A Texas appeals court has ruled that Cindy Close, who is featured in our film Breeders: A Subclass of Women?, is the legal mother of her twins. Cindy was in a non-romantic relationship with Marvin McMurrey III when they decided to have children together using donor eggs and his sperm for Close to conceive via IVF. Upon giving birth to the twins, McMurrey challenged Cindy’s rights as the mother of the children since she had no genetic connection to the babies. McMurrey claimed that Cindy was just a surrogate with no parental rights. The twins were discharged from the hospital to McMurrey and his partner, which left Cindy without the children and facing an uphill legal custody battle.
Grady Reiff, Cindy’s attorney, stated that McMurrey’s argument “is that an unmarried woman has to adjudicate her parentage just like an unmarried man.” Further, McMurrey argued, “It’s an equal protection violation under the constitution that a woman gets the unilateral ability to become a parent simply by giving birth.” The Texas Family Code establishes the mother-child relationship at birth; simply by giving birth to the babies, Cindy is their mother.
Thankfully, for now, her legal rights as the mother of her children have been upheld as there was no written surrogacy agreement, nor was McMurrey married, which is a requirement in Texas law for intended parents entering into surrogacy contracts. This decision has translated into additional visitation hours for Cindy, during which she is allowed to take the children from their father’s home. Until the children are three, however, she still cannot have them for any overnight visitation.
- Jennifer Lahl, MA, BSN, RN, is founder and president of The Center for Bioethics and Culture Network. Lahl couples her 25 years of experience as a pediatric critical care nurse, a hospital administrator, and a senior-level nursing manager with a deep passion to speak for those who have no voice. Lahl’s writings have appeared in various publications including Cambridge University Press, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Dallas Morning News, and the American Journal of Bioethics. As a field expert, she is routinely interviewed on radio and television including ABC, CBS, PBS, and NPR. She is also called upon to speak alongside lawmakers and members of the scientific community, even being invited to speak to members of the European Parliament in Brussels to address issues of egg trafficking; she has three times addressed the United Nations during the Commission on the Status of Women on egg and womb trafficking.