Archive for May, 2010

Update on the Boy Who Was Returned to Russia

May 18, 2010 | By:

For those of you who are following this horrific story, here is a link to a newspaper article a colleague shared with me:

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Law and Order Disappoints by Getting the Law WRONG on egg donation and the law as it pertains to same sex couples in NY!

May 13, 2010 | By:

I rarely watch television anymore.  I am lucky if I get time late at night to watch something and then I usually elect to watch a re-run of The West Wing.  However, the other night DH and I decided to stay up late and watch some television and he put on one of my favorite shows, Law and Order.  This episode may have been a re-run but I am not certain; we were watching it on NBC during it’s regular time slot 10-11 pm ET.  We only caught the last half hour, the part that always deals with the trial.  This fact pattern was very convoluted and revolved around a conspiracy by a doctor and a family to cause someone’s death of cancer at a certain time so that specific amounts of money would pass to certain descendants and not to other people or organizations (I didn’t catch the fact pattern well and it was really intricate).  Had the guy died of cancer on his own before some date the defendant and her partner would have inherited ten million dollars.

In the story, the prosecutor decided to use the fact that one of the defendants (who was a daughter of the guy who died and who was supposed to inherit ten million dollars) had conceived a child with her lesbian partner using an egg donor (at least I think it was an egg donor, it could have been that the defendant female partner had donated her eggs to her lesbian partner so that her partner could carry the baby for them to raise together . . . however, the prosecutor kept using the term “egg donor” so I assumed that the couple had used an egg donor and were planning on raising the baby together).  To further complicate matters, the lesbian couple had entered into an adoption whereby one partner had adopted the other so that they could obtain insurance together etc. and more relevant to the Law and Order story line, to inherit money together.

The prosecutor wanted to use the fact that the baby, because it was conceived via an egg donor, was not really their child (biological or otherwise) to cut off any inheritance rights the baby might have to the ten million dollars, and thus deny the defendant her right to benefit from the baby inheriting the money.

This had to be  a recent episode of Law and Order as the prosecutor is someone new, and Sam Waterston (sp?) is now the District Attorney or is in a more senior role and not trying cases.  The law as it pertains to same sex couples in NY has been pretty well established for several years.  Adopting an adult for purposes of a establishing a legal relationship between same sex partners is extremely difficult to do, and I believe there are and have been enough other laws that protect or recognize same sex marriages in NY that the adoption aspect of the story line was just plain stupid and offensive (if not legally wrong)!  I don’t believe that one adult can adopt another adult.  But . . .

Second and more to the point.  Law and Order got the law wrong on egg donation!!!!!!!!!!!

Let’s assume first that it was a true egg donation whereby this couple used an egg donor to conceive a child they would parent together (and not that one partner was donating her egg to the other for purposes of conception).  In NY, although there is no statute, there is a case that specifically states that woman who gives birth to a child or children conceived via egg donation is the legal and natural mother of that child or children.  McDonald v. McDonald, 196 A.D.2d 7, 12, 608 N.Y.S.2d 477 (App. Div. 2d Dep’t 1994) (finding woman who gave birth to child conceived through egg donation to be “the natural mother of the children. . . .”).  Indeed, this case and a long line of other cases in NY deal with the presumption that a woman who gives birth to a child in NY is the legal and natural mother of that child.

Law and Order usually has lawyers that check the facts and the law on its episodes.  I am absolutely dumbfounded that they got this so wrong.  Regardless of whether one member of this partnership donated an egg to her partner or whether they used an egg donor, that baby was the legal child of the woman who was going to give birth to it.  Assuming the two members of this partnership had a legal relationship that could be recognized in NY (and maybe I am wrong on the adoption thing, but it seems that in 2010 it is easier to go to MA or Canada and get married than to try and adopt an adult (???) to create a legal union), that baby was a baby of their partnership and their love for one another, and if the baby was delivered in New York City or any of the five boroughs and they were legally married, then both of their names would go on the birth certificate.

This manipulative and legally inaccurate representation of same sex partnership laws, same sex parentage laws, and egg donation is staggeringly offensive and WRONG.  Where were Law and Order’s lawyers in this?  Do they no longer check that their story lines are factually and legally correct?  And if they have lawyers, may I take a guess that their lawyers are 80 year old homophobic men and that the show’s writers must have been on acid when they wrote this episode.

I am anxious to watch a re-run of this show and figure out what the facts were, and to determine just how wrong Law and Order got the law and order of reproductive law.

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Some thoughts on making egg donation work

May 13, 2010 | By:

As I get closer to finishing my E-Book on egg donation, I seem to have more and more clients asking me some of the essential nuts and bolts questions about egg donation.  It is urging me to write faster and get the first of the three book series finished.  In the meantime, I have taken an old article I wrote for the then Hartford Chapter of RESOLVE on egg donation, and modified it for this blog post.

