Part 182- IVF Legality

With the growing advancement of technology, we are able to solve many problems we originally couldn’t. I’m not talking about things like faster communication or instant food delivery, but something on a more…serious level. Gene editing, in vitro fertilization, infertilization, etc. With breakthroughs like gene editing, in vitro fertilization (IVF), and mitochondrial replacement therapy (MRT), we have the power to address infertility and genetic diseases. However, as we celebrate these achievements, we must also consider the potential difficulties and legal challenges that come hand in hand. So let’s take a look at what these may be.

Here are the main points we’ll cover in this post:

  • The Concept of Three-Parent Children
  • The Complexity of Parental Rights
  • Roles of Surrogacy in the Process
  • Health Risk and Protection of Donors
  • Weighing the Benefits and Risks

The Concept of Three-Parent Children

Let me first explain what IVF (or three-parent child) is. So a three-parent baby is pretty much an offspring from the genetic material of  three parents; one male and two females. There is mitochondrial replacement therapy (MRT) and three-parent, in vitro fertilization (IVF).  This is usually done so to prevent  the inheritance of mitochondrial disease; a 1 in 400 maternally-inherited mutation that can cause a range of illnesses. There are no cures for this, hence the use of MRT.9

One way to do so is by injecting a small amount of cytoplasm from an egg cell (ovum) of a healthy donor into the mother’s egg, which is then fertilized by the father’s sperm and implanted in the mother’s uterus using IVF. Another way is to remove the nucleus from a donor egg and replace it with the nucleus from the mother’s egg cell. The egg is fertilized with the father’s sperm and then transferred to the mother’s uterus for normal gestation. And there are many other ways this could be performed. But they all generally require one thing, an egg from a healthy donor.10

The Complexity of Parental Rights

Given that, would the donor be a biological parent to the child? Not really. The donor is never the legal parent, meaning they are not responsible for the child and have no parental rights to the child. They waive all rights to any children born due to the egg donation under the terms of an egg donation contract.5 This includes the right to initiate contact with the child in the future. In assisted reproduction (IVF, egg donation, etc.) the woman who gives birth to the child is always the mother, even if the eggs were donated by another woman. Besides having no right to the child, there are other requirements as to who is allowed to donate eggs.4 Candidates can be disqualified for lifestyle habits (such as smoking or a history of drug use), health concerns (genetic disorders, obesity, etc.), usage of certain types of contraception, and basic commitment to scheduling appointments. Egg donors should also be no older than 29, as egg quality and quantity diminishes as women reach their mid to late 30s

The Role of Surrogacy in the Process

But if it was in the case of surrogacy, things would be different.

In surrogacy, another woman is asked to have a baby for them. She is called- in Texas- as the gestational mother. In this, the couple must be married and have to make a written agreement with the woman called a gestational agreement. In this agreement, it explains the legal relationship that each person has with the child. It talks about who will provide healthcare for the mother and baby during the pregnancy, the gestational mother giving up all parental rights to the child, other donors – if involved- also needing to give up all parental agreement, the gestational mother having the right to make all healthcare decisions for herself and the embryo, and the intended parents become the child’s legal parents after being born. 

Of course, in this the court is also a part of the agreement. You must ask the Court to approve the agreement before the gestational mother gets pregnant, file a Petition at Court, and have the intended file a birth notice after birth. If the court does not approve of the gestational agreement then the gestational mother is the legal mother. If the gestational mother decides to keep the child, the intended parents have no legal rights to the child, and if they want to become the legal parents they would have to adopt the child.11

Health Risks and Protection of Donors

Besides having no right to the child, there are other requirements as to who is allowed to donate eggs. Candidates can be disqualified for lifestyle habits (such as smoking or a history of drug use), health concerns (genetic disorders, obesity, etc.), usage of certain types of contraception, and basic commitment to scheduling appointments. Egg donors should also be no older than 29, as egg quality and quantity diminishes as women reach their mid to late 30s. Not only that, they are screened and checked for genetic diseases.

