Archive for the ‘In the News’ Category
February 2, 2021 | By: Liz
In just a couple of weeks compensated surrogacy will be legal in New York!
I don’t know if you heard, but The Child Parent Security Act (the “CPSA”) was passed by the New York legislature last year and signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo. The CPSA goes into effect on February 15th, 2021 and it makes compensated surrogacy legal in New York!
For those of us who needed third-party assisted reproduction to build their families, and for those of us who practice assisted reproduction law, the CPSA marks an historic change in New York law. The CPSA brings New York law with respect to third-party assisted reproduction into the 21st Century (along with literally almost every other state in our country).
Unfortunately, there is a lot of confusion among surrogacy agencies, IVF clinics, and even attorneys about the CPSA. A lot of misinformation is being circulated about the CPSA and as a result it’s getting a bad rap. I would like to take a few moments to clarify some stuff because I think a lot of people are being incorrectly advised against entering into a surrogacy arrangement in New York. In fact, during a recent Continuing Legal Education Seminar I attended about the CPSA, a New York State Judge made a really great point about the benefits of the CPSA that reassured me about being able to protect my client’s rights under New York law.
The Judge said that, as compared to an adoption proceeding which seeks to establish a legal parent-child relationship where none exists, the CPSA confirms a legal parent-child relationship that already exists. Take a moment and wrap your brain around that for a second. New York just went from criminalizing compensated surrogacy to assuming that a properly arranged surrogacy arrangement that complies with the CPSA, presumes that the intended parents are the legal parents of the baby being carried by the gestational surrogate. Wow!
If the parties to the surrogacy arrangement cross all their “t’s” and dot all their “i’s” and present a petition for parentage that shows that they are in “substantial compliance” with the CPSA, a judge in New York doesn’t have any purview or authority to do anything other than sign a Judgment of Parentage (even as early as the first trimester of a surrogate’s pregnancy! Although I personally wouldn’t advise my clients to file the petition until the second trimester of pregnancy because I am superstitious). As an attorney who is used to having to argue with judges over the legality of compassionate surrogacy and parental rights under New York law, and as an infertile woman who was forced to make decisions about how she was going to build her family because of the former prohibition against surrogacy in New York, this is music to my ears! I can hear Frank Sinatra singing it now:
Start Spreading the News
I’m Leaving [for the clinic] Today
I Want to Be a Part of It
New York New York!
So, let’s take a dive into the CPSA and straighten-out some of the confusion!
One of the great features of the CPSA is that it contains the first ever “Surrogate Bill of Rights”. The CPSA is the first statute in this country that codifies certain aspects of surrogacy arrangements and require that they be respected for the benefit and safety of gestational surrogates. The Surrogate Bill of Rights is designed to ensure that surrogates in New York are not taken advantage of and are protected both physically, emotionally and financially. I love the idea of the Surrogate Bill of Rights. But I think it is the Surrogate Bill of Rights that might be confusing people and making them think New York remains a surrogacy unfriendly state.
Remember I said that the Surrogate Bill of Rights codifies certain aspects of surrogacy arrangements? These aspects of surrogacy arrangements weren’t created for the first time in the CPSA. Rather, the Surrogate Bill of Rights takes existing legal concepts that are addressed in almost all gestational surrogacy agreements, and instead of leaving it up to smart lawyers and surrogacy agencies to address these concepts in the gestational surrogacy agreement, the CPSA requires that we do it so nothing slips through the cracks. While the Surrogate Bill of Rights is groundbreaking in terms of the fact that it is required by New York State law, the rights enumerated in it are nothing new or different to surrogacy or Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) law.
The Surrogate Bill of Rights guarantees (among other things) that surrogates be provided independent legal counsel, medical and psychological counseling, life and health insurance, and the right to make decisions that affect her health and well-being. As an experienced ART attorney, I can tell you there is nothing new about any of this. I think one thing that may be concerning people unfamiliar with ART law is that under the Surrogate Bill of Rights, the surrogate has sole decision-making authority when it comes to her body and management of the pregnancy. This type of decision-making authority sounds kind of frightening if you are an intended parent. However, it is important to note that this concept already is addressed in almost all gestational surrogacy agreements written in the United States.
I recently heard that a clinic is advising intended parents not to undergo surrogacy in New York because the CPSA gives the surrogate the right to terminate a pregnancy. I am guessing this issue originates in part of the Surrogate Bill of Rights that addresses the surrogate’s right to make decisions about her healthcare. I have news for you folks. All surrogates have the exclusive right to choose to terminate a pregnancy or refuse to terminate a pregnancy. United States Constitutional Law requires that a woman have the right to make this decision for herself and her body, even if she’s carrying someone else’s baby. This is nothing new in ART law.
