A lesbian who took the biological daughter of her partner to Australia has sparked a global debate on the question of motherhood and egg donors.
The American women, known only in the court papers as their initials, are both in their 30s and were police officers in Florida.
One partner donated an egg that was fertilized and implanted in the other, who gave birth in 2004, nine years into their relationship.
The couple separated two years later, and the birth mother eventually left without a trace taking the child with her.
The woman who donated the egg, and calls herself the biological mother, used a detective to track her former partner down. The detective found her ex-girlfriend, the birth mother, and the now eight-year-old girl living in Australia.
The egg donor has now launched a ground-breaking custody battle in the Florida Supreme Court, creating problems whether the constitutional right to procreate includes outside-the-body technologies used to conceive.
Also at debate is the constitutional question about gay people’s right to raise children and claim equal protection under law.
A trial judge ruled in favor of the birth mother, and said the biological mother has no parental rights under state law which states egg donors ‘relinquish all maternal or paternal rights’.
The 5th District Court of Appeal in Daytona Beach sided with the biological mother, saying both have parental rights.
The birth mother cites the state's law on sperm and egg donation to argue the biological mother wasn't the child's parent.
In response, the lawyers of the biological mother state she was not a donor as she also raised the child.
In the Court of Appeal, the judges said: ‘Their separation does not dissolve the parental rights of either woman, nor does it dissolve the love and affection either has for the child.'