Donors can be carriers, meaning they have the recessive allele for the mutation and do not develop or have symptoms of the disease despite testing positive. That doesn’t necessarily mean they are unhealthy, but rather they carry the mutation. It would only affect the child if the father is a carrier of the same disease. Despite this, these donors would be disqualified. 

There are many risks, however, with donating eggs. For example, long-term effects include aggressive breast cancer, loss of fertility, and fatal colon cancer. Even without any family history of these illnesses, it is suspected the egg donation is the cause. Infertility rates continue to increase and the desperation for fertility services follows. Young women are lured into donating, often unaware of the health risks when they apply as they are offered monetary compensation during a financially vulnerable moment in their lives. When it is said there is “no known risk” it simply means that there is a complete lack of data than an absence of risk, making it misleading.7 This now leads to another question; is it right for these donations to continue when it can be harmful to the donor? Should we risk providing for someone else’s life when we risk our own? These women have their own futures ahead of them so is it right that they have to suffer when they do something to help others?

The answer is complicated. There’s a 0.000004% risk of dying, 0.1% risk of internal bleeding, 0.5% risk of infection, and a 2-6% chance of developing pain and swelling in the ovaries as a result of the self-injected hormone treatments.3 With this. We still need to research more about whether egg donation is safe for donors long-term. Despite the probability these effects come from egg-donation, there could be a way to prevent them with further research. That could potentially make egg-donation safer and help with the growing infertility rates. But for now, there is- as far as I have read- not many laws or regulations protecting women from things like these. 

Weighing the Benefits and Risks

Why not just use adoption instead? Adoption is the other and safer option-in this case- for those with infertility. However, adoption doesn’t give all the benefits donors do. 2

Mainly, the pregnancy experience. Having a donor allows parents to carry and deliver their adopted child themselves as they live through the pregnancy experience. Parents also have legal rights and responsibility for the embryos prior to attempting a pregnancy. Donations also cost less than adoption, and have a short wait to them. However, it is noted that donations will not always result in live birth, while adoption with a reputable agency will bring a baby into the home. 

Now in case of a divorce, what happens then? Could the father make a claim that the mother shouldn’t get the baby as she is infertile? Would he use that against her? There should be some law or requirement that prevents either parent from being held unfairly simply for this reason. Something like this shouldn’t be held against you in any way at all.

Conclusion

With the rapidly increasing rate of infertility in today’s world we’re taking advantage of new technology to solve this problem. Using egg donors, IVF, and MRT we have come up with a number of ways to produce a child to infertile couples. But, with the ability to do so, there are going to be legal issues involved. Among this we have parental rights on the child, protection and health risks of donors, surrogacy rights, and more. There are also many restrictions regarding who is a donor or surrogate in order to make sure there is a healthy child produced. Despite the few successful attempts to use three-parent child methods to produce an offspring, the ethical and legal complications for this arise, making us question whether this is appropriate or not. For example, ‘should we be risking the life of a donor simply for the want for a child’, or, ‘is it right for a surrogate to give up a child they raised and worked hard to take care of for 9 months to someone else’. These questions remain in doubt, with very frail answers to them. Only with more research can we actually make a proper law to protect those who need it for becoming a donor or being a part of three-parent children. 

Works Cited Page:

1 “1 in 6 People Globally Affected by Infertility: WHO.” World Health Organization (WHO), 4 Apr. 2023, www.who.int/news/item/04-04-2023-1-in-6-people-globally-affected-by-infertility#:~:text=Around%2017.5%25%20of%20the%20adult,prevalence%20of%20infertility%20between%20regions 

2 “Donor Embryo Cost Breakdown: Donation Vs. Adoption.” Donor Nexus: Leading Egg Donation Agency in California, donornexus.com/blog/donor-embryo-cost. 

