Family Vulnerability and the Fruits of Reproductive Technology

Families built with the assistance of reproductive technology are amazing miracles of medical science.  Children who might otherwise not be born are blessed with life because of the pursuit of life for them by their parents.  This technology has also created new frontiers in family law.

A few recent events reveal that the complexity of these miracles ought not be taken lightly.  In some states parents may contract with surrogates to (sometimes conceive and) gestate and carry a baby to birth.  In a recent case that started with intended parents in Connecticut, a surrogate was offered $10,000 to terminate the contracted-for child when she was prenatally diagnosed with some serious medical problems including a cleft palate, and additional heart and brain issues.   Making a decision not to terminate the child forced the surrogate mother to move to Michigan where surrogacy laws there would uphold her decisions to protect the child, who according to CNN was born with birth defects and "an infectious smile."  Read that entire story here.

When two women who were married in Iowa contracted for building a family through artificial reproductive technology (ART) they sued for the right to both be named on the child's birth certificate.  Iowa's high court ruled that both same sex parents must be listed on a birth certificate for a child of ART.  No father is listed for the child.  Read that piece here.

A suggestion for a law school graduation gift for a woman this year was a paid contract for freezing her reproductive gametes.  The thinking was that because she'd be so busy building her career as an attorney she wouldn't have time to build a family simultaneously; this gift would allow her the best of both worlds - freshly frozen younger eggs available for use after she made partner in her law firm.  Read about that here.  Wow.

The most terrifying reproductive technology story in recent weeks, however, has to be discovering that a man and his wife were created with the sperm of the same donor father.  You can read the husband's heart-wrenching decision-making process in an advice column here.

Family building occurs with the assistance of artificial reproductive technology, making miracles happen, yet those miracles are not without moral and legal complexity.  The law may attempt to clarify the legal issues surrounding those decisions, but personal and family vulnerability are guaranteed.  Life may hang in the balance for a child; a marriage may be jeopardized; a beautiful family may be created; but moral decisions will not be absent.  A restorative family mindset allows these situations to be viewed in a new light - one most beneficial to all the parties to protect their lives and their liberties, but one that also understands that what is legally permissible may not always be the best solution.  

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