Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Little Old Woman Would Be Confused

As a child, I remember my mother telling us about the little old woman who lived in a shoe who had so many children that she didn't know what to do. The world has changed. Today, I could tell my nieces about the little girl who has so many parents that she doesn't know what to do. We live in a world where it is possible for a child to have as many as six legally recognized parents. Consider the following scenario:

Married couple, A and B contract with C to conceive a child using assisted reproduction technology. Neither A nor B is able to contribute genetic material for the procedure, so C is impregnated with sperm donated by D, a family friend of A and B, and eggs donated by E. C's husband consents to the procedure. A and B are the intended parents, so they may be considered to be the legal parents of the child. E's eggs contributed to the conception of the child; therefore, she is the biological parent. C is the child's gestational mother, so she may be recognized as the child's legal parent. The child was conceived during C's marriage to F and F consented to the procedure. Hence, F may be presumed to be the child's legal father. Finally, as a known sperm donor who contributed to the creation of the child, D is the child's biological father and may also be deemed to be the child's legal father. I failed to mention that, at the time of the child's conception, E or D could already be dead.

This would make a great science fiction movie. However, the situation is real and could have a profound impact on family law and inheritance law. In spite of the significance of the situation, the assisted reproduction area is largely unregulated.

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