Assisted Reproductive Technology Defined and the Potential Legal Issues

What is Assisted Reproductive Technology?

Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) are fertility treatments. They usually involve embryos or eggs. Sperm is not involved in any ART procedures.

There are two primary kinds of assisted reproductive technology treatments used in the state of Maryland today. They are as follows:

  1. Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI). This can be an effective option if in vitro fertilization is unsuccessful. A microneedle is loaded with a single sperm. That sperm is then injected into one egg.
  2. In vitro fertilization (IVF) is the most popular ART method. A woman’s eggs are gathered by a doctor. Those eggs are then stored so that they can mature. When the eggs have matured, they are placed in a petri dish and exposed to thousands of sperm. This allows the eggs to be fertilized, so that they can be placed in the woman afterwards.

What are the Benefits of Assisted Reproductive Technology?

Assisted reproductive technology can help couples who are experiencing fertility problems become parents. There are generally better odds of getting pregnant, and fewer risks of miscarriage. Embryos can also be frozen so that they will be available at any time. This may be appealing to young partners or married people who prefer to wait to start a family.

One partner or the other or both may have difficulties in conceiving a child. They may need to have their eggs or sperm extracted before pregnancy is even possible. Some couples may seek out a third party to act as a surrogate. The surrogate will have the fertilized egg implanted into their body. When the pregnancy is successful, the woman will carry and deliver the baby. After birth, the baby will then be turned over to the couple who was unable to conceive on their own.

Embryos can be tested for genetic abnormalities before they are inserted into a woman’s body. This is also known as preimplantation genetic testing (PGT). If a particular embryo has fewer or more chromosomes than normal, a genetic test for aneuploidy (PGT-A) can be conducted. A PGT-M test will look for genetic conditions such as Down syndrome or cystic fibrosis.

All assisted reproductive technology programs are regulated by the federal government. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) receives information from each lab. Details such as if the particular lab is either certified or has applied for certification, the identity of the embryo lab that utilized ART and each program’s pregnancy success rates. This data is currently collected for the CDC by the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) and printed in the CDC reports.

What are Some Potential Legal Issues Regarding Assisted Reproductive Technology?

  1. Breach of contract. A surrogacy agreement is usually created before any eggs or embryos are implanted into a birth mother. This is often necessary if the woman who will be carrying the child is not the parent. Some couples may choose to pick a friend, family member or even a complete stranger to birth their child.

One or both parties may be entitled to financial compensation and other benefits if the       conditions and terms in the contract are not met. For example, the birth mother may sue   if they do not receive the money from the parents that was promised. A couple could                also claim a breach of contract if the mother refuses to give up the child after it has been born.

  1. Discrepancies may arise at times regarding ownership of any embryos, eggs or sperm that were not used during the assisted reproductive technology processes. To avoid legal complications, it’s a good idea to document ownership of those items in writing. They will be easier to prove than any verbal agreements.

 

  1. Parental rights. Parental responsibilities and rights may be unclear in same sex marriages and for couples who are not married. A contract should be developed to define those roles along with other important details, such as the rights of any involved parties who received genetic materials from one or both partners for the purposes of conceiving a child for them. Identifying those elements can simplify matters should the couple separate or divorce. It may also make determining child visitation and child custody easier.

Pre-birth and/or parental orders may need to be drafted before entering into an assisted reproductive technology solution. Each party will need to know their rights and responsibilities. Parents and their surrogates can draft these arrangements themselves, or they can enlist the aid of legal counsel.

If you need assistance, we can help. Contact us to set up a free consultation. Our trained staff will listen to your concerns. They can even aid in assembling all parties and creating the necessary paperwork that will be legally enforceable in a court of law.

People may be sperm donors, embryo donors, egg donors or a surrogate (also referred to as a gestational carrier) for couples who are unable to have their own children naturally. These parties may or may not be related to one another. Each party that’s involved should have their own legal representation as needed.

Several steps are taken before the child’s birth to determine parentage. A birth order must be acquired so that the intended parents will have their names on the birth certificate. Parentage will be decided by the respective local court in the state of Maryland. The judge in the case will issue a court order that will list the child’s parents. That information will also be provided to the respective state records department and the hospital that the child will be born in.

Most birth order processes begin when the surrogate is about three to four months pregnant. This can ensure that the paperwork will be processed and made available in a timely manner. If the child is born before the documentation is ready or a court order has been filed, a post-birth order can be requested. It serves the same function as a pre-birth order and will require that the intended parents’ names be listed on the child’s birth certificate.

Using assisted reproductive technology can be intimidating. Certain risks may be involved and there’s no guarantee that a child will even be conceived. However, it may be a very legitimate option for people who want to start a family. It can allow them to welcome a child into the world that will be loved and cared for by strong role models for the rest of their natural life.