quote Breast is best. We’ve been told it for years. Babies thrive on mother’s milk and there are few sights more natural, more reassuring, more life-affirming than a woman feeding her baby. Unless, that is, a court decides that the baby belongs not with its mother but with the man who fathered it – and forcibly removes the infant despite the fact it is still nursing. It’s a violent, dramatic image – all the more so because there’s no intimation that the woman is an abusive or even neglectful mother.


Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Birds And The Bees, Version 2.0

When is a good time to tell your children where they came from?

We always knew that we were going to be open and honest with our kids about how they came to this world, but we also understood right from the get go that our messages must be age appropriate. We didn't want our children to be confused, feeling insecure or overwhelmed with too much information, obviously.

There is a saying: It takes a village. Well, for our family it is literally a true statement. My husband, Eli, and I have two beautiful daughters. Milo is five years old and Demi is 19 months old. To have them, we needed to go through two surrogacy journeys with the help and support of a wonderful egg donor, two amazing gestational carriers, doctors, nurses, psychologists, social workers, attorneys and our close family, of course. Both Milo and Demi share the same egg donor and have a different biological dad; one girl is biologically Eli's and one is biologically mine.

When Milo was little and we were younger with very little experience, we didn't know how to be open with Milo about surrogacy, or what was the 'right' way to explain to her where she came from. Our instincts, though, guided us to take actions that turned out to be what was needed to have an ongoing open channel of communication about this topic in our family.

For example, we had placed framed photos of both Milo and her gestational carrier, Audra, post-birth throughout the apartment (and later we did the same with Demi and her gestational carrier, Jessica). We kept in touch with Audra and Jessica through visits, social media, Skype, and periodic exchange of photos.

These actions were exactly what was needed to get little Milo involved and curious about the special people that helped us during our two journeys. And hopefully we will do the same with Demi when she gets a bit older.

As Milo grows up, the conversation about where she came from continues; it gets more advanced and detailed.

On 'Connected' episode 14, viewers can see Eli and I reading to Milo the children's book "Gal and Noa's Daddies", by Shosh Pinkas. This book takes the complicated topic of surrogacy and brings it into a kid's world.

In the same episode, you can see our family Skype with Audra and later with Jessica, Demi's gestational carrier, and in episode 16 you can see Eli and I meeting with our IVF physician Dr. Michael Doyle. Later, our family spends some quality time with Jessica.

Although the complete explanation of how our kids came to this world is complex, Milo can express today that she has two dads and that she doesn't have a mom. She understands that families can come in all shapes and sizes, that some families have a dad and a mom, others have two moms, two dads, one mom, one dad, etc.

She can explain that to have a baby one needs a piece of a woman and a piece of a man and that sometimes families need to get some help from other wonderful people to have a baby.

Even today in Milo's preschool class, there are twin sisters with two moms. Think about this for one second -- kids in Milo's class have the opportunity to see firsthand, one family with two moms and another family with two dads. There is nothing more natural for them than that because they experience daily that families come in all shapes and sizes!

My husband and I made a pledge years ago to continue and work hard to keep the channel of communication with our children about how they came to this world open and honest. That was a smart decision, which we plan to keep, as well as expand with any challenge that comes our way.

An opportunity to embrace equality

On May 22 we, the people of Kerry, have an opportunity to embrace equality and make marriage more inclusive for all our citizens. We are simply being asked if we agree to the following line being inserted into the constitution "Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex."

This referendum is about civil marriage, the legal contract of rights and responsibilities as recognised by the state. It has nothing to do with ceremonies held in a church and a Yes vote will not affect these. This referendum seeks to open civil marriage up to same sex couples who value what marriage represents. We all know that marriage matters. Couples get married because they love each other and want their relationships recognised and protected by the state. Same-sex couples want to get married for the very same reasons.

Why is Civil Partnership not enough? Civil partnership is a separate and unequal institution. It enjoys no constitutional protection and could at any point be repealed by the Oireachtas. This point has been made clear by the independent Referendum Commission. Only civil marriage can provide full constitutional equality.

This referendum is about civil marriage and is not about adoption and surrogacy. Mr Geoffrey Shannon, chair of the Adoption Authority of Ireland has made it crystal clear that adoption procedures will remain the same regardless of the referendum's outcome. Mr Justice Kevin Cross of the Independent Referendum Commission has confirmed that "there is no right of access to surrogacy". Surrogacy is largely a matter for heterosexual couples, and needs regulation. This will remain the case regardless of the referendum result.

Ireland's leading children's charities, including Barnardos and the ISPCC, have clearly stated that a Yes vote is in the best interests of families and children across Ireland today. Children deserve equal status and protection regardless of who is bringing them up. Every child deserves love, respect and safety. A No vote would deny the children of same-sex couples constitutional protections. A Yes vote will send a clear message to all children that they are equally valued regardless of their sexual orientation.

By voting Yes we will be sending a clear message of love and support to our gay and lesbian grandchildren, children, brothers, sisters, neighbours and friends. Sr. Stan, one of our most respected human rights advocates and a native of the Dingle Penninsula, has said: "I have thought a lot about this. I am going to vote Yes in recognition of the gay community as full members of society. They should have an entitlement to marry. It is a civil right and a human right."

On Friday we have an important choice to make about the kind of county and country we want to live in. Let us wake up proud on May 23 knowing that we stood together on the right side of history. Please use your vote to say Yes to a fair and inclusive Ireland.



LOOKING back on their mindset before they welcomed their baby daughter into the world, Tara and Natalie Peterson admit they held a belief that fertility services would not be available to lesbian couples.

But they were delighted to have been proven wrong.

“I think initially we were a bit apprehensive about accessing fertility treatment as a same sex couple but we never encountered any issues,” said Natalie, who has been with Tara for nine years now.

“In fact, we were made to feel incredibly welcome and supported throughout the process. Actually, throughout the entire pregnancy we were treated equally by all our contact with medical professionals.”

