Law 21-255, also named the Collaborative Reproduction Amendment Act, ends over 20 years of banned surrogacy contracts in the District of Columbia. The bill clarifies the parental rights of the intended parents and the role of the surrogate, while outlining the expectations and requirements for each arrangement and parentage petition.
Here’s what the new act will cover:
One of the main goals of the new act is to replace D.C.’s existing surrogacy legislation. Under the archaic law, surrogacy arrangements could result in a fine up to $10,000, and a one-year prison sentence. D.C. banned surrogacy contracts in the 1980s following the Baby M controversy but has since revisited its laws in light of innovative technology and the nation’s shifting attitude towards surrogacy. The committee report itself mentions that the change is “long overdue” since intended parents will continue to engage in surrogacy arrangements even without the protections.
In line with other states’ surrogacy laws, the new act establishes the intended parents as the legal parents of the baby born through both traditional and gestational surrogacy. Conversely, it also states that neither the gestational carrier nor her partner may claim parentage.
The new bill also outlines the requirements for becoming a gestational carrier or an intended parent. Both gestational carrier and intended parent must be at least 21 years of age and attend a joint consultation together. The intended parent’s partner must also follow these requirements. Additionally, the gestational carrier must have given birth to at least one living child and undergone a medical and mental health evaluation.
All surrogacy contracts must be in writing and executed before the embryo transfer or artificial insemination. Contracts must include affirmations of rightful parentage, the responsibility of expenses, notarization, and terms of marriage dissolution and dispute. Each party must be represented by independent counsel.
Finally, the Act outlines that in the event an intended parent enters a new marriage/ partnership, or ends an existing one, the surrogacy arrangement remains valid. If one parent dies, the surviving parent assumes all obligations within the contract.
Washington D.C.’s updated laws are a positive turn of events following the recent trend of international countries banning surrogacy completely, typically due to lack of regulation. D.C. has developed a reputation for its egalitarian initiatives, such as being one of the first jurisdictions to permit same-sex marriage. But in other aspects, such as the right of same-sex couples to have a surrogate-born child, it has lagged behind. With this new legislation, D.C. will finally catch up to the other states adopting more inclusive and progressive surrogacy regulations.
This is a victory for all the LGBT activist communities, assisted reproduction attorneys, pro-fertility organizations, and activists who worked together and fought hard to educate the public on modern family creation methods. We welcome the new families to come and the selfless surrogates that will help make them possible.
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