Assisted reproductive technology (ART) law has generated, on one hand, the most heartwarming practice area, helping bring adorable and loved babies into the world. On the other hand, this area has it all: mixed-up embryos, deceitful donors, doctors using their own sperm with unknowing patients, fights over use of reproductive material, parental rights confusion, denial of citizenship, and gentlemen who substantially encumber their income with child support obligations after giving away sperm at Target. Yes, ART law has become one of the most bizarre and mind-blowing areas of law, where the legal questions are fascinating, and the human toll profound. Check out these latest podcasts that take a deep dive into the issues of ART.
Just released on Audible (free trials!), this bingeable series is getting rave reviews. A feature on the eight-part series has been The Atlantic’s most popular article for days — not pandemics or wildfires, but this story about scores of parents with kids from the same man, who was sold for a decade and a half as the “perfect donor.” Except it was all a lie.
It’s a case I’ve written about a couple times. The facts are shocking, the legal twists even more so. Professor Dov Fox, author of Birth Rights and Wrongs, hosts, illuminating the thorny stakes: from the pull of genetic ties and the uncertainty of living with medical risk, to what’s reasonable to expect when trying to have a child.
The Georgia Supreme Court is expected to weigh in soon on this controversial area of law. A dozen claims have already been settled or dismissed under doctrines like “wrongful birth.” But this time might be different — at least based on the grilling the justices gave the sperm bank’s attorney over the (virtual) oral arguments in May. Fox delves into all this in the podcast.
The series moves briskly through key players and original evidence to unravel this surreal story. All the episodes are great, but the last one is extraordinary. Fox sits down with the donor himself, the man at the center of it all, and gets answers to the questions we have all been dying to ask.
Thanks to direct-to-consumer DNA kits, the number of people finding out that their mother’s fertility doctor is also (surprise!) their biological father has been beyond shocking. Depressingly, it’s become almost expected at this point when I get an email that begins “So I received a 23andMe kit as a gift …” Of these doctor-donor cases, that of Dr. Donald Cline of Indiana, has been one of the most prominent. Cline has fathered at least 60 children with his patients, after promising only the use of “anonymous donor” sperm. Sick is described as “an investigative podcast about what goes wrong in the places meant to keep us healthy.” Award-winning journalists Jake Harper and Lauren Bavis explore the personal stories of those affected, and the injustices in our medical system. And it’s on NPR. Which means it’s produced by podcast pros and it’s free!
I Want To Put A Baby In You
Full disclosure. This is the podcast that I co-host. But if you are interested in assisted reproductive technology legal issues, this is definitely the podcast for you. Unlike Donor 9623 and Sick, it is not formatted as a series. Instead, each episode is a standalone interview. It’s hard to choose a few favorites of the almost 100 episodes, but for my attorney colleagues that especially enjoy the intricate legal issues, here are a few not to miss.
Attorney Eric Wrubel — Embryo Mix-Up Shocker. Wrubel is a New York matrimonial attorney who got the call from distraught California parents when they suddenly found out their embryo had been accidentally transferred to another woman who subsequently gave birth to their son, thousands of miles away.
Attorney Kim Surratt — The FBI and Baby-Selling Ring. What happens when an experienced surrogacy attorney sees some major red flags and gets the FBI involved? She helps take down a terrifying baby-selling ring. This is a case of truth being stranger than fiction, and how attorneys can, in fact, make the world a better place.
Derek Mize and Jonathan Gregg — Our Daughter is American, Too. A recent favorite, learn more about the intricacies of the U.S. immigration code than you ever cared to know, and how it can be, and was, used to deny citizenship to the children of same-sex couples. This former practicing attorney and his husband fought back, with the help of Biglaw firm Morgan Lewis and others, and won.
Oh you wanted one more?
Danielle Teuscher and Jill Teitel — Beware of the Home DNA Kit. It’s rare to be able to snag an interview with the plaintiff and plaintiff’s attorney during active litigation, but we did it. And this case is fascinating. Find out what happens with a sperm donor recipient who discovers the donor’s mother through a home DNA test, only to be hit with a cease and desist letter from the sperm bank purportedly imposing a $20,000 fine, and taking away the plaintiff’s property — the sperm vials plaintiff purchased and stored with the bank.
Now we all have something to do while we wait for the next season of Cobra Kai. You’re welcome.
Ellen Trachman is the Managing Attorney of Trachman Law Center, LLC, a Denver-based law firm specializing in assisted reproductive technology law, and co-host of the podcast I Want To Put A Baby In You. You can reach her at [email protected].