Supreme Court of California - 5 Cal. 4th 84
The 1993 case Johnson v. Calvert involved a dispute over parental rights in a surrogacy arrangement. The California Supreme Court ruled in this significant case, setting a legal precedent for recognizing the intended parents as the child's legal parents in such situations.
The case concerned a surrogacy arrangement between Mark and Crispina Calvert and Anna Johnson. Johnson was the gestational surrogate, carrying the Calverts' genetically related child. After the child's birth, Johnson claimed she was the legal mother and sought custody.
The trial court ruled in favor of the Calverts as the legal parents, based on their genetic ties and intention to raise the child. Johnson appealed the decision, arguing that she deserved recognition as the legal mother due to carrying and giving birth to the child.
The California Supreme Court upheld the trial court's ruling, deciding that the Calverts were the child's legal parents. The court determined that intended parents, who provide the genetic material and plan to raise the child, have a stronger claim to legal parenthood than the surrogate. The court also emphasized the importance of recognizing the parties' intentions in surrogacy and protecting the child's best interests.
Johnson v. Calvert is important because it clarified the legal principles for determining parentage in surrogacy and established a precedent for recognizing the intended parents as a child's legal parents, protecting the rights and interests of all parties involved.
This case involves a dispute over the maternity of a child born through surrogacy. The court concluded that the intended parents are the child's natural parents, and the surrogacy contract was deemed valid and enforceable. Maternity can be established through intention to procreate and raise the child, regardless of genetic consanguinity or giving birth. California law recognizes only one natural mother for any child. The court considered the parties' intentions, as expressed in the surrogacy contract, in deciding the issue of maternity under the Act because the agreement is not inconsistent with public policy. The court rejected the argument that surrogacy contracts violate social policies and found that the surrogacy contract used in this case does not violate the public policies embodied in Penal Code section 273 and the adoption statutes. The court acknowledged concerns that surrogacy contracts may exploit or dehumanize women, but recognized that the Legislature is the appropriate forum to address these issues and develop rules of general applicability based on empirical data.
The court has determined that Crispina Calvert is the natural mother of the child she intended to raise with her husband. However, the concurring judge disagrees with the majority's statement that surrogacy contracts are not against public policy. Surrogacy contracts are a sensitive matter that requires careful, non-adversarial analysis beyond traditional contract law. The court should not unnecessarily involve itself in matters better suited for legislative action. Surrogacy issues are best addressed by the legislature, which has the ability to consider all viewpoints and formulate general guidelines applicable to a broad range of situations. The court should be cautious and not overstep its bounds in light of this legislative failure.
This legal case involves determining legal motherhood for a child born through gestational surrogacy in California. The court granted immediate custody to the biological parents but allowed visitation rights to the surrogate. The debate surrounding the ethical and moral objections to surrogacy is discussed, with advocates proposing enforcing pre-conception contracts and critics arguing that the best interests of the child should be the primary consideration. The Uniform Status of Children of Assisted Conception Act is discussed, which aims to establish the legal status of children born through assisted conception and the rights of all participants in surrogacy arrangements. The majority in this case uses the genetic mother's intent as a criterion to break the tie, but the dissenting opinion disagrees, arguing that the best interests of the child and the rights of the gestational mother should be prioritized.
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