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Artificial Conception: Artificial Insemination and In Vitro Fertilization

Modern medicine and science have allowed opportunities for conceiving children through artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization, and embryo transplantation. These new techniques have also created legal questions and disputes regarding the child's status and the rights and designation of the parents.

What Is Artificial Insemination?

Artificial insemination is a technique that can help treat certain kinds of infertility in both men and women. In this procedure, sperm are inserted directly into a woman's cervix, fallopian tubes, or uterus. This makes the trip shorter for the sperm and bypasses any possible obstructions. Ideally, it makes pregnancy possible where it wasn't before.

Factors that Lessen Your Chance of Successful Artificial Insemination

  • Older age of the woman
  • Poor egg or sperm quality
  • Severe endometriosis
  • Severe damage to fallopian tubes (usually from chronic infection)
  • Blockage of fallopian tubes.

What Is the Law Surrounding Artificial Insemination?

Artificial insemination raises a number of legal concerns. Most states' laws provide that a child born as a result of artificial insemination using the husband's sperm is presumed to be the husband's legal child.

Most states have "presumption" laws, which presumes that a child born to a married woman is the child of her husband, and the designation of the husband as father in a case involving artificial insemination derives from those laws.

When a child is born after artificial insemination using the sperm of a third-party donor the law is less clear. Some states stipulate that the child is presumed to be the legal child of the mother and her husband, whereas others leave open the possibility that the child could be declared illegitimate.

What Is In Vitro Fertilization?

The process of in vitro fertilization (IVF) and egg transplantation involves the fertilization of the egg outside the womb. This relatively new procedure has caused several questions as to rights of the various parties and remedies available to them if wrongful acts occur related to the procedure.

What Is the Law Surrounding In Vitro Fertilization?

Generally speaking, where the egg is donated by another woman, the birth mother will be treated as the legitimate mother of the child in the eyes of the law. There are special concerns for same-sex couples when it comes to establishing parental rights of children born as a result of IVF.

There are numerous issues that may arise with respect to the procedure of in vitro fertilization including:

  • Safekeeping of the egg
  • Liability for the egg
  • Custody issues over the egg
  • Inheritance rights of the egg
  • Parentage issues when the fertilized egg is replanted in the donor
  • Parentage issues when the sperm used is donor sperm
  • Parentage issues when the egg used for fertilization is from a donor
  • Parentage issues when the fertilized egg is placed in another woman other than the donor

It is important to recognize that laws across the United States relating to IVF are fairly inconsistent. Before considering IVF, you may wish to consult an attorney to find out what relevant state statutes or regulations are applicable in your jurisdiction.

Getting Legal Advice

The laws surrounding reproductive rights are constantly changing. You may wish to consider consulting a family law attorney for advice. Artificial insemination and IVF laws vary widely by state, and your attorney can help explain your state's rules to you. Most offer free consultations, so your first step should be to contact an experienced family attorney.

Next Steps
Contact a qualified family law attorney to make sure
your rights are protected.
(e.g., Chicago, IL or 60611)

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