Do Egg Donors Have Parental Rights? – Legal Considerations of Egg Donation (2022)
Egg donation, the practice of a woman donating her eggs to help other people start families, is a relatively new concept. Like many aspects of assisted reproduction, egg donation technology evolved rapidly. In many cases, state laws are still adapting in response. In addition, the laws governing egg donation, the donor, and the intended parents (IPs) can differ significantly from state to state.
All this makes legal considerations of egg donation complicated, and both intended parents and egg donors should have legal representation. Legal circumstances change depending on whether the intended parent uses an anonymous egg donor or a known donor, and the type of egg donation arrangement chosen. Working with well-established, respected egg donation agencies like Santa Monica Donor Egg Bank helps intended parents navigate legalities and create an egg donor legal contract that protects all parties involved.
Known or Anonymous Egg Donors
Egg donors may be individuals known to the intended parents or anonymous donors. There are advantages and disadvantages to either option. Most donors at Santa Monica Donor Egg Bank elect to remain anonymous.
What Is An Anonymous Egg Donor?
An anonymous egg donor arrangement ensures donors and intended parents receive no information directly linking the identity of either party. The egg donor, for her part, receives no personal information about the intended parents at all.
Intended parents still have access to a donor profile that includes a wide range of non-identifying information, including:
- Medical history
- Family history
- Religious background
- Personality traits
- Eye and hair color
Pros of Anonymous Egg Donation:
- Helps ensure the egg donor will not contact the child in the future (although the development of genetic testing has changed this somewhat).
- Intended parents sometimes want to avoid their fertility issues becoming public knowledge. Donor anonymity keeps the IP’s medical issues private.
Cons of Donor Anonymity
- Children born using assisted reproductive technology are often curious about the egg donor and may want to meet her.
- Advances in publicly available genetic tests and sibling registry companies have reduced donor anonymity somewhat, making it easier for donors, children, and genetic siblings to contact each other.
What Is A Known Egg Donor?
As the name implies, a known egg donor is someone the intended parent knows. The known donor could be a friend, relative, or casual acquaintance. Under the right circumstances, a known donor is a viable option for intended parents.
Advantages of Using a Known Egg Donor:
- The intended parents have access to more information about the donor and her background.
- Known donors usually receive reduced compensation making the egg donation cycle less expensive
- When donors are family members, the intended parent has a genetic connection to the child.
Disadvantages of Using Known Egg Donor:
- While the donor has no legal right to parentage, conflicts over parenting decisions may arise.
- Increased risk of legal disputes.
- While known egg donors and intended parents sometimes build a stronger bond during the donation process, the reverse is also true and relationships can suffer.
- Donations from closely related family members may raise serious ethical and medical concerns.
Types of Egg Donation Arrangements
In a traditional egg donation, the intended parents receive all the eggs from one or more egg retrieval cycles, which are then solely the property of the parents. Most egg donors, however, produce more eggs than are needed for fertilization and implantation. Shared egg donation arrangements allow two or more sets of intended parents to share the costs of donor eggs, meaning the needs of three or more parties must be considered in any egg donor legal contract.
Traditional Egg Donation Arrangements
A traditional egg donation arrangement involves only one set of intended parents or a single IP and one egg donor. A single egg retrieval procedure usually yields all the eggs needed, and the IP has full control over all eggs and any embryos that result from their donor egg IVF process.
Traditional egg donation arrangements have no possibility of conflict with other intended parents, but the IP must cover all costs associated with the egg donation cycle.
Shared Egg Donation Arrangements
The excess eggs produced in a traditional egg donation result in surplus frozen embryos which are ultimately discarded. Shared egg donation agreements avoid this problem by assigning eggs to more couples or individuals according to their family building goals.
As more than one set of intended parents receive eggs from the same donor, it’s important that all intended parents have separate legal representation, and that the egg donation contract details each set of IP’s rights, with instructions for how to manage odd numbers of eggs, who receives the highest quality eggs, and what happens to any remaining eggs or embryos.
