LANSING, Mich. (Sept. 21, 2022) — Today, Democratic Sens. Winnie Brinks (Grand Rapids) and Curtis Hertel, Jr. (East Lansing), along with House Reps. Samantha Steckloff (Farmington Hills) and Christine Morse (Texas Township), introduced legislation to update Michigan’s outdated laws surrounding surrogacy in a manner more consistent with modern medicine and processes.
Enacted in 1988, Michigan’s current Surrogate Parenting Act declares that any agreements involving surrogacy between the surrogate and the child’s intended parents (even if they are the biological parents) are null, void, and unenforceable, leaving the parents no recourse other than to go before a judge and ask that they be made the legal parents or proceed with the traditional adoption process.
“Michigan is one of the only states with a law so restrictive that it forces intended parents to adopt their own children born via surrogacy,” Sen. Brinks said. “It is well past time that our laws reflect the advances in assisted reproductive technology that allow Michiganders to have the freedom of fulfilling their dreams of becoming parents and growing their families through surrogacy.”
In early 2021, Kent County Family Court Judge Scott Noto dismissed a request to establish a West Michigan couple, Tammy and Jordan Myers, as legal parents of their biological twins who were born prematurely via a gestational surrogate. “What the parties essentially are asking this court to do is validate and enforce a (surrogacy) contract that the Michigan Legislature has expressly declared void and unenforceable as a matter of public policy,” wrote Noto in an opinion and order.
This particular case brought to light the need for Michigan’s surrogacy laws to be changed, which spurred the introduction of Senate Bills 1177-1180 and House Bills 6389-6392. Meanwhile, the Myers are still working through the court system to adopt their own biological twins who were born more than a year ago.
“Our family has faced unnecessary and senseless trauma because of Michigan’s outdated surrogacy laws,” Tammy Myers said. “The news of this legislation gives us hope and confirms that our journey has not been meaningless. We are grateful for Senator Brinks’ efforts, and we feel honored that she has included us in this process. It’s time for a change that paves an easier path for families in the future.”
Specifically, the legislation would:
- Create a new “Gestational Surrogacy Parentage Act” and repeal the outdated “Surrogate Parenting Act” (Senate Bill 1177, Brinks; House Bill 6392, Steckloff)
- Create a process so the intended parents can have their names listed on the birth certificate at birth (Senate Bill 1178, Hertel; House Bill 6390, Morse)
- Update the criminal code (Senate Bill 1179, Brinks; House Bill 6389, Steckloff)
- Amend references to the old “Surrogate Parenting Act” with a reference to the newly created “Gestational Surrogacy Parentage Act” (Senate Bill 1180, Hertel; House Bill 6391, Morse)
“Michigan’s current laws cause unnecessary stress and legal complications for Michiganders looking to expand their family through surrogacy,” Sen. Hertel said. “This legislative package will go a long way in protecting not only the rights of the intended parents, but also those of the surrogate.”
Rep. Steckloff is a cancer survivor who is leading this issue in the House. She has long been an advocate for updating Michigan’s laws on surrogacy and has been tirelessly working on this issue for the past two years.
“I cannot begin to tell you how proud I am to have finally submitted this package of bills,” said Rep. Steckloff. “Far too many Michigan families have been caught in the crosshairs because of this outdated law. As a young breast cancer survivor for whom adoption has proven to be a near impossibility, I know that there are many Michigan families like mine who are looking to surrogacy as the only path toward building a family. We have been working on this issue for years now, and I look forward to continuing to work hard to get it to the governor’s desk.”