Here’s How One Woman Made Egg Donation Work:

Through the gift(s) provided by an egg donor, many infertile women are now able to experience pregnancy; sharing their thoughts, feelings, blood supply and the sound of their voice with their baby; and to deliver their child into the world.  The success rates offered by many egg donation programs are staggering (nearing the 70% mark at most clinics), making this one of the more popular options in modern family building for women with diminished ovarian reserve or other issues of egg quality.

Egg donation is often so successful that you can potentially build your entire family from one egg donation cycle.  Of course not every egg donation results in a pregnancy; but more often than not a carefully selected donor not only gets the recipient mother pregnant but there are extra embryos frozen for future family building.

Let us consider Janet[1], and her experience with egg donation.  Janet is in her late thirties and after several failed IVF cycles, Janet’s doctors told her that her best chances for becoming a mother were through egg donation or adoption.  Janet wanted to experience pregnancy, and so chose to pursue egg donation.

After doing research, Janet decided to work with an egg donation agency, rather than using her clinic’s in-house program. While some clinics are very flexible, Janet found she had more options when using an egg donation agency.  By working with an agency Janet had greater flexibility in choosing her donor, didn’t have to share eggs with another infertile family, and would have greater control over her finances.  Because she was on a tight budget, most of the agencies she spoke with encouraged Janet to select a donor who lived near the clinic she would be using, thus avoiding substantial travel expenses.  Using an agency, Janet also had a greater selection of donors with compensation rates to fit her budget, compared with the fixed rates offered by most clinics.

One donor Janet considered (we’ll call her Leslie[2]), was twenty-six years old, single, had near perfect SAT scores, attended an Ivy League college, graduated at the top of her class and was attending medical school.  Despite Leslie’s outstanding academic credentials (which sometimes result in higher compensation rates) Leslie’s requested compensation was within the middle range of both ASRM’s and the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technologies’ (SART)[3] guidelines for egg donor compensation: $3,000-$7,000 per donation.  Leslie also visibly resembled Janet and lived near their fertility clinic thus helping to make the cycle more affordable for Janet and her partner.  Leslie seemed like the perfect donor.

Leslie, however, had no “track record” donating eggs.  She had never been an egg donor before and didn’t have any children of her own.  Although statistically, carefully screened first-time (or “unproven”) donors have the same success rates in helping infertile women/couples achieve pregnancy, Janet was concerned that she would spend money to have Leslie donor undergo the first part of the necessary screening process, only to find out that Leslie was not sufficiently fertile and had been disqualified from being an egg donor.

Janet and her partner were also considering matching with a donor named “Julie”.   Julie also was twenty-six, had high SAT scores, had attended college, and had never been an egg donor before.  Julie was requesting the same compensation as had Leslie ($5,000) and lived near Janet’s clinic.  However, Julie was married, and had two-and-half-year old twins and a one-year old baby.  Julie was clearly fertile (she had children) and thus would be more likely to produce healthy eggs, which to Janet and her partner meant she presented a lower risk of being “screened out” by their fertility clinic.

Once Janet and her partner selected Julie as their donor, Janet’s egg donation agency presented them with a list of attorneys to help prepare their egg donation agreement, and it arranged for Julie to be represented by separate counsel in connection with the negotiation and drafting of their agreement. The egg donation agreement is a critical aspect of the egg donation process and all parties should be represented by independent counsel.  The egg donation agreement will protect your rights as parents and govern your relationship with your donor for years to come.  You should have the right to select your own attorney, one who is an experienced reproductive lawyer.

Each egg donation agreement is unique; some agreements provide for complete disclosure of names and addresses and others are completely anonymous.  Whatever your comfort level or that of your donor may be regarding future contact, please consider that your agreement should ensure that you can contact your donor in case of a future medical emergency.  Among other things, your egg donation agreement should specify your rights to utilize and/or dispose of the eggs/embryos created from the cycle, require that your donor follow medical directions, address what happens if your donor breaches your agreement or if the cycle needs to be rescheduled for some reason (like a death in the donor’s family), and/or how medical bills are handled if she experiences a complication like ovarian hyper-stimulation.

Within four months of the time Janet initially contacted their egg donation agency, Janet, Julie and their respective partners had negotiated their agreement and their cycle got underway.  Julie produced seventeen eggs of which fifteen fertilized.  Janet conceived a beautiful baby girl on the first embryo transfer and when Janet’s daughter was about a year-old, Janet and her partner went back and did a frozen embryo transfer; this time conceiving twin girls (it is admittedly rare for a frozen cycle to result in a twin pregnancy but in this case it did)!

[1] Janet is a combination of several of my clients, a fictitious character created for purposes of this blog to help demonstrate a typical egg donation process from a more “real life” perspective.

[2] Names have been changed to protect people’s privacy.

[3] ASRM (The American Society for Reproductive Medicine) and SART are related organizations which, among other things, establish ethical and regulatory guidelines that many clinics and agencies agree to comply with.  For more information, visit their websites: and

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