Newsletter: What happens in Thailand…

July 14, 2015

New 7/14 Episode: OUTSIDE THE WOMB

Photo Credit: Michael D. Sullivan

Photo Credit: Michael D. Sullivan

The law isn’t actually written in stone. It morphs and changes with the times. What happens when laws change all of a sudden and people find themselves in legal limbo in a foreign country.

Couples who want babies—but can’t have them naturally—often turn to a surrogate mother. And in some countries, surrogacy is big business. For years, surrogacy in Thailand was commonplace. But in a legal split second, the government recently banned surrogacy for foreigners.

Michael Sullivan brings us this story about the law, two men, a surrogate birth mother, and a baby.


The Families We Create

On June 26, 2015, the United States Supreme Court issued a ruling that said it is unconstitutional for states to prohibit same-sex marriage.  But when it comes to same sex couples who want to create families, the law is vague.

Joshua McNichols of KUOW in Seattle spoke with Washington State Supreme Court Justice Mary Yu, the state’s first openly gay justice and the state’s first Asian American justice. Now an Associate Justice on the Washington State Supreme Court,  as a Superior Court Judge, Yu officiated the first same-sex marriage in the state and presided over more than 1,000 adoptions by gay, lesbian, and straight couples over the past 15 years.

Life of the Law also spoke with Jessie Odell. For years, Odell and his partner, Cooper, fought in the Florida State Courts for the right to adopt their son, George.

You can listen to the interviews, here.


Reporter’s Notebook: Michael Sullivan


Wondering how this week’s episode came together? comes together? Life of the Law’s intern, Kirsten Jusewicz-Haidle spoke with reporter Michael Sullivan about the story.

Kirsten: How did you find this story?

Michael: I actually didn’t come up with the idea for this story. Michael May (Life of the Law’s Managing Editor) alerted me to it and asked me to check into it, and that’s how it started. I immediately called the commissioning parents involved and found that they were having to separate–the next day–because one of them had to deal with legal issues regarding the baby in Spain. So I jumped on the first flight to Bangkok the next morning to speak with them together before one of them had to leave that evening.

Kirsten: What was your favorite part of reporting this story?

Michael: Watching the Carrington’s with their twins and seeing their relationship with their surrogate. All the rest was just sad. I see the pain for the commissioning parents, but I can also see the pain of Patidta, the surrogate, who says see feels for the baby after carrying it in her womb for so long.

Kirsten: What did you find most surprising?

Michael: That the commissioning couple haven’t been included in the grandfathering in part of the law. Full stop.

Michael Sullivan is an independent reporter and former Senior Asia Correspondent for National Public Radio.


LIVE LAW Stories in Baltimore, July 20

Our next Live Law show in Baltimore is less than a week away! We can’t wait to gather at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African-American History to hear stories from Soros Justice Fellows, who will reflect not only on the momentous year the city of Baltimore has had, but on its implications for us all.

We’ll be presenting their stories and those told in New Orleans, Des Moines, Brooklyn and other cities on our LIVE LAW podcast in weeks to come. If you don’t want to miss out, subscribe on our website, iTunes, or on your favorite podcast app.

If you haven’t heard LIVE LAW’s most recent story from Patrice Gaines about facing down the Confederate Flag, you can listen here.


Meet the Team: Nick Zee

We want to introduce you to Life of the Law’s new intern, Nick Zee! He’s joining our team for the summer. We’ll let him take it from here. 

I am incredibly honored to join the Life of the Law Team as a Contributing Intern. It is thrilling to join a team that makes the law so authentic and emotionally disarming. I am pursuing my undergraduate degree in Political Science at DePaul University (which I began when I was certain a career in politics was the right fit for me.) Since then, I have developed a love of journalism and can’t imagine myself doing anything else.

There is nothing more fulfilling for me than meeting with people or talking to them over the phone to understand how the law has affected them. When I’m not working on a story or at class, I can be found at one Chicago’s many used book stores or concert venues.


What We’re Reading: Jon Ronson’s So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed

These days you’re an outlier if you aren’t active on several forms of social media. Your posts are probably seen by friends, family, and if you’re adventurous, some co-workers and in-laws.
But what happens when your tweets and photo albums draw public interest –– or worse, public outrage? In his book, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, author Jon Ronson digs into the lives of those who have found their witty jokes, mildly obscene photos, and snarky commentary lead to something along the lines of a digital stoning.
There’s the case of Justine Sacco, who infamously flashed her middle finger in front of a sign at Arlington National Cemetery. And there’s Mike Daisey who was burned at the stake for lying about a trip to Chinese Apple factories in an episode of This American Life. Each case study (there are many) offers a clever look into how easy it is to publicly burn someone online and how difficult it is for the shamed to mend their reputations after the flames have died down.


Stay tuned for next week’s LIVE LAW story: Lie


“Being a mother is an attitude, not a biological relation.”
― Robert A. Heinlein, Have Space Suit—Will Travel