12 Jul 2013 Wisconsin Supreme Court Upholds Legality of Surrogacy Agreements
The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled yesterday, July 11, that surrogacy agreements, under which a woman agrees to carry and give birth to a child for the child’s intended parent or parents, are legal and enforceable. Although limited in its scope, the ruling will bring some clarity to the situations of Wisconsin intended parents seeking to create a family via surrogacy. Because Wisconsin has no statutes or case law regarding the enforceability of surrogacy agreements, intended parents and their attorneys have been left in legal limbo.
In the case ruled on yesterday, a married mother of five children agreed to conceive and bear a child for a childless couple and was artificially inseminated with sperm from the childless man. Under an agreement executed by both couples the surrogate mother agreed to give up parental rights to the baby. The surrogate later changed her mind, and a lower court judge negated the surrogate agreement, awarding custody of the child to the biological father but giving the surrogate visitation rights. The childless couple appealed the lower court ruling to the state Supreme Court.
Although yesterday’s ruling validates the surrogate agreement, it left the visitation rights of the surrogate in place. In its decision, the court asked for legislative clarification of the issue: “We respectfully urge the Legislature to consider enacting legislation regarding surrogacy.”
The case highlights the legal no-man’s land and parental stress that result when lawmakers fail to enact clear laws governing issues related to assisted reproductive technology.
Click here for the full text of the Wisconsin Supreme Court decision.