“Infant R,” as he’s referred to in court documents, is at the center of a legal battle in which an Indiana Court will decide who can legally be listed as the baby’s mother.
Here are the facts of the case, which appear more complicated than they are because only initials are used to identify the various parties.
Baby R is the biological son of a married Indiana couple named T.G. (the husband) and V.G. (the wife). Baby R’s birth mother is V.G.’s sister, who volunteered to carry the baby. V.G is the biological mother and her sister is the surrogate.
None of these facts are disputed. In fact, the parties involved are also on the same page the child’s biological parents and birth mother all support changing the child’s birth certificate to reflect his biological mother’s name – that would be V.G.
When T.G. and V.G. petitioned the Porter County Circuit Court for the change, supported by an affidavit from V.G.’s sister, the judge refused, stating that “Indiana law does not permit a non-birth mother to establish maternity. Indiana law holds the birth mother is the legal maternal mother.”
Baby R is now 11 months old, and last week, the Court of Appeals considered the case. The couple’s lawyer, Steven Litz, asked the court to weigh the constitutionality of a law that allows men to establish legal parenthood, but not women, who are hemmed in by the concept of birth motherhood.
This is not the first challenge to such laws, with courts in Arizona and Maryland striking down similar laws regarding paternity in surrogacy, for example.
The three-judge panel appeared sympathetic to the couple’s predicament, though they avoided making the case a constitutional issue. There is no indication when a ruling might be issued.
State laws often struggle with the complexities of modern reproductive medicine. Indiana, like many states, updated its laws in the wake of the Baby M case more than two decades ago. In that case, a surrogate, who was also the baby’s genetic mother, refused to turn over a child that was genetically hers to the biological father and his wife, a couple who had contracted with her.
Since that time, reproductive medicine has only grown more complex, and there are no federal laws regulating surrogacy. State laws, said Litz, are “really all over the place.” The matter might eventually be settled by the Indiana General Assembly.
Source: Buffalo News