The Supreme Judicial Court ruled today that the partner of an unmarried woman who conceives through artificial insemination can be designated a parent of the children even if they split up.
The ruling, which extends parental rights that previously were only guaranteed to members of married couples who split up, comes in the case of a woman who sought a declaration she was the parent of the two children her girlfriend had after in-vitro fertilization.
The state's highest court ruled that Karen Partanen deserved parental designation because she was, in fact, as much a parent to the two kids as Julie Gallagher, who bore them - she was a "presumed parent" under state law, who "received the child into their home and openly held out the child as their child." The court continued:
Though Partanen did not formally adopt the children, she participated in raising them from the time of their birth. Her participation included "waking for night-time feedings, bathing, meal preparation, grocery shopping, transportation to/from day care and school, staying home with the children during times of illness, clothes shopping, providing appropriate discipline as necessary, addressing their developmental needs, [and] comforting" them. Partanen was involved also "in all decisionmaking for the children," including in matters related to their education and healthcare. Partanen "provided [the children] consistent financial support," and both children referred to Partanen as "Mommy." Partanen and Gallagher represented themselves publicly as the children's parents in formal contexts such as at the children's schools and for medical appointments, as well as in their interactions with friends and family. They vacationed as a family, shared expenses, purchased joint assets, and sent family holiday cards.