Egg Donors and Legal Contracts
EGG DONOR CONTRACTS AND LEGAL COUNSEL
Third party reproduction, such as an egg donation arrangement, is a hybrid of law and medical science. In order to achieve a successful outcome, both disciplines play important and interdependent roles. Without medical science, third party reproduction would not be possible. Without the involvement of experienced attorneys, it would not be possible to ensure that parties’ legal rights and responsibilities to each other and the resultant child are protected.
Fewer than twenty states have laws addressing the egg donation process and the commensurate rights of the donor and recipient(s). The law, both statutory and case law, continues to evolve but has often failed to keep pace with the advances in medical science. The most effective safeguard that the parties to an egg donor agreement can take to ensure the legal process is as seamless as the medical process, is to enter into a well-crafted contract or agreement, with all parties having the benefit of experienced legal counsel. Simply stated, the central issue to any legal analysis of an egg donation case is the intent of the parties. The written donor contract must clearly and unequivocally memorialize the intent of each party. That way, should there ever be a dispute between the parties, the Court will look to the contract to determine their intentions. When each party to an egg donation contract (recipient and donor) has independent legal representation, not only does this help to ensure an ethical and fair process, but it also helps to ensure against later claims that the parties were confused regarding the terms of the contract. When each party to an egg donor agreement has an attorney to review the terms of the contract, answer questions, and to negotiate any unsettled issues, the contract is given far greater weight than if a contract is entered into with only one side having the benefit of counsel. When competent, experienced and ethical attorneys work together on behalf of their clients to finalize an agreement that is acceptable to all, this is not only the best practice, but helps to ensure that the parties’ intentions are clearly defined and given the force of law.
WHAT IS INVOLVED IN AN EGG DONOR CONTRACT?
The egg donor contract is designed to protect the parties to the contract, and more broadly, the integrity of the process. The document can be rather lengthy, but each and every term in the contract is important, and crafted for the unique circumstances of the donation. The contract must conform to the law of the state where the contract is likely to be interpreted. The contract documents that it is the intention of the parties that the recipient of the donated eggs be the parent(s) of the resultant child, and the contract will also address the disposition of the remaining eggs or embryos from the donation.
The properly-negotiated contract addresses the rights of the parties and any particular agreements between the donor and the intended parents, and serves to protect all those involved in the arrangement. Accordingly, the rights of the child to a secure place within the intended parent(s)' family is ensured.