By Bill Hutchinson, Daily News Staff Writer, Daily News, NY, September 3, 2004
It was a heartwarming gift: a woman carrying the fertilized eggs of her cancer-stricken sister and giving birth to triplets.
But New York City bureaucrats tarnished the happy moment by refusing to allow the name of the biological mother – the woman whose eggs were used – to be put on the birth certificates.
The city Board of Health demanded that the woman and her husband, whose sperm was used to fertilize the eggs, formally adopt the children or get a DNA test before they could be acknowledged as the parents.
“New York is sort of in the Dark Ages on this,” said Melissa Brisman, attorney for the family, New Yorkers who wish to remain anonymous.
The woman who carried the babies always insisted there was only one mother – her sister, who could not give birth because her uterus was removed as the result of cancer.
But city officials refused to bend the rules, arguing they were designed to prevent fraud and determine identity.
The case ended up in state Supreme Court even before the triplets were born Aug. 17 at a city hospital, Justice Jane Solomon ordered that the two birth certificates be created for each baby – one with the biological mother’s name on it, and the other with the surrogate mother’s name.
Brisman said the ground-breaking decision was “a victory for reproductive rights.” She added, “We don’t feel that she [the biological mother] should have to adopt her own biological children.”
City officials are mulling an appeal. “In the absence of state legislation dealing with these situations, the Health Department had urged the court to require either an adoption proceeding or genetic testing before granting parental rights to the genetic mother, and is considering whether to appeal the court’s ruling on that basis,” Robin Binder of the city corporation counsel’s office said in a statement.