Bio-Law Group

Services for Parents, Donors and Surrogates


Assisted reproduction is unique among all medical specialties because it does not protect, extend or improve life, it creates life. Thus, assisted reproduction raises unique legal and ethical issues that demand the broader involvement of various professionals. These include legal professionals to advocate and support various relationships, physicians who provide care to patients, laboratories that facilitate the IVF process, and storage facilities that protect the gametes and embryos of potential parents. The objective is to avoid a variety of needless and often unforeseen legal difficulties and litigation. BioLaw's goal is to provide competent and knowledgeable legal advice that supports people and clinics as they go through this potentially complicated process. Biolaw Group will help you with directives, donor agreements, and surrogacy arrangements.

A. Ten Key Considerations

Many people today are looking into beginning or expanding their families through Assisted Reproductive Technology, or ART. The technologies are new, as are the legal considerations. Having worked with couples and reproductive medical specialists for decades, BioLaw Group understands that while all information is helpful, some is particularly valuable in the early stages.

Learn about the entire process before you being. Take care of your new family by knowing what to expect, from the first office visit through securing the birth certificate. All prospective parents should have their own answers to the following before they commit to ART services.

1. Presumed Parentage
"I'm considering fertility options including donor egg, donor sperm, donor embryo, IVF, gestational carrier, or traditional surrogacy. Who is presumed (by whom?) to be the legal mother and legal father?"

2. Legal Parentage
"What legal steps must I complete to be recognized as the parent of my child conceived through donor egg, donor sperm, donor embryo, IVF, gestational carrier, traditional surrogacy?"

3. Health Safety
"What state and federal quality assurance and safety standards protect me and the participants (donors and carriers) in ART?"

4. Informing the Child
"What should I tell my child about the unique circumstances surrounding his or her conception and birth? Who can help me with this? What if my doctor disagrees with my decision to tell my child? Can the doctor control the release of the donor's identity?"

5. Tissue Storage
"Where will gametes and embryos be stored? Who controls the creation, use, storage, destruction of gametes and embryos? Do I need a written agreement to clarify these terms? What about the consent documents the physician asks me to sign?"

6. Tissue Ownership
"If I use an egg or sperm donor, do I "own" the gametes? How do I know for sure? Why would I want to own the gametes? What if I want to use the same donor to have another child that is a biological sibling?"

7. Financial Concerns
"Who can help me with my financial and insurance questions about paying for ART treatments, and providing insurance for an egg donor, gestational carrier, or surrogate?"

8. Donor Rights
"What if the donor changes his/her/their mind and wants to see my child, or establish a relationship with my child? Does collaborative reproduction change inheritance rights?"

9. Finding a Donor or Carrier
"How do I find an egg/sperm/embryo donor? How do I find a gestational carrier or surrogate? What about using my sibling, parent or cousin? What things should I consider in looking for a donor or carrier?"

10. Medical Advice
"What should I know about the clinic's embryo storage facilities, donor programs, and patient selection criteria?"
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B. Services for People Experiencing Infertility

All infertility therapies demand a special relationship with an attorney. For centuries the law has defined "family", meaning who is the parent of a child, and what responsibilities a parent has for a child. The law also protects the reproductive rights of individuals. Jaeger's experience includes using the law to assist individuals and couples in creating their families with the aid of third parties. These include gestational carriers, surrogates, and gamete (egg or sperm) and embryo donors. Through her work, she connects parties from the beginning of the process by creating solid agreements before the pregnancy to the end by ensuring finalization of birth certificates and recognition of the legal parents.

With any form of collaborative reproduction, maternity and paternity of the child must be recognized in law. It is important that the birth certificate name the intended rearing parents, even if they are not the genetic parents of the child. Many times, this involves a judicial order recognizing the intended parents as the legal parents. Alternatively, the genetic parents want to be recognized as the legal parents, even if a carrier is assisting them. Likewise, donors and carriers want to make sure they don't have parental or support responsibilities. In this process, Jaeger helps families navigate through the judicial system as well as avoid, or minimize, the need for adoption procedures.

