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Swiss court recognises same sex couple as parents of child

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In what is thought to be a first decision of its kind, a court in Switzerland has recognized a same sex couple as the legal parents of a child born to an American surrogate.

Surrogacy is illegal in Switzerland, however the ruling placed the welfare of the child as the court’s paramount concern.
The fathers sought that a Californian birth certificate which recorded them as the child’s parents should be recognized.

Whilst the judgment is welcomed as a victory for LGBT rights, the Swiss justice department can still appeal the ruling to Switzerland’s supreme court

Officer In Ferguson Calls Captain Ron Johnson Strategy ‘Hug a Thug’; Wants to Punch Eric Holder

Captain Ron Johnson and United States Attorney General Eric Holder

If we cannot entrust a police officer with a Twitter account, how do we justify arming them military weapons? It is no wonder the people in Furgeson have issues with law enforcement:

A St. Louis-area police officer who’s been working in Ferguson falsely accused a group of protestors of shooting at police, said Missouri highway patrol captain Ron Johnson holds a racial “double standard,” and asserted that he would like to punch attorney general Eric Holder, the St. Louis Riverfront Times reports via a survey of the officer’s Twitter posts.

The Riverfront Times appears to have noticed Sgt. Mike Weston’s account when Weston said that a group of individuals tear-gassed in their own backyard last week had fired gunshots at police. A Times reporter who witnessed and recorded the incident says none of the protestors were armed. Weston admitted he could not support the accusation when contacted by the reporter—and wasn’t even at the scene he was describing:

“There were shots being fired some yards, maybe not this particular one.”

Weston then admitted that he wasn’t in the group of police officers that was marching down the street and firing tear gas into yards. He said he was in the back closer to the command center, several blocks away.

The Times also found since-deleted tweets by Weston in which he says he’s considering seeking out Eric Holder to punch him, accuses Ron Johnson of practicing a racial “double standard” in Ferguson, and characterizes Johnson’s approach to protests as “Hug a Thug.” Weston confirmed to the Times that the Twitter account in question was his.

Law Enforcement Official: Officer Shot At A Fleeing Michael Brown

Officer Darren Wilson. City of Ferguson, via Associated Press

I am not sure why this nugget of information has not received more attention:

As Officer Wilson got out of his car, the men were running away. The officer fired his weapon but did not hit anyone, according to law enforcement officials.

Given existing legal precedent, an officer cannot use deadly force to stop a fleeing felon who is not perceived to be dangerous (Tennessee v. Garner, 471 U.S. 1 (1985)). Under Garner, in order to use deadly force against a fleeing felon, a police officer must have probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant risk of harm to the officer or the community. In light of this revelation, it would seem that Officer Wilson had no legal justification for firing upon the unarmed and fleeing Michael Brown. While none of these shots apparently were responsible for Mr. Brown’s death, the shooting itself would appear to be illegal.

DNA Tests Link Japanese Man to 12 Thai Surrogate Babies

Surrogate babies that Thai police suspect were fathered by a Japanese businessman who has fled from Thailand are shown on a screen during a news conference in Bangkok. Photo: Reuters

I wonder how many more babies Mitsuoki Shigeta has around the world:

Preliminary DNA test results confirm a match between a Japanese man and at least 12 babies he was suspected to have fathered with Thai surrogate mothers, Thai police said on Wednesday. A lawyer for the 24 year old, who has not been charged, submitted samples of his DNA, or genetic fingerprint, to police. The man fled Thailand this month and the lawyer has refused to reveal his whereabouts.

“Preliminary results of the DNA test show a match,” Assistant National Police Chief Korkiat Wongworachart told reporters, adding that police had summoned the man for questioning. “I expect him to show up because it involves his children.”

Thai police this month discovered nine surrogate babies with their nannies and a pregnant surrogate mother in a Bangkok apartment, dubbed the “baby factory” by the media. Later, they said they had found more babies, all suspected of having been fathered by the same man, a Japanese national who often travelled in and out of Thailand.

Thailand has been gripped by a spate of surrogacy scandals in recent weeks, following accusations that an Australian couple had abandoned their Down Syndrome baby with his Thai birth mother, taking only his twin sister back home. Thailand and India are popular choices for foreign couples looking for a legally simple route to parenthood. But India last year banned commercial surrogacy for unmarried couples, gay couples and individuals, giving Thailand a competitive edge in the business.

The rent-a-womb industry is largely unregulated in the Southeast Asian nation and in the wake of the recent scandals Thailand’s military government has given preliminary approval for a draft law to make commercial surrogacy a crime.

Surrogacy Trap: Is Mexico About To Become The Next Thailand?

