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California surrogacy case may change laws

A surrogate mother is challenging a California law that grants no rights to surrogate mothers. The 47-year-old woman gave birth to triplets prematurely on Feb. 22. She had been carrying them for a 50-year-old man who had paid for her to be a surrogate. The man had used eggs from an unknown donor that he fertilized. However, he decided that he was not prepared to raise a child and had asked her to have an abortion. The woman refused.

The woman describes herself as pro-life and is seeking parental rights, saying that she will care for all of the infants if the biological father is unable. However, at present, she has not been permitted to see the children or been given information on their condition. She is working with an attorney who is a prominent anti-surrogacy advocate. The biological father says that he will not discuss the case outside of the judicial system.

Around 1,600 babies are born annually in the United States using a surrogate. Surrogacy is legal in 33 states but not in Canada or most of Europe.

Parental rights can be complex whether it is a case of parents divorcing or something more complicated such as adoption or surrogacy. As this case demonstrates, even if existing laws do not support a parental claim, in some cases, those laws may be challenged. If they are overturned, they might set a precedent for similar future cases. If the outcome of this case is that parental rights are extended to surrogate mothers in certain circumstances, this may have a significant impact on the use of surrogacy in the state of California as well as how parental rights are exercised in other cases.

Source: Fox News Health, "California triplets at center of thorny surrogacy case, pro-life debate," Eric Shawn, Feb. 24, 2016

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Miller & Associates, Attorneys LLP
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