Surrogacy Law in Iowa

Iowa Surrogacy Law: Types of Surrogacy

In Iowa, gestational surrogacy is implicitly permitted by Iowa Code § 710.11 and regulations of the Iowa Department of Public Health. Iowa Code § 710.11 prohibits the sale or purchase of humans, and it exempts traditional surrogacy arrangements by name.  The IDPH regulations provide procedures for obtaining birth certificates following both traditional and gestational surrogacy arrangements. Courts are known to regularly issue pre-birth orders.

Gestational Surrogacy was expressly permitted in the 2018 Iowa Supreme Court case P.M. & C.M. v. T.B. & D.B., No. 17-0376, where it was ruled that gestational surrogacy arrangements were enforceable, and did not violate the rights of the carrier, the rights of the child, or public policy.

Traditional (genetic) surrogacy in Iowa is similarly permissible by state law, including the Supreme Court case.

To establish parentage following a birth from a surrogate other steps may be needed depending on the genetic connections of the intended parents to the child:, including a Termination of Parental Rights, paternity action, and/or adoption.

Are There Surrogate Requirements in Iowa?

No specific legal requirements exist to serve as a gestational surrogate in the state of Iowa.

Does Iowa Surrogacy Law Allow for Pre-Birth Orders?

Parentage Orders: A partial pre-birth order is possible.  Under the Iowa Code, the woman bearing the child is the legal mother.  As such, the Intended Father (if a heterosexual couple) or the biological father (if a same-sex couple) can obtain a pre-birth order through a 2-step process. The non-biological parent must undergo a post-birth process, either in Iowa or elsewhere, to establish the second parent’s legal rights.

For pre-birth orders, the conditions under which intended parents can be declared legal parents if at least one parent is genetically related to the child are listed below:


Married heterosexual couples, using their own egg and own sperm
Unmarried heterosexual couples, using their own egg and own sperm
Married heterosexual couples, using an egg or sperm donor
Unmarried heterosexual couple using an egg or sperm donor
Married same sex couples
Unmarried same sex couples
Single parent using own egg or sperm


For pre-birth orders, the conditions under which intended parents can be declared legal parents if neither parent is genetically related to the child are listed below:



Intended parents who are in no way related to the resulting child, are unable to get a pre-birth order declaring themselves as legal parents. They may still be able to be declared legal parents of a child by going through an adoption process.

Whose names go on the birth certificate in Iowa?

An Iowa Supreme Court case on the issue has ruled that both parents must be listed on the birth certificate, regardless of gender. Iowa does offer “parent and parent” designations, if selected during an adoption or on the birth certificate worksheet.

International same-sex couples can receive a birth certificate that names the biologically related parent and the gestational surrogate as parents.  It is also possible to receive a certificate which places only the genetic parent on the birth certificate. To place the non-biological parent on the birth certificate, the non-biological parent will have to obtain a second parent adoption, in Iowa or elsewhere. It is also possible they can receive a legal parental designation solely based on the child being born in Iowa.

Surrogacy Conditions for Same-Sex Couples in Iowa

Iowa law treats same-sex couples the same as heterosexual couples.  The two key elements are genetics and marriage. Without a genetic connection of at least one intended parent or without a marriage between two intended parents, one of whom is the genetic parent, more complicated proceedings are necessary.

Are There Options for Unmarried Intended Parents in the state of Iowa?

As noted above, if intended parents are both related to the child, they can both be placed on the birth certificate relatively easily.  If both intended parents are not related to the child, a full adoption procedure will need to be completed to place the non-genetic parent or parents on the birth certificate.  Often, for those individuals who are not Iowa residents, the state law in their state of residence is more favorable, and can be used to obtain a birth certificate with both intended parents.

Egg Donation Law

There are no laws dictating the rights to sperm or eggs used in a surrogacy arrangement.

State law information verified by the following (ART) Assisted Reproductive Law attorney licensed in Iowa*

Philip J. De Koster
De Koster & De Koster
1102 Main Street
Hull, IA 51239
Office: 712-439-2511
Fax: 712-439-2519

* This information is for general informational purposes only and is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. We strongly recommend retaining legal counsel, knowledgeable of reproductive law in the state.