For those in the LGBTI community who make the choice to have children, IVF has become an increasingly successful means by which to achieve this. In addition, organisations offering this service are now actively encouraging and reaching out to the community.

IVF Australia and Melbourne IVF, part of Australia’s largest fertility network Virtus Health, are two such organisations that have opened its doors and expertise to LGBTI people for several years, offering a reliable, safe and secure means to conceive children as opposed to at-home insemination.

IVF Australia medical director Associate Professor Peter Illingworth said couples considering either at-home insemination or fertility clinics should consider a few points before making their decision.

Firstly, he said at-home insemination posed a risk of infection, something which would not happen at clinics.

“In-clinic, all sperm donors — known or clinic-recruited — are thoroughly screened and quarantined before being released for treatment,” Illingworth said.

“All parties receive compulsory counselling to consider legislation and long term implications of being a donor or recipient (and) complex emotional and social issues are discussed as well as plans for future exchange of information and contact.

“(Finally,) security of access and information if you wish to have a genetic sibling for your child. Using a clinic-recruited donor will give you the best chance of accessing the same donor and you can be certain about the information and access your child will have to donor records if they request it.”

Laws surrounding the access of LGBTI people to reproductive services differ from state to state, but in Victoria, NSW and Queensland, there are no barriers.

“In some states, women in same-sex relationships are not legally allowed to access fertility treatments such as IVF unless they have a medical diagnosis of infertility. Similar barriers may also exist for single women regardless of sexuality,” Melbourne IVF fertility specialist Dr Melissa Cameron said.

“Surrogacy legislation also varies widely between states, and in some states surrogacy is not available, for either heterosexual or same-sex couples. In Victoria we are fortunate that our legislation allows access to fertility treatment regardless of sexuality. The legislation also allows for surrogacy arrangements to occur.

“Increasingly, we are seeing patients from interstate who wish to access treatment in Victoria as they are unable to in their home state and we are happy to assist these patients.”

In-clinic fertility services also place less stress and time-consumption for all parties involved.

“It can sometimes take many months or even years to get pregnant,” Cameron said.

“With home insemination this could mean a very long term commitment, requiring monthly donations. The logistics of this can be challenging at times and can result in ‘donor fatigue’.”

Ideally, during this time the donor should be abstaining from any high-risk behaviour, such as unprotected intercourse, as it could increase their chance of developing an STI or blood-borne disease. For some individuals, this may be difficult to adhere to.

“When using clinic services, the donations occur over a relatively short time — usually a period of weeks,” Cameron said.

“Once the sperm is frozen the donor is not usually required to redonate. The recipient is then able to access the sperm without requiring the monthly commitment from the donor.”

For Tara and Natalie, in-clinic insemination was the best and most viable option available to them.

“Even though we had known of people who had taken the DIY home insemination approach or used friends as donors, we were always pretty set on using a clinic to create our family,” Natalie said.

“We wanted to know that we had the best chance of falling pregnant while also having the medical and legal protections in place.

“We never really considered using a known donor because we were afraid of the complications that may arise from such an agreement and we both wanted to be the sole parents of our child, without a third party wanting to be involved. Using a fertility clinic just made sense to us and we felt confident with that choice.”

Illingworth highlighted that fertility services provided by clinics is also the ideal option for older single lesbians and couples, given issues that can emerge with age.

“When lesbian couples are trying to conceive artificial insemination is often the first choice of treatment however due to the age of the mother or existing reproductive conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome, endometriosis or tubal disease, IVF may be recommended as the best course of treatment to give you the best chance of success,” he said.

“Additionally, some couples choose IVF because they wish to egg share. This is where the eggs of one partner are used in an IVF cycle to create embryos that are then transferred into the other partner with the result that one parent is the biological mother and the other is the birth mother.”

Both IVF Australia and Melbourne IVF also provide assistance to gay men who wish to undertake surrogacy.

“We have had the great pleasure to be involved in a number of very strong surrogacy arrangements… with great outcomes,” Illingworth said.

“Our support of gay couples through surrogacy includes explaining the processes involved, putting the couples in touch with expert legal and psychosocial services and finally providing the medical and technical expertise necessary to make it possible.”

For Natalie and Tara, it may have taken three attempts before they were successful with the birth of their daughter Ruby, but they firmly believe in-clinic fertility services offer LGBTI people the best and safest means to have children.

“Now that we have our daughter, all the appointments, tests and money spent were worth it,” Natalie said.

“We have no regrets with using a clinic or doing IVF… We are so lucky that we have been able to access such fertility treatment as a same sex couple.

“I think it is also important to note that even though the process was orchestrated by a clinic, it was still incredibly special when we got our positive pregnancy test.

“We had a team of people crossing their fingers for us each time, supporting us when we had negative results and celebrating with us when we did fall pregnant. It really has been a wonderful experience and hopefully it will be the same again when we go back again to try for number two.”


Surrogate mum gives birth to her 13th baby at Scunthorpe General Hospital

ONE of Britain's most prolific surrogate mothers has given birth to her 13th baby.

Karla Kirkby, who lives in Brigg and has two children of her own, gave birth to surrogate baby number 11 at Scunthorpe General Hospital.

The little boy has been named Finley by his parents, Mark and Lizzie Smith, who live in London. Karla said the couple had been "waiting for so long for a miracle".

Karla, 38 of East Parade, was due to give birth on May 31, but Finley, who weighed 9lbs 1oz, arrived three weeks early after she was induced.

She now needs to take a break, but said she will have another child.

Karla said: "They have all been straightforward and I have a natural delivery."

Mr Smith, 30, and his wife, 29, started looking at the option of surrogacy a long time ago, after Mrs Smith was told at the age of 15 that she would be unable to have children.

The couple learnt about voluntary organisation Childlessness Overcome Through Surrogacy (COTS). Founded by Britain's first surrogate mother Kim Cotton, it provides advice, help and support to surrogates and intended parents.