In addition, all people undergoing fertility treatments need a Gamete or Embryo Directive. This is a document that states what the client(s) want done with the embryos, sperm or eggs. It lists how the client(s) want them to be created, used, stored, transferred, donated (whether for research or to another individual or couple for their family-creation), or discarded. This is not an informed consent to medical treatment document, but a separate document between the persons providing and using embryo(s). Jaeger prepares donor agreements and directives for the donors and the recipients. She also prepares directives and disposition agreements.
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C. Services for Donors and Surrogates
If you are considering donating your eggs, sperm or embryos to help another become a parent, you face a myriad of decisions, including choosing a donor program, understanding medical issues, undergoing psychological screening, participating in recipient matching, and preparing for medications and surgery.

Just as important, you need to know the legal issues in becoming a donor. Even though egg donor programs are common throughout the U.S., only a few states have laws that protect you as a donor.

You should expect to sign 3 sets of documents:
1. Agreement between you and the Agency, Sperm Bank or Donor Program.
2. Informed consent documents from the clinic explaining testing, medications, timing, monitoring, retrieval, and recovery.
3. For egg donors, and known donors (also named directed donors): Agreement between you and the recipient(s) describing parental rights, parameters of the relationship, sharing confidential information, and payment of expenses and compensation.

The following are important legal questions to answer before becoming a donor.

Parentage and Relationship Issues
1. Who will be the legal parent of the baby created using my eggs?
2. Will I ever be responsible for paying child support?
3. Do I know the recipient? Do I want to meet the recipient? What relationship do I want with the recipient? Different relationships have different legal implications.
4. What relationship do I want with the child created with my eggs? Am I willing to have the child contact me? Am I willing to provide contact information to the program for the next 20 years?
5. Am I willing to provide updated health information if my health status changes?
6. Am I willing to be available if the recipient wants another child?
7. Will my eggs be "shared" with more than one recipient or couple?

Medical and Health Issues
1. Medical and psychological information sharing is protected by state and federal law.
2. What happens if I get sick as a result of the medications?
3. What happens if I change my mind about donating?
4. What happens if the recipients change their mind about the donation?
5. Once I donate my eggs, who owns them -me, the clinic, the recipient?
6. Will the embryos created with my eggs be used in research or donated to others?

Compensation Issues
1. Who pays the lawyer's fees?
2. If the recipient pays for my lawyer, can she or he chose my lawyer?

These are just a few of the questions that need competent legal answers to help you have a safe and positive experience. BioLaw Group will
1. Explain the documents you will be asked to sign;
2. Prepare and negotiate the Donor-Recipient Agreement;
3. Protect your rights;
4. Clarify expectations with the recipient(s) and shape your relationship; and
5. Provide answers, resources, guidance and support.
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D. Heart Conversations

The source for practical information and contemplative exploration about family creation. A service to listen, answer questions, and provide resources for people who are considering having a baby, and need practical, instructive, and thoughtful information as they begin their journey. These Conversations assist people sort through the seemingly overwhelming information about infertility. It helps them focus on their specific needs and concerns, and find the answers. It also provides connects with other reproductive professionals. Jaeger creates a supportive space to explore medical options, learn about scientific innovations, gather legal information, expand awareness of nutrition, body and health related to pregnancy, and explore the emotional and spiritual elements of becoming a parent.
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E. Explanation of Terms

IVF: in vitro fertilization. Where the egg is fertilized outside a woman's body and transferred or frozen.

Carrier: A woman who agrees to become pregnant and carry a child for another person. The carrier does not intend to be the legal mother.

Gestational Carrier: The woman has only a gestational connection to the child.

Surrogate Carrier: The woman has both a genetic and gestational connection to the child.

Collaborative Reproduction: Anytime a third party is included in assisting someone having a baby. This includes donors and carriers.

ART: Assisted Reproductive Technology. A general term that encompasses various treatments for assisting conception and treating infertility.

Gametes: Reproductive material. Male gametes are sperm. Female gametes are eggs (or ocytes).

Donor egg or sperm: A person who provides gametes for use by another person. The donor does not intend to be a legal parent and may be a friend, sibling, or stranger.

Cryopreservation: Freezing and storage of gametes or embryos.
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