An introduction to the laws of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) in the State of Washington
Whether you are considering becoming a donor or surrogate or you are a prospective intended parent, knowledge is power. To help in your family journey, experienced ART attorneys licensed in Washington and fellows of The Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys (AAAA) share expertise and provide an introduction to the laws of Assisted Reproduction Technology in WA.
Key Questions on ART Laws in Washington
Generally, is Washington friendly to ART? Yes, Washington is friendly to assisted reproductive technologies. The state passed a law called the Uniform Parentage Act, in 2019, which addresses Assisted Reproduction and Surrogacy.
Is Washington friendly to non-married couples? Yes. There is no barrier to participation in assisted reproduction or surrogacy based on the intended parents’ marital status.
Is Washington friendly to LGBT families? Yes. There is no barrier to participation in assisted reproduction or surrogacy based on the intended parents’ sexual orientation.
Is Washington friendly to a single intended parent? Yes. There is no barrier to participation in assisted reproduction or surrogacy based on the intended parent’s marital status.
Are there statutes in place in Washington for surrogacy? Yes. In 2019, Washington was the first state to enact a version of the new Uniform Parentage Act including detailed sections on Assisted Reproduction, Surrogacy and Parentage.
Does Washington have an embryo donation statute? Yes. Washington’s Uniform Parentage Act includes detailed sections on Assisted Reproduction, Surrogacy and Parentage and includes provisions for donation of embryos.
Does Washington have an egg donation statute? Yes. Washington’s Uniform Parentage Act includes detailed sections on Assisted Reproduction, Surrogacy and Parentage and includes provisions for donation of eggs and sperm.
Is gestational surrogacy (third party gamete use) permitted in Washington? Yes. There is no requirement that the intended parents in a gestational surrogacy arrangement use their own gametes to produce the embryo.
Does Washington permit traditional surrogacy (use of the surrogate’s genetic material)? Yes. Washington’s Uniform Parentage Act includes a detailed and specific section on this type of surrogacy, which Washington law refers to as Genetic Surrogacy.
Is compensated (paid) surrogacy allowed in Washington by statute? In practice? Yes. Washington’s Uniform Parentage Act includes a detailed section on Assisted Reproduction and Surrogacy and includes provisions allowing for payment of fees and expenses to the surrogate.
Is uncompensated (expense reimbursement only) surrogacy allowed by statute in Washington? In practice? Yes. Washington law has long allowed this type of surrogacy, and the 2019 amendments to our Uniform Parentage Act included a detailed section on Assisted Reproduction and Surrogacy as well as provisions allowing for payment of fees and/or expenses to a gestational or traditional surrogate.
Does Washington only permit a Carrier to be reimbursed for expenses (non-compensated surrogacy)? No. While reimbursement of expenses is allowed, compensation (payment of fees and expenses) is also permitted, per our statute.
In Washington, are surrogacy agreements enforceable, void or prohibited? Gestational surrogacy agreements and traditional surrogacy agreements are enforceable in Washington.
Do both Intended Parents both have to be genetically related to the child in Washington? No. There is no requirement that both Intended Parents be genetically related to the child.
Does Washington require at least one Intended Parent to be genetically related to the child? No. There is no requirement that at least one Intended Parent be genetically related to the child.
If a single intended parent uses surrogacy, in Washington do they have to be genetically related to the child? No. There is no requirement that a single intended parent be genetically related to the child.
In Washington, do the Intended Parents have to be married? No. There is no barrier based on the intended parents’ marital status.
Do two Intended Parents have to be opposite genders under Washington law? No. There is no barrier based on the gender(s) of the intended parents.
Does Washington allow pre-birth parentage orders to be issued for surrogacy? Yes. Pre-birth parentage orders can be issued for Gestational Surrogacy if the statutory requirements are met.
Does Washington only allow a post-birth parentage order to be issued? Pre-birth orders are available for Gestational Surrogacy. For Traditional Surrogacy (called genetic surrogacy under our statute), the parentage order must be obtained post-birth.
