In an interesting turn of events, a separated lesbian couple fighting over custody of their child discovers that in certain cases, egg donors have a right to the child produced, particularly when the donor’s original intent for her eggs was to create a family for her and her partner. Read more from the article posted on Bloomberg Business Week below:
The Supreme Court of Florida (313404L:US) ruled that two women who had a child in a same-sex relationship both have parental rights and that a reproductive-technology law which protects only heterosexual couples is unconstitutional.
The court issued the 4-3 ruling today in a custody battle that pitted the woman who supplied the egg against her former partner, who gave birth to the child. Both women were identified in the opinion only by initials.
The birth mother argued that her former partner didn’t have parental rights under the Florida law governing assisted reproductive technologies. That law says egg and sperm donors generally relinquish their rights unless they are part of a “commissioning couple,” defined as involving a man and a woman.
A trial judge ruled against the woman who provided the egg, while expressing the hope that she would appeal, according to today’s decision. The supreme court majority rejected the findings of the lower court, saying the reproductive-technology law violated the egg-donor mother’s rights to privacy, equal protection and due process.
“We rely on long-standing constitutional law that an unwed biological father has an inchoate interest that develops into a fundamental right to be a parent” when assuming parental responsibilities, Justice Barbara Pariente wrote for the majority.
The three dissenting justices said that under state law the biological mother “contractually waived all of her rights and claims to any resulting child at the time of her egg donation.”
The two women were in a long-term committed relationship when the child was born in January 2004 and both were involved in parental duties, according to the majority opinion. When the relationship soured, the birth mother absconded with the child, the court said.