Posted Dec 20, 2007 10:49 pm CST
In a cutting-edge case that has spotlighted the gap between traditional family law principles and state-of-the-art medical options for dealing with infertility, a Pennsylvania woman who carried triplets to term as a surrogate mother for an Ohio man has been found to have no parental rights over the infants.
Because Danielle Bimber has no biological relationship to the babies, who were conceived with sperm from James Flynn and eggs donated by another woman, she has no parental rights over them and cannot retain custody, a closely divided Ohio Supreme Court held in a 4-3 decision today. Parental rights, the court held, belong to Flynn, a chaired professor in the department of Operations and Business Statistics at Cleveland State University, and the egg donor, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The eggs were fertilized in vitro with Flynn’s sperm, and then implanted in Bimber’s womb.
A surrogacy contract between Flynn, who is in his mid-sixties, and Bimber called for him to pay her $20,000, plus expenses, in exchange for her agreement to give up custody to him after their birth. “If she didn’t, she’d have to repay the money and never hold him responsible for support of the children,” the newspaper writes.
However, an Ohio trial court ruled that the contract was invalid, because parents cannot contract away their parental responsibility. An intermediate appeals court and the state supreme court disagreed, upholding the validity of the contract. Last year, a Pennsylvania court awarded Flynn custody of the triplets.
Bimber says she took the babies home and tried to raise them as her own because of a lack of interest shown by Flynn and his girlfriend, who didn’t name them or visit them for several days after their premature birth, reports the Associated Press.