Posted on: March 2nd, 2018

The Iowa Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the decision of the Iowa District Court for Linn County, upholding the enforceability of surrogacy contracts in Iowa. This case presented a number of issues of first impression in the state: are agreements between private individuals and gestational carriers (surrogacy contracts) enforceable under Iowa law, or void as against public policy? Is a non-genetic birth mother (the gestational carrier) a “biological” parent under Iowa law?

In a decision that involved much discussion of similar case law from other jurisdictions throughout the United States, and considered many public policy implications of such contracts, the Court ultimately held that “[b]anning gestational surrogacy contracts would deprive infertile couples of perhaps the only way to raise their own biological children and would limit the contractual rights of willing surrogates.” The court expressly rejected the argument that such contracts are void as against public policy, based on “the freedom of contract enjoyed by consenting adults.” The Court also rejected the argument that surrogacy contracts are exploitative of women, noting that surrogacy contracts are subject to contract defenses of economic duress and unconscionability.

The Court also determined that the term “‘biological parent’ . . . does not include a surrogate birth mother who is not the genetic parent.”

Iowa joins a number of other states that have upheld the enforceability of such contracts, including California and Wisconsin.

P.M. and C.M. v. T.B. and D.B., No. 17-0376 (Iowa Feb. 16, 2018)

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