Monthly Archives: April 2014

This is not the end: One student-mom’s story on her unplanned pregnancy

Nia is a 21-year old Interior Design major at Stephen F. Austin Statue University (SFA) in Nacogdoches, Texas.  Nia is also expecting her first child in July.

Each year, the members of Lumberjacks for Life, SFA’s student-led pro-life group, raise money for awarding scholarships to pregnant and parenting SFA students.  Any parent below the age of 35, enrolled as an undergraduate, and who has primary custody of their child(ren) are eligible to apply.  The good pro-life folks in Nacogdoches attend BBQ fundraisers and donate money to help Lumberjacks for Life provide at least two $500 scholarships annually. I was asked to review this spring semester’s applicants, and after reading through many stories of struggle, faith, and love, I asked one of LFL’s finalists, Nia, if she would mind me re-printing the answers she gave to some of the essay questions.  She agreed. I hope her story will convict my readers’ hearts to find a pregnancy support group for parents who are choosing to finish their undergraduate degree and help them with your time, finances, and prayers.  If you need to locate one, I of course have a few to suggest!

Nia’s story: After the disbelief wore off and I accepted the fact I was really pregnant, I knew in my heart I had to take responsibility for what I took part in creating. I have had many adversities in my life in the past, such as my hearing disability, which I honestly do not consider much of a disability anymore. Still, sometimes as a student I do have to accept my “disability” and make adjustments accordingly. I admit school is not easy for me, but as a junior here at Stephen F. Austin State University, I can tell you that I have never quit and have made it this far. I use my code of ethics for school as merely an example of my personality and will to overcome no matter the circumstance. As a little girl and even as a young woman, I always dreamed of being happily married with a bunch of little ones running around. I never imagined in all my life that I would be pregnant at 21 years old and unmarried. Such a situation, in the beginning, was extremely hard for me to accept. Ultimately, I had disappointed myself but the “can’t quit” part of me forced the realization that this was not the end. Instead it was just a hurdle that I would overcome, like so many others. The ultimate reason I chose life for my baby was because even though I did not plan to be a mother at 21 years old and unmarried, I could not deny a child I created LIFE no matter how difficult things are and may be in the future.

 

Nia’s advice to a friend in an unplanned pregnancy:  I have found with many young women whom I have encountered that having an abortion emotionally damaged them for life, so take that into serious consideration. There are so many programs that are willing to help mothers and their children you just have to find them, which isn’t very difficult. Often times there are also local support groups willing to help struggling moms. If raising a child is something you feel you cannot do regardless of how much help and support you receive, consider adoption. There are plenty of couples/people who cannot have children and that would love the opportunity to give your child a home and be a parent to them. My third piece of advice would be to look around at others who have had children unplanned and were still successful. Accept that things will not be easy but realize with some determination, you can succeed and be a great parent. The most important thing to realize and remember is that this is not the end of the road.

 

Words from someone who has been there.

 

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Women, Divorce, and IVF: What happens?

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Imagine this scenario: Embryos are created and stored for in vitro fertilization (IVF), but the couple divorces before all or some are used by the wife. With the IVF process becoming a more prevalent choice for couples facing infertility issues, together with our society’s divorce rate, such a situation is increasingly occurring. What do you need to know?

As is often the case, the law has not caught up with science. Only a handful of state legislatures have statutorily addressed pieces of these moral and highly-emotional situations.  In states with no legislative guidance, courts have typically adopted one of three approaches: the contractual approach, the balancing test, and the contemporaneous consent model.

The current – and only- leading case in Texas comes from the First Court of Appeals between ex-spouses Augusta and Randy Roman.  The Romans began the IVF process, creating three embryos deemed healthy enough to freeze until implantation. The Romans signed an agreement with the clinic that provided the embryos would be destroyed in the event of a divorce. The agreement further granted each spouse the ability to withdraw their consent “to the disposition of the embryos and to discontinue their participation in the program.” On the day before Augusta’s scheduled implantation, Randy withdrew his consent. Eight months later, Randy filed for divorce.

When Randy filed for divorce, Augusta had not had any of the embryos implanted yet. Randy asked the trial court to honor the agreement with the clinic.  Augusta argued that at the time of signing, she believed the agreement to cover only embryos that were left-over after she had already had one or two implanted. Further, Augusta argued that, consistent with Texas law, she would not hold Randy to any legal parental obligations should she give birth from the embryos.

As this was a case of first impression in Texas, both parties pointed to other states to support their arguments. The trial court treated the embryos as community property, awarding them to Augusta as a “fair and equitable division” of the Romans’ community estate. On appeal, after surveying the sparse law from other jurisdictions, the Houston court of appeals decided to adopt the contractual approach: the embryos would be dealt with according to the parties’ agreement with the storage facility. The Houston court found the Texas’ public policy would support enforcement of a prior agreement.  As a result, Augusta went through a lengthy, painful process, ultimately losing the chance to become pregnant. The Supreme Court of Texas denied Augusta’s petition to hear her case, signaling an end to her legal options.

Harsh. Can decisions of this magnitude be adequately addressed on the front-end? Is there a view that needs to be espoused by the pro-life community? Does the need for clear legal resolution mandate adherence to the contractual approach?  Or is there a better way?   More to come on this topic!

Case cite: Roman v. Roman 193 S.W.3d 40 (Tex. App. -1st 2006), pet. denied (2006).

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