The modern, nuclear family has evolved as technology has allowed it to. The men and women who volunteer their genetic material, either as sperm and egg donors, or as surrogates, provide an incredible service to young couples, heterosexual and same-sex, who want to start their own family. These sperm and egg donors and surrogates act as non-traditional storks, providing an option to couples who may have been unable to conceive naturally, or through in-vitro fertilization, fertility drugs, and reproductive surgery, among others procedures. However, as seen in the news regarding the sperm donor required to pay child support, it is incredibly important that parents-to-be and their surrogates or donors outline the legal responsibilities and roles that each party will take on prior to the child’s conception.
In an article recently published in The Chicago Tribune, there has been a noted growth in the numbers of surrogate births and its popularity as a form of child conception. One of the most important factors for why surrogate births are popular, specifically in Illinois, is because Illinois’s legislation is one of the most pro-surrogate states in the nation. Resolve: The National Infertility Association recently ranked Illinois third on its “fertility scorecard.” Massachusetts and New Jersey are considered to be the states with the most pro-surrogate and progressive state legislations. Some of the factors the rankings evaluate are the number of fertility clinics, ease of the process, litigation, insurance, and number of support groups based in the state. Illinois Gestational Surrogacy Act of 2005 has been its main factor for ranking so high, and the main reason that many cross not only state lines, but country borders to find a surrogate in Illinois. Illinois, as provided in its “fertility score card,” has an infertile population of 287,967, has over 20 specialized fertility clinics, and has an insurance mandate to cover these types of fertility treatments.
Illinois’s Gestational Surrogacy Act of 2005: The Basics
The Gestational Surrogacy Act of 2005 is pro-surrogate for a variety of reasons, the most important being the ease of the process. In Illinois, when a gestational surrogate (one who carries the child to term but does not donate her egg) births the child, the intended parents, upon birth, become the child’s legal parents, and their names are added to the birth certificate. In many other states, the intended parents must go to court and endure the long, adoption process.
The Gestational Surrogacy Act of 2005 follows the standards outlined by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. The surrogate must meet the following requirements:
- She is over the age of 21;
- She has at least one child of her own;
- She has a healthy pregnancy medical record, including being mentally and emotionally stable and disease-free.
Finally, the intended parents and the surrogate are required to meet with independent legal counsel to go over the agreement and the terms of the relationship, and the intended parents need to demonstrate a showing of medical need for the gestational surrogate.
Though Illinois has incredibly pro-surrogate legislation and legal protections for both the surrogate and the intended parents, it is incredibly important and required that the two parties sit down with an Illinois family law attorney and outline a surrogacy agreement.