Assisted Reproduction (ART) and Surrogacy
As medical technology advancements continue to change and develop, more viable opportunities for Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) treatments and procedures have become available to those families experiencing fertility issues. While sperm donation has been available for years, in the last decade, donation of ova (i.e. eggs) and embryos have also become available and with reported success. There has also been an increase in in vitro cases as well. In this instance, a couple may conceive a child by using donor egg or donor sperm which are united to form an embryo which is then transferred to the intended mother’s reproductive tract such that pregnancy is achieved. The same basic medical processes can be achieved in a woman acting as a gestational surrogate, meaning that she gives birth to a child to whom she is not biologically related to for the benefit of the intended parents.
While these situations and other variations allow families to be formed with the assistance of fertility clinics and physicians, once the medical process is over and a baby is born, it is critical to ensure that the legal rights and status of all parties is clear. Meaning those who intended to be parents are recognized as such and a donor or surrogate is certain they have no parental responsibilities.
We encourage families to engage an attorney for these special circumstances because, while medical technology advancements have developed quickly over the last several years, many state laws have not. Each state and jurisdiction vary a great deal on how legal parentage is established for the intended parents, and how a donor or surrogate can ensure that they do not have any parental obligations or responsibilities for any child born of them through an assisted reproduction procedure. Given that each state is different, is it important to have a clear, written agreement between all involved parties spelling out who is intended to have rights as a parent, and who is not. This is true for both donor and surrogacy situations. Our experienced attorneys and staff are here to assist you and confirm that the necessary documents are completed, and that the individual laws and requirements for the applicable state are being followed and applied.
Washington is one of the few states that has fairly clear laws addressing assisted reproduction issues, which helps make clear the legal relationships in such cases. If you would like the latest information about the status of surrogacy laws in Washington State, please feel free to contact our office.