Surrogacy can help parents start or grow their families when natural or other methods do not work. Surrogacy is a form of assisted reproduction using a surrogate mother to bear a child for another person or couple. Surrogate mothers become pregnant through intrauterine insemination or in vitro fertilization. It is important to understand and follow the laws regarding surrogacy in Pennsylvania, as a prospective surrogate or parent.
Federal vs. State Surrogacy Laws
Surrogacy is a completely legal method of becoming a family in the state of Pennsylvania. Although no state-specific surrogacy laws exist in Pennsylvania, families and individuals must obey federal laws. Federal surrogacy laws can be complex, and typically require candidates and families to work with surrogacy professionals to ensure a lawful and correct process. The lack of state surrogacy laws makes following federal laws even more important if families do not want to face legal issues.
A few states in the U.S. are not surrogacy-friendly, such as Arizona and Idaho. Other states permit surrogacy, but have specific rules people must obey to surrogate lawfully. A Superior Court of Pennsylvania case ruled on the legality of surrogacy in the state. The court ruled that surrogacy is legal in Pennsylvania, but it did not establish any state-specific laws on the subject. A surrogacy group or attorney can help answer any questions you may have about federal laws, as well as walk you through the surrogacy process.
What Is Traditional Surrogacy?
The two types of surrogacy are gestational and traditional. Gestational surrogacy is the most common practice. It involves in vitro fertilization of someone else’s egg and sperm into the surrogate mother, making the surrogate not genetically related to the baby. Traditional surrogacy involves the surrogate becoming pregnant through intrauterine insemination. This means the surrogate uses her own eggs and will be genetically related to the baby. Traditional surrogacy is not as frequent an arrangement.
Pennsylvania technically permits both types of surrogacy. However, traditional surrogacy has fewer regulations and greater legal risks than gestational. Investing in traditional surrogacy is the same as adoption in the eyes of state laws. This means pre-birth parentage orders and surrogacy compensation are against the law. The parties involved in a traditional surrogacy will have to take additional steps after birth to establish parental rights. Many surrogacy professionals will not complete traditional surrogacy because of the legal and emotional risks.
Gestational surrogacy, on the other hand, comes with more specific rules in Pennsylvania. It is easier for parents and surrogates to establish parental rights and limit legal risks. It is also okay for surrogate mothers to obtain compensation for their services, often between $30,000 and $50,000, plus related medical expenses. Gestational surrogacy is almost always the safer bet for parties in Pennsylvania. State laws allow commercial surrogacy for gestational services, but not for traditional.
The Surrogacy Contract
Navigating the legalities of the surrogacy process requires a written contract. Both the intended parents and surrogate mother (as well as the surrogate’s spouse, if applicable) will have to complete a legal surrogacy contract in Pennsylvania before beginning the process. Again, the law does not allow a pre-birth parentage order with traditional surrogacy. This means parties involved may need to undergo extra steps to confirm the parental rights to the baby after birth.
Both parties should hire their own attorneys to ensure their rights. A lawyer can ensure the contracts follow all state and federal surrogacy laws, and address all possible legal pitfalls. Working with a surrogacy attorney is the best way to protect your rights and enjoy a safe, smooth surrogacy process in Pennsylvania. Only after all parties have reviewed and finalized their contracts can the surrogacy proceed to the medical stage.