human embryos

Surrogacy Law in North Dakota

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The case of a California woman who may be sued if she does not abort one of the three children she is carrying has led to questions about whether the same situation could arise in North Dakota.

For those unfamiliar with the case, a man in Georgia entered into a surrogacy agreement with a woman in California.  She was implanted with three embryos fertilized in vitro using the man’s sperm and another woman’s eggs.  The surrogacy contract contained a provision allowing the man to demand a “reduction” in the number of fetuses.  The man is now attempting to exercise that provision. The woman is refusing, saying that no matter what the contract says, she will not abort one of the children.  She has filed a lawsuit contending that the surrogacy contract violates her rights of due process.  The man is expected to counter-sue and argue that the contact provision is enforceable.  Under California law, if the child is not aborted, the man will be the legal parent of all three children and can place any of them for adoption.  The woman has stated that she would be willing to adopt the third child.

There is a similar case, also in California, in which a woman was implanted with two embryos, but one of them split, creating a set of identical twins in a set of triplets.  As in the other case, the woman has been asked to abort one of the children.

In both cases, the women are getting support from pro-life advocates, who oppose any right to abort, and some pro-abortion advocates, who oppose any attempt by a third party to direct what happens to “a woman’s body.”  I will write more on the irony of that scenario, but first, could this happen in North Dakota?

The short answer is: no. North Dakota law has only three statutes on the subject, but they are very confusing.  Thankfully, the legislative history is clear and provides guidance on interpreting the legislation.  The bottom-line is that surrogacy agreements are void in North Dakota.  Although they are not illegal, such agreements have no force of law.  If the situation happening in California had happened here, the man would have no legal right to insist on anything from the surrogate.  Conversely, the surrogate would have no legal right to sue for renumeration from the man.  The surrogate would be the legal mother of the child when he or she is born.

There is an exception to this rule.  If the child was conceived in vitro from the sperm and egg of a married husband and wife and that child was implanted in another woman, that woman is considered a “gestational carrier” and would not have legal rights as a parent.  This law was passed so that the biological parents would not have to adopt the child from the carrier.

Whether these gestational carrier agreements are enforceable is not clear.  The law only expressly addresses the legal parentage of the children of gestational carrier agreements, not the enforceability of any other aspects of the agreement.  The way I read the law, except when regarding parental determination, these agreements should be considered unenforceable,.  I have, however, heard others claim that the law makes gestational carrier agreements legally enforceable.

All this may sound confusing, but it could get worse.  Surrogacy advocates are pushing nationwide for commercial surrogacy laws like that in California.  Much of the push for commercial surrogacy comes from the unregulated fertility industry and the homosexual community.  Women’s groups have been split.  Some support surrogacy as a logical extension of the reproductive rights ideology. Other groups express concern about the exploitation of women’s wombs and eggs.  Still others contend that even if surrogacy is legal, it should stop short of permitting a party to demand an abortion because the “right” to abort should include the right not to abort.

This last group can’t see the irony of its position.  If they insist on holding to the fiction that no other human life is involved, they have no reason to oppose a contractual demand to abort.  After all, to them it is only “tissue.”  Some holding this position assert that the principle of autonomy means that only the woman can decide what to do with “her body.”  If that was true, however, then nothing about a surrogacy contract should be enforceable.  The only consistent position of the abortion-rights crowd would be the position of North Dakota law — all surrogacy contracts are void.

Correcting the Record about November’s Measure 1

Screen Shot 2014-04-17 at 4.33.46 PMWhile covering yesterday’s news about Judge Hovland’s decision some news stories erred in describing the Human Life Amendment.

Claim: Following the ruling of a federal judge yesterday in North Dakota, several media outlets erroneously reported that Measure 1 on the ballot this November is a proposal that “would give personhood rights to embryos,” would effectively “ban abortion” and would “define life at conception.”

Fact: Measure 1, the Human Life Amendment, does not define when life begins, does not provide rights to embryos and does not ban abortion. The amendment prevents outside abortion groups from successfully suing in state court to impose an unfettered right to abortion under the state constitution.

Cardinal O’Malley: Human Cloning Inconsistent With Human Dignity, Treats People As Products

Human cloning for any purpose is inconsistent with the moral responsibility to “treat each member of the human family as a unique gift of God, as a person with his or her own inherent dignity,” said the chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

“Creating new human lives in the laboratory solely to destroy them is an abuse denounced even by many who do not share the Catholic Church’s convictions on human life,” said Cardinal Seán O’Malley, OFM Cap., of Boston. He said this way of making embryos will also be taken up by people who want to produce cloned children as “copies” of other people. “Whether used for one purpose or the other, human cloning treats human beings as products, manufactured to order to suit other people’s wishes.” He added, “A technical advance in human cloning is not progress for humanity but its opposite.”