"A year-and-a-half ago we went to see some friends of ours who told us they were expecting and that pushed us forward," said Mr Smith.

"She (Lizzie) said she would like to try again and I agreed because I was keen for us to have our own little one."

After they contacted COTS, the couple were put in touch with Karla who had seen their profile on the website.

The couple agreed to meet up with Karla last May and said they had a lot in common.

Mr Smith said: "We spoke to other surrogates she had worked with.

"We realised just how special Karla was – she gave them all a gift."

The surrogacy process began in September last year and Mr Smith said they were "absolutely beaming" when they learnt that Karla was pregnant.

Finley was born on May 12 and the couple received a call at around 5.30pm to come to Scunthorpe.

Mr Smith said he felt "overwhelmed" when his son was born.

"I cannot really put it into words," he said.

"If we both were honest, there were times when we thought it may never happen.

"Karla is amazing and the gift that we have been given from her is just incredible.

"We had some low moments and when we hold Finley, it just makes everything worth it."

The proud parents, who both work in education, are now back in London with Finley.

"It is still sinking in really and every day, he (Finley) is changing," he said.

"The first time we held him, it was amazing.

"We are one of the lucky ones," he said.

Karla gave birth to her first surrogate child, Ethan, in 2001 and said she will have another child – although this may be one of her own.

"I will need a break and I want to get my life back to normal. It will either be a surrogate or one for myself," she said.

Health permitting, she can continue having surrogate babies until she is 45.


The feminist history of surrogacy: should pregnancy give a woman rights over a baby?

Surrogacy rates are rising in the UK, and 95 per cent of these births are taking place overseas. Glosswitch looks at decades of feminist thinking on surrogacy to see how women’s labour and female lived experience can be incorporated in this complex ethical debate.

Surrogacy is not a new idea; indeed, there is a precedent in the book of Genesis, with the story of Abraham, Sarah and Hagar, the slave who bears Abraham’s son Ishmael. There have always been people (usually men) who have sought to continue their bloodlines while circumventing the social structures and sexual taboos set up by others (again, usually men). Right now, however, a combination of factors – improvements in embryo transfer technology, changing family structures, the rise of global capitalism – have created expectations and possibilities the likes of which we simply have not seen before.

Surrogacy rates are rising in the UK, with over 2,000 babies born by surrogates on behalf of British couples each year, and 95 per cent of these births taking place overseas. International surrogacy is described as a booming business and restrictions on the use of eggs, embryos and wombs are facing legal challenges at home. We no longer live in biblical times. We can do things differently – better, faster, and with greater choice. While the story of Hagar and Sarah might have once served as a cautionary tale, it seems that now we have the technology and the moral sophistication to make surrogacy a part of how we transform contemporary family life.

Read More:

Surrogacy – Facts that are lesser known

A four-million dollar industry. A means to building a family. To some it is a noble act, to others it defies morals. Surrogacy is sure a Pandora's box of conflicting ideas. However, every child is a bundle of joy. Not only are children a matter of great pride to families, but it is a sign of hope that a legacy or lineage will continue in the days that lie ahead.

While one could consider adoption as a means towards building a family, the question of the child being genetically 'yours' could compel people to opt for surrogacy. Then again it leaves a question on the table — how wise could this be? Many celebrities have resorted to the alternative, citing various reasons. The birth of their children has triggered intense debates across the nation, however, the debaters fail to look into a larger perspective.

The concept of 'wombs for rent' has been a rather jaded topic for debates. Ancient religious texts of India quote several instances where the birth of a child remains a mystery. For example, Drona Achargya, the son of Sage Bharadwaj and the Guru of the Kauravas and Pandavas, was said to have sprung out of Bharadwaj. Draupadi, the wife of the Pandavas, was born upon the completion of a yajna. Could these be instances of surrogacy?

So what is surrogacy?

According to the Artificial Reproductive Technique (ART) guidelines, Surrogacy is defined as an arrangement in which a woman agrees to a pregnancy, achieved through assisted reproductive technology, in which neither of the gametes (ovum or sperm) belong to her or her husband, with the intention of carrying it to term and handing over the child to the person or persons for whom she is acting as surrogate.

Who could consider opting for Surrogacy?

According the Indian Law, couples could opt for surrogacy only due to either of the below reasons:

a) Female infertility or other medical issues including risky pregnancy

b) Same sex

c) Single parents

The participants in the procedure

A surrogate birth procedure involves four main groups of people namely – Lawyers, Fertility specialists, parent (s) and the surrogate. Some procedures also involve the participation of surrogacy agencies as well.

The role of a lawyer is rather crucial during such procedures. It could be noted that each nation follows a separate set of norms for surrogacy. The Indian Law, however, has undergone several amendments in this regard.

The ideal surrogate

A woman is at her best of health conditions between the ages of 24-30. He also states that women, who are known to have had successful pregnancies, are often considered as ideal surrogates.

Could a surrogate birth be less risky?

It has been stated women who are likely to undergo a risky pregnancy opt to build a family by means of a surrogate. However, the risk factors remain the same. “Every pregnancy is a unique case. There have been cases when a couple could not have child due to certain incompatible aspects between their sperm and ova. But when injected into the body of another person, apart from their own partners, the results proved otherwise,” said Dr .Harish Nair, Head of the Department of Obstretics and Gynaecology at Carithas Hospital, Kottayam

A surrogate mother is subject to all forms of pregnancy risks. This would include hypertension, low blood pressure, etc. This is bound to affect the child so growing in her womb.

The loopholes

Child custody is one of the major loopholes in the procedure. A few nations, which permit the practice of surrogacy, state that the 'woman who carries the child is the legal mother.' However, the laws of some other nations where the practice is permitted states that the child belongs to the biological parents.


