The implications of this holding extend beyond the termination of the rights of an absent father. By emphasizing the importance of the familial rather than the genetic relationship, the court also provides a hint about how it might analyze a contest between a birth mother and an embryo donor. A bias in favor of the birth mother would be consistent with the Supreme Court's determination later in this case that the law at issue did not violate the equal protection clause. The father argued that the law gave the mother's rights more protection than it did those of a putative father. The Court found that the statute protected all parents with a real, custodial relationship with the child. The mother's interests were protected because she gave birth to the child and took care of her after birth, not because she was the biological mother.When a court grants a divorce, it also determines who gets custody of the children. States differ in the extent of the parental rights remaining to the noncustodial parent. This can pose problems when getting consent for the child's medical care. Even states that generally allow the noncustodial parent to consent to medical care for the child allow the court to deny the noncustodial parent the right to make decisions for the child. Physicians should find out the applicable rules for their state. If the state does not allow the noncustodial parent to consent to or direct the child's medical care, the physician should ask custodial parents their wishes. If the custodial parent wants the noncustodial parent to be able to obtain medical care for the child and there is no court order to the contrary, the custodial parent should sign a delegation of authority to consent to the child's medical care. (See Chapter 11.) In all states, the physician should ask the custodial parent if there are any court-ordered limitations on the rights of the noncustodial parent. If a pregnant woman is divorced during the course of the pregnancy, the courts will sometimes make a determination of paternity as well as custody of the child. A physician should handle this the same way as any other child of divorce. Lehr v. Robertson. 463 U.S. 248 (1982).
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