Cardinal O’Malley’s statement responded to the news May 15 that researchers in Oregon have succeeded in producing cloned human embryos and obtained their embryonic stem cells. He added that the researcher’s goal of producing genetically matched stem cells for research and possible therapies is already being addressed by scientific advances that do not pose the same more problems.

More information on USCCB’s position on human cloning is available online: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/cloning/

The full text of Cardinal O’Malley’s statement follows:

The news that researchers have developed a technique for human cloning is deeply troubling on many levels. Over 120 human embryos were created and destroyed, to produce six embryonic stem cell lines. Creating the embryos involved subjecting healthy women to procedures that put their health and fertility at risk. And the researchers’ alleged goal, producing genetically matched stem cells for research and possible therapies, is already being addressed by scientific advances that do not pose these grave moral wrongs.

Creating new human lives in the laboratory solely to destroy them is an abuse denounced even by many who do not share the Catholic Church’s convictions on human life. Also, this means of making embryos for research will be taken up by those who want to produce cloned children as “copies” of other people. Whether used for one purpose or the other, human cloning treats human beings as products, manufactured to order to suit other people’s wishes. It is inconsistent with our moral responsibility to treat each member of the human family as a unique gift of God, as a person with his or her own inherent dignity. A technical advance in human cloning is not progress for humanity but its opposite.

Catholic Conference and Physicians: Medical Association Wrong on Bills and Policy

Several North Dakota physicians joined the executive director of the North Dakota Catholic Conference to express their disagreement with statements and positions taken by the North Dakota Medical Association (NDMA) on the pro-life bills in the state House of Representatives.  The letter, sent to all the House members, notes that although NDMA has a legitimate interest in matters unduly impacting the exercise of the profession, it has failed to demonstrate how these bills would specifically interfere with practice of medicine.  Instead, NDMA has only provided general opposition to any regulation or prohibition on abortion – a position that essentially embraces unrestricted abortion rights and one that is inconsistent with its history.

Read the letter below or at: http://ndcatholic.org/latestnews/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/lttr03202013.pdf


 

Action Alert: House Pro-Life Bills

The House Human Services Committee has acted on four pro-life measure that need your support.

SCR 4009 would allow voters to decide whether to include a right to life in the state constitution.  Read the conference’s testimony here.  The resolution received a Do Pass recommendation 9-4.

SB 2305 would further women’s health by requiring abortion physicians to have admitting privileges at a local hospital.  Read the conference’s testimony here.

SB 2368 would prohibit abortions after twenty weeks gestation and has been amended to prevent tax dollars from going to abortion providers and advocates like Planned Parenthood.  Read the conference’s testimony here.

SB 2303 would prevent the non-accidental destruction of healthy human embryos.  Get the facts about this bill.  Read the conference’s testimony here.

Contact your Representatives ASAP and ask them to support all of the measures, including the amendment to SB 2368.

Contact by email or phone: 1-888-NDLEGIS (635-3447) or 701-328-3373 (local).

These measure will be voted on this week.

E-Newsletter February 23

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Cross-over Approacheth
 

The House and Senate will finish work next week on all the bills that were introduced in their respective chamber.  They are expected to finish Thursday, after which they will take a few days off and return March 6.

There are no committee hearings of interest to the North Dakota Catholic Conference scheduled for next week, but a few important bills, such as the Education Fairness bill (HB 1466), will be coming to the floor for a vote.

Action Alerts
 

These action alerts are still in effect:

HB 1466 – Support Fairness in Education

HB 1362 – Support Medicaid Coverage

 

Conference Joins Over 20 Organizations in Support of Medicaid Coverage
 

The North Dakota Catholic Conference has joined over twenty other organizations in a joint letter expressing support for expanding Medicaid coverage in North Dakota.

As the letter states: “If North Dakota fails to exercise the Medicaid expansion option as it currently exists, thousands of residents will not have access to affordable coverage and the state will, in fact, be creating a coverage gap for the poorest individuals and families under 100% of poverty who will have no access to health care subsidies.”

The House will soon consider HB 1362, which would extend Medicaid coverage as proposed by Governor Dalrymple.  Contact your House representatives and ask them to support HB 1362.

 

Chambers Pass Six of Seven Pro-Life Bills
 

With cross-over approaching, six of seven pro-life bills have passed their chambers of origin.

SCR 4009, a state constitutional amendment that states: “The inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development must be recognized and protected,” passed the Senate 26 – 21.