3“Egg Donation Risk and Reward.” Public Health Post, 12 Oct. 2020, www.publichealthpost.org/viewpoints/egg-donation-risk-and-reward/ 

4 “Egg Donor Requirements | What Are the Qualifications to Donate Eggs?” West Coast Egg Donation, www.westcoasteggdonation.com/become-egg-donor/requirements#:~:text=Potential%20candidates%20can%20be%20disqualified,the%20inability%20to%20commit%20to 

5 Fertility, Santa M. “Do Egg Donors Have Parental Rights? – Legal Considerations of Egg Donation (2022).” Santa Monica Fertility, 16 May 2022, www.santamonicafertility.com/blog/do-egg-donors-have-parental-rights-legal-considerations-of-egg-donation/ 

6 “Infertility Patients Fear Abortion Bans Could Affect Access to IVF Treatment.” NPR.org, 21 July 2022, www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2022/07/21/1112127457/infertility-patients-fear-abortion-bans-could-affect-access-to-ivf-treatment 

7 “Know Your Rights: Egg (Ovum) Donation.” Legal Voice, 9 Dec. 2022, legalvoice.org/know-your-rights-egg-donation/. 

8 “Paths to Parenthood: Receiving an Embryo Donation.” Harvard Health, 3 Feb. 2022, www.health.harvard.edu/blog/paths-to-parenthood-receiving-an-embryo-donation-202202032682#:~:text=If%20you%20are%20seeking%20to,is%20considerably%20less%20than%20adoption 

9 “Three-parent Baby Raises Issues of Long-term Health Risks.” University of Oxford, www.ox.ac.uk/research/three-parent-baby-raises-issues-long-term-health-risks#:~:text=This%20means%20the%20baby%20has,by%20far%20the%20smallest%20contribution 

10 “Three-parent Baby.” Encyclopedia Britannica, www.britannica.com/science/three-parent-baby 

11www.3sisterssurrogacy.com/forms/351741Assisted_Reproduction_and_Gestational_%20Agreements.pdf 

Part 181- Why the British Monarchy should be Abolished

Welcome back to another post! Today we will be coming back to a topic I once briefly covered in the past: The British Monarchy. Now, short disclaimer before I begin: Everything in this post is of my own opinion based on research as well as accounts and stories I’ve learned about growing up. I have strong opinions about this topic so I will be very blunt and also speak informally in addressing people and title given that I simply do not care to do so. Given you have been notified, I will now proceed and explain the several factors of which I believe the British Monarchy should be abolished for.

Side Note: This post was originally going to be titled, ‘Why the British Monarchy can go suck it’, but given that it’s a little too bit of a vulgar term, I’ve revised it to something more suitable.

If you haven’t read my post on the Queen’s passing, then here is the link for that: Queen Elizabeth II’s Death In that I cover more in depth stories and events as well as reactions to the Queen’s death which will further justify my clams listed below. 

My main points for this topic are:

  • A Legacy of Colonization and Exploitation
  • Questioning the Relevance of the Monarchy
  • An Examination of Hypocrisy and Double Standards
  • Accountability and Reparation

Followed by a conclusion to summarize everything.

I live in a country that sometimes glorifies the British. The British are our allies, which is stupid since our original founding fathers moved to America to get away from England. I can’t agree with these views since, well, they aren’t great. My first point shows why.

A Legacy of Colonization and Exploitation

A big problem I have with the British Monarchy is how the expansion of their empire was based on deceit and subjugation. My prime examples will be from India, but this has happened in many, many other countries as well in the past. The British didn’t come to India under the motive of colonization, but under business. They actually deceived the people and took advantage of Indians and their resources. Before anyone realized what had happened, the British were already too powerful. During their rule, they treated Indians like they were dogs. They would have signs saying, ‘No dogs or Indians allowed’. They destroyed the education system and wiped out our history, replacing it with their system. India’s GDP was between 25 and 35% of the world’s total GDP, and that dropped to 2% by India’s Independence in 1947. The literacy rate was at 70% and dropped to 12% after the British. People were starving; they were dying and struggling to live. They were deprived of their food, resources, wealth and education after the British colony, leaving India to the country it is today: A small country with a big population.

