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Is Surrogacy Legal in Iowa?

Surrogacy Law in Iowa

Iowa Surrogacy Law: Types of Surrogacy

In Iowa, gestational surrogacy is expressly permitted by the 2018 Iowa Supreme Court case P.M. v. T.B., 907 N.W.2d 522 (Iowa 2018), in which the Iowa Supreme Court held gestational surrogacy arrangements were enforceable, and did not violate the rights of the carrier, the rights of the child, or public policy. This case is implicitly supported by Iowa Code § 710.11 and regulations of the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH). Iowa Code § 710.11 prohibits the sale or purchase of humans, and it exempts traditional “surrogate mother arrangements” by name. The IDPH regulations provide procedures for obtaining birth certificates after birth for gestational surrogacy arrangements. Courts are known to regularly issue pre-birth orders, but such orders are not accepted by IDPH for purposes of creating birth certificates.

Traditional (genetic) surrogacy in Iowa is presumed permissible, although it is not directly addressed by statute or case law, other than the exception for “surrogate mother arrangements” from the criminal statute. Iowa Code § 710.11

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 pre- and post-birth order process, and/or adoption.  If the surrogate is unmarried, an affidavit can be used at birth to establish the genetic father as a parent.

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?

Pre-birth orders are not accepted by IDPH to alter or create birth certificates, and no legal provision exists for pre-birth orders to alter legal relationships.  Courts will commonly enter pre-birth orders to provide instruction to hospitals and to disestablish the rights of anonymous donors. A court, in a pre-birth order, might also disestablish any parental rights of the surrogate’s spouse (if she is married). A voluntary paternity affidavit could then be used at birth to establish the genetic father, but a post-birth order or adoption would be required to establish legal parentage of the intended mother, depending on whether she was genetically connected to the child.

Post-birth orders are necessary to establish maternity if there is a genetic connection to the Intended Mother. A post-birth order is necessary to establish paternity for a genetic Intended Father.  If the Intended Mother is not the genetic mother, a second-parent adoption is necessary to establish maternity.

Intended parents who are in no way related to the resulting child, may be able to be declared legal parents of a child by going through an adoption process, but there can be issues if they are not Iowa residents or do not remain in Iowa for the adoption.

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 after post-birth orders are obtained.  If both intended parents are not related to the child, a step-parent adoption procedure will need to be completed to place the non-genetic parent on the birth certificate. If neither intended parent is a genetic parent, then a standard adoption must be pursued to establish their legal parentage. Occasionally, 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.

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 court order naming the non-biological parent as a parent and instructing the IDPH to change the birth certificate, either in Iowa or elsewhere. It is also possible they can receive a legal parental designation solely based on the child being born in Iowa.

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 attorneys licensed in Iowa*.

* 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.