While donating your eggs to an infertile couple may be a gratifying experience, it also raises legal concerns. Before embarking on such a significant surgery, you should be thoroughly informed of both your egg donor parental rights and the rights of the kid you may be assisting in creating.
Egg Donor’s Parental Rights/Obligations
- Is an Egg Donor Contract Necessary?
- Does an Egg Donor Have Any Parental Rights/Responsibilities?
- What Are the Various Egg Donation Arrangements?
- Can Egg Donors Back Out After Signing the Agreement?
- Is it Possible for the IP(s) to Change their Minds After Signing the Agreement?
- Legal Issues Regarding Egg Donation for Gay Couples and Individuals
- Do I Need an Attorney to Advise Me on Egg Donation?
Is an Egg Donor Contract Necessary?
While it may seem safe and sensible to believe that the guidelines governing sperm donation also apply to egg donation, this is not the case.
The whole legal area of egg/sperm donation is continually evolving, with most jurisdictions having their own egg donation laws regulating the procedure (and others having none!).
One of the most critical considerations with sperm donation is whether the donor went via a qualified medical practitioner or just “informally” gave the sperm to the couple or mother.
However, in the case of egg donation, it is commonly acknowledged that the parties’ purpose is an essential component, which the court normally discerns from a written contract.
As a result, it is strongly advised for everyone concerned to have the parties sign a contract rather than merely a renunciation of rights.
Both parties will have a precise understanding on record for the courts this way.
The contract should state the following:
- Most importantly, who will be the parents of the child
- The compensation for pain, suffering, and medical expenses
- The intention of the donor is to give up all rights to the child
- The reasons for it and the circumstances of the egg donation
If the egg donor changes their mind and requests custody, the courts will examine the contract to discover the original purpose, and that intention will be essential in their determination. An egg donation lawyer might be required in these situations.
Related: Establishing Paternity in Court
Does an Egg Donor Have Any Parental Rights/Responsibilities?
This is a tougher subject because there is yet to be a definitive national solution.
In reality, conflicting court opinions on the legal rights and responsibilities of egg donors regularly emerge, which is why it is essential to contact a professional family law attorney in your area to determine which regulations apply to you.
To illustrate how significant the changes in state law are:
- Ohio: Ohio courts have ruled very strongly for egg donors’ rights, allowing them to fight for custody even if they had a valid contract that relinquished all their parental rights.
- Pennsylvania: The courts in PA have come up with many contradicting rulings, making a judgment on their egg donation policy very difficult to discern. In 2005, the courts gave primary custody to a surrogate mother, even though she had zero genetic relation to the baby, and denied custody to both the intended mother (who didn’t give birth or donate any genetic material) and the egg donor. But the state has since then also ruled in favor of egg donors in multiple cases.
- California: While California is generally among the most liberal states regarding egg donation and surrogacy (it fully enforces all contracts drafted about those topics), this cuts both ways. State courts recently denied all parental rights to an egg donor (who was also the lesbian partner of the “gestational mother”) because she had signed a contract waiving such rights, even though the court admitted the form was one among many and she probably hadn’t read it or intended to relinquish those rights.
Careful preparation and study are particularly important in this arena since states have different rules governing egg donation, and legal opinions on the subject are inconsistent.
Also, hardly any lawsuits have been filed trying to compel an egg donor to pay child support (even though there are plenty of such cases for sperm donors).
This implies that there is essentially no legislation to fall back on in this case, and if you give your eggs without competent legal guidance, you may be subject to such a lawsuit.
What Are the Various Egg Donation Arrangements?
Traditional egg donation involves Intended Parents (IPs) obtaining all the eggs from one or several egg retrieval cycles, which become their property after that.
However, most egg donors generate more eggs than are required for implantation and fertilization.
Shared egg donation arrangements enable multiple sets of IPs to split the cost of donor eggs, implying that every egg donor’s legal contract must consider the demands of 3 or more parties.
Arrangements for Traditional Egg Donation
In a classic egg donation agreement, just one pair of IPs or a single IP and egg donor are involved. A single egg recovery surgery often provides all the eggs required, and the IP retains complete control over all eggs and embryos resulting from their donor egg in-vitro fertilization process.
Traditional egg donation agreements do not conflict with other IPs, but the IP is responsible for all expenditures related to the egg donation cycle.
Arrangements for Shared Egg Donation
Excess eggs from conventional egg donation result in plenty of frozen embryos that are eventually destroyed. Shared egg donation contracts minimize this issue by allocating eggs to more people or couples based on their family objectives.
Because more than one set of IPs receives eggs from the original donor, it’s critical that each set of IPs has its own legal representation and that the egg donation agreement explains each set of IPs’ rights, including directions for how to handle odd numbers of eggs, who gets the best quality eggs, and what happens to any leftover embryos or eggs.
The primary benefit of a shared egg donation arrangement is monetary. Intended parents pay for donor egg costs such as donor screening, medicine, insurance, egg retrieval operation, and donor payment.
Can Egg Donors Back Out After Signing the Agreement?
Yes, some egg donors change their views after completing an egg donation agreement.
If a valid basis for cancellation exists, donor reimbursement might be limited to a cancellation charge.
If the contract is terminated owing to the donor’s carelessness or willful actions, they might get no reimbursement.
Is it Possible for the IP(s) to Change their Minds After Signing the Agreement?
After signing the contract, IPs may change their minds.
In the event of frozen egg cycles, intended parents sometimes have thirty days to cancel and get a refund. After 30 days, the return is sometimes reduced to 50%.
Intended parents may withdraw from fresh egg cycles with a refund until their donor starts taking medication, at which point the refund is reduced to half.
There will be no refund if the donor has already started taking medication for the cycle (a few weeks before egg retrieval).
IPs will get a full refund if the cycle must be terminated due to medical reasons. In the case of egg scarcity, IPs can cancel.
Legal Issues Regarding Egg Donation for Gay Couples and Individuals
Depending on state legislation, gay couples and individuals may face legal issues that other intended parents do not.
Even if his sperm was used to fertilize the egg, several jurisdictions make it impossible for a homosexual intended parent to claim parentage of a child produced via assisted reproduction.
Before commencing the egg donation and surrogacy procedure, LGBTQ-intended parents should consult with their legal advisor on the laws of gay parenting.
Do I Need an Attorney to Advise Me on Egg Donation?
Before signing any contract, you should contact an experienced family lawyer to ensure you understand your rights and what is required of you.
Because the courts see egg donation contracts as a statement of your purpose, it is critical that you do not sign something you do not understand or agree with, or else you may face a difficult custody struggle with devastating outcomes.
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