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Do sperm and egg donors have any parental rights?

Advances in medical technologies have made it possible not only for infertile couples and chemotherapy patients but also same-sex couples to conceive their own biological child through in-vitro fertilization and artificial insemination. Although the technology is available, the social and legal issues surrounding parental rights of the donor, surrogates, biological parent, legal parent and birth mother add an extra layer of complexity and challenge the traditional family law court system.

In fact, the Michigan Supreme Court is presently considering if the children born through the in-vitro fertilization process can receive Social Security benefits. In this particular case, the father was diagnosed with cancer and before undergoing chemotherapy treatments decided to bank his sperm. The father passed away from cancer before his children were conceived and born. In another interesting case involving a same-sex couple, the Florida Supreme Court is considering the scope of the parental rights of a lesbian couple, where one woman donated her egg and the egg was implanted in her partner. Presently, the egg donor mother's rights are limited and very different from that of the birth mother.

States vary on the issue of same-sex marriage, but more and more same-sex couples are fighting for their rights. Same-sex couples have used the advances in medical technology to conceive their own biological children but the process is fraught with legal issues. Anyone considering artificial insemination should consider the legal implications. Further, when an egg or sperm is frozen for use at a later time by the donor or couple, provisions should be in place to decide what to do if the relationship were develop irreconcilable differences.

This area of law is very interesting, complex and ever-evolving. Courts are facing these challenging issues more often. Thus, couples faced with custody issues, parental rights issues and more, should be sure to protect and solidify their parental rights in all available ways that the law allows.

Source: Detroit Free Press, "Supreme Court ruling could clarify gay parents' rights," Cathy Lynn Grossman, Dec. 8, 2012

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