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Inheritance Rights For Children Born Through IVF Signed Into Law

Columbus, Miss., resident Katie McDill Studdard and her late husband, Chris McDill, tried to conceive a baby through fertility treatments before he died of cancer at age 33 in 2017, but did not have any luck. Over a year after he passed away, Studdard conceived her daughter, Elyse McDill, through IVF.

Although Elyse McDill is Chris McDill’s biological daughter, she has not been able to claim his inheritance from Social Security; the State does not recognize her as his legal child since her mother conceived her through IVF after the child’s father died.

Current Mississippi law does not provide inheritance rights for children conceived through IVF after one or both parents died, but that may soon change. Not only has Elyse McDill not been able to receive any survivor benefits from her father’s death, but Katie McDill Studdard has not received benefits for caring for her late husband’s legal child.

But House Bill 1542, which Gov. Tate Reeve signed into law on Monday, May 13, could give inheritance rights to children conceived through assisted reproductive technology after one of their parents died. Rep. Dana McLean, R-Columbus, has been trying to get this bill on the books since 2019 when voters first elected her to serve the constituents of District 39; Studdard shared her story with the representative years ago.

“Children born through IVF of course inherit from both parents, but not after one of the parents is deceased,” McLean told the Mississippi Free Press on May 2.

No Protections for IVF Treatments

In the wake of an Alabama Supreme Court ruling on legal protections for embryos that imperiled access to IVF treatments earlier this year, some Mississippi Republicans and Democrats made efforts to enshrine protections for IVF and other assisted reproduction technologies in law.

After negotiations between House and Senate members on H.B. 1542, an April 27 conference report added protections for assisted reproductive technology, including IVF and surrogacy. Under that proposal, not only would children like Elyse McDill have inheritance rights protected, but law enforcement would not have been able to charge a person with a crime if an

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