We have been documenting over the past few weeks what has been transpiring in Thailand. From an Intended Parent seeking to have 1,000 children to Intended Parents abandoning their baby who was diagnosed with Down Syndrome. Thailand’s military response to these outrageous incidents has been unconscionably excessive as instead of focusing on the bad actors, they instead are punishing the innocent victims. Hundreds of parents and their children are currently trapped in Thailand, unable to return home with their families in reaction (or retaliation) for the recent revelations regarding their surrogacy industry.

But this is a story we have seen before. Reproductive tourism facilities as well as IVF clinics and agencies have capitalized on non-existent laws or lax enforcement of existing restrictions to create an illusion of safety in order to induce thousands of unsuspecting infertility patients to proceed with surrogacy and egg donation in their country du jour. Ukraine, Panama, India and now Thailand were once popular cross-border destinations that have left a long list of victims in its wake.

Well if history is any predictor, Mexico may very well be the next country to pull the plug on its burgeoning surrogacy industry. We have already chronicled the collapse of Planet Hospital a few months ago which had turned to Mexico as its primary base of operations. Sordid stories of irregularities and allegations of misconduct in the Mexican surrogacy industry are beginning to become more commonplace.

So it would not be a surprise at all if Mexico follows in Thailand and India’s footsteps. Consequently, before considering the allure of Mexico and doing surrogacy on the cheap, be sure you are fully informed of the risks. Because at the end of the day, you may very well find yourself in a situation where you are not only without child, but your life savings as well.

Italian Court Awards Custody of Twins To Birth Mom, Not Bio Parents After Embryo Mix-Up

Hat tip to Sherry Levitan for bringing this to our attention:

An Italian judge has ordered that two children born following an embryo mix-up at a Rome fertility clinic should reside with the birth mother and not with the twins’ biological parents.

The birth mother found out about the mistake three months into the pregnancy, but refused to hand over the children to their biological parents whose embryo had been mistakenly transferred.

Speaking last April when she found out the twins were not her biological children, the birth mother said: ‘I had a moment of human rejection when I knew that they were not mine, or rather ours, that the embryos that I was carrying were of another woman, but then we decided that the pregnancy had to continue, our values are these’.

‘These children live inside me. I heard them beat on my heart. They grow and are healthy’, she said. ‘How can I decide the fate of two creatures so long-awaited?’

Under Italian law, the woman who gives birth is considered to be the child’s legal mother. Hearing the case, Judge Silvia Albano said only the children can decide who they want their parents to be, reports The Local.

Michele Ambrosini, the birth couple’s lawyer, told Il Fatto Quotidiano there could be contact between the couples at a later date when things ‘had calmed down’. However, the biological parents have told La Stampa that their requests to meet the other couple had so far been met with no response. ‘We feel ignored; nobody recognises our rights or sees our vital role in this affair’, they said.

The couples were among four women receiving treatment at the Sandro Pertini hospital on the same day. La Repubblica reports the couples involved in the mix up share similar names.

The birth couple is now reportedly looking into suing the hospital involved.

Fallujah Or Ferguson?

90 Year Old Holocaust Survivor Arrested During Michael Brown Protest

Are you kidding me? Was she really a threat to law enforcement:

Hedy Epstein, a 90-year-old Holocaust survivor, was arrested on Monday during unrest over the death of Michael Brown, KMOV reports.

Epstein, who aided Allied forces in the Nuremberg trials, was placed under arrest in downtown St. Louis, Missouri “for failing to disperse” during a protest of Governor Jay Nixon’s decision to call in National Guard into Ferguson. Eight others were also arrested.

“I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I would have to do it when I was ninety,” Epstein told The Nation during her arrest. “We need to stand up today so that people won’t have to do this when they’re ninety.”

Australians With Babies Delivered By Thai Surrogates Facing Six Month Wait to Leave Thailand

While not the news these parents were hoping for, this is nevertheless a step in the right direction:

Australian couples with babies born to Thai surrogate mothers face an up to six month wait in Thailand as authorities tighten rules, including a total ban on commercial surrogacy. Under the tougher guidelines, up to 200 Australian couples with babies recently born to a surrogate mother face a lengthy court process to gain official clearance to take the baby out of the country. The rule tightening comes after a same sex couple departed Thailand with a child last week after they and couples from the United States and France were prevented from leaving at Suvanabhumi International Airport.

A senior Australian official said the court approval requirement was included in pre-existing laws, but had not been enforced. “Now because things have been shown to be going badly in certain instances, they are now actually implementing more strictly what on paper they were supposed to be doing anyway, which includes this court order,” the official said. “This court order could take between three to six months,” he said.

The official said Australian couples with babies born to Thai surrogate mothers now face an extended period in Thailand and must be prepared for that. “People have to factor into their planning – factor immediately – their planning that they are going to have to be here looking after the baby in Thailand for a much longer period than they initially thought,” he said.

