Michigan Lifts Ban on Compensated Surrogacy, Expanding Family-Building Options

Michigan Lifts Ban on Compensated Surrogacy, Expanding Family-Building Options

Michigan will eliminate its restriction on compensated surrogacy arrangements after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed legislation Monday that expands alternatives for Michigan residents who want to have children but are unable to do so through traditional ways.

House Bills 5207-5215, approved by Whitmer, are known as the Michigan Family Protection Act by advocates, and they abolish Michigan’s restriction on compensated surrogacy, which has been in effect since 1988.

Surrogate parenthood, a type of assisted reproduction, is the procedure in which a woman carries a pregnancy and delivers a child to another family. Parental surrogacy has been practiced in Michigan in the years since the ban on compensated surrogacy agreements was enacted, but parents and surrogates testified in committee on the bills that the practice was difficult, forcing parents to go through lengthy adoption processes for their biological children.

“(This) is a package of commonsense, long overdue changes to remove criminal prohibitions on surrogacy, to protect families formed by IVF (In vitro fertilization), and to ensure LGBTQ+ parents are treated equally,” Whitmer said during the bill signing event in Royal Oak. WILX, Lansing’s television station, livestreamed the incident.

Advocates for the proposals claim that the new law will boost possibilities for starting families. Samantha Steckloff, a Democratic state representative from Farmington Hills, sponsored the principal bill in the package.

According to supporters of the measure, Michigan was the only state with such a restriction in place. The repeal package passed primarily along partisan lines in the Legislature, while the main bill received two Republican votes in the Senate.

“House Bills 5207-5215 lift this ban, and more importantly create a clear, legal link between parents and the children born in assisted reproduction,” Steckloff stated in a press release. “Whether using surrogacy or IVF, ensuring that a legal parent-child relationship exists will give children more sense of belonging and upbringing and eliminate any possible confusion around parentage and prevent bad actors from making undue claims.”

Steckloff, a breast cancer survivor, spoke at committee hearings on how she delayed the start of chemotherapy by a month in 2015 to undergo IVF, allowing her and her husband to potentially start their own family one day.

In the Senate, Republicans attempted to submit amendments that would keep the previous law’s criminal penalties for entering into a surrogacy agreement with a juvenile or a developmentally impaired individual. The bills approved by Whitmer on Monday require anyone entering a surrogacy pact to be at least 21 years old, to meet with medical and mental health professionals, and to have independent legal representation, which backers claim will protect carriers.

The legality of IVF was called into question after the Alabama Supreme Court ruled in February that embryos fertilized through IVF are considered “extrauterine children” and are legally protected like any other child, though the state has since taken steps to shield IVF providers from legal liability. Whitmer stated that the package signed on Monday includes protections for IVF in Michigan.

Stephanie Jones had her first kid naturally. Jones, however, stated that she had life-threatening pregnancy difficulties, therefore her second kid was born through surrogacy.

“I shouldn’t have survived,” she said during a recent roundtable held by Whitmer for parents undergoing IVF. Both life-threatening pregnancies need medical abortions, she explained. “And I remember, from an ICU bed in Flint, Michigan, being gobsmacked to learn about Michigan’s laws prohibiting surrogacy in our state, knowing that the same doctor that just saved my life came to me and said, ‘Stephanie, the only way you’re going to be able to have more children is through surrogacy.'”

She moved to Portland, Oregon, for a month to begin the surrogacy process, including egg retrieval and an out-of-state carrier. Her experience motivated her to advocate for improvements in Michigan’s surrogacy legislation. She started the Michigan Fertility Alliance, an advocacy group dedicated to infertility issues. Jones also testified in support of the proposal during committee hearings.

Because the legislation did not gain two-thirds approval in the Senate, the new law will not go into effect until 90 days after the Michigan Legislature ends its term this year.

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