New York Legalizes Gestational Surrogacy

After a long back-and-forth battle in the state legislature, the Child-Parent Security Act was finally passed as part of the 2020 New York State Budget on April 2, 2020. The Act now legalizes gestational surrogacy in New York State, allowing intended parents and gestational carriers to join in enforceable compensated gestational surrogacy contracts.

Protecting Modern Families Coalition has been working with New York lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to push for the Act’s legalization over the last 10 years. The Act now brings New York into the modern age of surrogacy, allowing intended parents’ rights to be recognized from the moment of their child’s birth.

The Act also allows for:

  • Compensated gestational surrogacy arrangements
  • Legal protections for gestational surrogates, including:
    • The right to make all health and welfare decisions regarding themselves and their pregnancy, including whether to terminate or continue the pregnancy
    • Independent legal counsel of their choosing, paid for by the intended parents
    • Access to a comprehensive health insurance policy paid for by the intended parents
    • Access to counseling and life insurance
  • Simplified process of securing parenthood for non-biological parents
  • Single women to legally and successfully use a sperm donor to build their family

New York, like its neighbor New Jersey, has a history of anti-surrogacy policies, stemming from the infamous “Baby M” case in the 1980s. For decades, intended parents in New York had to travel to another state to bring a child into their family — often thousands of miles to the surrogacy capitol of the U.S., California. Their stories and the tireless work of family advocates and lawyers like those at Rumbold & Seidelman brings those family-building processes closer to home.

“The Child-Parent Security Act will serve as a national model for forming and protecting families as well as the surrogates who want to help them,” said Rev. Stan J. Sloan, CEO of Family Equality (the organization spearheading the Protecting Modern Families Coalition). “New York has a proud tradition of progressive leadership, and today we add to the legacy of Seneca Falls and Stonewall by saying loudly and clearly that love makes a family.”

American Surrogacy applauds these protections to New York surrogacy legislation and stands ready to help intended parents and prospective surrogates in the Empire State reach their surrogacy dreams. For more information about working with our agency, please call 1-800-875-BABY(2229) or contact us online.

A COVID-19 Update From American Surrogacy

With the rapidly changing national and global COVID-19 situation, American Surrogacy is, as always, dedicated to keeping our intended parents and gestational surrogates safe. We know the coronavirus pandemic is causing concern for everyone — but especially so for our clients in the middle of their surrogacy journeys.

We’ve received several calls from our clients about how coronavirus may impact their surrogacy process. So, we’ve provided some answers to the most commonly asked questions below. If you have a more specific question regarding how COVID-19 may impact your surrogacy journey, please reach out to your surrogacy specialist.

Please note: We are not medical experts, and none of the information below is intended to be used as medical advice. Please stay up-to-date with the latest information from the CDC and the World Health Organization. If you start feeling unwell, please contact your medical professional.

How could the coronavirus pandemic affect my surrogacy journey?

Intended parents and gestational surrogates who are still in the pre-screening and embryo-transfer phases of their surrogacy journey could very likely experience delays for the foreseeable future. While there are currently no domestic travel restrictions, gestational surrogates who are under self-quarantine or concerned about passing the virus to an immunocompromised family member may choose to delay their screenings, fertility treatments and embryo transfers. Intended parents may choose to do the same.

We encourage all intended parents and gestational carriers to contact their fertility clinics to see how their pre-surrogacy journey may change. American Surrogacy advises our clients to be prepared for a delay in these processes as the healthcare industry turns its focus to COVID-19.

How could the coronavirus affect my ability to travel for my surrogate’s birth?

As of right now, there are no domestic travel restrictions. However, because of health concerns and “social distancing” recommendations from the CDC, airlines have already starting reducing flights across the U.S. If you anticipate traveling to your surrogate’s state for delivery to be difficult, please reach out to your airline for more information and let your surrogacy specialist know right away.

During this time, it may also be more difficult to obtain a doctor’s clearance for your newborn to fly. Intended parents should be prepared to drive home with their baby after delivery, just in case. Make sure you are consulting with your doctor prior to and after your child’s birth for the best medical advice. We advise intended parents to also speak with their airline for policies on traveling with a newborn during the coronavirus outbreak and the potential for cancellation and/or refunds.

