With celebrities such as Kim Kardashian, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Tyra Banks, making headlines for having children via surrogates, the legality of surrogacy agreements may seem like a forgone conclusion.
As such, many are surprised to learn that surrogacy for compensation is not only illegal in Michigan but criminal. The Michigan Surrogacy Parenting Act reads “a surrogate parentage contract is void and unenforceable as contrary to public policy.” The Michigan Surrogacy Parenting Act goes one step further in stating, “a person . . . who enters into, induces, arranges, procures, or otherwise assists in the formation of a [surrogacy for compensation] contract is guilty of a felony.”
A Kent County case challenging the continued validity of the Michigan Surrogacy Parenting Act recently made national headlines. In 2019, after being diagnosed with breast cancer, Tammy Meyers froze her eggs. Thereafter, Tammy and her husband, Jordan found a surrogate. Amazingly, the surrogate agreed to carry the child without any form of compensation. The surrogates' generosity seemed to avoid the implications of the Michigan Surrogacy Parenting Act. Shortly after signing the agreement, the surrogate became pregnant with the Meyers biological children.
Before the birth of the children, the Meyers attempted to obtain a “pre-birth order,” giving them legal rights to the children. Unfortunately, the babies were born eight (8) weeks early and the “prebirth order” was unable to be completed. Once the children were born, the Meyers were forced to go through a lengthy court process to legally adopt their biological children.
In response to the Meyers case and advances in assisted reproductive technology, on September 21, 2022, Michigan legislators introduced several bills to revamp Michigan law surrounding surrogacy agreements. If passed, the bills would remove most criminal punishments and regulate uncompensated surrogacy agreements.
The continued development of surrogacy law in Michigan poses an area of family law that will be interesting to watch in the coming years.