A child cannot have two fathers’, rules Federal Court

A Swiss male couple who had a child with a surrogate woman in California cannot both be recognised as the child’s legal father, the Federal Court has ruled. The couple’s lawyer and family associations have condemned the decision.

witzerland’s highest court on Thursday annulled a decision which allowed two men in a registered partnership to both be considered the father of a child born in 2011 via assisted reproduction.

The child, who is now four years old, was born in California to a surrogate mother as a result of artificial insemination. The sperm of one of the men was used with the eggs of an anonymous donor.

A US court decision had validated the parental link between the child and the two men from canton St Gallen, who entered into a registered partnership two months before the child was born. Last year the St Gallen cantonal administrative court had confirmed the US decision.

However, the Swiss justice office, which had appealed, had stated that only the genetic link between the child and the father who gave his sperm may be legally recognised. The Federal Court confirmed this position, stating that the paternity of the father who has no biological link to the child is unlawful. The name of the biological father will remain written in the civil register.

“This decision by the Federal Court ignores the interests of the child and the living reality of both men, who have been living together as a family since 2011,” said the couple’s lawyer Karin Hochl on Thursday.

She added that the verdict damages the child’s fundamental welfare and prevents legal safeguards, especially in the event of the couple separating or the biological father dying.

‘Genetic relationship’
The two men had stood by the child’s Californian birth certificate, which had referred to a legal decision whereby the surrogate mother and her husband did not wish to exercise parental rights or assume their parental responsibilities.

“Legal parenthood in Switzerland has never necessarily required a genetic relationship to the child,” said Hochl.

The association Rainbow Families, which represents the interests of parents where at least one member is gay, lesbian or bisexual, fears that the family faces significant legal disadvantages as a result of the decision.

In a statement it said a growing number of couples were resorting to assisted reproduction in Switzerland and abroad in order to have children. This reality should be taken into account and they should be offered an acceptable legal framework which gives all people involved an adequate protection, the group added.

“A chance was missed to bring the law and actual living conditions in line with each other,” said Hochl.


Friday, May 22, 2015

Taoiseach Enda Kenny: No surrogacy legislation before next General Electio

Speaking at Fine Gael’s final press conference of the Marriage Equality Referendum campaign, Mr Kenny insisted voting ‘Yes’ will not affect access to surrogacy in Ireland, which is currently unlegislated.

He admitted the area needed legislation but said the Government will not introduce laws on surrogacy before the next General Election as it a “complicated area” that requires further consultation.

However, he did commit to banning commercial surrogacy.

“There is a great deal of complex issues about this, where there will be a national discussion. There will not be legislation on this before the next General Election,” he said.

The Taoiseach would not commit to legislating for surrogacy if he led the next government, saying he will await the outcome of public consultation before making a decision.

Health Minister Leo Varadkar is currently preparing the heads of bill for future legislation, which will be published in the coming months.

The Irish Independent revealed the new laws could see couples seeking to have a child through surrogacy forced to go before the courts to receive permission.

Separately, Mr Kenny admitted there is a conservative element within Fine Gael who are not actively campaigning to pass the referendum.

“You always like to get a 150pc response from everybody - it’s difficult to get,” he said.

“The Fine Gael party has quite a number of members who would be very conservative. As I have said publicly before, I have travelled on a journey myself.

“What really stuck me was the power of the ordinary stories of ordinary people living their ordinary lives. How can you expect them to be the people they are if there is an inequality in our society,” he added.

Mr Kenny said he had “no intention of becoming a Gay icon”, when asked if his strong support for the referendum could see him being elevated to that status in the gay community.

He also rejected the suggestion schools run by religious orders will be forced to teach students about same sex marriage if the referendum is passed.

“We have absolute religious freedom here.  The churches, irrespective of what church they are, have the absolute right to continue their teaching of their doctrine, their principles and their beliefs. Civil law is a separate matter and there may be questions asked in any school about what the civil law,” he said.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Surrogacy is not a red herring in this debate

The referendum is about marriage, so why is surrogacy dominating the debate? Louise Doris looks at how a Supreme Court ruling recognised the right of married couples to ‘beget children’

On Friday, people will vote for or against changing the Constitution to allow two people to marry, regardless of their sex.

That is all the ballot paper says. So where has the idea come from that this referendum has anything to do with surrogacy? Is this claim legitimate, or is it just scaremongering by the no side?

In 1991, the Supreme Court gave its decision in a case taken by Noel and Marie Murray, both of whom were serving life sentences for the murder of a garda. The Murrays wished to exercise their right to conjugal relations in order to have a child. The court refused their claim but held that “the fact that the Constitution so clearly protects the institution of marriage necessarily involves protection of certain marital rights, which include the right to beget children”.

Judge McCarthy declared: “The right to procreate children within marriage is not expressly stated in the Constitution; it is one of the unenumerated rights guaranteed by Article 40 as being essential to the human condition and personal dignity”.

The court thus recognised, as a constitutional right, the right of married persons to “beget children” or “to procreate”.

What does this mean for the referendum? If the right to marry is extended to same-sex couples it would strengthen significantly claims by same-sex married couples for access to the means by which they could realise their new constitutional right to procreate.

These means include donor-assisted human reproduction (DAHR) and surrogacy. Any attempt to prohibit or restrict DAHR or surrogacy would become vulnerable to constitutional challenge on the basis that it violates the right to procreate of same-sex married couples and is, therefore, discriminatory.

No country in the world has given same-sex couples a constitutionally protected right to procreate. Moreover, Ireland currently has a completely inadequate infrastructure of laws governing assisted reproduction.

This complete absence of regulation, combined with a constitutional right to procreate for same-sex married couples, would make Ireland extremely vulnerable to becoming a hub for the globalised, commercialised assisted reproduction and surrogacy industry.

The Children and Family Relationships Act, insofar as it covered assisted reproduction, only addressed the issue of assigning parentage following DAHR. It did not introduce a regulatory regime or regulatory authority for assisted reproduction.

The Government is now preparing a draft bill for the whole area of assisted reproduction including surrogacy. France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Malta expressly ban surrogacy because of ethical concerns around the commodification of children and the exploitation of women.

