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Surrogacy in Ohio
Surrogacy is a third-party form of assisted reproductive technology in which a woman carries a child for a woman or a couple.
There are two types of surrogacy: traditional surrogacy and gestational surrogacy. In traditional surrogacy, the woman is inseminated with sperm, either from the male partner or from a sperm donor. The resulting child is biologically related to the surrogate, since her own eggs were used.
In gestational surrogacy, on the other hand, the resulting child is not biologically related to the surrogate. In this form of surrogacy, the surrogate is implanted with a fertilized egg, using the couple’s egg and sperm or the egg and sperm of a donor.
It is common for intended parents to choose a known surrogate, a woman whom they know on a personal level, such as a friend or relative. In addition, surrogacy agencies can match prospective parents with potential surrogates.
Surrogacy Laws in Ohio
Like many states, Ohio does not have any clear state surrogacy laws. While surrogacy remains legally unsettled, various court cases seem to have held that certain surrogacy agreements can be considered legal.
In 1992, an Ohio Court of Appeals concluded that the legality of surrogacy agreements is “unsettled and open to considerable scrutiny.” In this case, the court denied an intended mother custody of a child born through traditional surrogacy, since she did not share any biological ties to the child. However, this surrogacy agreement was made verbally, and the court did not comment on how the outcome would have changed if the surrogacy agreement had been a written contract.
In 1994, a lower Ohio court ruled in favor of the intended parents who used a gestational surrogate to give birth to a child through a surrogacy agreement. This court held that the intended parents were the natural and legal parents of the resulting child.
However, the 2001 case Decker v. Decker determined that a surrogate was the legal mother of the resulting child. In this case, a woman carried a child for her brother and his same-sex partner, though she was inseminated with donor sperm of no relation to the couple. The court ruled in favor of the surrogate because there was no written surrogacy agreement, the child had no biological relationship to the couple, and a biological parent could only be denied custody if certain conditions were met.
More recently, in 2007, the Ohio Supreme Court held that a certain gestational surrogacy agreement did not violate public policy by prohibiting the gestational surrogate from asserting her parental rights.
While the Ohio law on surrogacy remains unsettled, it has seemed in the past to hold favorably on those who entered into legal, written surrogacy agreements. Furthermore, cases like Decker v. Decker show potential for same sex couples to legally enter surrogacy agreements in Ohio, as long as the agreements are written.
Columbus Area Surrogacy Agencies
Surrogacy agencies in the Columbus area match intended parents with potential surrogates. Before beginning a surrogacy process, these agencies require the surrogate to undergo rigorous physical and emotional testing to make sure she is a good candidate both physically and mentally. There is one agency located in Columbus: New Hope Surrogacy Center (Columbus Office) .
Before you choose your surrogacy agency, be sure to research each one carefully. Ask beforehand about the different kinds of fees involved and other responsibilities that will be required of you.
Surrogacy is considered the most legally-complex assisted reproductive technology, since it involves a third party. Because of that, it is important you retain the services of an attorney who specializes in surrogacy agreements so you can make sure your rights are protected.