Egg donor parental rights case in Florida Supreme Court

Advances in reproductive technology have made it possible for many infertile couples to have a biological child through in vitro fertilization. Utilizing the same technology, many same-sex couples across the nation, including here in Florida, have been able to have a child of their own. Presently, even though Florida has specific laws in place dealing with donation of eggs, sperm or pre-embryos, the Florida Supreme Court is scheduled to release an opinion on a unique parental rights case involving a lesbian couple.

In the case before the Florida Supreme Court, a lesbian couple with the help of assisted reproductive technologies was able to have a daughter of their own. In this case, one woman donated her egg which was then fertilized with donor sperm and implanted into the other woman in the lesbian relationship. The fertilized embryo successfully implanted and the other woman gave birth to a baby girl sometime in 2004. However, as is possible with any relationship, shortly thereafter the lesbian couple ended their relationship and, disagreements surrounding visitation rights arose after the birth mother refused to let the biological mother have any contact with the child. A legal battle for parental rights ensued.

Many states have laws specifically dealing with the donation of sperm and eggs, but legislators -- including those in Florida -- did not contemplate such as situation. The Florida Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the woman who donated her egg for fertilization, noting that her constitutional rights were violated. The court also pointed out the inadequacy of current law regarding parental rights from anonymous egg and sperm donors.

The Florida Supreme Court heard arguments on this case last year in October, but an opinion has not been released yet. The question regarding parental rights in this case is the first of its kind for Florida.

Source: Naples News, "Florida Supreme Court resumes work, five key decisions pending," Jim Saunders, Aug. 29, 2013

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