Even in countries with formal bans on surrogacy, those bans have come under pressure following the introduction of same-sex marriage. In Spain, there has been a protracted legal battle between the Spanish authorities and a married same-sex male couple who had twins via surrogacy in the US, and who now want the Spanish courts to recognise their “dual paternity” in relation to those children.

In France, a new Loi de Famille (Family Law) was planned to accompany same-sex marriage. That law would have extended the right to assisted reproduction to lesbian couples and would have decriminalised contracts of surrogacy, which would have had the effect of enabling male same-sex couples to have a child by combining access to assisted reproduction with contracting a surrogate.

Huge protest rallies across France forced the French government to abandon those plans, for now.

The Government here has already rejected the option of banning surrogacy. The draft heads of the proposed assisted reproduction and surrogacy bill make it clear that the Government plans to legalise and legitimise the practice of surrogacy.

The legislation will, for the first time in Irish law, allow a mechanism for a surrogate birth mother to relinquish her status and transfer parentage to a commissioning couple.

The commissioning couple will be allowed to pay the surrogate “reasonable costs”. No figure has been defined, which may prove problematic in ensuring payments relate totally to costs incurred.

Health Minister Leo Varadkar says that out of respect for equality and non-discrimination the legislation “won’t discriminate against people on the basis of their relationship status or their gender or their sexual orientation”.

He said he would also “facilitate transfer of parentage of children born to surrogates abroad”.

Surrogacy clinics and agencies are enthusiastic about both the referendum and the prospect of surrogacy-friendly laws being passed.

One such clinic, Oregon Reproductive Medicine, has already opened an office in Dublin. It’s one of the world’s leading clinics for same-sex family formation via surrogacy and holds regular information seminars here aimed at same-sex couples, particularly “intending fathers”.

An event in November was entitled The Future of Same-Sex Parenting in Ireland. The same clinic participated in a conference in Brussels this month entitled, Men Having Babies: Parenting Options For European Gay Men.

Currently, such clinics are operating in a legal vacuum. A yes vote in the referendum and the proposed surrogacy legislation would put them on more sure legal footing.

Cross-border surrogacy is a huge business involving surrogacy agencies, surrogacy brokers, egg brokers, and law firms specialising in surrogacy contracts.

The US and India are popular surrogacy destinations. Emerging destinations include Mexico and Nepal. Women in impoverished countries are, obviously, particularly vulnerable to being exploited.

Because surrogacy arrangements often involve a separate egg donor and gestational surrogate, the resulting child will have no clear biological mother, in addition to having no legal or social mother if the commissioning couple is two men.

The confluence of globalised, commercialised assisted reproduction and the advent of same-sex marriage challenges national family laws in a profound way and places legal institutions at a difficult intersection of contrasting laws and rights.

So, while surrogacy has become a dominant theme in the marriage referendum and has been referred to as a red herring designed to provoke fear and moral panic, it is, in fact, a legitimate topic of debate in this referendum and one that, arguably, requires much more ethical discussion before the Government’s plans in the area of surrogacy become law.

Louise Doris is a final-year PhD researcher at the European University Institute, Florence. Her doctoral thesis is a comparative study of assisted reproduction laws and surrogacy laws in European countries. She studied law at Queen’s University Belfast, has a Masters in medical law and ethics from King’s College London and aMasters in legal research. She also worked at the Bioethics Department of the Council of Europe, Strasbourg, and was a visiting scholar at Yale Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics. Her areas of expertise are bioethics, the regulation of donor assisted human reproduction, and surrogacy law.


Surrogate-born children a ‘timebomb’

The increasing surrogate children not properly registered by their parents is a “ticking legal timebomb”, a High Court Judge has claimed.

Speaking at a surrogacy conference earlier this week, Mrs Justice Theis said such children could end up both “stateless and parentless”..

Under English law, the birth mother of a child is its legal mother even if she had a surrogate role . The legal status of parent can only be transferred to the couple or individual who commissioned the surrogacy via a parental order. In the majority of cases, these are issued when the couple or individual returns to the UK with a baby born via a foreign fertility clinic, since commercial surrogacy is illegal in England and Wales.

However, only a minority of commissioning parents do in fact apply for parental orders.

According to The Guardian, while around 2000 children are born to surrogate mothers for British commissioning parents every year, just 241 parental order applications were made in 2014.

Dame Theis told delegates:
“My concern is about the people who are not making applications.”

Without a clear, resolved legal status, such children could find themselves in difficulty if the commissioning couple separate or pass away. Any claim on the commissioning parents’ estates would be uncertain while they could retain a claim on the birth parents’ estate, even if they lived abroad. Even applying for a new passport could be problematic, said the Judge.

She explained:
“The best interests of the child born to these arrangements is to have legal certainty and clarity. If no [parental] order is made, there is the psychological impact of discovering that the mother is not their [birth] mother. And there’s practical issues in terms of inheritance and other financial matters. The court’s paramount consideration is the child’s long-term welfare needs.”

Publication of anonymised parental order judgements could help raise awareness of the need to register, said Mrs Justice Theis, but in the longer term, new international legislation may be required to better address the needs of surrogate children.

All parental order applications made to date have been granted by the courts.


New Jersey Assembly passes bill protecting LGBT parents and modernizing state law

Thursday, by a vote of 43 to 25, the New Jersey Assembly passed the New Jersey Gestational Carrier Agreement Act – an important bill that would modernize New Jersey law by giving legal parental rights and duties of a child carried by a gestational surrogate to the intended parent at birth. The bill will now go to Gov. Chris Christie, who previously vetoed the bill in 2012, to sign the legislation into law.

