Iowa court upholds enforceability of surrogacy contracts

Iowa Surrogacy – The birth mother of an 18-month-old girl who agreed to be paid as a surrogate to have the baby, is not legally the child’s parent, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled Friday in an emotional case that concluded surrogacy contracts can be enforced in Iowa.

The ruling means the girl remains with the Cedar Rapids couple, the only parents she has known since leaving the hospital after birth.

It was the first time the state’s highest court has weighed whether surrogacy contracts can be family law

But the fight isn’t over. The birth mother plans to appeal part of the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“I no longer believe that surrogacy contracts should be entered into,” said the woman identified in court documents only as T.B., in a statement provided by her attorney. “Every child should have a mother and an essential part of the mother-child relationship is the role of pregnancy and the bonding that takes place during it. Children should not be sold.”

The woman said she has taken no money for bearing the baby. The contract required her to relinquish custody and parental rights in exchange for being paid, but she said she didn’t agree to do so after her relationship with the couple deteriorated. She also said she concluded that payment for babies is wrong.

Iowa, like most states, has no clear law on surrogacy parenting, but a 1989 law making it a felony to sell an individual to another person specifically exempts surrogate mother arrangements. The law was passed after the New Jersey Supreme Court invalidated surrogacy contracts as contrary to the state’s “baby selling” prohibition on payment of money to adopt a child.

In that case, which received wide publicity as the Baby M case, Mary Beth Whitehead agreed to carry a baby for William and Elizabeth Stern for $10,000. The New Jersey court in invalidating the surrogacy contract awarded the Sterns custody but allowed Whitehead visitation.

The Iowa court concluded that the Iowa Legislature “tacitly approved of surrogacy arrangements by exempting them from potential criminal liability for selling children,” in response to the Baby M case.

The justices concluded gestational surrogacy agreements promote families “by enabling infertile couples to raise their own children and help bring new life into this world through willing surrogate mothers.”

“Banning gestational surrogacy contracts would deprive infertile couples of perhaps the only way to raise their own biological children and would limit the contractual rights of willing surrogates,” the court said in an opinion written by Justice Thomas Waterman.

Omaha World Herald via AP, February 17, 2018

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Anthony Brown

Anthony Brown

Attorney and Advocate at Time For Families
Who am I?On the deepest level, I am blessed.I have an amazing partner, who I have known since 1989 and been married to since 2004.I am the donor dad of two beautiful daughters who have two moms who are equally amazing.My husband and I have expanded our family through surrogacy and have a seven-year old son. I have had three careers (acting, massage therapy and the law) and I am still discovering myself.I am the Board Chair of Men Having Babies. The one thing I know for sure is that life is about trusting your instincts.Family is an instinct.
Anthony Brown