Rhode Island Surrogacy Legislation

Rhode Island, we love you.  We love your Gilded Age Mansions, and your Newport Cliffs.  We love the Rhode Island School of Design. And we especially love your beautiful, rocky coastline.  

But what we don’t love is that you don’t have any surrogacy laws on the books.  Not for lack of trying, we know.  

Rhode Island has been a leader when it comes to insurance coverage for fertility treatment.  The fertility insurance mandate was put on the books in 1989 in Rhode Island, and amended twice since that time.  The current mandate requires insurance coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of infertility. Fertility preservation costs are also covered for those who will be undergoing chemotherapy or other medical treatments.  Great job Rhode Island!

But when it comes to laws making sure that parental ties to a child are legally protected, Rhode Island is behind the rest of the New England States.  Three New England states (New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine) have comprehensive parentage laws on the books to protect all children born from assisted reproduction, including gestational surrogacy.  Folks in Massachusetts are working hard to make it also happen in their state. Lastly, Connecticut has laws on the books specifically geared toward parentage and surrogacy. That leaves just Rhode Island without any legislative guidance to apply to surrogacy matters.

This means that judges have a lot of leeway on how to handle pre-birth orders in Rhode Island.  Fortunately, our friend Mike Grant, who is a Rhode Island surrogacy attorney, has been successful in getting pre-birth orders routinely issued for Rhode Island surrogacy arrangements.  But not without the occasional blip.  

Efforts to put into place a comprehensive parentage law (which would have covered surrogacy) sadly failed in 2019.  The initiative was supportive by many, including GLAD (GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders), Resolve New England, and New England Surrogacy.  Unfortunately, a key member of the Rhode Island judiciary opposed the bill and ultimately it did not get passed.

So what this means for intended parents and surrogates in Rhode Island is that we can still achieve pre-birth orders (Thanks to Mike Grant!! We really cannot thank him enough for this!!).  However, the enforceability of gestational carrier contracts remains a gray area. This is equally true in many other surrogacy friendly states (Massachusetts, for example). If you are working with New England Surrogacy, we will make sure you have your own attorney who can explain this to you in more detail.  

Interested in surrogacy in Rhode Island?  Contact us today!