The legal Response to male-led parenting and reproductive collaborations

Bremner, Phillip (2016) The legal Response to male-led parenting and reproductive collaborations. In: Eastern Sociological Society: Sociology of Reproduction Conference, 17- 20 Mar 2016, Boston.

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Abstract

This paper adopts a comparative, socio-legal approach to considering the issue of how the law responds to the growing procreative consciousness of gay men and their diverse parenting journeys. The paper will focus on two routes to parenthood in particular, namely international surrogacy and collaborative co-parenting. The latter of these often involves reproductive collaborations between single men and women or two same-sex couples, where the intention prior to birth is that all the adults remain involved in the child’s life. This contrasts with surrogacy where the intention is to create a male-led family without the birth mother necessarily continuing to play any role in the child’s life.

The paper will primarily compare the judicial and legislative response in the UK and Canada, where these issues have recently come to the fore and where differing approaches have been adopted, but also draws on other jurisdictions as appropriate. In relation to surrogacy, for example, the courts in England & Wales have increasingly been faced with the need to recognise the legal parenthood of male couples for children born as a result of surrogacy arrangements conducted abroad. This has led to a number of intractable difficulties, which the courts have had to resolve, surrounding the issue of whether valid consent has been obtained from the birth mother and whether the payment that has been made, much of which may not go to the birth mother, has been excessive in terms of UK law.

The subject of collaborative co-parenting has received legislative attention in a number of jurisdictions, not least of which is British Columbia, which recognises the possibility of having three legal parents in this situation. While the UK parliament conspicuously avoided consideration of this issue in its reform of the law relating to assisted reproduction, the courts in England & Wales have had to balance the interests of male-couples, female couples and most importantly the children being raised in these families.

The aim of this paper is to examine these jurisdictions where the creation of male-led families through international surrogacy and the legal regulation of collaborative co-parenting have been given judicial and legislative scrutiny. In doing this, the paper will consider the question of how emotional investment, prior agreement and the best interests of the child are balanced. The intention here is to provoke discussion about how the law (in these jurisdictions and those that do not currently regulate these issues such as many states in the United States) can facilitate the procreative desires and autonomy of gay men whilst also recognising the vulnerability of those involved, including the birth mother, children and male couple themselves.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Keywords: Same-sex parenting, Collaborative co-parenting, Gay fathers, Assisted reproduction, Family law
Schools and Departments: School of Law, Politics and Sociology > Law
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The Family. Marriage. Women
K Law > K Law in General. Comparative and uniform Law. Jurisprudence
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Depositing User: Phillip Bremner
Date Deposited: 26 Sep 2016 10:14
Last Modified: 26 Sep 2016 10:29
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/63591
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