British policemen hold men from the village of Kariobangi at gunpoint while their huts are searched for evidence that they participated in the Mau Mau Rebellion of 1952.

Questioning the Relevance of the Monarchy

The British monarchy is utterly useless. Like what is the actual point of them? They have their own Parliament- which is more flawed than anything else mind you- and still need royals to act as some face or whatever. Sure, the British monarchy was once the rulers of this great empire or something, but times have changed. Do we need you? No. The only purpose they actually serve is waving at people they take money from while sitting and looking pretty as they open new museums and sign birthday cards for 100-year-olds. Yeah, totally living the royal life. They could be literal trillionaires or even billionaires with the amount of wealth they have yet they still get money from the people. Like, what is the point of that? Relax guys, I think they can survive without a few million dollars. Oh yeah, wanna know what else? All that money and wealth they own isn’t theirs. A good portion of their wealth- including their ‘sacred’ Crown Jewels- are stolen from former countries and colonies they ruined. It would be really nice if they returned the Cullinan Diamonds or even the Kohinoor back to the original owners.

LONDON, ENGLAND – JANUARY 11: One of the replica sets of the British Crown Jewels made in honour of the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953 (est. £5000- 7000) goes on view at Sotheby’s on January 11, 2018 in London, England. It will be auctioned in the Of Royal And Noble Descent sale at Sotheby’s London on the 17th January 2018. (Photo by Tristan Fewings/Getty Images for Sotheby’s)

An Examination of Hypocrisy and Double Standards

Another thing I want to point out is that the whole West is better than East conception. It’s often seen with America and the UK being seen as some supreme country that is all-powerful or something. Yeah not really. I mean, in terms of technology and development you could say so. But in reality, a lot of policies they implement or even things they’ve done are just really hypocritical. For example, calling things a flawed democracy or a full democracy. There’s something called a Democracy Index which is an index compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit- a division of the Economist Group which is a UK-based private company. Emphasis on UK-based. How biased. A flawed democracy is defined as a nation where elections are fair and free and basic civil liberties are honored but may have issues. (Media freedom infringement and minor suppression of political opposition and critics.) There are 5 categories of which 60 questions are asked: Electoral process and pluralism Civil liberties Functioning of government Political participation Political culture Given this, I will very much point out that the UK does not deserve to be as highly ranked as it currently is. (18th) Firstly, the UK Parliament- is split into the House or Lords and House of Commons. The House of Commons is an elected chamber with 650 members and the House of Lords has 778 members and has a kind of passed-down title. Although this is now abolished, there are still 92 out of 750 hereditary peers who sit in the House of Lords. Now, putting all this aside, I want to point out the biggest hypocritical factor in all this. Minor suppression of political opposition and critics. So the monarchy doesn’t have much power, yet it still has some say in the way of politics. For example, a Royal Assent of the Monarch is required for all Bills to become law, and certain delegated legislation must be made by the Monarch by Order in Council. The Monarch also has some executive powers to do this such as make treaties, declare war, award honors, and appoint officers and civil servants. So really, they are still somewhat significant in politics. My main point is that there still is oppression against criticism against the Monarchy. Just recently, during the King’s coronation, a group of ‘Not my King’ activists protested during the ceremony and had 64 people arrested. The reasons for arrest were:

  • Prevent a breach of the peace
  • Conspiracy to cause a public nuisance
  • Concerns people were going to disrupt the event

So even basic protesting is wrong? I mean, the whole point of protesting is to get your voice heard and motivate change. Sure, these are valid concerns. But, really? Protests will cause public nuisance. Not everyone will like them but that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily bad. If they had started to get violent then yes, it’s a problem. But from the clips and articles I’ve seen, these protestors were peacefully protesting. Now, while some arrests made were for weapons and drugs, others seem to be simply for disrupting the event.