If you are unable to travel to your surrogate’s state for birth — because of imposed travel restrictions, quarantine or medical fragility — please let your surrogacy specialist know right away.

How could coronavirus impact our hospital experience?

So far, few hospitals have been overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases. Most intended parents and gestational surrogates have been able to proceed with their hospital stay as planned. However, because circumstances are changing quickly, it’s important that you and your surrogacy partner are on the same page, should you need to make major changes to that plan.

It is possible that hospital visit policies will be updated in the coming weeks — potential limitations on visitors allowed, reduced visiting times or restrictions on visitors in certain parts of the hospital. American Surrogacy will not be aware of these policies until our clients experience them, so please keep your surrogacy specialist informed as you and your surrogacy partner prepare for delivery.

We will work closely with hospitals and assist our clients in updating their delivery plans, if necessary.

Will coronavirus impact the gestational pregnancy?

Both intended parents and gestational carriers may be worried about the health of the unborn baby, but there is no current evidence that the virus is passed to the baby during pregnancy. However, according to the CDC, pregnant women may be more susceptible to viral respiratory infections, including COVID-19.

A healthy pregnancy is always important for gestational carriers, but even more so with the current risk posed by the coronavirus. American Surrogacy encourages all of our gestational carriers to follow CDC guidelines — social distancing, washing hands, etc. — to minimize their risk of contracting the virus. Additionally, we encourage all surrogates to stay in close contact with their medical providers during this time.

Intended parents and surrogates concerned about the risks COVID-19 poses to an unborn baby should speak with their appropriate medical professionals.

What if I or my surrogacy partner start showing symptoms or is diagnosed with coronavirus?

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, tiredness and a dry cough. Some individuals may experience aches, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea (although these symptoms are rare, according to the WHO). If you are experiencing any signs of a respiratory illness, out of caution, the CDC recommends you stay home to prevent the potential spread of your illness. Please contact your healthcare provider if you are showing symptoms of COVID-19 to determine the next steps of treatment.

If any party in a gestational surrogacy arrangement begins showing symptoms or is infected with coronavirus, our specialists will inform everyone involved and adjust the surrogacy plan as necessary. This may include: taking additional precautions while traveling (like wearing a mask); making custody arrangements if intended parents are under quarantine; and more.

What else should we know at this time?

American Surrogacy will work diligently with our gestational carriers and intended parents, according to CDC guidelines and protocol. We urge you to do the same to protect yourself and reduce the spread of the virus. Please communicate with us immediately any developments in your health that may affect your surrogacy journey.

We understand how much anxiety and concern this outbreak has caused for many of our clients, and we are committed to doing all we can to protect our intended parents and gestational surrogates during this time. We appreciate your patience and understanding as the situation continues to develop. Your surrogacy specialist will always be available to answer any additional questions you have during this time.

Israel Supreme Court Confirms LGBTQ, Single Parents’ Right to Surrogacy

Single parents and LGBTQ intended parents in Israel can now pursue gestational surrogacy, thanks to a ruling by Israel’s Supreme Court this week.

For years, only heterosexual, married parents could add to their families through gestational surrogacy in Israel. In 2018, a new law allowed for single women or those unable to bear children to pursue this path. Same-sex couples or single men were excluded, prompting the Association of Israeli Gay Fathers to challenge the law in court.

Now, gestational surrogacy is available to all intended parents in Israel who wish to utilize it.

The recent ruling from the court orders Israel’s parliament to “put an end to the discrimination against same-sex couples and single men” within the next 12 months.

“We have won! It’s an emotional day when Israel has finally taken a step towards the advanced countries in the world on rights for LGBT people,” Julien Bahloul, spokesperson for the Association of Israeli Gay Fathers, said in a statement.

Now, Israeli single and LGBTQ intended parents can choose the advantages of domestic surrogacy, rather than face the risks and costs of pursuing surrogacy in another country. But many intended parents in other countries around the world cannot. Fortunately, surrogacy in the United States offers a safe and clear path for becoming parents.

Want to learn more about surrogacy in the United States? While American Surrogacy does not work with international parents, we always welcome intended parents who currently live in the U.S. Request free information online here.

