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Surrogate, adoptive or birth: When should a mom qualify for mat leave?

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When is a parent just a parent?

A New York woman is suing her bosses after they cut her maternity benefits to just five days because she had her twins with a surrogate. Five days is what a parent adopting a child gets at the pharmaceutical company, compared to 13 weeks if a woman carries the baby herself.

Kara Krill developed Asherman's syndrome after her first child (for which she received the 13 weeks), a reproductive disability that prevented her from carrying another child. She and her husband hired a surrogate who went on to give birth to the couple's twins in 2010.

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According to court document, Ms. Krill wrote to her bosses saying, "treating her differently than other employees having babies is not fair and is placing me in an untenable condition."

Responding to the New York case in an interview with ABC news, a law professor pointed out that it would be difficult for a company to award maternity benefits to a mother who did not give birth, and not extend them to fathers.

Canadian parents who qualify for far longer benefits ( at least 35 weeks in parental leave however your new child arrived in your arms) can be grateful they aren't looking at a five-day speed bonding exercise with their baby.

But a similar issue has also gone before the courts here where an adoptive parents receive parental leave benefits from the government, but not the additional maternity benefits available only to women who give birth. The same would apply to parents of babies delivered through surrogacy.

An adoptive mother from Vancouver took the government to court in 2007 arguing that the shorter benefits were discriminatory , but lost at the Federal Court of Appeal.

The court ruled that the she did not qualify for additional benefits because she didn't undergo the "physiological and psychological experience" or pregnancy. The Supreme Court of Canada declined to hear her appeal.

What do you think: Should pregnancy qualify a woman for extra benefit? Or should adoptive parents and parents who have babies by surrogacy receive the same benefits as birth moms?

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About the Author

Erin Anderssen writes about mental health, social policy and family issues. More

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