Passed by both chambers of the New Jersey Legislature, the New Jersey Gestational Carrier Agreement Act would authorize gestational carrier agreements under New Jersey law, providing a legal framework for gestational surrogacy in New Jersey. Gestational surrogacy is especially important to members of the LGBT community because it enables couples to establish parental rights and create a family while allowing such couples to have a genetic relation to their children. Gestational surrogacy is distinguished from traditional surrogacy, in which the carrier makes use of her own egg and therefore has a genetic relation to the child.

Over the past several years, gestational surrogacy has substantially increased as an option for family creation, and it is vital that states provide a system to govern this process.

If passed, New Jersey will join 14 states which currently have laws that allow for gestational surrogacy agreements.  The New Jersey Gestational Carrier Agreement Act will modernize New Jersey law and standardize a necessary government function in a simple way that is consumer friendly, safe, and professional.

“Modernizing New Jersey’s surrogacy laws is incredibly important to the Garden State’s LGBT community when it comes to establishing parental and family rights,” said HRC National Field Director Marty Rouse. “We implore Governor Christie not to stand in the way of progress and sign this important and bipartisan legislation into law.”


Happy Birthday! from SurrogacyIndia & Team


May God grant you many more such days to
Celebrate your lovely existence on this world.

May this day always brings
abundance of Happiness to your life.

SI wishes you a very Happy Birthday!

The ethics of international surrogacy

Sometimes it takes a tragedy to draw public attention to otherwise unconsidered problems.

The recent earthquakes in Nepal, and their consequences for Israelis hiring surrogate mothers there, represent such an instance.

Understandably, the initial public spotlight was focused on the evacuation of the babies, and in some cases the surrogate mothers, from Nepal. Most commentary on the issue took it as a given that surrogacy is a positive phenomenon for all parties involved, and that seeking surrogacy in Nepal is appropriate.

We Israelis are pro-natalist. We see the creation of children as both a mitzvah and a blessing. The pain of infertility resonates deeply, on both an individual and a national level. Accordingly, Israel has removed economic barriers to IVF and has consistently been at the forefront of scientific developments in reproductive technologies.

Surrogacy seems to fit well with this pro-natalist impulse. Unfortunately, though, there has been little discussion surrounding the ethical, social and legal implications of the practice, particularly when it comes to international surrogacy.

At the core of international surrogacy lie a number of ethical concerns. First, there is the problem of wealth disparity. The specter of a woman from a third world country, motivated by desperate economic circumstances to enter into a surrogacy agreement, is disturbing indeed, and raises serious questions. At what point does the monetary inducement become so great that the surrogate cannot be said to have given true voluntary consent? How can we ever know if the offer was merely an inducement, or if it was coercive in nature? Beyond the economic disparity, there is also the concern that, due to her unequal bargaining power, a surrogate in a developing country may not receive adequate contractual protections. If the surrogate and the prospective parents were truly on a “level playing field,” we would expect that the contract would provide the surrogate with her own legal representation, psychological counseling, medical examinations, and that the surrogate would be able to bargain for various other favorable terms. If these reasonable provisions are not in place, does this not leave the surrogate open to exploitation? The dramatic power imbalance between the parties raises red flags, which should give us pause.

And what about the child’s interests? Although the child is at the heart of the “deal,” it is striking how little attention is usually paid to the child’s needs. What is the potential psychological, emotional and social impact of removing a child from the cultural lineage of one of the biological parents? Is the cultural disconnect that is thereby created a loss or harm to the child? Is it really in the best interest of the child to be taken at birth from his or her homeland, transported to a very different culture far away, and to be substantially, or perhaps totally, cut off from part of his or her biological and cultural heritage? It is true that this same phenomenon of cultural disconnect occurs in the context of international adoptions, yet as a society we seem to have concluded that the benefits to the child outweigh the possible negatives. However, we should not be too hasty in accepting the adoption analogy in the surrogacy context, given that there is a significant difference between the two practices: adoption is essentially child-centered, whereas surrogacy is essentially adult-centered.

In other words, the goal of adoption is to protect the interests of a child whose biological parents are either unable or unwilling to fulfill their parenting roles. The goal of surrogacy, in contrast, is to create a child with the purpose of satisfying the desires of the adults. This is not to suggest that surrogacy is necessarily a less ethical practice than adoption (although some may make this claim), but it does mean that in surrogacy we need to be particularly vigilant in protecting the best interests of the child.

We should also consider whether it is ethically justifiable to utilize a surrogate from a country such as Nepal in order to create a child, when there are already many babies and children available and waiting for adoption.

Of course, one of the main reasons why surrogacy is so attractive to the prospective parents is that it allows the intended father to be genetically related to the child. This is understandable – most of us, if given the choice between adoption and having our “own” genetically related child, would choose the latter, and would turn to adoption only if circumstances made natural conception impossible or very problematic.

But uncomfortable questions arise: if genetics is so important to the father, why do we assume that genetics is so unimportant to the surrogate mother that she would voluntarily give up the child she has conceived and carried? Even if the surrogate’s own egg is not used, the surrogate nevertheless makes a significant contribution, by gestating the baby for nine months and giving birth. Given the importance of the surrogate’s bonds to the baby, is it likely that the surrogate would have agreed to this transaction, were it not for the overwhelming lure of money? The deep-seated longing for a child of one’s “own,” and the pain suffered by individuals and couples who – for either biological or social reasons – face challenges in achieving this dream, is very real. At the same time, we must take care that in attempting to solve one problem we do not create another. International surrogacy in developing countries is fraught with risks of exploitation and coercion of women. Its long-term impact upon the child is unknown, and awaits serious research. But there can be little doubt that international surrogacy presents some potentially serious ethical concerns.

We should be wary of offering our uncritical support.


Happy Birthday! from SI & Team

In soft gleaming of stars....
May all your dreams come true,
May every star of every night bring love and joy to you!!
SI wishes you a very Happy Birthday!

Fertility laws lashed as unfair.

A visiting US fertility expert is urging Australia to lift "repressive" restrictions on paying women to be surrogate mothers and egg donors.