Is expressing an opinion now wrong? Can people no longer freely express what they feel about something anymore? Not everyone has to like the monarchy, and if people want to bring some change about it by protesting peacefully, shouldn’t they be allowed to do so? Even before the coronation was set to begin, they were told that over 1,000 protestors were expected to gather and demonstrate against the event. Taking this into account, shouldn’t they have known that there would be some public nuisance? This also goes against the basic civil liberties, as stated for one of the categories which a government is labeled. If one gets arrested for expressing these civil liberties, then really, shouldn’t they be lower in their ranking?

Accountability and Reparation

Do you know how infuriating it is to see the British Monarchy flaunt their golden carriages and Crown Jewels across the world to the countries they stole it from? Do you know how much it angers me to see them enjoying the luxuries and goods they stole from my people and so may others? Do you know how painful it is to imagine your ancestors suffer and cry and watch helplessly as the ancestors of those royals and British proudly took our resources, our wealth, our history and culture, and even our lives? How they watched as we suffered and killed ourselves so we wouldn’t be killed by them? How even today, such events are considered ‘a shame’? How not even a simple, sincere apology is uttered? How do they dare to flaunt their wealth so proudly to millions across national and even global television with no shame as to how they even got these luxuries from?

And they still think they deserve to be called royals or to have some position? Despite how hypocritical and racist they are? None of them do. That’s why I believe the British Monarchy needs to be abolished and the Crown Jewels as well as wealth should be returned back to the countries they stole it from.

Part 180- Losing a loved one

It’s laughable, really, how you never truly understand something until it’s slowly approaching your own life. Only when it actually affects you, do you start to understand what it truly means, or the gravity of that situation.
My grandfather…doesn’t have much time to live. 

I traveled to India two weeks ago with my mother to visit him. The reality of the situation had not yet hit me at that time either, when I had first decided I wanted to go with her. In fact, reality seemed like a dream. I couldn’t believe I was going to India so suddenly. What had been weeks of planning for my previous trip had become an hours prior decision for this one. I sent emails out to my teachers, messages to my friends, informing them of my situation and of my responsibilities to keep up with the current school work. Comforting replies came back, and I was overwhelmed by the love and compassion from so many of them. It was still then I didn’t realize the situation.

Even at the airport, after clearing security and boarding the first flight. It was surreal. The hours slowly went by as I squeezed in moments of homework and movies and music through the flights, my mind elsewhere from where we were going to.

Even stepping foot in India didn’t feel real. How strange it was to be back only a little after a year. The memory of me crying on the car ride to the airport to fly back home greeted me. The moment where I cried, wondering if I wouldn’t be able to come back for years again. What would I have thought at that time, knowing I would return just as quickly, but under different circumstances?

Even after stepping into my uncle’s home and seeing my grandparents, I still didn’t understand my situation. It did, though, show me how age had left its mark on my grandfather.

He’s 76 and weaker than I had seen him a year ago. He had lost weight. A lot of it. His arms were skinny and he had lost a considerable amount of weight from his upper body. I learned that this was from an inability to eat. He could only eat a liquid form of rice and dal, and still only a small portion of it. His face also looked weary; his eyes yellow and frowned from sadness. He was frail; needing to sit down often and take frequent naps. His responses have slowed, and it takes him a minute to understand something said or asked.

Disregarding all this, I still can’t forget one thing that stood out to me that day. The happiness in his smile seeing me and my mother enter the house. The way he pulled both of us into a hug and held us there. I still didn’t understand the situation.

Days passed by. It was too hot. I felt sticky. I couldn’t concentrate on my homework. What was an exurb again? How do I solve a polar function? Oh, I missed gram staining…that’s alright. I slowly adjusted. My wandering mind at night overcame the pestering jet lag. Melatonin and late night discussions helped. Lingering questions did not.

