District of Columbia Ends Quarter-Century-Long Ban on Surrogacy

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Breakthrough new law opens up family-building options for DC residents after years of advocacy by Meryl B. Rosenberg, Esq. and other attorneys.

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Surrogacy Attorney Meryl B. Rosenberg, Esq.

I’m enormously gratified by passing of the new law – which provides not only for legal surrogacy, but also for the enforceability of surrogacy contracts and the establishment of vitally important guidelines for all parties involved.

Potomac, MD — On April 7 of this year, a new District of Columbia law officially took effect, ending a ban on surrogacy arrangements that had stood for 25 years. The new law paves the way for safe and legal surrogacy in the District of Columbia, and empowers DC citizens to utilize this collaborative reproduction process to build their families without having to travel to states in which surrogacy has long been permitted.

Critically, the law provides for the establishment of legally protected families — including requirements for any surrogacy agreement, independent legal representation, appropriate mental health and medical counseling and evaluation, and the process to establish parenthood for the resulting child — while ensuring legal protections for all parties involved.

The District of Columbia can now serve as a model for other states looking to enact clear legislation for those seeking to build families through Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) with the aid of a surrogate or a donor. (Surrogacy and related legal issues fall under state jurisdiction, and the legal permissibility of surrogacy vary widely from state to state.)

Maryland surrogacy attorney and ARTParenting founder, Meryl B. Rosenberg, Esq., has advocated for new DC legislation on surrogacy for years. She recalls, “In 2013, a working group of attorneys began meeting together to change the DC law. As a starting point, I, along with a few other attorneys, drafted the bill based on best practices. We sent the draft as edited by the group to the Office of DC Councilman Tommy Wells, then chair of the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, who had been working to change DC’s long-standing surrogacy ban since 2012.”

Rosenberg explains that, in early 2013, DC Councilman David Catania formally proposed the surrogacy bill, beginning a several-years-long process of stakeholder review, a public hearing, discussions on what the legislation should ideally contain, modifications, re-drafting, markups, re-introductions of the evolving law, and ultimately at the end of 2016, unanimous Council approval of the newest Bill.

“This process was crucial to crafting an effective law,” Rosenberg points out, noting that during the process the working group expanded to include not just surrogacy attorneys but the Family Equality Council, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM/SART), RESOLVE (The National Infertility Association), the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and others.

Finally, on April 7, 2017, Law Number L21-0255 — the Collaborative Reproduction Amendment Act of 2016 — became DC law, bringing to a close 25 years of surrogacy being illegal in the District of Columbia.

Rosenberg summarizes, “As someone committed for over two decades to innovation and leadership in the field of reproductive law, and to furthering the education, development, and regulation of assisted reproduction, I’m enormously gratified by passing of the new law — which provides not only for legal surrogacy, but also for the enforceability of surrogacy contracts and the establishment of vitally important guidelines for all parties involved. This is a great day for all families in the District.”
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Since 1993, ARTparenting has been assisting couples and singles build their families with a complete surrogacy program, as well as a range of legal services for third-party family-building.
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Meryl Rosenberg
ARTparenting
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