Rich Vaughn, IFLG: Netherlands Surrogacy Clinics Open to LGBT Intended Parents in 2019

Surrogacy Bans Coming Down in Netherlands, Michigan, New York

Colleagues in Netherlands celebrated this week the news that at least two Dutch IVF clinics plan to open their doors in 2019 to same-sex couples who want to become parents via surrogacy without the difficulty and expense of traveling abroad to do so.

The news, first broken by Dutch public affairs television show De Monitor, was widely covered in Dutch media with mostly positive public reaction, reports my colleague, Dutch attorney Wilma Eusman. “Most people are happy for these intended parents,” she reports.

Until recently, Dutch law required that the egg used in IVF fertilization come from the surrogate; use of a third-party egg donor was not allowed. In other words, the surrogate had to be genetically related to the child. (One of the two clinics planning to serve gay and lesbian intended parents, Nin Geertgen clinic in Elsendorp, will continue to require that the surrogate’s egg be used.) Even for heterosexual couples willing to undertake genetic surrogacy, only one clinic in the country—the VU teaching hospital in Amsterdam—was previously authorized to perform the IVF procedure with a surrogate, reports Dutch News. Couples who did not meet the criteria for legal surrogacy in Netherlands were forced to look abroad, helping to spark a boom in surrogacy tourism in Ukraine and a few other nations.

As reported by NLTimes.com, the Netherlands’ Embryo Act was changed earlier in 2018 to broaden surrogacy criteria, leading to clinics’ announced plans to expand services. However, under Dutch law, the surrogate is still the legal mother of the child, even if she is not genetically related, and additional court documents are required to transfer parental rights to the intended parents.

The demand for more assisted reproduction services from heterosexual and same-sex intended parents alike is undeniable, as societal support for same-sex, and access to and familiarity with assisted reproductive technology have grown. The many international conferences my firm, International Fertility Law Group, has participated in for the past couple of years, including Kinderwunsch Tage, Families Through Surrogacy and Viva Surrogacy, were produced in response to a growing demand for information and resources from LGBT would-be parents and their families, hungry for information about fertility services and same-sex parenting.

Closer to home, a bill to legalize paid surrogacy was introduced in the Michigan legislature. With the recent Midterm elections turning the state a slightly more blueish tinge, some observers think the legislation, introduced at the tail end of the current legislative session, has a good chance of passing in 2019.

If that happens, New York would be the only remaining U.S. state that criminalizes paid surrogacy. As I wrote earlier this year, Michigan was the first state, in 1988, to ban commercial surrogacy in the wake of the notorious “Baby M” case. The case, in which a surrogate had a change of heart and, in violation of a surrogacy agreement, refused to give custody of the child to the intended parents, sparked public outrage and a legislative backlash against the then-new practice of compensated surrogacy. The Michigan surrogacy ban was a direct attack on the Dearborn, Michigan, attorney and surrogacy clinic operator who arranged the Baby M surrogacy contract. A number of states followed suit in imposing bans, including New Jersey (through court rulings), New York, and Washington, DC.

In May 2018 New Jersey passed a law legalizing gestational carrier agreements, effectively lifting the state’s 30-year anti-surrogacy court rulings. Washington, DC, lifted its surrogacy ban in 2016, as we reported at the time.

Even the lone U.S. state holdout, New York, is making moves to legalize surrogacy, as we wrote earlier this year about a report by the New York Task Force on Life and the Law, released in December 2017.

In its December report, the Task Force points out that “the impact of surrogacy is no longer speculative,” and its work is informed by a growing body of research. In 1988, the Task Force concluded that surrogacy was likely to lead to children being treated as commodities; today research has shown that children are not harmed by surrogacy, nor are a surrogate’s biologically related children harmed by having their mother serve as a surrogate. “Research has revealed that children born through surrogacy and other ART practices are extremely desired children and are being raised by highly committed and loving parents.” …

In perhaps the most striking acknowledgement of how attitudes have changed, the Task Force referred to its 1988 conclusion that surrogacy should be discouraged “because the practice devalues families and fragments parenthood,” acknowledging that, today, “modern families can be constituted in many configurations, as evidenced by the recent federal legalization of same-sex marriage.”

Still, the task force members were not unanimous in their call for liberalized surrogacy laws. As we reported:

In a Minority Report, seven members rebut the majority recommendations, recommending instead that all forms of surrogacy, “both genetic and non-genetic, compensated and uncompensated, should still be discouraged.” Non-compensated surrogacy should be “tolerated.” The Minority Report also recommends that an age cap for intended parents, raises concerns that intended parents “who think they do not have time for pregnancy” will not be good parents and weighs in disapprovingly on LGBT and single parents.

As my colleagues and I celebrate small victories and signs that surrogacy and other forms of assisted reproductive services are becoming more accessible to more people everywhere, I can’t help but reflect on the irony that two such seemingly modern and progressive jurisdictions, the country of Netherlands and the state of New York, are only now taking steps to make the most advanced fertility technologies available to their citizens. The expansion of clinic services and the inclusion of LGBT intended parents is a sign of things to come in Netherlands, which has been studying the issue of surrogacy over the past few years, winning over hearts and minds as they go. In New York also, as more and more families benefit from the miracle of assisted reproductive technology, it is no longer a matter of “if” surrogacy will be legalized in all 50 states; it is a matter of “when.”

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, thoughtful and 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. He is immediate past chair of the American Bar Association ART Committee, which develops model legislation governing assisted reproductive services, and is a popular presenter to law students, 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.

Tania Steele
TANIA STEELE
Legal Assistant

Tania Steele joined IFLG as a legal assistant in early 2016 and has since been immersed in the complexities of assisted reproductive technology law. Tania received her Bachelor of Arts degree at Chapman University in Orange, California, and a graduate degree from University of Leicester in England, where she pursued an interest in art. In 2013, she accepted a volunteer position at Legal Aid Society of Orange County, where she helped with the intake of new clients and was inspired to obtain a paralegal certificate from Fullerton College. As an undergraduate, Tania lived in Italy and studied the Italian language. She is fluent in English, Spanish and Italian and enjoys assisting as a translator for many of IFLG’s international clients. Outside of the office, Tania enjoys concerts, films, reading and travel.

Linda Garrett
LINDA GARRETT
Legal Assistant

Linda Garrett graduated in 2010 from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, with a major in Sociology. Shortly after, she enrolled in a paralegal course at West Los Angeles College, where she fell in love with the field. In 2017, she earned her paralegal degree and joined International Fertility Law Group as a Legal Assistant. In her free time, Linda enjoys outdoor adventures and spending time with her nieces and nephews.

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.