Institute for Reproductive Health.
Domestic and international sources of law recognize the right to
family, including the right to rear children. Similarly,
justice (RJ) frameworkstands for the idea that all individuals
have the right to have children, not to have children, and to
parent the children they have in a healthy and safe environment.
However, proposed and current laws and policies assault
access to contraception, abortion, sterilization, public benefits,
and pregnancy-related healthcare services, all of which may be
necessary for individuals and couples seeking to make the choices
that are best for them and their families. LGBT individuals and
couples who need these services face barriers to accessing them,
and they also must confront laws that deny them the right to create
the families that many of them desire.
Modern reproductive technologies,
including in-vitro fertilization (IVF), as well as more
long-standing practices, such as surrogacy, are available to LGBT
individuals and couples who wish to start families. However, these
options are out of reach for many, particularly given that same-sex
couples, especially lesbian couples, are more
likely to be poor than their heterosexual counterparts. IVF in
the U.S. averages
around $10,000 per treatment—an expense that is out of reach
for many LGBT would-be parents. And surrogacy typically bears a
price tag of $30,000
or more, as well as social controversy and legal difficulty
(and, of course, potential legal costs) associated with enforcing
surrogacy contracts in most states. Even the states that are
relatively surrogacy contract-friendly often do not have laws that
meaning that both intended parents are not automatically legal
While adoption presents its own share of challenges—it, too, can
and it is not necessarily equally available to non-citizens—it
also gives LGBT couples the chance to give forever homes to some of
the hundreds of thousands of children in the child welfare system.
But here, again, LGBT couples may face hurdles in bringing children
into their families. Same-sex couples are bannedfrom
jointly adopting children in five states and the lack of treatment
of this issue in the laws of another 28 states creates uncertainty
for willing parents. Furthermore, the lack of relationship
recognition for same-sex couples in many states may give them lower
priority for adoption, giving preference to married couples and
even disqualifying non-married cohabiting couples.
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