How are Rare Disease Day and Surrogacy Connected?

Tomorrow, Feb.  29, is Rare Disease Day. If you’re living with a rare disease that’s led to infertility or made pregnancy extremely risky, then we’d like to take some time to talk about what this day means for intended parents just like you. If you’ve been living with infertility, then you know these struggles all too well.

Whether you’re an intended parent, about to become one, or a friend or family member of one, here is everything you need to know about Rare Disease Day.

So, What is Rare Disease Day?

Rare Disease Day takes place on the last day of February every year. That means, this year, it just so happens to fall on Feb. 29.

The main goal of today is to help spread awareness about rare diseases and those who live with them. Over 300 million are currently living with some form of rare disease around the world. Some of these rare diseases can actually cause infertility or make pregnancy extremely dangerous for hopeful parents, which is why many of our intended parents have turned to surrogacy. And according to RESOLVE, about 1 in 8 couples struggle with infertility on the road to building their family.

If you’re still coming to terms with infertility, remember that it’s not your fault. Keep in mind that you can always reach out to a surrogacy specialist or a trained counselor at any time if you’re having trouble coping.  It might feel impossible, but there are techniques that can help you cope with the stress of living with infertility.

Reaching Out

Living with a rare disease can be exhausting, and there might be only so much that you can do. Similarly, many intended parents cope with infertility alone, afraid to reach out to those closest to them.

If you take away anything from Rare Disease Day, it’s that you’re never alone. Many families have been in your exact shoes and know just what you’re feeling. As such, this is a perfect opportunity to reach out to other families who are hoping to make their parenting dreams come true through surrogacy. There are support groups online and in-person for people like you. If you’re looking for some more direction, contact a surrogacy specialist today.

Getting Involved

There are plenty of ways that you can get involved today. These are just some of the few ideas, but don’t be afraid to check out rarediseaseday.org for some more tips on how you can get involved. For more inspiration, reach out here.

  • Spread the word on social media: One of the best places to spread awareness is through social media. Shout your support through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or whichever platform you use. Use #RareDiseaseDay on your posts and use the official Facebook frame for your profile picture!
  • Share your story: There are more people that have been impacted by a rare disease than you think. Share your story of living with a rare disease and send it to rarediseaseday.org to help someone else who’s in your shoes. Don’t forget to include a picture in your post! We know that you might be nervous, but you never know who you might inspire with your words and pictures.
  • Donate: If you’d like to make a financial statement of awareness, you can always donate toward Rare Disease Day. Any amount, no matter how small, will always make a difference. Learn more about donating here.
  • Host your own fundraiser: To get even more involved, you might even think about starting your own fundraiser in honor of today, too. This is also a great way to share the importance of Rare Disease Day with your community. Plan a bake sale, a raffle or a silent auction. There are tons of ways to get started, so don’t be afraid to try something new.

We want you to know that you can still participate in Rare Disease Day, even if you choose not to share it with your community. Coping with infertility is extremely personal, so it’s more than understandable to not want to share it with everyone you know. If you’d like to make today just for you and your partner, that’s fine, too! Just reading this article already makes a difference, so it’s okay if you plan on just taking time for yourself.

Thinking of You

We know that the road to coping with infertility is exhausting. You’ve faced many obstacles to get to this point and you feel unsure of your next steps. Don’t forget that American Surrogacy is always here to support intended parents in their family-building journey. No matter what day it is, we can help make your parenthood dreams come true.

South Dakota Introduces Bill Banning Commercial Surrogacy

South Dakota House of Representatives lawmakers have introduced a bill that would ban commercial surrogacy and penalize anyone entering into a paid surrogacy contract.

House Bill 1096 — introduced by Rep. Jon Hansen (R-Dell Rapids) — hit the House floor on Sunday, Jan. 26. The bill would criminalize the actions of “any broker who knowingly engages in, advertises services for, offers payment of money or other consideration for, profits from, solicits a woman for, or otherwise assists or participates in commercial surrogacy,” penalizing them with a Class One misdemeanor.

Rep. Hansen told Forum News Service that the bill is meant to “prohibit the commercialization of children.” He was a co-sponsor on a previous bill to ban surrogacy, introduced back in 2012.