The Surrogate Bill of Rights just makes sure everyone addresses this in the gestational surrogacy agreement and that all parties to the surrogacy agreement understand that it is her body and she has the legal right to make medical decisions with respect to her body. When this is addressed and discussed up front in the gestational surrogacy agreement, problems later on during the surrogacy journey can be avoided. The fact that the CPSA mandates that this be included in surrogacy contracts, is doing nothing other than that which best practices in ART law already embraces. Again, nothing new here folks.
Other concerns have been raised about who can enter into a surrogacy arrangement in New York, and some people are upset that the CPSA has some arguably restrictive language about who can enter into a surrogacy arrangement in New York. But let’s take a look at this for a moment before we decide that New York remains a surrogacy-unfriendly jurisdiction. The CPSA requires that:
- The Surrogate be at least 21 years of age and a lawful permanent resident of New York; and,
- At least one intended parent must be a legal resident of the State of New York for at least 6 months prior to execution of the surrogacy agreement; and,
- All parties to the surrogacy agreement must be United States Citizens or lawful residents of the United States.
Okay, yes, it is kind of a big bummer that internationally-based intended parents cannot enter into a surrogacy arrangement in New York absent one of them having a legal residence in New York and some form of lawful basis for residing in the United States and New York for at least six months (Visa anyone?). At present surrogacy is limited to arrangements between lawful residents of the United States who have a legal residence in New York.
While that doesn’t necessarily negatively impact intended parents who reside in New York, it does impact New York surrogates who might like to carry a child for intended parents who live somewhere other than New York. I have heard that people are being told that the CPSA only permits surrogacy arrangements between New York residents and prohibits all out-of-state residents from entering into a surrogacy arrangement with a New York surrogate under New York law.
Let me bust this myth open as well.
The CPSA does not prohibit a New York surrogate from carrying a baby for an out-of-state intended parents. She absolutely can. What might get a little complicated, however, is how parental rights are established in this type of situation. Establishing parental rights in this scenario is not going to be as easy as the Judge described it in my CLE seminar, but it can be done. If you have experienced ART attorneys in New York working with you (and one in the state in which the intended parents reside), the intended parents will be established as the legal parents of the baby the surrogate carried. The CPSA does provide for the establishment of parental rights in surrogacy arrangements that do not “substantially” comply with the CPSA.
In our scenario with out-of-state intended parents working with New York surrogates, parentage will be established based on the intent of the parties at the time the surrogacy agreement is entered into and the best interests of the child. These two standards, intent and best interests, are fundamental principles of ART law. Indeed, there is ample case law (law made by judges as opposed to by statute) in New York and around the country that says the intent of the parties as expressed in a contract or other writing entered into prior to the time the child is conceived through third-party assisted reproduction, will be enforced. Thus, if you enter into a gestational surrogacy agreement and clearly express everyone’s intent that the intended parents are the parents and that the surrogate and her spouse or partner don’t want to be the parents, then under New York law, the court must enforce the parties’ intent as expressed in the gestational surrogacy agreement and determine that the intended parents are the baby’s legal parents. Assuming that the surrogate is not contesting parentage and there are no scary facts that would indicate the child would be unsafe growing up with his/her parents, then the judge should issue a Judgment of Parentage notwithstanding the fact that the intended parents aren’t New York residents and the gestational surrogacy agreement is not in substantial compliance with the CPSA.
Quite honestly, establishing parental rights for out-of-state intended parents happens all the time in surrogacy arrangements. It is really rare for all parties to a surrogacy arrangement to reside in the same state. Sometimes that means it is a more complicated process to establish parental rights (as is the case here), but at the end of the day parental rights are established. In ART law, everything is state specific. In fact, sometimes it is not just state specific but county and judge specific within the state! Despite the annoying residency provisions, at least the CPSA provides clear guidance on how you establish parental rights when there isn’t substantial compliance with the statute. And that is a big step-up from those states in which you literally don’t know what you’re going to have to do in order to establish your parental rights until you know what judge has been assigned to your petition. I will take my chances with out-of-state intended parents under the CPSA any day compared with the insecurity of not knowing how it’s all going to play out until you have a judge assigned in a specific court in a specific county (talk about nail biting)!
