A surrogacy agreement signed by a Pennsylvania woman is valid and enforceable, a US court has ruled.
The couple located a surrogate mother and signed an agreement with her. The pregnancy would combine the husband’s sperm with a donated egg. They agreed to pay the surrogate was to be paid more than $100,000 for her expenses during the pregnancy. Meanwhile, the agreement gave the couple as the intended parents the right to withdraw from the arrangement either before the IVF process or afterwards, but in the latter case they could only do so if it had been confirmed that the surrogate was not pregnant.
IVF went ahead and was successful. But five months later, as the couple’s lawyer began the process of having the couple declared the yet-to-be-born child’s legal parents, the couple began having marriage problems and the wife refused to sign the papers. They separated.
The baby was born in August last year. The surrogate mother was named as the baby’s legal mother on the birth certificate but the father was left unspecified. Meanwhile, the surrogate, who had received a bill from the maternity hospital, went to court to have the wife declared the legal mother instead, as per the original agreement.
A court ruled in the surrogate’s father, declaring the wife the legal mother and saying she had breached the terms of the surrogacy agreement. She appealed, arguing that surrogacy agreements were unenforceable under Pennsylvanian law. The state had failed to enact any law specifically recognising surrogacy agreements and official policy on “assisted conception” amounted only to guidance, she insisted.
But the Superior Court of Pennsylvania disagreed, quoting a Supreme Court ruling which stated:
“The absence of a legislative mandate coupled to the constantly evolving science of reproductive technology … illustrate the very opposite of unanimity with regard to the legal relationships arising from sperm donation, whether anonymous or otherwise. This undermines any suggestion that the agreement at issue violates a dominant public policy or obvious ethical or moral standards … demonstrating a virtual unanimity of opinion … sufficient to warrant the invalidation of an otherwise binding agreement.”
In addition, case law within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania indicated increasing public acceptance of surrogacy and similar approaches to reproduction. Consequently, the surrogacy agreement was still binding on the wife.