Susan Smith Blakely

Best Friends at the Bar: All Mothers Are Not Created Equal

Editor's Note: This post originally appeared on the Best Friends at the Bar blog on September 27, 2011.

It used to be that motherhood was motherhood, and taking maternity leave to care for a newborn infant was the issue.  Now, the issue seems to be more about how the baby came into being than about what the baby needs.  For all of you contemplating maternity leave, listen up…..Recently, as reported at www.bionews,, a US business woman is suing her employer after being allegedly denied maternity leave following the birth of her twins through a surrogate mother.  The surrogate arrangement resulted from the woman not being able to conceive due to a medical condition.  The twins that were delivered by the surrogate were biologically related to the woman and her husband.

In denying the woman the full maternity leave that she had expected, the employer relied upon the fact that the woman had not conceived and delivered the twins and compared her situation to that of an adoptive parent.  Adoptive parents were given considerably less maternity/paternity leave than “natural” parents at this employer.

Although there are other important issues in this case, especially those relating to the woman’s medical condition, the case is one of the first of its kind to come before the US District Court involving issues of assisted reproduction, family law and employment law.

Watch for the results in this case and the treatment of “motherhood” and also the issues of sex discrimination in terms of what men have a right to expect under similar circumstances.

The decision and any appellate action may, indeed, determine whether all mothers are created equal.

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