So, I hope we have busted a couple of big myths about the CPSA and this unfortunate and unfounded idea that surrogacy in New York is something to avoid. There are other issues with the CPSA that I will address in Part II of this blog (like insurance, agency licensure, and escrow management) but for the moment I think we made some headway in redressing these horrible allegations about the CPSA and New York surrogacy law.
And for what it is worth, there is a group of New York attorneys, NYAAFF (New York Attorneys for Adoption and Family Formation), of which I am a member, who are working on a “clean-up” bill which seeks to resolve some of the concerns people have about the CPSA, like that pesky little residency requirement. I have tremendous faith in NYAAFF (heck, the CPSA wouldn’t exist without some of its members!) and I am optimistic that the residency requirement will be modified at some point in the near future.
But even if the CPSA stays exactly as it is today, we’ve come a long, long way. This is truly an historic moment in New York. Don’t be afraid of it. Embrace it!
I’ll Make a Brand New Start in Old New York
If I Can Make it There
I’ll Make it Anywhere
It’s Up to You
New York New York
 No matter when you file the petition, the Judgment of Parentage doesn’t become effective until the moment of birth.
 For purposes of this blog, I frequently refer to intended parents in the plural, as in a couple (whether heterosexual or same-sex, married or unmarried). Please note that the CPSA also provides for the establishment of parental rights for single parents, not just two-parent families.
 An examination of the “best interests” of the child looks to many aspects of parentage and the family situation, the prospective safety of the child is just one example cited for purposes of this blog.
 To be clear, the citizenship part of the residency requirement is not among the issues being discussed in the clean-up bill.
Filed under: Announcements, Current Affairs, Family Building Law, Gestational Carrier, Gestational Carrier Arrangements, In the News, New York Reproductive Law, Personal Musings, Reproductive Law, Same Sex Parenting and Reproductive Law, Surrogacy, Surrogacy in New York
May 12, 2019 | By: Liz
If you have ever been infertile, Mother’s Day Can Freakin’ Suck. This is a picture of my mom. She had Stage IV endometriosis (like me), and as a result, only had me. She wanted more babies but she couldn’t have them and she and my father were TTC before IVF or infertility treatment was an option. She died a little over a year ago and for some reason this Mother’s Day has ripped-off what my grief counselor calls the “grief-band-aid” on so many different issues. I miss my mom today in a gut-wrenching, heart-breaking way that maybe I haven’t since she died. Maybe that is because she suffered from infertility too and we had a special bond on Mother’s Day, understanding each other’s pain even though we both became mothers. But today, there is a pain and anger in me that I haven’t felt in years. If I see one more picture of a pregnant belly in my news feed I will scream. Or read one more comment about the diaper’s women wear after giving birth. Please stop reminding me of what I couldn’t do! My grief counselor tells me that losing both my parents (as an only child) within 5 months is called “complicated grief” but she also said that loss of anyone brings up every other loss I have ever experienced, namely all my many, many miscarriages. That would make it very complicated grief, I guess. I might have reached a point where I was okay not trying to carry a baby in my belly — losing a baby at 5 months when I was in such fear and denial that I couldn’t even acknowledge I was pregnant — helped me move past the ever-present yearning to feel a baby kick inside me. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t still hurt as a woman that I couldn’t carry a baby. I have two beautiful children and should be able to celebrate today. But I can’t. I don’t have the one person who understood better than any other how conflicting Mother’s Day can be, in which to share the day, happiness and sadness tied together in a giant ball of conflicting emotions. My family seems to have forgotten that I needed support today — that I will always need support on Mother’s Day. I don’t blame my kids for not getting me a card or doing something special for me. They are too young to understand how complicated this day is for a formerly infertile mom (who just lost her mom), and God-willing they will never understand the infertility piece. My DH asked what was bothering me and I explained my headspace and then I told him I shouldn’t have to ask for cards or flowers or CHOCOLATE. Just because our kids are teens doesn’t mean the pain of infertility is any less. Apparently today, it is quite more, and this is one of the hardest Mother’s Days I have experienced. I cannot control the internet, all the pictures of newborn babies (Archie’s feet, Amy and Gene), and pregnant bellies. I can only control my response. Which will be to stay off my phone, tablet and away from my computer. My infertility grief-band-aid was ripped off today and it freakin’ sucks. It doesn’t matter how your infertility resolves. There always is a little piece of it in your heart. My mom not being here today makes it harder to push the feelings aside, but no matter how much counseling we get, no matter how many babies we do or don’t ever have, Mother’s Day can be brutal. Now where the Eff is the Chocolate in this house?
