Legislation /

Michigan Decriminalizes Paid Surrogacy

'If we want more people and families to ‘make it’ in Michigan, we need to support them with the resources they need,' said Governor Gretchen Whitmer

Michigan Decriminalizes Paid Surrogacy

The governor of Michigan ended the nation’s only ban on paid surrogacy.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed a bill that will allow people to hire women to carry children on their behalf by terminating any criminal penalties. The Michigan Family Protection Act was passed by the state legislature in March. The package decriminalizes surrogacy and adds new regulations for in-vitro fertilization. 

“Decisions about if, when, and how to have a child should be left to a family, their doctor, and those they love and trust, not politicians,” said Whitmer in an April 1 press release. “If we want more people and families to ‘make it’ in Michigan, we need to support them with the resources they need to make these deeply personal, life-changing choices.”

The governor said the Michigan Family Protection Act “takes commonsense, long-overdue action,” including repealing the state’s ban on surrogacy and increasing protections for families formed by IVF and ensuring “LGBTQ+ parents are treated equally.”

“Your family’s decisions should be up to you, and my legislative partners and I will keep fighting like hell to protect reproductive freedom,” said Whitmer.

The governor’s office included a statement from Jill Rudnizky Brand, the first child born through gestational surrogacy.

When I was born in 1986, luckily, a judge ruled that my parents were legally my parents from birth. However, since 1988, that has not been the case for Michigan families,” she said. “I am happy that those going through surrogacy in the state no longer have to worry about the whims of a judge's ruling around whose names should be on the child's birth certificate. I am glad to see the antiquated 1988 law scrapped once and for all.”

The Michigan Catholic Conference lobbied against ending the ban, which was enacted in 1988.

MCC President Paul Long said the practice “undermines the significant prenatal bond formed between the child and the mother who nurtured him or her through birth.”

“For-profit surrogacy contracts that pay females for the use of their reproductive means violate the inherent dignity of women and unethically allow children to be the subject of a contract,” he said, per WKAR.

As surrogacy has become more mainstream, the ethical and legal consequences of the practice have been fiercely debated.

Reality television star Khloe Kardashian said she felt “less connected” to her son who was born via surrogacy during an episode of The Kardashian in May 2023. The remarks prompted debate over the science of bonding and the challenges children born via surrogacy may face.

Pope Francis called surrogacy “deplorable” in January and asked the international community to prohibit the practice “universally.”

“The path to peace calls for respect for life, for every human life, starting with the life of the unborn child in the mother’s womb, which cannot be suppressed or turned into an object of trafficking,” said the pope. “In this regard, I deem deplorable the practice of so-called surrogate motherhood, which represents a grave violation of the dignity of the woman and the child, based on the exploitation of situations of the mother’s material need. … A child is always a gift and never the basis of a commercial contract.”

*For corrections please email [email protected]*