Individuals and couples who want to add to their family through nontraditional means like surrogacy or egg donation, enter into contracts and assume those contracts will protect their rights. However, this hasn’t always been the case in Iowa and a recent case brought this to light.
A February 2018 Iowa Supreme Court ruling provided a measure of assurance for anyone using surrogacy contracts in the state, holding that the child’s birth mother was not the legal parent.
In this case, the child’s father used his sperm to fertilize a donor egg as the mother was infertile. The couple entered into a surrogacy agreement with the gestational carrier, agreeing to pay her $13,000 for surrogacy services. However, when the baby was born, she decided to keep the child. A District Court ordered her to surrender the child and held that the surrogacy agreement was enforceable. In its ruling, the court stated that the agreement didn’t violate the gestational carrier’s constitutional rights, nor did it violate public policy.
The gestational carrier appealed the decision, asserting that both the child’s and mother’s constitutional rights to due process and equal protection had been violated, and argued that the ruling would establish a commodification of children in the state. However, the Iowa Supreme Court ultimately held that she had willingly, knowingly, and intentionally entered into the surrogacy contract, and that there was no evidence she’d done so under economic duress.
As with any court ruling, this case turned on the specific facts and circumstances of this situation. However, the court’s ruling should provide some comfort to those who want to enter into surrogacy contracts in Iowa to start or complete their families.
Working with a knowledgeable reproductive rights attorney can also help ensure any agreement you enter will protect your rights – regardless of what the future brings. Our team of experts has the experience and ability to tailor a comprehensive family plan for you. After a thorough review of your third-party parenting needs we will present you with a contract and finalize your parental rights, if necessary, that will suit your needs. Contact us today to learn more!