The main advantage of a shared egg donation agreement is financial. Intended parents share the cost of donor eggs, including donor screening, medication, insurance, the cost of the egg retrieval procedure, and donor compensation.
Shared Egg Donor Legal Agreement
The legal agreement for shared egg donation is created to avoid conflict and cover reasonable eventualities. It covers:
- The intent, rights, and obligations of all intended parents and the egg donor.
- The creation of an escrow account to pay for the donor’s compensation and any reimbursements.
- Agreements on which IP has first right of refusal for extra eggs if they become available.
- Instructions detailing each IP’s legal control over retrieved eggs and resulting embryos.
- An agreement outlining the schedule for all medical procedures, canceled cycles, etc.
Legal Considerations of Egg Donation for Gay Couples and Individuals
Gay couples and individuals may have to deal with legalities other IPs do not, depending on state law. Some states make it difficult for a gay intended parent to claim parenthood of a child conceived through assisted reproduction, even if his sperm was used to fertilize the egg. Gay IPs are advised to discuss gay fatherhood legalities with their legal representative before beginning the egg donation and surrogacy process. We provide further information in our ’Family Building For Gay Men’ section.
Frequently Asked Questions about Egg Donation legal considerations
Intended parents understandably have doubts and fears about egg donation, and whether donors have any rights over children conceived using their eggs. Santa Monica Fertility’s years of expertise as an industry leader in the world of assisted reproduction have left us uniquely positioned to answer any questions you have, now or in the future.
Can the egg donor claim the baby as their own?
A common fear among intended parents, and thankfully an unfounded one. Under the terms of an egg donation contract, the donor waives all rights to any children born due to her egg donation cycle.
Can a friend be an egg donor?
Yes, a friend or even a family member can be an egg donor. That’s called directed donation.
What if the egg donor wants to contact my child?
Egg donors surrender all rights to the child, including the right to initiate contact in the future.
What if my child wants to contact the egg donor?
Your child may be curious about the egg donor and wish to make contact. Children can request access to donor information at the age of eighteen, but contact is not guaranteed. Should the child request access, Santa Monica Fertility will contact the egg donor to seek permission to share their details. Egg donors have the right to refuse contact, even if they specify in the egg donation contract they are open to doing so: personal situations can change over time especially as they start their own families, and donors who were once open to contact may no longer wish it, and vice versa.
Do egg donors have parental rights?
No. Egg donors waive all parental rights and responsibilities when they sign the egg donation contract. In the eyes of the law the intended parents, and only the intended parents, have parental rights.
Can egg donors change their mind after signing the contract?
Yes, egg donors do sometimes change their minds after signing an egg donation contract. If there is a legitimate reason for canceling, donor compensation is limited to a $500 cancellation fee. Should the contract be canceled due to donor negligence or intentional acts, they receive no compensation at all.
Can the intended parent(s) change their mind after signing the contract?
Intended parents can also change their minds after signing the contract. In the case of frozen egg cycles, IPs have a thirty-day window to cancel for a full refund with no questions asked. After thirty days the refund drops to fifty percent.
For fresh egg cycles, intended parents can withdraw with a full refund until their donor begins taking medication, after which the refund drops to fifty percent. Should the donor already be taking injections for the cycle (approximately two weeks before egg retrieval) there is no refund. Should the cycle need to be canceled for medical reasons, IPs receive a full refund. IPs also have the option to cancel in the event of egg shortages.
You can find more information on egg donation program at our Using Donor Eggs FAQ page.
Starting Your Egg Donation Journey
Egg donation is an emotional process for many intended parents. To help you gain a better understanding of the complexities and potential of using donor eggs, read up on how to choose an egg donor, cost of donor eggs and donor egg IVF process. Our FAQ section has answers to questions we often hear from intended parents. If you have any questions or are ready to begin your journey, feel free to contact us online or call (310) 566-1470 and we’ll be glad to help.
You can view all our amazing egg donors available for fresh and frozen cycle online at Santa Monica Donor Egg Bank.
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