Questions continue surrounding in vitro fertilization

On behalf of The Walters Law Group, Ltd. posted in Family Law on Monday, December 24, 2012.

Although no longer a new technique, in vitro fertilization continues to generate court challenges in family law cases. Parents in Chicago and around the U.S. should follow some court decisions closely if they’ve chosen to conceive children through in vitro fertilization.

A recent landmark case is a graphic example of the continuing confusion. A father who fell ill in 2001 had his sperm frozen after receiving a dire prognosis. He wanted to give his wife the ability to have future children should his illness prove to be fatal. Giving power of attorney to his wife, allowing her to have full authority over the sperm, was his final gift.

His wife conceived their twins via in vitro fertilization after his death. She completed the application for Social Security survivor benefits for her children. Unfortunately, SSA denied both her original application and her multiple appeals.

Social Security’s reasoning: Since the children were neither conceived nor born before their father died, the twins “did not survive him.” The mother’s request only amounts to a couple of hundred dollars per month, which their 14-year old sister receives. Of course, in SSA’s logic, the teenager was conceived prior to her father’s death and, therefore, qualifies for benefits.

Some family law attorneys believe this–and similar–cases are examples of prevailing law not catching up with science. State law usually prevails in inheritance questions. In this case, as in many states, current laws mandate that for children to inherit, they must “survive the deceased person.” The family law community is awaiting the state Supreme Court decision on this case of first impression.

Do you agree with those that believe the children, since they survive, should be eligible for SSA survivor benefits? Or, should these children suffer because they were conceived and born after their father died? Should the law be modified to allow innocent children to receive benefits, however modest and whenever they were born, even after the death of a parent?

Source: The South End, “The Current: In vitro fertilization raises questions,” Christina Clark, Nov. 21, 2012