Johnson v. Calvert

5 Cal. 4th 84, 19 Cal. Rptr. 2d 494, 851 P.2d 776 (1993)

 

RULE:

Although the Uniform Parentage Act (Act), Cal Civ. Code §§ 7000-721 (repealed 1994) recognizes both genetic consanguinity and giving birth as means of establishing a mother and child relationship, when the two means do not coincide in one woman, she who intended to procreate the child--that is, she who intended to bring about the birth of a child that she intended to raise as her own--is the natural mother under California law.

FACTS:

Mark and Crispina Calvert, a childless married couple, and Anna Johnson entered into a contract providing that an embryo created by the gametes of the couple would be implanted in Johnson’s uterus and that the child born would be the couple's child. Johnson, the surrogate mother, would relinquish all parental rights to the child, in return for which the couple would pay the surrogate a specified fee and buy her a life insurance policy. The surrogate became pregnant, but relations between her and the couple deteriorated. After the surrogate made a demand suggesting she might refuse to surrender the child, the couple sued for a declaration they were the legal parents of the unborn child, and the surrogate then filed her own action to be declared the mother. The cases were consolidated, the child was born, a blood test excluded the surrogate as the genetic mother, and the trial court ordered that the couple temporarily keep the child, whom the surrogate could visit. At trial, the court ruled that the couple were the child's genetic, biological, and natural father and mother, that the surrogate had no parental rights to the child, and that the contract was legal and enforceable against the surrogate's claims. It also terminated the visitation order. The appellate court affirmed.

ISSUE:

Did the lower courts err in holding that the couple were the child's genetic, biological, and natural father and mother, and accordingly, that the surrogate mother had no parental rights to the child?

ANSWER:

No.

CONCLUSION:

The state supreme court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals holding that the judgment that the genetic parents were the natural parents of a child gestated by the surrogate. The court held that, although the Uniform Parentage Act recognized both genetic consanguinity and giving birth as means of establishing a mother and child relationship, when the two means did not coincide in one woman, she who intended to procreate the child was the natural mother under California law. The court further held that the surrogacy agreement was not facially inconsistent with public policy, gestational surrogacy did not entail involuntary servitude, and termination of the surrogate's claims to the child was not otherwise unconstitutional.

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