Apparently there is a school of thought out there that birth certificates should reflect the names of the genetic contributors rather than the birth parent and her husband (or whomever she identifies as the father). In other words, if a couple suffering from infertility were required to use the services of an egg and/or sperm donor, the name of the gamete donor would appear on the birth certificate — not the birth mother and/or her husband. Professor Julie Shapiro is debating this issue with a visitor on her blog and I encourage you to take a look.
While I will come back and visit this issue at a later date, the bottom line for me is that the government has no right to mandate disclosure. The issue of disclosure is between parent and child and I do not believe a compelling state interests exists that justifies government intervention in this area. This is a classic slippery slope situation and the fundamental rights to privacy and procreative freedom should make this argument a non-starter. Birth certificates do not say “genetic parent”. They either say “parent”, “mother” or “father”.
I find it interesting that the argument on Professor Shapiro’s site came up as it relates to an egg donor’s name appearing on the birth certificate. For decades, no one has argued that a sperm donor ought to be identified as a baby’s father. In fact, most states (and countries) have a presumption that the husband of a woman who gives birth to a child is the presumptive father and his name appears on the birth certificate — even if he is not the genetic parent. Just to give a quick example, in HS v. Superior Court , the California Court of Appeals held that in a contest between presumed fathers, the biological father does not automatically prevail against the mother’s husband…. Rather, the court must weigh all relevant factors, including biology in determining which presumption is founded on weightier considerations of policy and logic.” What made this case so interesting was that the biological mother had an affair which resulted in the pregnancy and the court ultimately determined that the legal father was her husband, not the man who impregnated her.
No question disclosure is a critically important issue that impacts all parents utilizing ART. There is no one-size-fits all answer however about what to tell your child and when to tell it. Having this information be contained on a public record is invasive of both the parents and their child’s privacy rights. For me, this an issue between the parents and their child and not one to be mandated by Big Brother.
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