The messy legal side of 21st century motherhood

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Motherhood has never been a simple business, but surrogacy is complicating even the legal definition of “mother”, on at least two continents. In Ireland the surrogate mother of twins and the babies’ genetic mother, who is the surrogate’s sister, have won a landmark court case for their family, reports the Irish Times. The genetic rather than the surrogate mother has won the right to be called Mother on the birth certificate.

A court case in the US has proved far messier and more complicated, with a surrogate mother refusing to have an abortion the genetic parents insisted on, once they learned the fetus had a series of very severe physical and most likely mental handicaps. The legal tussle over aborting or not, and who, as mother, can make decisions about the child, were complicated by different laws in different states, and then when the supposed genetic mother turned out to have used an anonymous egg donor, defining “Mother” legally became a nightmare. CNN carries a long report on the child and her various mothers.