New York Surrogacy Law Protects Babies, Parents and Surrogates

For many individuals who consider parenthood via in-vitro fertilization and surrogacy, the most gut-wrenching questions about the process are these: What if the surrogate changes her mind? Can a surrogate choose to keep the baby? 

On April 2, 2020, the state of New York passed a sweeping package of reproductive and parentage law reforms that will make those kinds of tragic events far less likely. The reforms end the state’s 30-year surrogacy ban and enact the strongest protections in the country for surrogates, intended parents and babies.

While the Child-Parent Security Act enshrines into law numerous protections for both parents and surrogates, intended parents considering surrogacy should consult an experienced New York surrogacy lawyer.

Surrogacy Law Reforms Apply the Law to Everyone

As we reported when we started writing about this issue in 2018, New York is one of several states--along with New Jersey, Michigan, and Washington, that banned paid surrogacy in the wake of the infamous “Baby M” case. As we wrote then:

New York was one of several states that instituted bans on paid surrogacy and surrogacy contracts in the early 1990s in the wake of the infamous “Baby M” case, in which a surrogate, in violation of a surrogacy agreement, refused to give custody of the child to the intended parents. In the resulting court and media battle, opponents of assisted reproduction depicted surrogacy as inhumane and exploitative of women and children, akin to “baby selling.” Although “altruistic” surrogacy, in which the surrogate receives no payment, remained legal in New York, any contract to formalize the arrangements, including designating parentage, was unenforceable, effectively banning all surrogacy.  For this reason, for three decades, New Yorkers seeking to have biologically related children were forced to travel to another state for the surrogacy and birth.

As we have reported, under New York’s existing law, if intended parents were to undertake “altruistic” surrogacy with a voluntary, uncompensated surrogate, then any contract between the intended parents—say, to establish parentage of the baby or to determine who will pay medical expenses—would not be enforceable in court. In other words, New York surrogates who agreed to bear a child for others from the goodness of their hearts would have no way of enforcing any agreement for reimbursement of expenses. Further, intended parents would have no legal recourse if a surrogate were to abandon her responsibilities toward the pregnancy or refuse to surrender custody of the child.

Legal protections for intended parents and surrogates have been absent in New York for the past three decades. During this time, many New York intended parents, infertile couples and single or LGBTQ intended parents have been forced to travel hundreds or thousands of miles from home to acquire surrogates, at great additional expense and hardship. The same has been true of these groups in the United Kingdom, Japan and other countries where surrogacy is banned.

With the implementation of the Child and Parent Security Act—which takes effect on February 21, 2021—New Yorkers will finally benefit from a legal and regulatory structure that upholds reproductive rights. The act will ensure the rights of all families, however they are created, to equal protection under the law.

Contact an IFLG Surrogacy Lawyer Today

At International Fertility Law Group, our sole focus is helping intended parents and families navigate the numerous steps of family creation via assisted reproductive technology. The landscape of surrogacy law can be complex for intended parents who do not know how the law applies to their situation.

That’s where an IFLG surrogacy attorney can help. Contact our New York office today at (212) 388-6966 to speak to a lawyer about starting a family.

Rich Vaughn
Rich 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.

Los Angeles

5757 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 645

Los Angeles, CA 90036

Phone:  +1 323 331 9343

Email:  info@iflg.net

Website:  www.iflg.net

New York

501 Fifth Avenue, Suite 1900

New York, NY 10017

Phone:  +1 844 400 2016

Email:  info@iflg.net

Website:  www.iflg.net

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.