Ahead of his Perth seminar tonight, Michael Feinman said Australia had world-class IVF programs but bans on paying women to donate eggs or be surrogates impinged on reproductive freedom when demand was growing.

"Unfortunately, Australia has stigmatised this process by labelling it 'commercial egg donation' and 'commercial surrogacy', which makes it sound like these are women of ill repute being paid to do something, when in reality they are highly educated, non-indigent women who are simply being compensated for their time and effort," Dr Feinman said. "While there are wonderful women here willing to be egg donors and surrogates without compensation, it is hard to find those people."

California-based Dr Feinman, in Sydney for the Families Through Surrogacy conference, said the trend towards delaying motherhood and more gay couples wanting to be parents were driving a growing need for egg donors and surrogate mothers.

Currently, there can be no financial gain to the surrogate mother, apart from expenses related to the pregnancy, and egg and sperm donors can be paid only a nominal amount to cover their costs.

Dr Feinman said it was a paradox to have laws affording women choice when terminating a pregnancy but restricting it for those who wanted a baby.

"It's like the Prohibition era in the US," he said. "I have been coming here for 20 years to take care of patients and if you change laws that will dry up for me, but I would welcome it because I think it is hard for Australians."

Dr Feinman said the strict laws led Australian couples to look for surrogates in places such as India, Nepal and Thailand, which could be problematic.

The US system was more expensive but included legal and psychological assessments and transparency.


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Surrogacy in Ireland: Where do we stand?

VOTERS ARE BEING asked to take to the polls on 22 May to make their opinion known in the Marriage Equality referendum.

However, marriage is not the only thing being brought up in the debate in the run-up to the vote.

Other matters such as the family, procreation and surrogacy have all been raised in the debate.

Ireland has long kept an arms-length approach to the issue of surrogacy.

So, where do we stand now in terms of the law.

Well, the short answer is there are no surrogacy laws.

It was expected that this would all change with the Child and Family Relationships Bill.

This piece of legislation had been a long time coming and deals with issues relating to children’s rights, the family, guardianship and adoption.

Up until the last minute, it also included surrogacy, but this was omitted in the final draft.

Surrogacy in Ireland does happen, it just isn’t governed by law.

This became apparent under the Supreme Court case brought by the genetic mother of twins whose sister gave birth to them as a surrogate.

She sought to be named as mother on the children’s birth certs but the State has insisted that only the woman who gives birth to a child can be recognised.

The court ruled that only the birth mother can appear as the legal mother of a child.

Read More :

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Dad reveals 'nightmare' after pregnant ex told abortion lie so she could sell their daughter to gay friend

Police believe Vikki Gilmore sold the little girl to Chris Yates for as little as £100, after telling former partner Steven North she'd had her pregnancy terminated

A father has told of his "nightmare" after his ex and her gay friend tried to rob him of his daughter, by telling him their baby had been aborted.

Evil Vikki Gilmore convinced Steven North that she had terminated her pregnancy after they separated - but actually had the baby and registered her friend Chris Yates as the child’s father.

Gilmore and Yates were facing jail yesterday after being found guilty of the callous scheme which left Steven in mourning for three years.

The vile pair even invented an online surrogate mother and conned social workers, midwives and a registrar into believing they were the parents of baby Brooke.

Police believe Gilmore, 29, sold the little girl to Yates for as little as £100 as part of the plot described in court as “cynical, calculated and inhumane”.

But Steven’s quest for justice ended in unanimous guilty verdicts on the pair at Perth Sheriff Court.

He had won custody of daughter Brooke prior to the case and as he went home to hug her yesterday, he told the Daily Record : “Our nightmare is over. I’m delighted.”

Steven, 34, allowed us to identify Brooke so that Gilmore and Yates’s scheme could be exposed. He said: “What they did was pure evil.

“They must’ve known the effect this would have on Brooke and me and they still went through with it.

“How could a woman and mother ever think up something like this?

“I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.”

In the wake of the five-day trial, Steven will demand answers as to why social services and the police let his daughter be used as a pawn in Yates and Gilmore’s sick deception.

Steven had a three-month relationship with Gilmore in 2010 and was “over the moon” when she told him she was expecting – but he was heartbroken months later when she said she’d had an abortion.

He said: “It was like having my heart ripped out because I love having children. She split up with me and told me she was going to have an abortion.

“I tried to talk her out of it and begged her to keep it and I was absolutely gutted when she told me she’d gone through with the termination.

“I mourned and shed a lot of tears because I truly believed my child was dead.”

Gilmore gave birth to Brooke without Steven’s knowledge in February 2011 and gave her to Yates, who wanted a child of his own.

It was claimed in court that he paid between £100 and £300 for her but this was never proved.

The couple signed the birth certificate and claimed to be Brooke’s natural parents, duping Perth registrar Alison Breingan in the process.

Yates, 35, claimed Brooke had been given to him by a lesbian lawyer called Clare Green who acted as a surrogate – but in fact “Green” had been dreamed up by him and Gilmore.

They even set up a Facebook page in her name but pals smelled a rat when they spotted identical spelling mistakes on Green and Yates’s profile pages.

When friends questioned who Brooke’s father was, Yates left Perth without warning and moved to a flat in Glasgow where he brought her up on his own.

Social workers there were also taken in by the ruse but they immediately placed Brooke on the child protection register because Yates’s father is a convicted paedophile.

The Daily Record has seen a legal report in which a health worker expressed concerns for the child’s safety and a social worker admitted she was at risk of sexual abuse.

Steven would never have known Brooke was alive if it hadn’t been for close friend Charmaine McColl.

She saw Yates with the baby and became suspicious because of her uncanny resemblance to her real dad. She told the court rumours about the baby’s real parentage had been circulating in Perth.

Charmaine added: “The baby was the double of Steve – they were two peas in a pod.

“When I told Steve, he broke down. He just cried. He just wanted to make sure that if she was his, to get her home safe.”