I guess I really understood the situation a few days later into my trip. It was when I saw my mother cry; when I saw my aunt cry; when I saw my grandmother cry. After seeing these three women- these three amazing women in my life who have supported me and stood stronger than I have- break down quietly and even loudly in front of me, I understood the situation.

I had never seen my mother cry. Heard, yes. Seen, no. She’s a strong woman, who sees things with a determined point of view. Seeing her cry was different. I didn’t know what to do other than quietly hug her and pat her back, like she does for me. Same with my aunt. It was my first time seeing her cry, and I tried to comfort her all the same. Seeing my grandmother cry was devastating.

On our last day, before we left for the airport she started crying- no, sobbing. She hugged my mother first, and as I slowly approached her she grabbed me into a tight hug as well. How hard it must be for her, but I did not know what to say.

The final hug with my grandfather upsets me. Why didn’t I cry? Why couldn’t I cry? How could I not cry? How foolish I have been to take the time I have with him for granted these past years, and how upsetting it is that I act this way in possibly the last moments I see him in person again.
My mother must have realized it as well. As we sat on the couch with him- my mother and I on opposite ends and laying our heads on his shoulder, his arms around us- I heard her cries. Why couldn’t I do that? To at least show what I truly felt at that moment. Perhaps it was my own brain not wanting this final memory to be of me crying as he hugged me.

I had cried a few times before during the trip. Once late at night while talking to my mother, another when my mother was talking to my cousin and I, and a third later on. I cried realizing how limited my interactions with him had been. The downside of being a child of immigrant parents appeared before my eyes. I had counted 7- maybe one or two more- visits in which I had been with him in person out of all 15 years of my life. I cried again as my mother explained my grandfather’s condition to my younger cousin and I, and how we needed to make use of the remaining time left: pictures, audio recordings, talking. I didn’t want to cry but it started to dawn on me more and more, just how serious things were becoming. I cried a third time when I realized how the world moves on regardless of what happens in your life.

My tears were mainly of frustration. I had gotten emails about making up the English STAAR I had missed, as well as completing my math test before an upcoming deadline. I had a Biology STAAR the day after I returned, and an orchestra concert two days afterward. ( I had not practiced in a week) I got frustrated with my dad- who at that time was trying to help me manage my studies and test preparations- every time he called me about homework. How could everything else keep going when I’m faced with this current situation? Why do I have to do this? I wanted to stop doing all my work and just use my time with my grandfather. Of course, I couldn’t. That’s the last thing he would want.

I cried while writing this post. Several times, actually. I video called him this morning and I wanted to cry. The way he greets me each phone call, saying ‘Hi beta,’ and waving. The way he quietly listens for the majority of the call as my aunt talks with us. The way he slowly understands what I say, and then responds a minute later.

Seeing how I am now, I don’t know what I’ll be like when he passes away. More importantly, what about my mother? I’ve known him 15 years of my life and with few interactions while she has for longer than I have. Before he was my grandfather, he was her dad. He being the person she cried to or argued with. He is the one who supported her more than anything. He is the one who pushed her and raised her. How can I help her at that moment? When she’s at her most vulnerable, most upset, and most devastated? I’m not ready for that moment.

Do you see how ridiculous it is? How can you only understand something until it affects you? You realize how sympathy does little to help, other than make you upset or somewhat comforted when others care. You want them to understand how you truly feel, but also hope they don’t have to go through this situation as well. Time is a cruel thing, and even crueler when you live halfway around the world from your family. If only I could turn back time to last year, or any point in the 7 years before that where I could have gone to India at least once just to visit. That way I could have spent more time with them- him. But time doesn’t work like that. So I have only one thing left. To call him. As often as I can, no matter what. Just to ask if he’s eaten, or how he is, or anything else. Something I want to do but can’t without some complications. But still, I must keep trying. Because, time is precious and you don’t realize it until you have a loved one close to dying.