Rich_Vaughn_Blog_Justice

Illinois Public Health Department Policy Change Ensures Equal Protection for ALL Intended Parents

I and numerous colleagues in the field of assisted reproductive technology law are celebrating great news: last week the Illinois Department of Public Health reversed its discriminatory policy and instructed that names of both same-sex intended parents be entered on birth certificates in gestational surrogacy cases. Although the Illinois Gestational Surrogacy Act (IL-GSA), which took effect in 2005, was written in a gender neutral fashion, the Illinois Department of Public Health prohibited placing the name of a same-sex second parent on the birth certificate without first obtaining a separate court order of adoption—adding an extra layer of legal procedure and expense for same-sex couples going through the surrogacy process in Illinois.

Nidhi Desai of Ballard, Desai & Miller, one of the original framers of the IL-GSA, wrote this week, “There has been a tremendous amount of push back over the years on this issue, and it is a relief to have this issue resolved consistent with the intent of the statute, particularly without having any litigation or other unpleasantries.”

Because IL-GSA was written in a gender neutral fashion, technically speaking, from its effective date, all intended parents should have been automatically placed on the birth certificate of children resulting from gestational surrogacy in Illinois (provided the other requirements of the IL-GSA were met). However, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) interpreted the act differently, based on the fact that the gestational surrogacy parentage certification forms (and birth certificates) were gender-specific. In 2011, when Civil Unions were first allowed in Illinois, many of the state forms were changed to be gender neutral, and same-sex intended parents were allowed on the birth certificate. However, that was not an official policy of IDPH. Recently the department denied some of my same-sex intended parent clients the right to be placed on the birth certificate unless they proved they were married or in a civil union (despite the facts that heterosexual married couples did not have to document or prove their marriages, both unmarried heterosexual parents were also allowed on the birth certificates, AND the IL-GSA never required that intended parents be married).

After running up against this discriminatory roadblock of my clients’ rights on more than one occasion, I spoke with an Illinois state representative who was able to go through internal channels and ensure that the IDPH changed its policy to comply with the law.

In a November 15, 2012 letter sent to all Illinois hospitals, IDPH wrote:

Please be advised that the Department has implemented a change in procedure, regarding the completion of the birth record, for those couples involved in a gestational surrogacy contract. The genders of the "intended parents" will no longer be a meaningful distinction, per the Gestational Surrogacy Act. Therefore, from this point forward, all same-sex "intended" parents that are not married nor in a civil union, will be recorded on the birth record, in the same manner that you currently record opposite-sex intended" parents.

Effective immediately, all birthing hospitals shall begin to place the names of both the biologic and the non-biologic (non-genetic) same sex "intended" parents on the birth record of the child, provided that all requirements of the Gestational Surrogacy Act are met.

On a side note that will be especially appreciated by LGBT couples, the IDPH instructions to hospitals on how to correctly fill out the online birth certificate form include this statement:

For questions regarding which parent’s name goes in which field (Mother/Co-parent or Father/Co-parent), allow the intended parents to decide.

My thanks and gratitude go out to those forward-thinking Illinois government legislators, officials and administrators who saw through the red-tape of an outdated and discriminatory policy to find the right answer for intended parents and their children!

Rich Vaughn
Richard Vaughn
rich@iflg.net

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
PEIYA WANG(王培娅)
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 SOSA
Paralegal

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
TONI HUGES
Paralegal

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
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
KIM DEVEREAUX
Paralegal

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
RICHARD B. VAUGHN
Founder

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 TAMAYO
Paralegal

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 CHIEN
Paralegal

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
MOLLY O'BRIEN
Partner

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.