Can you obtain both a pre and post birth order in Washington for the same child? Yes. Washington’s Uniform Parentage Act includes detailed sections on Assisted Reproduction and Surrogacy and includes specific provisions outlining the process for obtaining Pre-Birth and Post-Birth Orders of Parentage.
Can you obtain a parentage order only if the carrier resides in Washington? Yes. A parentage order can be obtained if only the Gestational Surrogate resides in Washington.
Can you obtain a parentage order if only the intended parents reside in Washington? Yes. A parentage order can be obtained if only the Intended Parents reside in Washington.
Can you obtain a parentage order if only the birth occurs in Washington? Yes. A parentage order can be obtained if only the birth occurs in Washington.
Can you obtain a parentage order if only the medical procedures/IVF Clinic is located in Washington? Some connection with Washington is required to file a petition for parentage in this state. This requirement is most commonly satisfied if the surrogate resides here, if the birth occurs here, or if the intended parent(s) reside here. It may be possible to petition for parentage if the only connection with Washington is the clinic, but the laws of the state where the birth will occur (which will need to issue the birth certificate) may limit the usefulness of a Washington court order.
What is the basis for venue in Washington? By statue, venue is somewhat flexible. The statute provides that venue may (not shall) be in a county where the child resides or is located, where a party resides or is located, where a medical evaluation, procedure or mental health consultation under the surrogacy agreement occurred, or where a proceeding has been commenced for administration of the estate of an individual who is or may be a parent.
Do Washington results vary by venue? It is possible that results could vary from county court to county court, as some counties do a large number of ART cases and are very familiar with the law, while other smaller counties may encounter a smaller number of such cases.
Is a hearing required for a parentage order in Washington? Yes, but many counties do not require the parties or attorneys to appear.
Does Washington have a passport office? Yes. Seattle has a U.S. Passport Office.
How long does it take to obtain a birth certificate in Washington? Birth Certificates can be issued fairly quickly in most cases. Hospitals have a specific vital records form for surrogate births, and as long as the hospital of birth turns in that form and notice of the birth to the Department of Health in a timely manner, the state vital records office can then process it and issue a birth certificate within days in most cases.
Will Washington vital records honor a parentage order from another state? The Washington Department of Health Center for Health Statistics should honor pre-birth parentage orders from other states, but it may depend on the facts and circumstances of a particular case. If this is planned, it is prudent to ask about it in advance. We have found it best to have a parentage order issued from the state of birth, if possible, so that there is no question as to vital records policy or procedure that may cause issues.
Does Washington vital records require a parentage order from another state to be registered? It should not be required in most cases, but it is possible that it could be required depending on the circumstances.
How do Washington birth certificates list same-sex parents? Same sex parents are listed as “Parent” and “Parent” on Washington birth certificates.
Can an initial birth certificate be obtained in Washington naming the biological parent and the carrier? This may be possible with the agreement of all parties, if required, but it could be problematic given Washington’s statutory scheme.
Can a Washington birth certificate be amended to include only the biological parent or both intended parents? Washington’s Uniform Parentage Act includes detailed sections on Assisted Reproduction and Surrogacy and includes specific provisions outlining the process for obtaining Pre-Birth and/or Post-Birth Orders of Parentage. Most commonly, a Pre-Birth Order directs a birth certificate be issued in the name(s) of the Intended Parent(s) and no further action or amendment is needed. If special circumstances exist that require another form of the birth certificate, a petition to the court can be filed seeking such alternate arrangement but details of such special circumstances should be reviewed as soon as possible in a plan for such a situation to determine what can be accomplished.
Do Washington amended birth certificates say “amended” on them? No. There is no reference to amendment or changes to a birth certificate.
Can intended parents in a surrogacy obtain an adoption order in Washington? Yes. An adoption may be possible in some cases, but it is not commonly required or done in surrogacy or ART cases, and additional legal steps would need to be taken if this was desired or required in place of a parentage order.
Assisted Reproduction law and surrogacy involves many complex issues. Parties who are contemplating engaging in a surrogacy arrangement in the State of Washington should not rely exclusively on these printed responses. All these issues should be discussed with a Washington attorney who is experienced in surrogacy law. Answers to these questions will be impacted by numerous circumstances that are unique to your surrogacy arrangement.