“It’s an issue that’s been on my radar for a long time. Back then there were no commercial surrogacy brokerages in this state. That has changed,” he said. “You can say ‘I want to buy a baby’ and a little over nine months later a baby will be delivered.”

The proposed bill would make an exception allowing couples to pay for the medical expenses of their surrogate. Altruistic surrogacy contracts would remain legal and enforceable.

South Dakota currently has no state laws regulating the gestational surrogacy industry. However, professionals there have developed processes to protect all parties, including strict legal contracts outlining all parties’ involvement in the journey.

If you live in South Dakota, let your state representatives know your thoughts on this bill by contacting them today.

National Birth Defects Prevention Month: Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy

When you become a surrogate, you’re tasked with one of the most important jobs of all: carrying someone else’s unborn baby. This is a weighty responsibility, and you’re probably wondering about everything there is to know. As January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month, this year, we’d like to put our focus on everything a surrogate needs to know for a healthy pregnancy.

First, here’s what you need to know about potential factors that cause birth defects.

What Causes Birth Defects?

A birth defect can either be very mild or severe.  While the causes of one can vary, some of the most common risk factors are:

  • Genetic or hereditary traits
  • Lifestyle choices
  • Untreated infections during pregnancy
  • Being over the age of 35
  • A pre-existing medical condition
  • Exposure to certain chemicals

Finding out that the baby you’re carrying has a birth defect can be scary and overwhelming. But, if this were to happen, your surrogacy specialist will be there for you every step of the way. Your legal contract will also detail what happens moving forward if this unfortunate situation should occur. Remember: As long as you’ve followed your contract, this situation will never be your fault.

Thankfully, there are ways to reduce the likelihood of potential birth defects. Below are some tips to keep in mind during your gestational pregnancy.

7 Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy

1. Eat Right

It’s hard to make time for a healthy meal in the middle of your busy schedule. But that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be a priority. Watching what you eat is one of the most important ways to ensure a healthy pregnancy. It’s also great for you, too! Make sure your plate is full of fresh fruits and veggies, and watch out for some of the most unsafe foods to eat during your pregnancy.

2. Drink Plenty of Water

Drinking enough water isn’t just good for you; it’s also essential for the baby. Water helps carry nutrients, flushes out toxins, and more. Not drinking enough water is also one of the leading causes of premature labor. Generally, you should drink about eight glasses of water a day. If you’re having trouble remembering to drink enough, try setting a reminder on your phone to stay hydrated.

3. Get the right amount of sleep

Your body needs sleep more than you think. You should try to get eight hours of sleep, but it’s okay if you need to take more. After the first trimester, you’ll probably need to start sleeping on your side. It’s common to have sleep problems during your pregnancy, in which case there are some suggestions on how to overcome them.  If you have any other questions, don’t forget that you can always reach out to your doctor.

4. Exercise

If you can, try to get at least 30 minutes of activity in a day. We know it’s hard to keep moving, and exercising is probably the last thing you want to do right now, but staying active will help you sleep better and keep your stress levels low. It can also help ease your pregnancy symptoms and make pregnancy and delivery easier on your body. If you can, try to get at a healthy weight before your pregnancy. Some good ideas include walking, swimming and jogging. As long as you don’t overdo your workout, you should be perfectly safe.

5. Vitamins

Prenatal vitamins ensure that you and the baby are getting all of the nutrients you need. Don’t forget that these vitamins need to be taken alongside a meal, not as a substitute. We know that taking your vitamins can be hard to remember, so try setting an alarm on your phone at the same time every day so that you don’t forget. (Don’t forget: All of your medical costs will be covered by the intended parents.)

6. Stay away from harmful substances

There are a few substances that every pregnant woman should know to avoid. Drinking, drugs, and smoking should never be consumed while pregnant, as outlined in your surrogacy contract.  There are also a few medications and chemicals that pregnant women need to avoid. Remember to talk to your doctor first before trying any new medication, as it could affect you and the baby.

7. Keep your stress low

With some much going on, and with your body changing in new, unexpected ways, it’s hard to stay positive. An important part of keeping the baby healthy is prioritizing your own mental and emotional health. If you find yourself struggling, remember that you can reach out to a surrogacy specialist or a counselor if you need someone to talk to. Whenever you feel overwhelmed, remember that there people here to help.

