State-by-State Surrogacy Laws: Surrogacy in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania, like many other states, does not have surrogacy laws in place. Pennsylvania does, however, have unpublished case law that supported gestational surrogacy arrangements and honors the rights of Intended Parents (of all identities/orientations) with respect to legal parentage. Because of a lack of regulations prohibiting its practice as well as prior cases where surrogacy arrangements were affirmed, Pennsylvania is considered an excellent place to do a surrogacy journey.
The absence of surrogacy laws in place does not mean surrogacy is outside of the law or should not be performed in the state. Gestational surrogacy has existed since 1985 and has been safely practiced in Pennsylvania, across the United States, and in many places around the world since then. Thanks to over 30 years of medical and legal history, surrogacy-experienced professionals have created a best practices framework designed to ensure a successful surrogacy experience for all involved. Attorneys familiar with surrogacy have a track record of overseeing the process so that your journey is completed ethically with legal protections for all involved.
Deciding to undergo a surrogacy journey requires a lot of research and personal introspection. Is surrogacy right for your family? Only you can answer that. Do have discussions with surrogacy professionals including your doctor and a qualified attorney. If you need help finding a lawyer to represent you or because you have preliminary questions, Surrogacy Place has a compiled list of surrogacy-specializing attorneys.
It’s important to be aware that most surrogacy agreements reflect where the surrogate lives. In other instances, though more rare, agreements reflect the state the Intended Parents reside in, location of the IVF clinic, or where the planned birth location will be. A qualified attorney can direct you on what your options are in terms of jurisdiction.
Is compensated surrogacy legal in Pennsylvania?
Commercial gestational surrogacy in Pennsylvania is considered legal because there are no laws restricting surrogacy compensation. Surrogacy agreements are also respected in Pennsylvania and they fall under general contract law guidelines. Traditional surrogacy, however, is governed by adoption regulations which prohibit biological parents from receiving compensation for relinquishing their parental rights. This is because traditional surrogates are directly related to the child(ren) they are carrying. By contrast, gestational surrogates receive an implanted embryo and have no biological connection to the child(ren) they are carrying. Women that are interested in becoming traditional surrogates must do so while receiving nothing in terms of compensation, though they may receive direct reimbursement of medical expenses and counseling services. By contrast, gestational surrogates in Pennsylvania may charge whatever amount they deem appropriate for their services in addition to having all pregnancy-related costs covered.
Can I be an Intended Parent or surrogate if I live in Pennsylvania?
Most definitely. Although there aren’t specific laws regarding surrogacy in the Pennsylvania, attorneys who understand assisted reproduction and surrogacy have established standards and best practices designed to adequately protect the interests of all parties undergoing a surrogacy journey.
Do I need to use a surrogacy agency or can I do this independently?
There is never a need to use the expensive matching and administrative services of a surrogacy agency. Many Intended Parents and surrogates have completed successful journeys without an agency. Surrogacy Place’s goal is to make surrogacy more accessible by facilitating independent surrogacy.
What types of folks can utilize surrogacy in Pennsylvania? Are there any specific LGBTQ+ considerations?
Anyone can pursue surrogacy in Pennsylvania. There are no specific laws with respect to marital status, orientation or gender expression when it comes to surrogacy in Pennsylvania. All types of individuals and families are treated equally under the law.
Pre-birth orders, regardless of family structure and genetic relationship to the child, can be an unpredictable process in Pennsylvania and will vary by county. Some judges will grant them, others are wary and will usually deny them. In instances where pre-birth orders are unavailable, post-birth adoptions will be needed to establish parentage. This can be a complicated process, so an experience attorney is necessary.
This is normal and most first-time surrogates do not dive into surrogacy lightly. Take this short quiz to get some important information to help determine if you may be a good fit.
Women interested in become a gestational carrier should meet some of these basic requirements:
- You consider your family complete and have no desire to have any additional kids of your own.
- You have a sincere desire to help others; your interest in surrogacy goes beyond compensation.
- You are in excellent health including your mental health.
- Your Body Mass Index (BMI) is within a normal range (e.g. <32) and you are/will be between 21-42 in age.
- You do not (and will not in the near-future) receive any type of government-funded aid.
- You do not use illegal drugs and are prepared to abstain from drinking alcohol and restricted foods/supplements during your surrogacy journey.
- You have never experienced any notable pregnancy-related complications including postpartum depression.
- You are able and willing to follow protocols with respect to prescribed hormones and medications.
If you meet all the criteria as outlined above, an Intended Parent(s)’s IVF clinic and Reproductive Endocrinologist is likely to clear you during their a formal evaluation, though only they are qualified to ascertain if you are medically fit to carry a pregnancy via surrogacy.
The typical timeline leading up to embryo transfer is a step-by-step process: surrogates and Intended Parents interview potentials and decide on a “match”, then medical evaluations and legal negotiations are completed, and, finally, for gestational surrogacy – an embryo is transferred. Surrogates in Pennsylvania always need to be represented by their own attorney and they must always choose their own representation with Intended Parents covering 100% of their legal costs. Surrogates should never be billed for legal services.
We have this 8-step guide for surrogates detailing the process.
Independent matching in Pennsylvania
Surrogacy Place was created with the needs of Intended Parents and surrogates in mind. We created robust search tools to help both sides find what they’re you’re looking for. Trying to find Pennsylvania-based surrogates or Intended Parents? Try our search-by-state filter.
Surrogacy Place’s tools are free for surrogates; Intended Parents pay a small fee to access messaging and full profile views and our site’s many features. Start an account when you’re ready.
Is independent surrogacy (“going indy”) right for me?
Are you an Intended Parent that isn’t flush with cash? Going independent means quite a bit of cost savings. That’s clearly a benefit for the Intended Parent(s), what about the benefit to a prospective surrogate? Intended Parents with a set budget can often afford to give their surrogates higher compensations because they do not have to budget for agency fees. Additionally, without agencies, surrogates are free to decide their own compensation with zero pressure from an agency trying to meet an all-in price.
Agencies are mostly in the matching game. If you do not need them to find your Intended Parent or surrogate, there’s very little agencies do besides coordinate travel and schedules. Attorneys are directly involved in the lion’s share of surrogacy requirements. Many offer their clients checklists of action items including how to run a personal and criminal background check using sites like criminalwatchdog.com.
Entering into an exclusive relationship with an agency is a huge risk. Is the perfect match in their database? Are the agency coordinators responsive to your needs? You won’t know until after you sign an exclusivity agreement with them. While some love extra hand holding agencies provide to those coming into surrogacy for the first time, it’s up to you to decide how the pros and cons balance.
Here’s a further discussion on many of the reasons surrogates seek out independent matching vs. going through an agency.
Intended Parents – need more info on surrogacy budgeting? We have a typical costs sheet to help you formulate a budget.
Looking outside of Pennsylvania? Check out our surrogacy by state hub as a guide.