Law and Ethics
Infertility treatment decisions should
be made with awareness of applicable laws and with respect
to ethical principles. Recognizing that the advances
and options for infertility treatment are growing at
a rapid rate, individuals are encouraged to become aware
of all laws that may be relevant to their state or area
in which they live.
Our mission, at Fertility Today Magazine,
is to provide a trusted source of comprehensive and
current information on all aspects of fertility and
infertility. This mission follows from a basic ethic
which values all human life and recognizes the inherent
dignity and uniqueness of all people. Therefore we seek
to provide articles that reflect the importance of human
relationships and are written by individuals with both
competence and integrity.
Some of the ethical issue to be discussed includes the
ethical issues surrounding third party reproduction,
infertility treatment insurance benefits, preimplantation
genetics gender selection and the like.
We are committed to providing
articles which reflect the highest ethical standards
of patient care and information including a concern
for the physical, psychological and spiritual health
of the reader. We are also committed to proving articles
which are scientifically valid and consistent with evidence-based
medicine and current standards of care.
Legal Issues of Fertility
Contributed by: Melissa B. Brisman,
Esq., LLC, 77 Market Street, 2nd Floor, Park Ridge,
NJ 07656, Telephone, 201-505-0078, firstname.lastname@example.org,
The advances in fertility technology
have created a legal challenge in this country and abroad.
At present, the law is playing "catch-up"
with science and, as a result, reproductive law has
emerged. In the United States most reproductive law
is governed by the individual states and, to date, very
few states have begun to tackle the current issues.
Everyday we are finding an ever increasing need for
clarity and consistency in the area of reproductive
law in order to keep up with these scientific advances.
Previously, traditional surrogacy, whereby
the carrier uses her own egg to conceive a child for
the intended parents, was the only other viable alternative
to adoption to aid individual(s) in creating their family.
However, over the years, embryo, sperm and egg donations,
and gestational carrier arrangements have become viable
alternatives. The gestational carrier arrangement is
one of the more complex options. Today, with the breakthrough
of in vitro fertilization, the process by which ova
is fertilized by sperm outside of the womb, it is possible
for individual(s) who are unable to conceive and/or
carry their own child(ren) to utilize a gestational
carrier in order to have a child(ren) who are genetically
related to the prospective parent(s) and not genetically
related to the carrier. This opportunity to create families
using the method of in vitro fertilization has become
increasing popular and preferred by prospective parents.
However, it has also created interesting legal questions
and ethical ramifications in the legal community and
society at large.
Until quite recently, it was standard
to name the woman who physically delivered the child(ren)
as the mother on the birth certificate(s) and, prior
to recent scientific advancements, this made perfect
sense. With the increasing advances and availability
of infertility treatments, these laws are becoming more
and more archaic and obsolete. In the past, an adoption
proceeding was the only recourse for parents. Imagine
having to adopt your own child! Unbelievable as it may
sound, this is currently the law in some of the United
States and the only option available to individual(s)
who choose to use a gestational carrier to assist them
in creating their family. However, many individual states
and lower courts are starting to set precedent in cases
where a gestational carrier is being used to assist
individual(s) in having their own biological children.
Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Jersey
are the forerunners in adapting the law to the current
landscape of infertility treatment. These states, albeit
currently at the county level, are allowing prospective
parents to pursue a "birth order" thereby
allowing doctors and hospitals to name the child(ren)'s
genetic and/or intended parents on the birth certificates
at the time of delivery and eliminating the need to
amend the certificates later. However, for the individual(s)
who choose this path to build their families, the legal
work begins well before the child(ren) is even in the
In order to protect the interests of
the prospective parents, gestational carriers, and donors,
it is imperative that a legal contract be drafted and
agreed to by all parties involved which outlines, in
detail, the intentions of the parties involved. This
is particularly important regarding issues of custody
and responsibility for the child(ren) once born. When
prospective parents embark on the exciting journey towards
parenthood, it is easy to overlook and/or sometimes
disregard the legal ramifications of the unique relationships
in these reproductive arrangements. Don't be fooled
into thinking that the law does not play a role in these
relationships. It is of the utmost importance that prospective
parents, carriers and donors seek legal advice from
a seasoned law practitioner who is well versed in reproductive
law. It is a very exciting time for prospective parents
taking advantage of the advances in fertility treatment
as well as the attorneys establishing the foundation
on which the future of reproductive law will grow.