Moving the Needle on Reproductive Justice and Family Planning in DC

Moving the Needle on Reproductive Justice and Family Planning in DC

Earlier this month, the Collaborative Reproduction Amendment Act became law in DC after completing its Congressional review period. The passage of this bill brings an end to the District’s criminalization of surrogacy parenting, and offers a framework to regulate surrogate parenting agreements.

This victory is the result of four long years of advocacy by individuals including community and LGBT advocates Peter Rosenstein and Bob Summersgill, Sarah Warbelow of the Human Rights Campaign, Emily Hecht-McGowan of Family Equality Council, Nancy Polikoff of the American University Washington College of Law, Michele Zavos of Zavos Juncker Law Group, and , immediate past GLAA president Rick Rosendall.

An earlier version of this bill was introduced in 2013, and later revised in 2015 before stalling in the Council’s Judiciary Committee until its release in November 2016.  Prior to the passage of this bill, individuals involved in parties to surrogacy agreements were subject to a fine of up to $10,000 and a one-year prison sentence. This antiquated law impacted both heterosexual and LGBTQ people who wished to start a family, forcing them to seek surrogacy services elsewhere, while living in legal uncertainty as residents of the District of Columbia.

It is undeniable that surrogacy is a controversial and nuanced policy issue. States vary widely in their positions, some enforcing surrogacy agreements, some banning them, and others permitting them under specific circumstances. Furthermore, many states simply have no laws regarding surrogacy contracts. While fourteen states to date have legislation that regulates and permits surrogacy arrangements, the practice remains explicitly prohibited in Indiana, and even in more progressive states like New York, New Jersey, and Michigan. [1]

We applaud the many organizations and individuals involved in the successful effort to modernize DC law on this issue, which is of particular importance to many LGBT people who want to become parents. The DC Council’s and Mayor’s decision to make this family planning option available to its residents speaks volumes as to their recognition of the evolving definition of family, and their commitment to reproductive justice. In our continued fight to provide quality and culturally competent care to LGBTQ people, we look forward to working with District officials and local partners to ensure that the District’s family law reflects the reality of our City’s diverse families.

[1] Surrogacy Law and Policy in the U.S.: A National Conversation Informed by Global Lawmaking Report of the Columbia Law School Sexuality & Gender Law Clinic. Alex Finkelstein, Sarah Mac Dougall, Angela Kintominas, Anya Olsen.1 May 2016

1 Comments

  1. Thanks, Guillaume.

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