What You Need to Know About Assisted Reproductive Laws in the State of Washington
Assisted reproduction utilizes Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) to treat infertility. Here is what you need to know about the laws of assisted reproduction in Washington State.
Assisted reproduction includes treatments involving both eggs and sperm. Given the delicacy of infertility and reproduction, there are laws that address any legal issues that may arise regarding assisted reproduction in Washington state.
What is Assisted Reproduction?
Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) treatments and procedures are available to families experiencing fertility issues. Sperm donation and ova and embryo donation are widely available at fertility clinics in the United States.
It has become increasingly common to have a couple conceive a child by using a donor egg or donor sperm which are united in vitro to form an embryo that is then transferred to the intended mother’s reproductive tract so that she becomes pregnant. The intended mother then gives birth to a child to whom she may or may not be biologically related, though she intends to parent that child.
The same basic medical processes can be used to achieve a pregnancy in a woman acting as a surrogate such that she gives birth to a child to whom she is not biologically related for the benefit of the intended parents.
Assisted Reproduction Laws in Washington
Assisted reproduction can involve two consenting partners who are eager to reproduce, but it can also involve donors and surrogates. In the state of Washington, assisted reproduction laws deem that donors of eggs or sperm have no legal obligation to be the parent of the child.
Typically, the parent(s) receiving the donation are expected to be the sole parent(s) and the donor prefers to remain either anonymous or separate from the child. In some situations, such as donations from friends or family, there may be a written agreement between the donor and the parent(s) that stipulates any contact or relationship between the donor and the child.
Surrogacy in Washington
Surrogacy uses a third-party uterus to carry the embryo through artificial insemination. Typically, there is a contract between the surrogate mother and the parents outlining the conditions of the surrogacy, including the duration of the pregnancy and post-birth. It is crucial to decide before the insemination, or even before the birth, the relationship between the surrogate mother and the child. While some parents allow for a relationship between the two, others may not be comfortable with it.
Prior to 2019 in the state of Washington, surrogate mothers receiving a fee for their services and commitment was illegal. However, that law was overturned effective January 1, 2019, and as of 2022, surrogate mothers are able to be compensated for their services. Surrogacy is now a fully legal service for all types of parents regardless of marital status.
There are certain requirements prospective surrogate mothers must meet before they can carry a child in Washington state:
- They must be between the ages of 21 and 40.
- They must have already carried a child to full term and are currently caring for them.
- A full medical and psychological evaluation must be done.
- They must be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident.
- They must be financially stable and not be receiving state or federal financial assistance.