An illustration of woman with globe on pregnant belly that's meant to represent the importance of surrogacy.

Is surrogacy legal where you live?

Surrogacy involves the process in which a woman carries and delivers a baby for someone else – is one way that couples can choose to build a family. For couples who aren’t able to conceive on their own, it’s one method of ensuring that their child shares some or all of their genes. Surrogacy laws vary from state to state and country to country, and though it’s legal in many places, there are often restrictions in place.

What you should know about the law around surrogacy

How U.S. surrogacy laws vary. Know the differences and what your state allows.

States with laws favoring surrogacy

The law favors surrogacy in California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, New Hampshire, Nevada, Oregon, and Rhode Island. This means surrogacy is permitted in these states. In these states, it’s possible to draw up pre-birth orders about the legal parents of the child, though some won’t become effective until birth. And in most of these states, both intended parents can be named the legal parents whether they’re genetically related to the child or not. Some of these states don’t guarantee this right, but it’s often granted anyway.

States that allow surrogacy

It’s allowed in Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Wisconsin, and West Virginia. This means surrogacy is permitted in these states, but there are some legal issues surrounding the practice. Some states will only grant parentage orders after the birth of the child. In some states, there are additional legal procedures required after the birth. Also, both parents might not be recognized as the legal parents if they’re not both genetically related to the child.

States with potential issues with surrogacy

Potential issues with surrogacy law may occur in Alaska, Arizona, Iowa, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wyoming. This means surrogacy is practiced in these states, but there are potential legal issues, such as surrogacy contracts being prohibited by law and therefore unenforceable. The intended parents might not be recognized as the legal parents if they are not both genetically related to the child.

States with laws prohibiting surrogacy

Surrogacy law prohibits surrogacy in the following states, District of Columbia, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and Washington. This means some of these states will allow altruistic surrogacy, but they will not recognize surrogacy contracts or grant pre-birth parentage parentage orders. Both intended parents may not be recognized as the legal parents, even if they are both genetically related. Surrogacy contracts for compensation in these states may be subject to criminal penalties.

Surrogacy law in other countries

The following countries have laws allowing some forms of surrogacy: Australia, Canada, Denmark, Greece, India, Mexico, Nepal, Russia, Thailand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. This isn’t a complete list of countries where you could have a surrogate pregnancy, as some countries don’t have laws regarding surrogacy but will allow it.

And there are many countries in which surrogacy is legal, but there aren’t policies in place to support it. Many countries will only allow altruistic surrogacy – surrogacy where the surrogate mother doesn’t receive payment for carrying the pregnancy. Some countries where surrogacy is legal will still recognize the surrogate mother as the legal mother, and others have legislation in the works to modify the surrogacy laws in one way or another.

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