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Following a two-year study of laws governing surrogate parenting and assisted reproductive technology, Connecticut’s Law Revision Commission (LRC) is recommending to the Judiciary Committee a proposal for groundbreaking legislation in what is still an emerging area of law. Connecticut’s statutes governing artificial insemination, drafted in 1975, have become all but obsolete in the wake of newer reproductive technology and procedures. Current law in Connecticut deals in only a limited way with artificial insemination procedures and applies only to married couples. Newer procedures, such as egg donation, embryo creation and transfer of embryos, are not covered, and there are no existing statutes in the state dealing with surrogate-parenting contracts. Several bills dealing with surrogacy have been introduced in the legislature over the past two decades, but none has passed. The current study was taken up by the LRC upon the urging of the Judiciary Committee in May of 1999, after another proposed bill to regulate surrogate parenting died during the legislative session. The committee formed to undertake the study included LRC members Robert Grant, Joel Rudikoff and Michael Lyons; state Rep. Arthur J. O’Neill, R-Southbury; and executive director David Biklen. The committee sponsored a public hearing in the fall of 1999 and received testimony from several experts in the field of reproductive technology. Following the hearing, an advisory committee, composed of a broad assemblage of legal, medical, sociological, psychological, religious and ideological practitioners, was created to provide diverse, informed input on the innumerous issues related to surrogate parenting. The initial focus of the study, according to Biklen, who served as acting chair of the study committee, was on surrogate parenting and gestational agreements. At the urging of the advisory committee, a more comprehensive review of assisted reproductive technology was undertaken. The goal was to establish a foundation for broad-based legislation, taking into account the complex legal, ethical and sociological issues associated with assisted reproduction, which is defined in the LRC’s proposed legislation as any method, other than sexual intercourse, of causing pregnancy. According to Biklen, numerous issues had to be considered in drafting the legislative proposals. For example, issues surrounding ownership and the disposition of embryos and eggs in case of divorce or death were addressed, as were confidentiality provisions and the release of health information of donors. The resulting proposed legislation, An Act Concerning Assisted Reproduction and Gestational Agreements, is divided into two parts — assisted reproductive technologies and gestational agreements. The guiding principles behind the proposal, as laid out in the report, were to assure that the intent of the parties using reproductive technology prevails; assure the legal parentage of the child born as the result of reproductive technology; assure that the parties are fully informed about the procedures; and ensure that the parties participate in the procedures under informed consent. “The underlying theme to this legislation is that the intent of the parties is carried out, so that at birth, the parentage of the child is already established,” said Biklen. CONNECTICUT IN THE VANGUARD If the proposal passes in the legislature, it will put Connecticut in the vanguard of this advancing area of law. Although most states currently have limited laws dealing with assisted reproduction and surrogacy agreements, few, if any, have adopted comprehensive legislation in this area. “None of the other states’ laws cover the range of issues this proposal will cover,” said Biklen, who is also quick to point out that the proposed act still does not cover everything related to the issue. Although many people showed up at the LRC’s January 16 meeting to support the legislative proposal, several groups also raised objections. Marie Hilliard, executive director of the Connecticut Catholic Conference and a member of the advisory committee, raised several fundamental objections to the legislative proposals. “Under these legislative proposals, life has become a commodity where donor sperm, donor egg, and donor carrier can be purchased,” said Hilliard. “Our basic objections are with the manipulation of life, the very act of engaging in these procedures, which takes the act of co-creating the human being out of the covenant of marriage.” The Connecticut Civil Liberties Union, which was represented on the advisory committee, also expressed some concerns. A letter signed by Philip Tegeler, legal director of the CCLU, began by expressing support for “recognition of the need to provide consistent legal status for families created by assisted reproductive methods.” Among the objections raised by the CCLU, however, was that the surrogate parenting section of the act as drafted might not be constitutionally sound. According to the statement, the act would make Connecticut the first state in the country to dictate determination of custody and parentage of a child based solely on contract rather than on the child’s best interest. Another expressed concern is that the proposed act “privileges the property rights of the more powerful parties — the intended parents and the professionals who arrange gestational contracts — over the rights of the more vulnerable parties — women who agree to act as surrogates and children born subject to gestational agreements.” Although, according to Biklen, some of those concerns will be looked into, the committee voted to send the recommendations to the Judiciary Committee as proposed legislation and leave the rest of the haggling to them. If the LRC’s experience dealing with the issue is any indication, there should be plenty of haggling left to go around.

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