Friday Legal Updates – Australian Surrogacy Laws & Stem Cell Update (ASRM)

Happy Friday! A few updates on federal stem cell research courtesy of the ASRM and Australian surrogacy law. Enjoy!

Surrogacy bill gives parents more rights (Sydney, Australia) –

The Syndey Morning Herald
PARENTS of children born through surrogacy would be given full legal recognition for the first time, under a bill introduced in Parliament last night. Couples would also be able to enter into surrogacy arrangements abroad.

Couples would also be able to adopt a child born to a surrogate mother between 30 days and six months of birth.

MPs will have a conscience vote on the legislation, and it is likely the Opposition will follow suit, although this is yet to be decided.

Church groups are likely to oppose the legislation, which is expected to be less contentious than recent legislation to allow same-sex adoption, narrowly passed last month.

The legislation would ban commercial surrogacy and any associated advertising, although it does provide for all costs of the birth mother to be paid by the intended parents.

It follows a parliamentary inquiry last year that recommended the legislation – despite intense lobbying from church groups – be introduced to strengthen the position of intending parents in a surrogacy birth.

The legislation would allow a court to approve a parentage order once it was satisfied the birth mother and the intended parents had been given legal advice and counselling and had given their informed consent. The birth mother would have to be over 25 when entering a surrogacy agreement.

The Attorney-General, John Hatzistergos, said yesterday: ”While it will still be illegal to profit from surrogacy, the birth mother in an altruistic surrogacy will have a legal entitlement to be reimbursed for expenses such as medical and counselling.

“Until now the only way people with children born through surrogacy have been able to gain full parenting rights has been through adoption processes.

http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/lifematters/surrogacy-bill-gives-parents-more-rights-20101021-16w4v.html

ASRM BULLETIN (via www.ASRM.org)

Volume 12, Number 35
October 21, 2010

Stem Cell Research Update: Coalition for Advancement of Medical Research (CAMR) Files Amicus Brief in Stem Cell Case

ASRM is a founding member of the CAMR; what follows in an update by CAMR immediate Past- President Amy Rick, CEO of the Parkinson’s Action Network, who has been heading up the legal effort for the coalition. The ASRM Public Affairs Staff was deeply involved in the preparation of CAMR’s brief.

The stem cell litigation continues to wind its way through the US court system. As you may recall, the lawsuit is currently in both the District Court, before Judge Lamberth, and in the Court of Appeals, before a three-judge panel. The District Court is receiving arguments “on the merits” whereas the Court of Appeals is technically ruling on whether Judge Lamberth was legally correct when he issued a preliminary injunction on August 23. However, it remains our hope that the Court of Appeals, in hearing arguments on the preliminary injunction, will issue an order that resolves the whole case.

Three significant briefs have been filed in the Court of Appeals in the last few days. On Thursday, the Department of Justice (DoJ) filed its brief. Once again, they did an excellent job representing the National Institutes of Health. Their brief is particularly strong on why the legislative history for Dickey Wicker supports the government’s interpretation and on supporting the need for human embryonic stem cell research to be conducted along with adult and induced pluripotent research. I am hopeful that the Court of Appeals will find DoJ’s arguments compelling.

Two amicus briefs were also filed this week in support of the DoJ brief. An amicus brief is a brief filed by an outside party in a lawsuit that wants to offer additional information for the court to consider. The Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research (CAMR), in conjunction with the State of Wisconsin and the Genetics Policy Institute (GPI), filed an amicus brief on Monday and yesterday, the University of California (UC) filed its own amicus. The Court of Appeals requires that amicus filers attempt to coordinate, so we are pleased that both Wisconsin and GPI agreed to join with CAMR’s brief. Both the CAMR brief and the UC brief do an excellent job supporting the government’s position, although they are quite different from each other. The CAMR brief focuses on the process of stem cell line derivation (which is not done with federal funds) and the legislative history. The UC brief goes back to the earlier decision of the Court of Appeals that grants standing to the two plaintiffs. In my opinion, the UC brief makes an excellent case for why the Court of Appeals should reverse its earlier decision and dismiss this whole case on the grounds that the plaintiffs do not have standing.

The DoJ brief and both amicus briefs can be found on the CAMR website at http://camradvocacy.org/resources.cfm.

The next significant dates in the Court of Appeals are October 28, when the plaintiffs’ brief is due, and then November 4 when DoJ’s final reply will be filed. We expect oral argument to occur shortly thereafter although oral argument is not yet scheduled. The briefing schedule for the District Court mirrors the Appeals court schedule so it is our expectation that Judge Lamberth will wait for the Court of Appeals ruling before he rules.

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