Brigid Martz Smith

Today we continue our series highlighting reproductive medicine blog posts written by Lisa Campo-Engelstein, PhD, from the Alden March Bioethics Institute at Albany Medical College for BIOETHICS TODAY.  Dr. Campo-Engelstein's main research areas include reproductive ethics (particularly contraception, oncofertility, birth, and embry and parthenote research), gender and medicine, cancer ethics, and international bioethics (especially Costa Rica).  

BIOETHICS TODAY is the blog of the Alden March Bioethics Institute, presenting topical and timely commentary on issues, trends, and breaking news in the broad arena of bioethics. BIOETHICS TODAY presents interviews, opinion pieces, and ongoing articles on health care policy, end-of-life decision making, emerging issues in genetics and genomics, procreative liberty and reproductive health, ethics in clinical trials, medicine and the media, distributive justice and health care delivery in developing nations, and the intersection of environmental conservation and bioethics.


Gestational Surrogacy Contracts: Are they Legal and Enforcable?

Author: Lisa Campo-Engelstein, PhD

BIOETHICS TODAY, December 20, 2013


There are many celebrities who make the news because they have used a gestational surrogate to have their children including Sarah Jessical Parker, Guiliana Rancic, Elizabeth Banks, Nicole Kidman, Ricki Martin, Neil Patrick Harris, and Elton John.  From the little information provided about their surrogacy arrangements, it seems like most of the celebrities partner with surrogates who live in the US.  What is almost never mentioned in these articles is the legality and enforceability of surrogacy contracts, which can vary dramatically from state to state. Each state has to determine how they want to regulate surrogacy because there is no federal legislation, though there was a push for it following the infamous Baby M case. 

Surrogacy laws can be categorized into three categories.  The first category is comprised of laws that permit surrogacy contracts by outlining the criteria for hte contracts to be lawful and enforceable.  For example, surrogacy laws in Florida require that the intended couple must be over 18 years old and married, the intended mother must be incapable of gestating a pregnancy without physical risk to herself or the fetus, and at least one of hte intended parents must be biologically related to any resulting child.  These requirements have to be fulfilled in order for any surrogacy contract to be legal and enforceable. 

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