‘New Jersey Gestational Carrier Agreement Act’ Would Provide Guidelines for Contracts Between Carriers and Intended Parents
TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senate Health Chairman Joseph F. Vitale that would permit gestational carrier agreements – where a woman agrees to carry and give birth to a child using another woman’s egg so that the child is not genetically-related to the carrier – cleared the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee today.
“For men and women who are looking to start or expand their families but have struggled to do so through traditional means, surrogacy offers an alternative path to having children,” said Senator Vitale (D-Middlesex). “As science advances, and more couples turn to surrogacy, gestational carrier agreements are imperative to protect the interests of all parties involved, including the carrier, the intended parents, and the child.”
The “New Jersey Gestational Carrier Act,” S-1238, would be a national model for gestational agreements in the U.S. The bill would determine specific guidelines that the gestational carrier and the intended parents must follow when writing up gestational carrier agreements.
Under the legislation, the gestational carrier must be at least 21 years old, have already given birth to at least one child and have completed both medical and psychological evaluations. The intended parents would be required to have completed a psychological evaluation to determine their suitability to enter an agreement and to have retained an attorney to advise them about the terms and potential legal consequences of entering into an agreement.
It would be required that the agreement clearly states that the gestational carrier would agree to undergo pre-embryo transfer, to attempt to carry and give birth to the child, and to surrender custody of the child to the intended parent immediately upon the birth of the child. The agreement would allow for the gestational carrier to choose her own medical care for the pregnancy, labor, delivery and postpartum care. The agreement would not be considered an adoption, a surrender of custody, or a termination of parental rights; therefore it would not be in conflict with New Jersey’s adoption laws.
Additionally, the agreement would state that the intended parent agrees to become the legal parent of the child immediately upon his or her birth. The child’s birth certificate would name the intended parent as the sole legal parent of the child.
The bill would allow for the intended parent to reimburse the gestational carrier’s reasonable expenses in connection with carrying the child. This would include reimbursement for medical, hospital, counseling and attorney fees and living expenses during the pregnancy and post-partum recovery. This portion of the bill is similar to guidelines in New Jersey’s existing adoption statute.
“Some couples spend years trying IVF and other fertility treatments before turning to gestational surrogacy, and it takes its toll physically and emotionally,” said Senator Vitale. “This bill will provide the legal framework for gestational carrier agreements and allow couples to celebrate the birth of a child after their long journey.”
Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Nevada, New Hampshire, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington State and Wisconsin’s laws allow for gestational surrogacy in some fashion, with the District of Columbia the latest to legalize compensated gestational carrier agreements in April 2017.
The bill was approved by the Senate Health Committee with a vote of 5-1-2, and now heads to the full Senate for consideration.