Filed under: adoption, child free living, Faith and Infertility, I'm Just Another Angry Infertile Woman, In the News, Infertility Awareness, infertility in the media, Infertility on Television, Miscarriage, Peace to Parenthood, Personal Musings, Recurrent Pregnancy Loss, Stillbirth, The Infertility Survival Handbook, The Journey to Parenthood, Thinking Out Loud
February 10, 2016 | By: Liz
Sometimes when I tell people what I do for a living they look at me like I have two heads.
Reproductive Lawyer? What’s that???
In this day and age when celebs like Sofia Vergara and her Ex are all over the news fighting over which one of them is going to get to use their frozen embryos, I am really surprised that so many people have no idea what it is that reproductive lawyers do. Or more to the point, why reproductive lawyers are not only helpful, but often play a critical and essential role for individuals and couples building their family through third-party assisted reproductive arrangements like surrogacy, egg, sperm, and embryo donation.
So what is it that we do for our clients? How is it that we play such an important but poorly understood role in the formation of our modern families? Here, in no particular order, is an overview of the top ten things reproductive lawyers can help you with as you begin to build your family through third-party assisted reproduction. Now these may not be humor-worthy of top ten list legend David Letterman, but for anyone going through third-party assisted reproduction or considering it, this is an important list:
(1) Reviewing your agreement with your surrogacy or egg donation agency (sometimes called a service agreement): If things go south with your relationship with the agency this is the document that is going to be your agency’s safety net and the document you will look to in order to seek a refund of all or some of the money you paid. Shouldn’t you know your rights and the agency’s obligations and responsibilities before you sign an agreement and work with the agency?
(2) Reviewing your surrogates insurance policy: What if it doesn’t cover a surrogacy pregnancy? What options do you have to avoid a potentially catastrophic financial liability?
(3) Preparing contracts for you: Egg, sperm, and embryo donation agreements (anonymous or known), and gestational surrogacy agreements are all critical documents in protecting your family in the future and protecting you and your donor/surrogate during the IVF process and/or pregnancy. Understanding the role this agreement plays in third-party assisted reproduction and the necessity for having them drafted is far too often overlooked. How do you make sure your sperm donor is really a donor and not something more (like a parent)? When does your egg donor relinquish parental rights? What happens if she changes her mind about donating? How and when can you use any leftover frozen eggs or preembryos? What happens if you and your surrogate disagree over something really important like selectively reducing the pregnancy?
(4) Using boilerplate contracts with your agency, or contracts you find on the internet: Do they really protect you and what issues might arise if you use one? Did you know that you are probably violating copyright laws by using one? Did you know you cannot be forced or compelled to use an agreement provided by an agency and that you have the right to use an independent lawyer?
(5) Entering into a known sperm donation agreement (with a friend or a Starbucks Sperm Donor): What do you need to know about these sometimes very dicey situations? What makes them so risky and how can you avoid those risks? What can you do to protect yourself whether you are the intended parent or the sperm donor? How can you protect yourself from a known sperm donor asserting parental rights or an intended parent trying to impose parental rights, custody or child support obligations? Does a sperm donor need to be worried about the State asserting a claim that he has child support obligations? Good intentions aside, everyone thinking about this form of family building is (in my humble opinion — IMHO) a fool for not consulting with an attorney before entering into this type of family building arrangement.
These are just a few of the important ways reproductive lawyers can help you through the obstacle course of third-party assisted reproduction. We want to help you make smart future-thinking decisions and ensure that everyone has their rights protected as they intend them to be and as they move forward through this process.
Up Next in Part 2 We Explore:
(6) Planning for Divorce or Death.
(7) Managing money in a surrogacy arrangement.
(8) Doing a home insemination:
(9) Getting your birth certificate:
(10) Understanding the impact of changing reproductive laws:
Filed under: anonymous sperm donation, Birth Certificates, Birth Orders, Current Affairs, Egg Donation, Embryo Disposition, Embryos, Family Building Law, Frozen Embryos, Gestational Carrier, Gestational Carrier Arrangements, In the News, infertility in the media, Infertility on Television, Insurance for Infertility, IVF, known sperm donation, New York Reproductive Law, Parentage Orders, Personal Musings, Pre-Birth Orders, Reproductive Law, Reproductive Lawyers, Same Sex Parenting and Reproductive Law, Surrogacy, Surrogacy in New York, The Journey to Parenthood, Thinking Out Loud, Third-Party Assisted Reproduction, Uncategorized, Uncompensated Surrogacy