In a ruling that I’m absolutely astonished could find three votes against it, the Florida Supreme Court has ruled that a lesbian parent who donated the egg that her former partner carried can’t have her parental rights eliminated at the whim of that now-estranged partner.
A lesbian mother who separated from her partner does not lose her parental rights to a child born during the relationship, a divided Florida Supreme Court ruled Thursday.
The 4-3 opinion strikes down the state law on assisted reproductive technology as unconstitutional and affirms a decision by the Fifth District Court of Appeal upholding parental rights for same-sex couples who jointly conceive a child.
The birth mother moved to Australia and cut access to the child born in 2004. The estranged partner whose fertilized egg was used in the pregnancy challenged the loss of rights and access in a state were same-sex marriage is barred.
Justices Barbara Pariente wrote for the majority in the closely watched dispute, which decided the case on federal equal protection and state privacy grounds. Chief Justice Ricky Polston and Justices R. Fred Lewis and Charles Canady dissented.
This has nothing to do with same-sex marriage. Just like a father has parental rights even if the mother leaves him, whether they are married or not, so does a mother who donated the egg. How on earth could a judge rule otherwise?
Pariente said that the mother identified in court records only as D.M.T., who took the child to Australia, is not being denied her right to parent. The decision only requires that T.M.H.’s right to parent be recognized.
“D.M.T.’s preference that she parent the child alone is sadly similar to the views of all too many parents, who after separating prefer to exclude the other parent from the child’s life,” she wrote.
The birth mother defended severing the biological mother’s ties the circumstance by noting the biological mother signed a standard informed consent form at the clinic where the egg was donated.
The Fifth District rejected the birth mother’s argument that the biological mother waived her parental rights by signing that form because T.M.H. did not fall within the statutory definition of “donor.”
“It is clear that the very purpose of the biological mother’s provision of the egg to her partner was to enable each party to become parents of the child they wished to conceive,” Pariente said.
The parents were a couple from 1995 to 2006 and the birth mother delivered their child in January 2004.
This is as open and shut a case as I can imagine, yet three judges dissented.