These tips are essential for any pregnancy, but they’re especially important when you’re a surrogate. By following just a few steps, you can ensure that your pregnancy will be a safe, healthy experience for you and the baby.

Following these guidelines are extremely important to have a healthy pregnancy. Most of the rules and suggestions will be outlined in your legal contract, too, but please don’t hesitate to reach out to a surrogacy specialist today.

A Year in Review: The Biggest Surrogacy News From 2019

And, just like that, another year is gone. Here at American Surrogacy, we celebrated many achievements during 2019, and we look forward to those that 2020 will bring, too.

As is our tradition, we take this chance now to look back on what 2019 brought to us and to gestational carriers and intended parents across the U.S. Catch up on what you missed or remind yourself of all the good things that happened here!

At American Surrogacy…

Our surrogacy specialists have been hard at work all year helping intended parents and gestational carriers prepare for the surrogacy process. Since January, they have guided many of our clients through the steps of this journey, from screening to matching to delivery. In fact, we have many gestational carriers and intended parents at different steps in this process as we close out the year.

We are also happy to announce that American Surrogacy helped to bring more babies into the world in 2019 than we did in 2018 — and we are on track to do the same in 2020!

In U.S. Legislation…

As gestational surrogacy becomes more popular across the country, state legislatures continue to update outdated laws to make the family-building process more accessible to all kinds of parents. Here are just a few of the major changes:

  • Washington State Implements New Legislation: The new year started off with a positive note when Washington state enacted new legislation that: made compensated surrogacy legal and enforceable; set standards for enforceable gestational surrogacy contracts; protected intended parents’ rights to their children; added new requirements for traditional surrogacy; and gave new protections to any child born of the assisted reproduction process. Way to go, Washington!
  • Nevada Prohibits Surrogacy Discrimination: In response to insurance companies setting coverage exemptions for surrogate pregnancies, Nevada’s State Assembly and Senate passed a law in June that prohibited insurance providers from “denying certain coverage for maternity care because the insured acts as a gestational carrier.”
  • Virginia Makes Surrogacy Law Gender-Neutral: After a gay couple in Virginia went through a custody battle for their surrogacy-born son, their story inspired a state delegate to file legislation for “Jacob’s Law,” which would protect parental rights of same-sex couples and single parents who used a surrogate in the state. The governor signed the bill into law in June.
  • Utah Supreme Court Protects LGBT Parents’ Rights: A ruling by the Utah Supreme Court in August made it clear that, just because LGBT intended parents may not have an intended mother in their surrogacy agreement, they can still pursue this family-building process.
    The ruling struck the language referring to an intended mother being “unable to bear a child” from legal statute. Now, Utah intended parent couples who do not include intended mothers are afforded all the same protections under marital law as any heterosexual couple.

In other important worldwide news, India officially passed long-in-the-works legislation that bans commercial surrogacy and sets strict requirements for any Indian nationals that want to build their family in this way.

In Pop Culture…

While there are thousands of intended parents and gestational carriers going through this process every day, the most visible journeys are often those completed by people in the public eye.

Here are just a few of the celebrities who used gestational surrogacy to add to their families this year:

  • Michelle Buteau: The comedian and actress welcomed twins in January. Seven months later, she wrote candidly about her experience with infertility, IVF and gestational surrogacy for Glamour.
  • Andy Cohen: Bravo host Andy Cohen welcomed his first child — son Benjamin Allen — via surrogate on Feb. 4. He thanked the wonderful surrogate who was “carrying [his] future.”
  • Kim Kardashian and Kanye West: The parents welcomed their fourth child, Psalm, via gestational surrogate on May 9. Psalm is their second child born via surrogacy; their daughter Chicago was born via surrogate in 2018.
  • Ricky Martin: The singer and his husband Jwan Yosef welcomed their fourth child, born via gestational surrogacy in October. Martin already has a set of twin boys born via surrogacy in 2011 and a daughter also born via surrogacy earlier this year.
  • Kandi Buress: The “Real Housewives of Atlanta” star and her husband Todd Tucker welcomed their second child together via surrogacy on Nov. 22. Her journey with surrogacy had been documented on the Bravo reality show, and she stated on her Instagram that she felt like she “gained a new friend” with her gestational carrier.

