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Prof. Apel Explores "Newfangled Families"

May 7, 2012

 In a recent story headlined "Newfangled Families," the Valley News featured the MedLaw Seminar taught by Vermont Law School Professor Susan Apel, director of the General Practice Program, and Judy Stern, a professor at Dartmouth's Geisel School of Medicine.

Image of ApelThe seminar, which started in 1999, explores the legal and social complexities that can result when couples use assisted reproductive technologies (ART) to create a family.

The rate of ART procedures in the United States has doubled over the past decade, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Copntrol and Prevention. More than 1 percent of all infants born in the United States every year are conceived using ART. With rising rates of infertility and more couples desiring to have children outside the traditional male-female marriage structure, the prevalence of technology-assisted pregnancies is likely to increase.

"Stern and Apel connected after they realized each needed the expertise of the other," the Valley News reported. "Stern, the doctor, wanted to learn more about the potential legal issues involved in newfangled fertility procedures. And Apel, the professor, had received her training in family law before many of these procedures were even in existence.

"'I realized I was teaching this old-fashioned family law,' Apel said. 'I needed to understand more about the new technology. Most of these (legal) cases, with some exceptions, are dealt with on a state-by-state basis. You have 50 different jurisdictions that may be coming to different results... It's a difficult assignment for the courts. they're working with very little precendent from anywhere else.'"

Learn more about VLS's MedLaw Seminar and General Practice Program.

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