More on parental rights in surrogacy cases (Raftopol)

This decision has some pretty far reaching implications.  In the article quoted below from the Connecticut Law Tribune, there is a great statement:

The court applied the rule that the legislature is presumed not to draft statutes creating absurd results.

In this situation, the surrogacy contract plainly stated that the birth mother would relinquish all parental rights to the child(ren) but the law still stated that the biological parents must be listed on the birth certificate. This, of course, goes against the contract. That has now, or is in the process of, being corrected.

Here’s a bit more explication:

That’s the ruling in Raftopol v. Ramey, a watershed decision that creates a new fourth way to legally become a parent, in addition to conception, adoption or artificial insemination. Victoria Ferrara, the Fairfield surrogacy lawyer who represented the fathers in this case, said: “It’s a tremendous benefit to any couple who have to use donated genetic material – egg donor or sperm donor. So whether it’s a gay male couple or a straight couple, that couple can now establish legal parental rights ahead of the birth of the child, so the child is then born with two legal parents. That’s crucial. It’s crucial to the child, and it’s crucial to the couple having the baby.”

Attorney Karen Loewy filed an amicus curiae brief for Boston-based Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD)

“This is really a wonderful precedent,” she said. “When you have a couple who has entered into this agreement, they are the parents. The importance is honoring the intentions of the family, and [legally] protecting the children from the moment of their birth.”

The Jan. 5 decision legally made a father of Shawn Hargon, who is married to Anthony Raftopol. The two men entered into a gestational surrogacy agreement with Karma A. Ramey, of Connecticut. She was then implanted with donated eggs that had been fertilized by Raftopol in vitro and frozen. Ramey carried the fertilized eggs to term, producing twins. In the contract, she agreed to relinquish any parental claims and to support adoption by Hargon.

However, Connecticut’s artificial insemination law, as read by the state Supreme Court, suggests that only “biological or adoptive parents have parental rights with respect to the subject children.”

This meant, that if Raftopol had died before their birth, the twins might have arrived legally parentless, and not entitled to inherit from their biological father, a New York business lawyer who works in Europe. The Raftopol-Hargon family lives in Holland.

In addition, Hargon would have had to go through a time-consuming adoption process to attain parentage of the twins, even though all parties to the agreement already viewed the baby boys as his own. Karma Ramey, who would appear on the original birth certificate as mother, had contractually disclaimed parental rights. Nevertheless, without Raftopol, she might be pressed by the state to act as the boys’ mother, Raftopol explained in an interview with The Law Tribune. “Nobody wanted any of these things to happen,” he said.

The whole article — well worth reading — is at the link below

http://www.ctlawtribune.com/getarticle.aspx?ID=39424

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Lambda Legal: Raftopol, et al. v. Ramey, et al.

I’m proud of Connecticut’s Supreme Court! Bravo for fighting for same sex parents whose child is born via a surrogate. Both fathers’ names will be placed on the birth certificate as parents. It’s about the child and love.  Feeling great about my state at this moment. Thanks.

Lambda Legal: Raftopol, et al. v. Ramey, et al..

Summary

Shawn Hargon and Anthony Raftopol have been together for 16 years. With a gestational surrogate—a surrogate who carries a child to whom she is not genetically related—who gave birth in April 2008, they added twin sons to their family, which already include. d their daughter. Shortly thereafter, Connecticut’s Department of Public Health refused to issue birth certificates for the boys listing the names of both fathers. After the trial court ruled in favor of the fathers and ordered the Department to issue corrected birth certificates, the Department appealed, which was transferred to the Supreme Court of Connecticut. Lambda Legal and co-counsel filed an amicus brief on behalf of a group of professional organizations involved with reproductive medicine that argues that the Court can and should confirm the legal relationships between these children and both of their intended parents by issuing pre-birth orders of parentage and by directing the Department of Public Health to issue birth certificates that reflect the joint parentage of these children.

History

  • March 2010 Our motion to file a brief on behalf of the amici was granted and the Connecticut Supreme Court heard oral argument.
  • January 2011 Supreme Court of Connecticut issued a decision affirming the trial court’s declaration that Raftopol and Hargon are the legal intended parents of the children, and affirming the order directing the Department of Public Health to issue replacement birth certificates listing both fathers as the parents.

Ireland’s Unbelievably Good Commercial for Marriage Equality (Gay Rights – Change.org)

Ireland’s Unbelievably Good Commercial for Marriage Equality (Gay Rights – Change.org)

The title says it all.

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