The news media has been carrying stories almost weekly if not more often, about T.V. personality, Sherri Shepherd, and her court case involving a gestational carrier.
As has been reported in the media, Sherri Shepherd and her husband entered into a written agreement with a woman to serve as a gestational carrier for them in order to create a family. They obtained an egg from an anonymous donor which was fertilized with the sperm of Shepherd’s husband. The embryo was transferred to the gestational carrier. Six months into the pregnancy the couple apparently separated. From that time on Ms. Shepherd decided that she did not wish to parent the child who would not be biologically related to her despite the fact that they had entered into the gestational carrier agreement. The child was born and is currently being raised by the father who is now in California. Since Ms. Shepherd would not proceed with obtaining a pre-birth order in Pennsylvania where the child was born, the gestational carrier’s name is on the birth certificate as being the child’s legal mother, despite the fact that she is not genetically related to the child.
Litigation is currently taking place in Pennsylvania as to the validity or enforceability of the contract since there is no law on the books that guides this. In the meantime the question of child support and insurance coverage is at issue as to whether Ms. Shepherd is obligated to provide it.
This case points out the necessity of having laws in place that specifically guide all parties with regard to gestational carrier arrangements. This is extremely important since all parties should know what the respective rights of each will be, but most importantly so that any child created from a gestational carrier arrangement will have certainty and will be protected. Many states are now enacting such legislation which certainly will benefit all parties.
The gestational carrier was recently quoted in the media as saying, “I don’t want this to happen again to any other woman because what happened gives surrogacy a bad name, and it’s not a bad thing. We give families the gift of life. I can’t wait for it all to be over.”
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