SB 2303 – Healthy embryo protection and health care for pregnant women. It passed the Senate by one vote, 24 – 23.

SB 2305 requires that abortionists have admitting privileges at a local hospital.  It passed 30 – 17.

SB 2368 bans abortion after 20 weeks gestation. It passed the Senate 30-17.

HB 1305 prohibits abortion for sex selection or genetic abnormalities. It passed the House 64-27.

HB 1456 will ban abortion after the detection of a fetal heartbeat. It passed the House 63-28.

The only bill that has failed was SB 2302, which was, like SB 2303, an embryo protection bill.

All the Senate bills now go the House and the House bills will go to the Senate.

 

 

House Bill 1385 would have subjected parents in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program to drug tests and denied them assistance if the test was positive.

The North Dakota Catholic Conference opposed the bill as counterproductive and inconsistent with the spirit of charity that should inform assistance programs.

Apparently, the House of Representatives did not like the bill either and defeated it by a 19 to 72 vote.

Thank you to everyone who contacted their representatives to express concern about this bill.

 

Update: Pro-Life and Pro-Woman Bills

The North Dakota Senate voted today on several life-related bills.

Senate Bill 2302 protects healthy human embryos from unnecessary intentional destruction and updates existing law regarding unethical research on human embryos.  The bill failed  18 – 29.

Senate Bill 2305 provides important protection for women seeking abortions by ensuring that physicians performing abortions have the proper admitting privileges at a local hospital. The bill passed 30 – 17. 

* * *

The House of Representatives will vote on two pro-life bills as early as tomorrow (Friday).

HB 1305 would prohibition on abortions for reasons of sex selection or genetic abnormalities.

House Bill 1456 would prohibit abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat.

Contact your state representatives ask them to vote Yes on HB 1305 and HB 1456.

Action Alerts: Pro-Life and Pro-Women Bills

The North Dakota Senate will vote today on two important bills.

Senate Bill 2302 protects healthy human embryos from unnecessary intentional destruction and updates existing law regarding unethical research on human embryos.

Senate Bill 2305 provides important protection for women seeking abortions by ensuring that physicians performing abortions have the proper admitting privileges at a local hospital.

Please contact your senators and ask the to vote yes on SB 2302 and SB 2305.

The Senate will vote on these today at 1:00 pm.

* * *

The House of Representatives will vote on two pro-life bills within the next few days.

HB 1305 would prohibition on abortions for reasons of sex selection or genetic abnormalities.

House Bill 1456 would prohibit abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat.

Contact your state representatives ask them to vote Yes on HB 1305 and HB 1456.

University of Mary to Host Seminar Series on Bioethical Challenges

Every day, health care professionals, legal professionals, and clergy are faced with situations that pose serious ethical challenges. This seminar series is presented to assist these professionals and other interested individuals in grappling with some of the major ethical challenges of our time.

This seminar series demonstrates that it is possible for one to be true to science and to faith. The truths of science and the truths of faith have the same source: God. He is the source of all truth, the truths discovered by scientists through the scientific method and the truths followed by disciples through the theological virtue of faith. Therefore, authentic science and authentic faith will always complement — not contradict — one another. They are friends, not foes.

Find out more about the seminar series by downloading the brochure.  Hurry the first seminar is January 20-21.

Support Ban on Patenting of Human Beings

NCHLA Action Center

Support Ban on Patenting of Human Beings

6/14/2011

Send e-mail to Congress

The U.S. House of Representatives is set to consider the America Invents Act (H.R. 1249), a bill to update patent law. On the floor, the Manager’s Amendment is expected to include a provision to prohibit the patenting of a human organism:

“Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no patent may issue on a claim directed to or encompassing a human organism.”

This provision simply codifies in permanent law a policy that has been in appropriations law since fiscal year 2004, through an amendment that was offered by Rep. Dave Weldon (R-FL) with the strong support of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The Weldon amendment, in turn, reflects a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) policy in place since 1987 against patenting any human organism.

It is expected that H.R. 1249 could be considered on the House floor as early as Wednesday, June 15.

ACTION: Contact your Representative by phone or e-mail:

  • Call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121, or call your Representative’s local office.
  • Send an e-mail through NCHLA’s Grassroots Action Center. Click here.
  • Additional contact info can be found on Representatives’ web sites at: www.house.gov.

MESSAGE: “Please support the ban on patenting a human organism in H.R. 1249, and oppose any attempt to weaken or eliminate the provision. No member of the human species is mere property to be licensed, bought, or sold.”

WHEN: Please contact your Representative immediately. The House may consider this matter as early as Wednesday, June 15. Thanks!