Equality CA Calls on Governor to Sign Assemblymember Chiu’s AB 960 Protects All Families Using Assisted Reproduction

Late last week, Equality California joined Assemblymember Chiu and a coalition of LGBT and family advocates to urge Governor Jerry Brown to sign Assembly Bill 960, the Equal Protection for All Families Act. The bill was approved by the Assembly on Monday with bipartisan support, and it now heads to the Governor’s desk. AB 960 updates California’s assisted reproduction laws to help ensure that all families, including LGBT families, are equally protected by law. The bill is co-sponsored by the Equality California (EQCA), National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and Our Family Coalition (OFC).Specifically, AB 960 updates current assisted reproduction laws in three ways to clarify that intended parents are recognized as legal parents—and donors as donors—from the moment of birth. First, unmarried couples using assisted reproduction would be recognized as parents on the same terms as married couples. The bill would also remove the current requirement in Family Law that couples must involve a doctor when using assisted reproduction in order to ensure that the donor is not a parent. Finally, AB 960 provides clear direction for how egg donors should be treated under California law.

“Thanks to this legislation, no parent will have to worry that his or her connection to a child is in jeopardy due to the method of conception,” said Rick Zbur, Executive Director of Equality California. “LGBT people form families in various, valid ways. This bill merely recognizes that fact.”

“We are one step closer to eliminating legal nightmares and heartbreaking situations for many California families, especially LGBT families,” said Assemblymember Chiu. “I urge Governor Brown to continue supporting updates to Family Law to let our same-sex couples looking to start their families in California have confidence that they will be legally recognized and protected by law.”

Current law does not provide legal protection to many families formed by assisted reproduction. Today, the legal recognition as a parent of a child conceived through assisted reproduction is limited to married couples, leaving many unmarried intended parents to be considered legal strangers to the children they plan to raise. Many parents, including many same-sex parents, transgender parents, and intended single parents, use at-home insemination methods to conceive. However, under current law, at-home insemination situations leave sperm donors vulnerable and potentially liable for child support. Sperm donors are recognized as just donors and not legal fathers when a doctor or sperm bank is involved.

This issue extends beyond legal protection to one of access as well. Without the bill’s changes to California Family Law, couples are limited in their methods of starting their families due to costs. Many families simply cannot afford to conceive using a sperm bank or doctor, which can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars per month. AB 960 would reduce economic barriers to starting a family through assisted reproduction.

“There are many families in California who had their children through assisted reproduction who are not recognized by California law,” said Cathy Sakimura, Family Law Director at the National Center for Lesbian Rights. “We urge the Governor to sign this important bill to ensure that all children born through assisted reproduction have these legal protections.”

“The bill will particularly benefit lower income LGBTQ parents, who will now be able to use more affordable forms of assisted reproduction and have their families recognized and protected by California law,” said Renata Moreira, Our Family Coalition’s Acting Executive Director.

AB 960 is expected to arrive on the Governor’s desk by the end of this week; he will have 12 days to sign it.

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Equality California is California’s largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization focused on creating a fair and just society. Our mission is to achieve and maintain full and lasting equality, acceptance and social justice for all people in our diverse LGBT communities, inside and outside of California. Our mission includes advancing the health and well-being of LGBT Californians through direct healthcare service advocacy and education. Through electoral, advocacy, education and mobilization programs, we strive to create a broad and diverse alliance of LGBT people, educators, government officials, communities of color and faith, labor, business, and social justice communities to achieve our goals. www.eqca.org