State Laws and Legislation

Pennsylvania Surrogacy Law

Summary: Pennsylvania surrogacy law is ambiguous. It appears that a compensated surrogacy agreement would be held unenforceable; however, an arrangement established through a legally recognized agency seems to be legal. The validity of informal arrangements is even less certain. 

Explanation: The 1997 case of Ruth F. v. Robert B., Jr. did not involve a surrogacy contract, but rather it involved a paternity dispute (apparently between the current husband and his wife’s extramarital sexual partner) and the allocation of parental support duties. The Pennsylvania Superior Court observed that the husband attempted to make a deal with the other man to obtain property in exchange for continued support of the child. In condemning this action as “odious and demeaning to the nature of child care and responsibility,” the Court referenced a New Jersey case,In re Baby M. , which deemed compensated surrogacy contracts invalid under that state’s laws. The Court concluded, “[w]e do not tolerate purchasing children for adoption and the bargaining over parenting rights and duties . . . in exchange for financial consideration is reprehensible. Any agreement reached thereby would have been unenforceable.” 

Another 1997 case, Huddleston v. Infertility Center of America, involved a negligence action brought against a fertility clinic. Implicit in the decision was that the surrogacy arrangements executed through this particular agency were permissible under Pennsylvania law. 

The 2006 case of J.F. v. D.B. involved a gestational surrogacy agreement (in which the surrogate mother is not the biological contributor of the egg) between a woman and a gay man. The Pennsylvania Superior Court reversed the ruling of a lower court that granted custody to the surrogate. The Court found that the surrogate mother did not have standing to seek custody of the triplets. However, the Court explicitly refrained from ruling on the validity of surrogacy agreements by stating, “That task is for the legislature.” 

There is no explicit prohibition in Pennsylvania on LGBT couples jointly adopting a child, and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled that an individual can petition to adopt the child of his/her same-sex partner. 

Citations: In re Adoption of R.B.F. and R.C.F., 803 A.2d 1195, (Pa. 2002); Huddleston v. Infertility Ctr. of Am., 700 A.2d 453 (Pa. Super. Ct. 1997); J.F. v. D.B., 897 A.2d 1261 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2006); Ruth F. v. Robert B., Jr., 690 A.2d 1171 (Pa. Super. Ct. 1997).


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Last Updated: 9/10/2009 

Updated: Wed, September 09, 2009 - 11:00:32