ST. PAUL – Rep. John Lesch (DFL – St. Paul) and Sen. Sandra Pappas (DFL – St. Paul) today announced the Minnesota Gestational Carrier Act, which would allow for gestational surrogacy arrangements to be permitted and regulated in Minnesota. The legislation calls for setting clear standards for all surrogacy participants.
“Infertile Minnesota families are using gestational carriers to build their families and we want to be sure they and the surrogates are protected,” said Rep. Lesch, who, along with Sen. Pappas, served on the Legislative Commission on Surrogacy. “This legislation reflects the points that all members of the commission agreed to during our discussions last summer and fall. There is no reason the Legislature can’t pass these protections this session.”
“The members of the Legislative Commission on Surrogacy did not agree on everything,” Sen. Pappas noted. “But there was agreement that the lack of surrogacy regulation in Minnesota could put both potential surrogates and intended parents at risk. This legislation will protect everyone from abuse and heartache.”
Traci Thomas, a mother who used a gestational carrier surrogate to have a baby with her husband, said that state legislation is needed to protect families like hers.
“Despite desperately wanting a baby with my husband, that was not an option for us. Fortunately, an angel appeared in the form of a woman who agreed to carry our baby for us,” Thomas said. “There are many families like ours in Minnesota that are dealing with infertility. Should they choose to use a gestational surrogate, they deserve the protections provided for in this bill.”
Shannon Dietz served as a gestational carrier for a Minnesota family that was unable to have a baby due to the medical condition of the woman.
“I loved being pregnant and being a mother,” Dietz said. “I feel blessed to have been able to help another family experience the joy my husband and I had when we had our baby.”
Dr. April Batcheller, a physician specializing in the treatment of infertility, said that gestational surrogacy is one tool used by Minnesota families facing infertility and wanting a baby.
“Thousands of Minnesota couples are facing infertility,” Betcheller said. “Gestational surrogacy is an accepted and common response that is working well. National standards that protect both potential surrogates and intended parents as well as the baby are working.” Batcheller is a Board Eligible Reproductive Endocrinologist and is Board Certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine located in Edina.
The Gestational Carrier Act provides that gestational surrogacy arrangements are allowed and regulated in Minnesota, and that the gestational carrier surrogacy arrangements must meet national standards. These standards include
- independent legal representation of all parties;
- mental health evaluations of all parties;
- verification that the prospective surrogate is medically capable of carrying a child to term;
- clarification of parentage so that parents don’t have to pay legal fees to legally adopt their own biological child; and
- insurance coverage be provided to the gestational carrier.
The Legislative Commission on Surrogacy met in 2016 to examine how surrogacy is being used and to make recommendations to the Legislature. It failed to reach consensus on all aspects of surrogacy arrangements, but did find common ground on the points listed above.
One in eight Minnesota families face challenges having a full-term healthy baby. Along with IVF and adoption, some Minnesota families choose to use a gestational carrier to carry the couple’s embryo to term if the women is physically unable to carry a baby. However, unlike Wisconsin, North Dakota, Iowa and numerous other states, Minnesota has no standards for surrogacy participants. Dozens of states nationally have enacted laws to regulate surrogacy arrangements to protect all parties. No state has passed legislation restricting or barring surrogacy since 1992.
“RESOLVE promotes awareness and access to all family building options, and none of the options that are available to Minnesota families should be taken away,” said Julie Berman, Minnetonka resident and RESOLVE Board Chair. “The Gestational Carrier Act benefits Minnesota families. We support reasonable legislation to ensure that gestational surrogacy remains available and legal in Minnesota and is conducted in a manner that protects all participants.”