Rich Vaughn, IFLG: ASRM Requests Exceptions to COVID-19 Travel Bans

ASRM Asks State Department for Travel Ban Exceptions for International Surrogacy

In an effort to support international intended parents and newborns stranded by the coronavirus COVID-19 emergency, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) yesterday sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo requesting limited exceptions to the United States’ travel ban. In the letter, ASRM requests exceptions to U.S. policy allowing parents to travel to the U.S. for the birth of their babies born via surrogacy in the United States and facilitating the return with their parents to their home countries.

Pandemic-related shutdowns and global travel bans have thrown the carefully scheduled plans and procedures of intended parents undergoing assisted reproductive technology into disarray, with no advance warning and no way of knowing when donor agencies, clinics and airlines will resume services. Reproductive health professionals advised clients not to begin new procedures.

But those precautions did nothing to help families with pregnancies already in process. As ASRM reported in its statement, nine of 10 people on earth right now live in a country with closed borders. One growing area of concern is the number of babies born by surrogacy to parents from other countries. In some cases, as we recently reported on Ukraine, parents have been unable to travel to be at their baby’s births and to take custody of their newborns. In other cases, parents who were able to make it to the births are now trapped, unable to travel home.

Fortunately, fertility physicians, attorneys, surrogacy agencies and advocacy organizations have come together to share resources and information for addressing the new challenges of the pandemic. ASRM’s letter to the U.S. State Department is just one example of worldwide efforts to help families navigate the crisis.

In its letter, ASRM asks the State Department to take reasonable and sound steps to allow international intended parents to enter the U.S. with all due health precautions and creating an exception for newborns born through surrogacy during the COVID-19 pandemic and to quickly process the passport applications.

“These steps will ensure that parents can be present for a child’s birth to take physical and legal responsibility for their children and, as applicable and only when deemed safe, return home to an International location as a family. Without an exception, these children are at risk of being trapped in the U.S., potentially without a legal guardian or health insurance,” according to the ASRM announcement about its letter to the State Department.

Our IFLG team has been proud to assist intended parents from at least 21 countries in traveling to the U.S. for the births of their babies or in helping them travel home again. We are grateful to ASRM and to all the many professionals and advocates who are working behind the scenes to ensure that, even with the world in the grips of an historic pandemic, the most vulnerable among us are not forgotten and left behind.

For more information about assisted reproductive technology and the impacts of COVID-19, see our collection of pandemic-related articles, webinars and videos.

Rich Vaughn
Richard Vaughn

Attorney Rich Vaughn is founder and principal of International Fertility Law Group, one of the world’s largest and best-known law firms focused exclusively on assisted reproductive technology, or ART, including in vitro fertilization (IVF), surrogacy, sperm donation or egg donation. Rich is co-author of the book “Developing A Successful Assisted Reproduction Technology Law Practice,” American Bar Association Publishing, 2017.

Peiya Wang
Paralegal (律师助理)

Peiya Wang joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2015, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases and provides translation services for many of IFLG’s international clients. Peiya received her bachelor’s degree from Beijing Technologies and Business University, where she majored in Marketing. She moved to the United States in 2012 to attend Northeast University in Boston, Massachusetts, receiving a Master of Science degree in Global Studies and International Affairs in 2014. Peiya moved to Los Angeles in 2015 and received her paralegal certification from UCLA Extension. When away from the office, Peiya is a dragon boat paddler and a ballroom dancer, where she favors Rumbas and Cha-chas. She is fluent in Mandarin and English.

Luis Sosa

Luis R. Sosa joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2016, where he enjoys pursuing his passion for family and reproductive law. While working toward his bachelor’s degree at Florida International University, Luis worked as a paralegal and legal assistant for family law litigation firms in Miami and Washington, D.C. As a paralegal and case manager for IFLG, Luis, who is bilingual in English and Spanish, manages surrogacy, egg donation and other reproductive law cases. In addition to spending time with husband Randy and dog Marty, Luis enjoys being outdoors and appreciating the arts.

Toni Hughes

After receiving her B.S. in Business Management, Toni joined IFLG to pursue her dream of working in the legal field. As a Paralegal with over 10 years of experience in the assisted reproduction technology field, Toni is our Managing Paralegal, responsible for training and managing our paralegal staff. From drafting legal documents to assisting our clients with post-birth matters, Toni embraces the challenge of learning something new in this field each day. Besides spending time with her son, Jordan, Toni enjoys exploring new things, cooking, spending time with family and friends, and serving as a Youth Advisor for “Next Generation.”

Miesha Cowart
Financial Coordinator

Miesha Cowart joined IFLG as a financial specialist in 2014 following a successful career in development and business finance. Miesha previously worked for 10 years in the construction industry as a controller and for 13 years as Development Coordinator for the non-profit U.S. Fund for UNICEF. In her free time, Miesha works with “Next Generation” at her church. “They are my heartbeats!” she says of the youth in her community.


Kim has over 25 years of experience in the legal field and has worked exclusively in surrogacy and assisted reproduction law since 1999. Kim is a senior case manager of surrogacy and egg donation cases, and is also responsible for managing parental establishment cases and interacting with IFLG’s Of Counsel attorneys across the country. With three children of her own, Kim understands the importance of family and finds working in this area of law a rewarding experience.

Rich Vaughn

Attorney Rich Vaughn combined his personal passion as a father of twin boys born via assisted reproductive technology (ART) with more than 20 years of experience in business and technology law to build International Fertility Law Group. Today IFLG is one of the most successful and best-known law firms in the world focused exclusively on fertility law, helping thousands of intended parents through empathetic listening, compassionate guidance, and unmatched legal expertise. As an advocate for reproductive freedom, Rich also contributes his knowledge and time to improving the understanding and practice of ART law, most recently as a founder of and speaker at the first Cambridge University International Surrogacy Symposium held in June 2019, as immediate past chair of the American Bar Association ART Committee, and as a popular presenter to law schools, faculty and advocacy organizations all over the world.

Elizabeth Tamayo

Elizabeth received her Bachelors of Science degree in Criminal Justice from California State University of Los Angeles. Shortly after graduating, she continued her education at the University of California, Los Angeles where she obtained her Paralegal certificate. Elizabeth is fluent in Spanish and has been in the legal field since 2009. She is excited to be a part of the IFLG Team helping families realize their dreams.

Sunny Chien

Sunny joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2017, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases for many of IFLG’s international clients. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from California State University of Los Angeles, where she graduated cum laude. Sunny is bilingual in English and Mandarin and has extensive experience as a legal assistant and paralegal at Los Angeles-area law firms. She is excited to be part of the IFLG team. In her spare time, Sunny enjoys spending time with her family and their dog, going to the beach, cooking, and being outdoors.

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Molly O'Brien

Fertility law attorney Molly O’Brien began working in the field of assisted reproduction technology (ART) in 2005, at an egg donation agency and a surrogacy agency where she became familiar with all aspects of in-vitro fertilization, egg donation and the financial aspects of surrogacy. Since becoming an attorney in 2011, Molly has drafted and negotiated surrogacy, egg donation, sperm donation embryo donation agreements for hundreds of her clients all over the world.