Modern medical science has made it possible for prospective parents who are unable to conceive a child naturally to have children by artificial means. But the practice of artificial conception also raises a number of legal and ethical questions, such as the storage and destruction of unused embryos. This sub-section of FindLaw's Family Law Center includes basic information about artificial conception, such as artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization, as well as a guide to which questions to ask a fertility service when considering the procedure and a sample intake form to help you prepare for a meeting with an attorney.
What Is Artificial Insemination?
Artificial insemination, also known as AI, is a procedure used to treat infertility that involves direct insertion of semen into a woman's womb. It is a process originally used on livestock that has been adapted for human use. In human use, the sperm could originate from the woman's male partner, unless the male is infertile or there is no male partner (i.e. single woman or woman in same-sex relationship). Artificial insemination is beneficial to couples or individuals in many circumstances. For example a couple may be producing healthy sperm and eggs but not necessarily be able to have intercourse (maybe due to a medical condition).
What Is Infertility?
Infertility is a disease or condition of the reproductive system often diagnosed after a couple has had one year of unprotected, well-timed intercourse, or if the woman has suffered from multiple miscarriages and the woman is under 35 years of age. If the woman is over 35 years old, it is diagnosed after six months of unprotected, well-timed intercourse.
Types of Surrogacy
There are two main types of surrogacy. Traditional surrogacy involves the artificial fertilization of the surrogate mother using the father's sperm and once was the only type of surrogate parenthood arrangement available. The surrogate mother, therefore, is the biological mother of the child.
In gestational surrogacy, the surrogate mother is implanted with an embryo created from the father's sperm and his partner's (or another woman's) egg. This procedure is relatively complex, time-consuming, and expensive. The advantage of gestational surrogacy is the opportunity to have a child genetically related to both parents.
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.
Hiring a Family Law Attorney
When embarking upon the path to parenthood that involves issues of infertility, many legal concerns may arise, and the support and advice of an experienced family law attorney is therefore invaluable. A skilled lawyer who specializes in handling family matters can help you ensure that you and your family’s legal rights are protected. Keep in mind that it is important to speak to a lawyer familiar with the laws in your jurisdiction. Most offer free consultations, so your first step should be to contact an experienced family law attorney.