Gestational Surrogacy is becoming more common in Pennsylvania. Recently, there have been more numerous discussions and even depictions of struggles with infertility and conception depicted in pop culture. For example, Giuliana and Bill Rancic, of E! Network fame, have publicly documented their struggles with having children on their hit reality show. They currently have one son, Duke, who was delivered via gestational carrier. Unfortunately, their most recent attempt at having another baby was unsuccessful. The Rancics have always been open to sharing their struggles so they can help people start proactive conversations about fertility. The Rancics are lucky to have found a compatible surrogate who is willing to work with them throughout their attempts at expanding their family. Although gestational surrogates do not have standing to sue for custody of a child in Pennsylvania, it is still a good idea to have a written contract between the parents and the surrogate.
For gestational surrogacy, the surrogate and egg donor are not the same person. This is an important distinction under Pennsylvania case law. The Pennsylvania Superior Court decided the leading case in of J.F. v. D.B. in this area in 2006. Although the ruling did not directly address the validity of surrogacy contracts, the court held that a gestational surrogate does not have standing to sue for custody of the child. Note that, in Pennsylvania, surrogacy contracts are generally regarded as valid and binding. In this case, the validity of the contract was never challenged, rather the gestational carrier sought to be declared the legal mother.
The holding from this case really explains that a gestational surrogate has no parental claim to the child or children she gives birth to. The egg and sperm donor will be considered mother and father, respectively. For more information on surrogacy contracts in Western Pennsylvania, or to speak to an experienced attorney regarding PA surrogacy law, please contact our office.