PBS Independent Lens also took an in-depth look into the gestational surrogacy industry with “Made in Boise,” a documentary following four gestational carriers living in Boise, Idaho, and their intended parents. It’s an interesting look at the ups and downs of the surrogacy process in the “unofficial” surrogacy capital of the U.S.

As we wrap up 2019, our team at American Surrogacy wishes everyone a happy New Year and only the best in the surrogacy journeys to come in 2020!

Is starting your surrogacy journey your New Year’s resolution? Contact our surrogacy specialists today to get started.

“Made in Boise” Explores the Ups and Downs of Gestational Surrogacy

Here at American Surrogacy, we know just how incredible gestational surrogacy can be for all involved. Now, thanks to a new documentary from PBS Independent Lens, more people than ever can get a close look into the beauty of this family-building process.

“Made in Boise,” a documentary film by Beth Aala, tells the surrogacy journeys of four gestational carriers and their intended parents. All of the surrogates worked through A Host of Possibilities, a local agency in Idaho run by CEO Nicole Williamson. But Williamson isn’t just the founder and CEO; she’s also a four-time gestational carrier, whose journey is also featured in the film.

The documentary explores the rewards and challenges of the process for all involved, and it’s an intimate look into the journeys of those who desperately want to be parents — and those who are generous enough to help them.

Made In Boise Trailer from beth aala on Vimeo.

“Made in Boise” is an educational film for not only those interested in surrogacy, but also those interested in learning more about the process. You can watch “Made in Boise” online here. In the meantime, we’ve recapped some of the most important lessons learned from this film below.

Why Smaller States like Idaho are Leading the Way

Williamson calls Boise, Idaho, the “unofficial” surrogacy capital of the U.S. While we at American Surrogacy are partial to our headquarters in Kansas City, we are in full agreement that it’s smaller states like ours that are quickly becoming the go-to destinations for safe, ethical gestational surrogacies.

According to the documentary, there are a few reasons why Boise is so popular for both gestational surrogates and intended parents:

  • A relatively healthy population and lifestyle, thanks to proximity to outdoor activities
  • A high population of Mormons and Catholics, who value large families
  • Surrogacy-friendly laws that allow for compensated surrogacy
  • Cheaper costs due to lower cost of living

And guess what? Our Kansas City headquarters provide many of the same advantages!

While most of the conversation about surrogacy revolves around large states like California and Florida, there are just as many intended parents and prospective surrogates in the smaller states in between the coasts. They may not be the first thought for those interested in this process but, with a little bit of research, you’ll find that these locations offer advantages that states with long-established, huge surrogacy agencies can’t match.

American Surrogacy is a prime example of this. Although we may be small, our size offers advantages you won’t find elsewhere. We rarely work with international intended parents, which means all of our clients are within the U.S. — and can easily create genuine relationships with each other through the pregnancy and after birth.

Many of the same advantages highlighted in Boise, Idaho, can be find right here in the heartland of the Midwest. And, if you’re interested in this journey, our specialists will be happy to help you out, wherever you’re from.

Why So Many Surrogates Choose to Do Second Journeys

Of the women highlighted in “Made in Boise,” the majority of them are repeat surrogates (and the one first-time surrogate reveals at the end that she plans to do another journey with her intended parents).

As we follow their stories through the documentary, it’s clear there’s one reason surrogates choose to do this again and again: their relationships with the intended parents.

Williamson and her staff take a great deal of time to match intended parents and surrogates who share the same preferences and goals. She takes it so seriously, in fact, that she chose to become a surrogate for one intended mother who had four previous matches fail. Even though A Host of Possibilities works with international intended parents, their surrogates are still able to create solid, genuine relationships with the intended parents they carry for, wherever they may be. These intended parents are shown attending doctor’s appointments, being a part of the birth, and visiting with the intended parents and their children as the months and years pass.

