Maryland Family Lawyers For Surrogate Contracts And Reproductive Rights
Who owns the eggs during fertility treatments? Answer this and other reproductive technology legal questions.
Guarantee who does – and does not – have rights over your embryos and gametes before you begin fertility treatments with experienced ART legal representation from JC Law.
What Is Assisted Reproductive Technology?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) define assisted reproductive technology (ART) as fertility treatments that involve the handling of both sperm and eggs.
ART covers a wide variety of methods that help a person have a child.
- In vitro fertilization (IVF): Eggs and sperm are both collected. The eggs and sperm are introduced into a culture dish in a laboratory. If fertilization occurs, the embryos are either transferred into a uterus or preserved for later implantation.
- Intracytoplasmic sperm injection: A single sperm is injected into each egg. If embryos develop, they are either implanted in a uterus or cryogenically frozen.
- Surrogacy: A gestational carrier or surrogate carries a couple’s embryo.
Other fertility technologies involve intrauterine insemination (IUI), the freezing of sperm, eggs, or the use of donor eggs, sperm, or embryos.
What Are Possible Legal Issues Involving Reproductive Technology?
Numerous legal issues can develop when you use assisted reproductive technology. They might involve:
- Disputes about who “owns” unused eggs, sperm, or embryos after a relationship ends
- The parental and custody rights of same-sex or unmarried partners
- Child custody issues with a surrogate or other donor
- Contract disputes with a surrogate or gestational carrier concerning unexpected medical bills, birth defects, failure to disclose known health or genetic issues, or other issues
- Contract disputes or negligence claims against fertility clinics and surrogacy agencies
Moreover, ART is a rapidly developing field. As technology changes, new legal issues and disputes will inevitably arise.
Does Maryland Have Any Laws About Reproductive Technology Or Protect Reproduction Rights?
While Maryland hosts popular locations for ART treatments, due to its high concentration of fertility clinics, Maryland law does not have comprehensive assisted reproduction laws.
Maryland law does, however, recognize that when a married woman undergoes IVF, her husband is deemed the legal father. Problematically, however, Maryland law only specifically addresses the rights of a married husband, and not those of a same-sex spouse or unmarried, committed partner. In these cases, the couple should discuss their options, such as second-parent adoption or a birth order with a family lawyer experienced with reproductive technology cases.
Legislators have proposed bills that clarify the state’s stance on surrogacy and other ART processes, but these attempts have been unsuccessful thus far.
What If I Use ART Outside Of Maryland? Are There Any Federal Laws To Protect Me And My Family?
Currently, federal law does not address family law issues arising out of reproductive technology.
Additionally, ART laws vary dramatically from state to state. For example, some states forbid surrogacy and will not enforce a surrogacy agreement, even if you sign a “contract” with the surrogate.
Therefore, if you are considering an out-of-state donor, surrogate, or ART procedure, you should proceed with caution. A family lawyer who has handled similar cases before can help you understand the potential legal risks involved with out-of-state procedures, donors, and surrogates.
How Can a Reproductive Technology Lawyer Protect My Reproductive Rights Through Surrogate Contracts And Other Filings?
Due to the piecemeal nature of Maryland’s ART laws, you should consult with a reproductive technology attorney before attempting any type of reproductive process. An attorney can help you:
- Negotiate and draft comprehensive surrogacy agreements that protect your rights as an intended parent or surrogate
- File a petition for a birth order in surrogacy matters, such as determining the child’s legal parentage and allowing the intended parents’ names to be placed on the child’s birth certificate
- Create prenuptial agreements or other contracts concerning your rights to frozen embryos, sperm, and eggs
- Update you on the newest developments in assisted reproductive technology law
- Provide detailed legal advice and information about ART
While many prospective parents use clinics and agencies that coordinate and assist with ART, these agencies typically do not provide legal services or advice. In contrast, a reproductive technology attorney is on your family’s side and will review all of the agency’s proposed contracts and agreements to ensure they are in your best interest.
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