Steven – who now lives with his wife and son Tyrone, three – confronted Yates and was immediately suspicious about his surrogate mother story.

Yates even told Steve he had used a turkey baster to inseminate “Green”.

Steven began civil proceedings and won the right to a DNA test.

It proved he was Brooke’s dad and, late last year, he was granted full custody and legal rights.

Fighting back tears, Steven said: “I have missed the first three years of her life – her first steps, first tooth and first words.

“I will never be able to get that again but my wife Dana and I have to help Brooke move forward by providing a loving, stable home to let her rebuild her trust.

“She has been deeply affected by what happened and it will take a hell of a lot of support to get her through it.

“Brooke has trouble expressing her feelings and emotions and I think much of the trauma is bubbling under the surface – she can’t seem to understand what has happened.

“It’s heartbreaking to see but we help her every way we can.

“Dana has been a great support and is a fantastic mum to Brooke – I couldn’t have done this without her help and love.

Gilmore and Yates claimed Brooke was the result of a drunken fling on Yates’ birthday in April 2010, although medics insisted she must have been conceived in May.

Lucy Keane QC, defending, said Yates was bisexual and had truly believed he was Brooke’s natural father. But witnesses said he had never had a relationship with a woman and described him as 100 per cent gay.

Now Steven is demanding answers from the authorities as to how they failed to spot the warning signs. He is especially critical of Perth and Kinross and Glasgow social services.

Steven said: “Everyone involved in Brooke’s care needs looking at but they have all moved on and in some cases been promoted.

“Scotland’s family law also needs a full overhaul – it is at least 30 years behind the times. I spoke with John Swinney about it during my campaign.

“Fathers commit suicide over cases like this because the law is stacked against them. I didn’t give up – but many men do and it’s a tragedy for them and their children.”

After the unanimous verdicts, Sheriff William Wood directly addressed Steven, who was sitting in the public gallery.

He said: “To your credit you have campaigned long and hard. I have been impressed by your vigour and stamina to get people to take you seriously. I hope my remarks can help you move forward with Brooke, your wife and your family.”

Asked what he thought of the sheriff’s comments, Steven said: “I am Brooke’s dad – what else was I supposed to do?”


Bozell & Graham Column: Feminism and Frozen 'Huevos'

Sofia Vergara is the Spanish-accented sexpot center of attention on the ABC sitcom Modern Family. She’s also now the center of an unwanted controversy over a “modern family.” She’s fighting with an ex-fiance over two frozen embryos.

Back in 2013, Vergara granted a TV interview to Dr. Oz to discuss her baby-making plans: “I’ve been very concerned about fertility and I wanted to take advantage of science, so I froze my huevos.” She and her fiancé Nick Loeb had no success with a surrogate mother on two embryos, and made two more before the relationship soured.

The current controversy began when Loeb recently wrote an op-ed for The New York Times publicly asking for his test-tube children, with no expectation of joint custody or child support payments: “When we create embryos for the purpose of life, should we not define them as life, rather than as property?”

If Loeb was not the ex-fiancé of one of Hollywood’s hottest stars, it’s hard to imagine the Times making any space for this pro-life argument.  Aside from the Times, the media clearly took sides with the more famous half of this duel. The New York Post carried the coarse headline “It’s time for Nick Loeb to STFU about Sofia’s eggs.”

That ignores entirely the proposition that the father had anything to do with it.

Then the fight moved to television. Loeb was awarded interviews, but was pounded for daring to publicize this issue. NBC Today co-host Hoda Kotb told him he should quit: “You each signed an agreement saying neither of you would bring this embryo to term without the other's consent. I mean, it sort of seems like a dead issue at this point.”

So why did the Today show invite him for an interview?

On CNN, New Day anchor Alisyn Camerota also took a prosecutorial stance. “Not everyone [translation: Alisyn Camerota] believes that embryos are lives. Why do you believe that you've already created a life?" She insisted that if he moved on to a new woman, he wouldn’t care about these embryos. The pro-life argument must be a desperate con job.

Both anchors lectured Loeb that "there are people [read: both anchors] though, who question your motives, and who question what you're doing," as the CNN anchor put it. That’s an obvious question, but what about the woman’s motives?

And what about the media’s motives? What really brought this fight into the news was a two-faced media that claim to sympathize with Vergara, but really wanted to exploit her fame for TV ratings and Internet clicks.

These posing female anchors tried to shame the less famous half of a celebrity couple as a disposable boy toy and attention hound. If the genders were reversed, you can bet liberals would cry sexism.

Feminism demands that the woman is always right – especially about her career. Vergara has a 23-year-old son from a previous relationship and so it must seem shocking to her media fans that she would surrender to another cycle of parenthood at 42.  Why should this one-trick superstar have to make any compromise in her white-hot career right now before it inevitably fades?

No one in the media takes the “ancient family” viewpoint on this mess. Embryos and surrogate mothers in this case weren’t based on infertility, but on Vergara’s refusal to carry a baby and complicate her hit TV show. Both sides of this mess should have realized that there is no room for “family” in this selfish squabble.


Surrogacy in Nepal

Same-sex marriage doesn't really fall into the bioethics basket. However, the recent earthquakes in Nepal brought to light a link to the biggest social policy debate in the United States and Ireland at the moment.

Kathmandu, it turns out, became a surrogacy hub after India and Thailand imposed restrictions on this racket. According to one clinic operating there, it is a very attractive destination: “Surrogacy in Nepal is very affordable and recommended for same-sex couple like gays and lesbians, for singles and even married couple who are unable to take the chance of surrogacy in India.”

So poor women are renting out their wombs so that gay couples can take babies home. A number of babies commissioned by gay Israelis were airlifted out of the ruins of Kathmandu back to Tel Aviv on a defense force aircraft – but not the mothers.

It's an angle that the justices in far-off Washington will probably not consider, but it deserves to be mentioned: if same-sex marriage is legalized, how will gay couples get children? Will it be by exploiting women in places like Nepal?