Good relationships between intended parents and gestational surrogates are just as important here at American Surrogacy. That’s why our team works hard to find the perfect partner for your journey and will support you through every step of the process. For the same reason, we find a great deal of our gestational carriers come back to do second journeys with our agency — and we welcome them back with open arms.

Whether you’re hoping to build a family through surrogacy or help someone else bring a child into the world, “Made in Boise” is a great way to learn more about all the ups and downs of the gestational surrogacy process. An even better way? Contacting our specialists at American Surrogacy. We will always be happy to answer any questions you have and get you the information you need to make the best decision for you.

Contact us online today or call us at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) to start making your surrogacy dreams come true.

How Could Abortion Restrictions and Bans Affect Surrogacy?

New restrictions and bans on abortion may do more than affect women facing unplanned pregnancies — they could soon have a drastic effect on intended parents using gestational surrogacy to add to their families.

While American Surrogacy won’t dive into the ethics and morality of abortion as an unplanned pregnancy option, we see it as our duty to keep intended parents and gestational carriers informed of all aspects of the medical surrogacy process. And, in some situations, selective reduction and termination (another name for abortion) are integral parts of a safe surrogacy journey.

If you’re unsure how new abortion bills may affect your ability to pursue surrogacy, we encourage you to contact our surrogacy specialists or speak with your personal reproductive endocrinologist. In the meantime, read below to learn more about this important new development in gestational surrogacy.

Why is Selective Reduction and Termination Used in Surrogacy?

Before we get into the details of new abortion laws across the country, you must first understand why they might even apply to surrogacy in the first place.

Selective reduction and termination are relatively common in the medical process of surrogacy, although these procedures are used less frequently thanks to advances in pre-genetic screening. Intended parents and gestational carriers only want to proceed with pregnancies that have the best chances of success, and that all starts with the embryo transfer process.

During in vitro fertilization, it’s common for intended parents to create several embryos. Their reproductive endocrinologist screens these embryos to determine which are the most viable, with the highest chances of success. The doctor will then transfer those embryos to the surrogate’s uterus.

Sometimes, however, a doctor will transfer more than one embryo to a surrogate. This may be done when several embryos are of lower quality; the more that are transferred, the increased likelihood that one or more may implant. But, when two or more do implant, intended parents are left with a choice: to continue with the increased risks of a multiples pregnancy or reduce to a singleton pregnancy.

If they choose a singleton pregnancy, the doctor will inject any extra implanted embryo with medication to stop its heart. That way, a surrogate can continue to carry one embryo, without the added risks of carrying twins or triplets.

In other situations, an embryo may start developing abnormally once it has implanted in the surrogate’s uterus. It may develop genetic or chromosomal abnormalities undetectable in prior genetic screening. Intended parents may make the heartbreaking decision to end this pregnancy before it gets further along, especially if the fetus is not expected to survive outside of the womb. To save themselves and their surrogate from the stress and emotional turmoil of that later on, they may choose to terminate.

Keep in mind: The decision to use selective reduction or termination is not one made lightly. Both intended parents and their gestational carrier will agree on the situations in which each of these is used before they even begin the medical process. The surrogacy contract will always detail the situations in which these procedures are (and are not) acceptable.

While no intended parent or gestational carrier wants to experience a selective reduction or termination, these procedures are still important parts of the surrogacy medical process — but may be put in jeopardy with new abortion restrictions and bans across the country.

How Could Abortion Bans Affect the Surrogacy Process?

New legal challenges to abortion have popped up over the last few years — the most noticeable being “heartbeat” and “personhood” bills, which prevent abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy and assign human rights to embryos, respectively. While pregnant women considering abortion are undoubtedly the targets of these bills, they can also have a dire effect on those using assisted reproductive technology.

“Heartbeat” Bills

First, let’s tackle the so-called “heartbeat” bills:

A reproductive endocrinologist is involved throughout the beginning of the surrogacy process. This doctor will monitor the embryo transfer and the surrogate’s early pregnancy, confirming the success of the transfer and completing the first ultrasound. If an abnormality occurs in the fetus, they will be the first to know — and often the professional to recommend selective reduction or termination.

They will typically also complete the six-week ultrasound, which will check for a heartbeat. If a heartbeat is not heard, the doctor will usually induce a miscarriage.

