Overturn of Roe v. Wade Could Make Some States Hostile to Surrogacy

The media frenzy and public backlash we were all expecting later this summer came early.

An unprecedented series of leaks from the U.S. Supreme Court, including the leak of a draft opinion overturning women’s rights to abortion, SCOTUSBlog reports, has convinced most observers that the Court will overturn the 1973 landmark decision in Roe v. Wade when it rules on the Mississippi abortion ban case,Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, expected in June.

On April 26, the Wall Street Journal published an editorial saying that five justices are prepared to uphold the Mississippi ban. Passed in 2018 and immediately challenged in court, the Mississippi law would ban abortions after 15 weeks, with narrow exceptions for medical emergencies or severe fetal abnormality, none for cases of rape or incest.

Initially, the Supreme Court declined to hear the case, but with the appointment of two additional conservative judges—Brett Kavanaugh in 2018 and Amy Coney Barrett in late 2021—reversed that earlier decision and heard oral arguments on December 1, 2021. Based on the tenor of the justices’ questions and responses, activists and court-watchers have predicted the Court would, at a minimum, uphold the Mississippi law’s 15-week restriction, but many hoped it would do so without overturning Roe entirely. With Politico’s publication of the leaked opinion draft, it appears a majority of justices are prepared to overturn Roe, sending the regulation of abortion back to the individual states.

Anti-Abortion States May Force Surrogates to Travel for Care

So what does this mean for the thousands of intended parents who turn to IVF and surrogacy, often after exhausting all other means of creating a family?

One thing certain to follow the overturning of Roe v. Wade is lots of litigation, likely for years to come. Although the Supreme Court confirmed its validity, the leaked draft is not the final, official opinion of the Court and is likely to undergo changes before the formal decision is issued, probably in late June.

What appears to be in the tea leaves is that the Supreme Court will say that abortion is not a right of privacy explicitly provided for in the U.S. Constitution and, therefore, neither the Supreme Court or any federal court or federal government office, federal legislation or the White House should have jurisdiction over whether abortion should be allowed (or not).

If that is the way the Court rules, the next logical step would be to say that maybe NO government (state or federal) should tell a woman what she can and cannot do with her body. However, I assume this decision will instead result in the matter being left to each of the states to decide how it wants to handle it. As reported by The New York Times, if Roe is overturned, 28 states are expected to severely restrict or ban abortion entirely; another 22 states would likely continue to protect women’s right to choose.

In surrogacy arrangements, intended parents, the surrogate and her husband and family agree in a written contract what measures will be taken in specific circumstances. For example, the parties might agree that, if the surrogate became pregnant with multiple embryos, the number would or could be reduced. In the case of fetal abnormality or disease, the parties might agree to terminate the pregnancy. At all times, the surrogate has the sole right to determine whether or not to continue the pregnancy or what medical procedures will be used.

Under those circumstances, should Roe be overturned, a surrogate who lived in a state where abortion was banned would be forced to travel to another state where the procedure is allowed. A surrogate has a constitutional right to travel and a right to seek healthcare wherever she wants.

Women Have Constitutional Right to Travel for Medical Care

In other words, it is not illegal for a surrogate to travel to another state where abortion would be permitted. Some state legislators already have advanced plans to prevent women from traveling from a state where abortion is banned to obtain an abortion in another state. I believe this is legislative overreach and that ultimately such attempts to restrict women’s rights to travel to seek medical attention will be deemed unconstitutional.

Still, Roe’s overturn may result in a decline in surrogacy in anti-abortion states and an increased demand for surrogates in pro-choice states.

As disheartening as the attack on women’s reproductive rights is, I am confident that, over time, the right and the desire to procreate and build families will prevail over temporary setbacks such as this one. Even though Justice Samuel Alito's onerous draft opinion lazily and sloppily attempts to paste a Bandaid across the gaping hole he has busted in legal precedent, by claiming his decision impacts nothing else but abortion, conservative, base-baiting legislators and anti-choice activists have already begun lining up their next targets—including the right to have information about and use contraceptives, the right of consenting adults to privacy in their own bedrooms. Overturning Roe on the premise that individuals' right to privacy is not enshrined in the U.S. Constitution and therefore does not exist leaves the door wide open for a series of legal challenges that, if successful, could turn back decades of progress toward equality and democratic governance.

