Are You Ready to Start Your Parenting Journey?
Whether you are building your family through surrogacy, or with egg or embryo donation, assisted reproductive technology involves a wide range of legal and ethical issues for intended parents, carriers, and donors alike. Reproductive law attorney Teri Robins helps families navigate the legal system to ensure that contracts are fair, they comply with state and federal laws, and they’re legally binding. At TR Law Offices, we have decades of experience helping people from all walks of life bring the joy of parenthood into their lives.
Third party reproduction helps intended parents who may otherwise struggle to conceive experience the joys of parenthood. This is achieved through assisted reproduction technologies, which are the medical interventions that help facilitate pregnancy. Whether you’re a gestational carrier, donor, or intended parent, you will have to enter into legally binding contracts to follow through with third party reproduction. In all states, all parties entering into a contract for the purpose of third party reproduction are required to retain independent legal counsel.
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Guiding Families in Illinois
What Are the Laws Governing Assisted Reproduction in Illinois?
Illinois has laws in place that govern the process of assisted reproduction. These laws are intended to protect the conceived child, as well as the rights of the intended parents and donors involved. Understanding the foundations upon which your reproductive contracts will be drafted will help you grasp the intention behind these legal documents, as well as your rights and responsibilities as a donor, surrogate, or intended parent.
Illinois Parentage Act
The Illinois Parentage Act, established in 2015, dictates rules regarding the parentage of the child conceived through assisted reproduction. Under this act, a donor is revoked of parental rights to the conceived child. This act also establishes that any intended parent, as described by the legal agreements drafted, is a parent of the conceived child.
This law requires that intended parents and donors enter into legal agreements that relinquish the parental rights of the donor and establish the parentage of the child prior to insemination or embryo transfer. The Parentage Act also allows intended parents to draft supporting parental rights documents through the courts either before or after the child’s birth.
Finally, the Act allows for the withdrawal of consent of either party prior to insemination or embryo transfer. If consent is withdrawn in any capacity, the intended parents no longer have parental rights over the gametes, embryo, or resulting child.
Gestational Surrogacy Act
The Gestational Surrogacy Act provides safeguards and standards for drafting a surrogacy contract in Illinois. First, this law reinforces the elements of parentage established in the Parentage Act. This means:
- The intended mother is the legal mother of the child immediately upon birth
- The intended father is the legal father of the child immediately upon birth
- For the purposes of state law, the child is considered the legitimate child of the intended parent or parents
- Parental rights are vested in the intended parents immediately upon the child’s birth, as well as sole custody of the child
- The gestational carrier concedes any parental rights to the child
In addition to parentage, the Gestational Surrogacy Act outlines the eligibility requirements for surrogates in Illinois. These include a minimum age of 21, the completion of a medical evaluation, the completion of a mental health evaluation, the retention of legal counsel for the surrogacy contract, and health insurance coverage. Additionally, gestational surrogates must have previously given birth to at least one child.
Intended parents must also meet specific requirements prior to the execution of a gestational contract. Under this act, intended parents must contribute at least one of the gametes in the pre-embryo, have a medical need for the gestational surrogacy, complete a mental health evaluation, and consult with legal counsel regarding the contract.
Finally, the Gestational Surrogacy Act establishes rules regarding the execution of the surrogacy contract. The contract must be in writing, and must be executed prior to any medical procedures involved in the advancement of the surrogacy. Additionally, the contract must be between a gestational carrier and intended parent(s) that meet the state’s requirements.
Both parties signing the contract must retain separate legal counsel, sign an acknowledgment stating they are educated on all rights, penalties, and expectations. Any financial compensation must be outlined and placed in escrow, two witnesses must attend the signing of the contract, and the contract must express in writing the individual rights of each party.
How Does Third Party Reproduction Work?
The inability to conceive a child naturally can weigh heavily on your heart. However, modern technology provides people from all circumstances with the tools they need to embark on their parenting journey. There are several methods third parties can use to help intended parents create their family.
Egg donation occurs when one individual agrees to provide a recipient with her eggs to be used for conception via in-vitro fertilization. During IVF, an egg is removed from the donor’s ovaries and fertilized with sperm in a lab. The resulting embryo is placed into the recipient’s uterus.
Sperm donation is the voluntary provision of sperm for the purpose of achieving conception through IVF or IUI. IUI, or intrauterine insemination, is the process of placing donor sperm into the recipient’s uterus during ovulation.
Embryo donation is the process of using a previously fertilized egg (embryo) from another couple or individual’s IVF cycles. Typically, a surplus of embryos are created during the IVF process to increase the chances of conception. Embryos that are unused are often cryopreserved and donated for future recipients.
A gestational carrier, or surrogate, is an individual who agrees to carry a pregnancy to term on behalf of an intended parent. This is achieved through IVF, so that a surrogate has no genetic relationship to the conceived child.
FAQs About Reproductive Law in Illinois
Can you pay a surrogate in Illinois?
Surrogates are allowed to receive compensation in Illinois. This compensation must be outlined in the surrogacy contract. The funds are placed in escrow until the terms of the contract are executed.
Can single parents use third-party reproduction to pursue parenthood?
Any person, regardless of gender, marital status, relationship status, or sexual orientation, can legally pursue parenthood through third-party reproduction in Illinois as long as they meet the requirements for intended parents outlined in the Gestational Surrogacy Act.
Can a surrogate or donor decide to keep the baby?
Parentage in surrogacy is established through certified statements that are usually executed prior to the birth of a child. Additionally, a surrogacy contract outlines the intended parentage of the child prior to his or her conception. This contract must be signed before insemination begins. Prior to insemination, donors or surrogates can back out of the agreement, revoking the intended parent’s rights to any donated genetic material. However, once a child is conceived, his or her intended parents have parental rights, as the surrogate parent has no genetic ties or legally established parentage.