But, in a state where abortions after six weeks of pregnancy are banned, this might not always be possible. Perhaps a heartbeat was heard at the six-week appointment but not at the 12-week appointment. Maybe the heartbeat stops a day after the six-week appointment. What would usually be the normal course of action — termination — would be impossible, forcing intended parents and gestational carriers to wait for nature to take its course, however stressful and emotional that would be. It could be medically risky, as well.

Surrogates in states such as Alabama and Louisiana may find themselves unable to match with intended parents or even complete the surrogacy process at all. Many intended parents may not wish to start the process with a surrogate who cannot terminate or selectively reduce in the future, just in case. And, for surrogates in Alabama, traveling to another state for a pregnancy termination won’t be possible; a surrogate, her doctor and her intended parents will be criminally liable.

In effect, these “heartbeat” bills will make gestational surrogacy in these states all but impossible. For many, the risks of the process won’t be worth it — and they’ll choose another state to pursue their family-building journey.

“Personhood” Bills

On the other hand, intended parents may not even get so far as the gestational surrogacy process. New “personhood” bills may make it difficult for them to even complete in vitro fertilization in certain states.

In essence, “personhood” bills assign all the rights of a living human to an embryo. This means that hopeful parents would be unable to donate extra embryos to research or discard of them. They would be forced to store them indefinitely or donate them to another couple, which is an extremely personal decision to make.

An intended parent should have the right to choose what they wish to do with extra embryos, but “personhood” bills could effectively take that right away from them — if IVF is even an option. As infertility psychologist Angela Lawson theorizes:

“In short, as legislation regarding at what week of pregnancy an abortion can be performed potentially changes, such laws affect IVF. The assignment of personhood to embryos will mean that IVF clinics will no longer be able to create, freeze, or dispose of them. It would also prevent the retrieval of eggs for fertility preservation because those eggs would be used in the future to create embryos, thus creating ‘life’ in the lab.”

Intended parents who live in states with these laws would be forced to go out of state to complete their fertility treatments — adding more costs to an already expensive process.

Here at American Surrogacy, we advocate for every intended parent’s right to choose the path that’s best for them. We also believe in defending the right to gestational surrogacy across the country, even when new laws and regulations make that difficult.

That’s why, when you work with us, we will work for your interests every step of the way. That means matching you with a surrogacy partner in a surrogacy-friendly state and helping you find the medical professionals you need to complete your journey. For more information on surrogacy with our program, please contact our specialists online or call them at 1-800-875-BABY(2229).

Utah Supreme Court Protects LGBT Parents’ Right to Surrogacy

A ruling by the Utah Supreme Court will now allow same-sex couples to enter into gestational agreements to add to their families. Now, “same-sex couples must be afforded all of the benefits the State has linked to marriage and freely grants to opposite-sex couples.”

The big takeaway? LGBT married couples in Utah can now pursue gestational surrogacy without legal barriers!

Before we get into the details of this ruling, a little history: American LGBT individuals were granted the right to marry across the country thanks to the Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges. While the ruling protected LGBT parents’ rights to adopt as a couple, it didn’t extend to surrogacy law. Because surrogacy legislation varies greatly from state to state, individual states (including Utah) were able to write in conditions that prevented LGBT couples from pursuing this family-building process.

So, when two men from southern Utah found their gestational surrogacy agreement denied by a district court, they took action with an appeal. The language in the original surrogacy legislation dictated that surrogacy could only take place when an “intended mother is unable to bear a child or is unable to do so without unreasonable risk to her physical and mental health or to the unborn child.”

While the Utah Attorney General’s Office told the Court the statute should be interpreted as gender-neutral, the justices chose to strike down that specific language in the law. Because the couple was afforded the same protection under marital law as any heterosexual couple, their petition was approved — and the state surrogacy law was changed.

“This is a positive step to protect children, intended parents and strengthens families,” said Troy Williams, the director of the LGBTQ rights group Equality Utah, in a statement Friday.

American Surrogacy applauds this legal change to Utah surrogacy legislation and stands ready to help any intended parents — LGBT or heterosexual — reach their surrogacy dreams. For more information about working with our agency, please call 1-800-875-BABY(2229) or contact us online.