When a patient comes to me asking for help finding a gestational surrogate, my answer up until now has always been the same: I can help you, but it may involve you travelling out of state. Surprisingly, gestational surrogacy has been prohibited in New Jersey for the last three decades. While it wasn’t outright illegal, contracts were unenforceable.
The New Jersey Legislature is advancing a statute that would enable individuals to enter into enforceable agreements for surrogate parenthood via gestational carriers. The New Jersey Gestational Carrier Agreement Act (S-482, A-1704) awaits only final legislative approval and the signature of Gov. Phil Murphy to become law.
In gestational surrogacy, a woman agrees to be implanted with a fertilized egg that is not hers, and to carry the fetus to term. The fetus is conceived in vitro, using egg and sperm from donors who are unrelated to the woman. The act requires such agreements to be in writing; additionally, the carrier must be over age 21 and have already borne at least one child of her own; her spouse or partner must consent in writing, and the intended parents must provide financial and medical support to the woman throughout her pregnancy and delivery. All parties must also undergo psychological evaluation and be represented by independent counsel. The woman carrying the fetus must surrender custody of the baby to the intended parents immediately upon birth. The act specifies that during the pregnancy, the intended parents must initiate a proceeding for an order of parentage. After the birth, the state will issue a birth certificate listing only the intended parents as the legal parents. Records relating to the agreement will remain confidential, but the child may petition for access when he or she turns 18.
According to the Ministry of Health (MOH), surrogacy refers to the arrangement where “a woman is artificially impregnated, whether for monetary compensation or not, with the intention that the child is to be the social child of some other person or couple”.
Commercial surrogacy often involves a fee paid to the surrogate mother. By hiring a surrogate mother, you are essentially hiring a woman to carry and deliver a child for you.
LGBT people have gradually stepped out from shadows over the last 50 years, not only transforming our own lives, but those of our families and communities. A generation or two ago, the children we raised were born of previous heterosexual relationships. This began to change in the 1970s and ‘80s, aided by helpful court rulings that reflected cultural sea change in attitudes toward gay people in general. In 1997, New Jersey became the first state to allow same-sex couples to adopt jointly.
Adoption, artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization and surrogacy are now viable avenues available for LGBT individuals and couples. Ultimately, the choice of how to build your family (adoption vs. fertility treatment) is a personal decision based on many factors. Those who seek help from assisted reproductive technologies want to have children with whom they share a genetic connection. What is this path like?
The high cost of assisted reproductive treatment in North America is forcing many US citizens to look to other countries for high-quality medical care at a lower cost.
In 2016, nearly 1.4 million Americans travelled outside the U.S. in search of medical treatment, compared to 750,000 in 2008. Currently, medical tourism, or cross border reproductive care as the media have labelled it, is rising by 25% per year.
The primary reasons for these trips, according to a study conducted by the Task Force on Ethics and Law from the ESHRE, and published in the scientific journal Human Reproduction (Shenfield et al. 2010), is the difficulty in accessing certain treatments due to legal restrictions, long waiting lists, and thirdly, the search for high-quality reproductive treatment.
The main countries hosting these medical tourists in Europe are Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Switzerland, Slovenia and Spain. The fact that the latter has the most permissive legislation in terms of assisted reproduction, together with the European regulations on mobilisation of biological samples, and high medical and technical quality make Spain the top destination. It is also the country with the most egg donations.
There are several reasons to consider using a surrogate to bear your child. Male same-sex couples who want to have a biological child often use a surrogate. Some women are unable to carry and bear a child due to cancer treatment, genetic conditions, having had a hysterectomy, or medical conditions that make it dangerous for them to get pregnant. Sometimes couples use a surrogate when other fertility treatments have not been successful for them or there are problems with the female partner’s uterus. You may have heard of celebrity couples who have used surrogates, such as Jimmy Fallon and his wife Nancy Juvonen, and Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick. Here are some facts you need to know before you start on your journey to a family with a surrogate.
Traditional methods aren’t typically available for queer people to grow their families, and growing families non-traditionally can be expensive. What are the options and costs for queer couples and individuals to consider when family planning?
3 Questions Queer People Should Ask Before Growing Our Families – photo by Shutterstock
The cost to raise a child from birth to 18 years old, not including family planning or college, is estimated by the USDA to be about $245,340. For many LGBT families, this is the minimum cost. This is why lack of financial planning when family planning could put queer families at financial risk.
A large chalkboard in the kitchen of the Sherman Oaks home of Sam and Rachel Simkin proclaims, “Please excuse the mess, we are making memories.” Those memories are being made with their children: Jonah, 9, Penina, 7, Vered, 4, and their 12-year-old golden retriever, Nagy.
Rachel, 38, is finishing pumping breast milk for the fourth baby she gave birth to in November. He was nicknamed “Baby G” while in utero. However, he is not the Simkins’ son. Rachel was a gestational surrogate, implanted with an embryo created via in vitro fertilization with Mr. and Mrs. G’s egg and sperm.
Let’s count this as an important half-victory for securing the rights of intended parents to enter into valid surrogacy agreements.
Last week, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled in favor of the intended parents in a surrogacy arrangement gone wildly wrong. The judgment finally secured the parental rights of an intended parent who was also the genetic father of the baby. The case also set a valuable precedent for enforcing surrogacy contracts in Iowa. Intended parents and gestational surrogates — as well as fertility doctors and assisted reproductive technology attorneys in the Hawkeye state — can all celebrate the new certainty and dependability of many of these arrangements. However, the decision left open the possibility that some parents may be left out in the bitter Iowa cold.
The Vermont House today gave approval to H.562, a bill pertaining to parentage (link is external). In 2017, the Legislature created a study committee in response to the Vermont Supreme Court’s request to provide legislative recommendations to modernize Vermont’s parentage laws to recognize the changing nature of Vermont families. H.562 is the result of the Parentage Study Committee’s work.