The Australian Embassy in Bangkok has been pressing the Thai government to allow for a “transition period” so couples can leave the country. “I’m fairly confident that they will find a way through this and come up with some good transition arrangements but they are not quite there yet,” he said.

The case involving a West Australian couple taking a healthy twin baby girl home, but leaving behind her brother, with Down Syndrome, and a Japanese man allegedly fathering 15 surrogate children has triggered a sharp response. The Thai military government is now moving quickly to impose tough surrogacy laws, making way for a total ban on commercial surrogacy.

Recent publicity has triggered waves of anxiety across the commercial surrogacy sector. Officials said on Monday some Thai surrogate mothers under care at private hospitals were being moved to public hospitals with doctors fearing a legal backlash. There are also fears surrogate mothers may have abortions, as well as commissioning parents leaving babies behind in Thailand.

Chairman of the Medical Council of Thailand, Somsak Lolekha, said despite the legal concerns, there is a need to assist those involved, especially the children. “We have to help them because for the sake of the baby, because of the child’s rights, we have to do everything for the rights of the child,” Somsak said. “They should go back to the genetic parents or their intended parents and I think we have to try to help them so the parents can get their baby back to their home,” he said.

‘Paralyzed Bride’ to Become A Mom After Surrogate Is Confirmed Pregnant

Rachelle and Chris pose with an ultrasound image. (Photo: Facebook/Jennings Paige Photography)

In midst of all the bad news from Thailand; Ferguson, Missouri; Iraq; and Africa, something positive to remind us of what is important:

Rachelle Friedman was just weeks away from her dream wedding when the unthinkable happened. A playful push on her hen’s night left her with a spinal cord injury – that has paralysed her for life. Rachelle wrote of the incident last year on Mamamia: “In the summer of 2010, at my bachelorette party, one of my best friends playfully pushed me into a pool.” “My head hit the bottom of the pool, and two of my vertebra shattered. The broken vertebra damaged my spinal chord enough to leave me permanently paralyzed from the chest down.”

The devastating accident caused Rachelle and her fiance, 31-year-old Chris Chapman, to push back their wedding while she focused on rehabilitation. While Rachelle eventually wed Chris in July 2011., she had always wanted children – as she told Oprah: Where Are They Now?, immediately after the accident she asked an emergency worker if she’d be able to have a family — and that desire had to be placed on hold following the accident. “(W)e want kids badly… Once we get financially straight we are going to have one,” Rachelle wrote last year. “My issue is I take medication for low blood pressure that I won’t be able to take,” she said.

Now, four years after the horrifying accident, Rachelle and Chris have announced some wonderful news: they’re expecting a child with a help of a surrogate mother.
familyphoto She was paralysed on her hens night. And now, she has some wonderful news. )

The couple announced the happy news on Twitter on August 13 and on Facebook on August 14. She wrote: “We are going to have a baby!! Due date? April 19th.” “We are elated… Thank you so much for the support so far,” she wrote.

News.com.au reports that a university friend of Rachelle’s, Laurel Humes, has offered to be the surrogate mother. “My husband was a sperm donor for some of our friends, a same-sex couple, and that inspired me to think about surrogacy,” Ms Humes, a 31-year-old stay-at-home mother, told People. “I know Chris and Rachelle will be great parents and I can’t wait to see the looks on their faces when they get to hold their baby for the first time,” she said.


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Welcome to The Spin Doctor

Blogging about the legal, social and political issues of the day with an emphasis on reproductive rights and bioethics.

Recent Posts

Thai Surrogate Would Be Charged Double If She Delivered An ‘Imperfect Baby’
August 15, 2014
By Andrew Vorzimer
Humanitarian Crisis: 250 Australian Babies May Be Potentially Trapped In Thailand As Part Of Baby Gammy Surrogacy Scandal
August 15, 2014
By Andrew Vorzimer
Australia’s Immigration Act Prohibits Down Syndrome Immigrants
August 14, 2014
By Andrew Vorzimer
Republican Congressman Steven King: Ferguson Protestors Are Of A Single ‘Continental Origin’
August 14, 2014
By Andrew Vorzimer
Thai Officials Stopping American & Australian Families From Leaving Country With Babies
August 14, 2014
By Andrew Vorzimer
Alleged Baby Trafficker Fathered 15 Babies With 11 Surrogates In Thailand
August 13, 2014
By Andrew Vorzimer
Baby Gammy Update: Thailand To Officially Ban Commercial Surrogacy
August 13, 2014
By Andrew Vorzimer
Q&A: Bioethical Issues Hippocrates Could Never Have Anticipated
August 13, 2014
By Andrew Vorzimer

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