A custody battle in Florida between two lesbians could fuel the growing national debate over the definition of motherhood.
It also might force state lawmakers to reconsider a 19-year-old law regarding the rights of sperm and egg donors.
The women, now in their 30s and known in court papers only by their initials, were law-enforcement officers in Florida. One partner donated an egg that was fertilized and implanted in the other. That woman gave birth in 2004, nine years into their relationship.
But the Brevard County couple separated two years later, and the birth mother eventually left Florida with the child without telling her former lover. The woman who donated the egg and calls herself the biological mother tracked them down in Australia with the help of a private detective.
Their fight over the now 8-year-old girl is before the state Supreme Court, which has not announced whether it will consider the case. A trial judge ruled for the birth mother and said the biological mother has no parental rights under state law.
The 5th District Court of Appeal in Daytona Beach obliged, siding with the biological mother and saying both women have parental rights.
At issue is the 1993 state law meant to regulate sperm and egg donation. Scholars debate whether the constitutional right to procreate includes outside-the-body technologies used to conceive.