While we don’t know who leaked the draft Supreme Court opinion or what the leaker or leakers’ intentions were, we know there is something all of us can do as Americans to protect women’s rights to reproductive freedom and bodily autonomy: Vote, and encourage others to vote, for leaders who will uphold gender equality and reproductive freedom, both in Congress and in the lower offices that are the pipeline for future legislators. Vote in great enough numbers, and we can establish once and for all that women have a right to control what happens to their own bodies.



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 moved to the United States in 2012 to attend Northeastern 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, received her paralegal certification from UCLA Extension, and obtained her second Master of Science degree in Legal Studies from Loyola Law School. Peiya relocated back to her hometown, Beijing, China in 2019 and works from IFLG’s Beijing office. 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 which he received in 2013, 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. Luis has worked for IFLG in both Los Angeles as well as San Francisco, and is currently based in Dallas, Texas. 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.”


Kim has over 30 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 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.

Phoebe Sadler

Fertility law attorney Phoebe Sadler has a background in family law and has been practicing exclusively in the area of assisted reproduction technology (ART) law since 2018.

Rubina Aslanyan

Rubina has an extensive background in the legal field as a paralegal in Family Law and has worked in surrogacy and assisted reproduction law since 2012. Her area of focus is in managing and assisting clients with surrogacy, egg donation, and parental establishment cases for many of IFLG’s domestic and international clients. During her spare time, Rubina enjoys spending time with her family and dog Bella, traveling and cooking.

Alexander Espinoza
Legal Assistant

Alexander joined IFLG as a legal assistant in 2019, where he manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases. Alex is bilingual in English and Spanish and has been in the legal field for 23 years. Alex is excited to join the IFLG team and pursuing his will to help others in the reproductive law process. In his spare time he loves spending time with his family and friends, being outdoors, road trips, loves music and dancing.

Cara Stecker
Senior Paralegal

After receiving her paralegal certificate in 2005, Cara began working in assisted reproductive law. During the fifteen years Cara has worked in this field, she has gained a wide range of experience and knowledge that she uses to help better assist clients and those involved in the assisted reproductive journey. Cara’s primary roles involve managing parental establishment matters and coordination with IFLG’s Of Counsel attorney network, drafting contracts and parental establishment court documents and providing support to other team members. Cara finds great joy in being a small part of a team of caring people who help others achieve their dream of having a family. In her spare time, Cara enjoys spending time with her husband and three children, watching her children play the sports they love, and she enjoys, running, cycling and exploring the outdoors in the sun.

Stephanie Kimble

Stephanie received her BS in History and Political Thought from Concordia University Irvine in 2015 and her Paralegal Certificate from University of San Diego later that same year. She has been working as a Paralegal since 2016 in Family and Reproductive Law. She is excited to be part of International Fertility Law Group working on managing Surrogacy, Egg donation and Parental Establishment Cases.

Trish Pittman
Assistant Financial Coordinator

With more than 20 years of experience in the field of accounting, Trish joined the IFLG team in 2019 as Assistant Financial Coordinator. Her client-facing focus at IFLG is to assist with all client trust accounting. Trish is the mother of two daughters and enjoys spending time teaching and learning new things from them. In her free time, she loves long walks in the park and reading suspense and mystery novels.

Katie Deaquino
Senior Paralegal

Katie is a Senior Paralegal with IFLG and has dedicated over sixteen years to the areas of surrogacy and reproductive law. She received her Paralegal Certificate from Coastline Community College and has worked with some of the top law firms in the assisted reproduction community. Katie is also a commissioned Notary Public. With IFLG, Katie manages Surrogacy, Egg Donation, and Parental Establishment cases and provides support to other IFLG team members. Katie truly enjoys helping others build their families through assisted reproduction and is thankful she has had the rewarding experience of assisting IFLG clients. Katie often spends her free time with her Husband, four young children and her bulldog “Bella”.

Elsa Jimenez
Legal Assistant

Elsa joined IFLG as a Legal Assistant in 2019, bringing more than 35 years of experience working in the legal profession (concentrating in tort and litigation matters). At IFLG she assists surrogates with their surrogacy and parental matters. The oldest of five siblings, born and raised in East Los Angeles to Mexican immigrant parents, Elsa loves “seeing the beauty of families forming” through assisted reproductive technology. She and her husband Carlos have four children and one grandson. Elsa enjoys jazz and ’80s music, being outdoors in nature, collecting teacups and tea pots, and spending time with her close-knit family.