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Seattle, WA 98125

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Assisted Reproduction

Becoming a parent is one life’s happiest moments. Assisted reproduction technology is a wonderful resource that brings the joy of parenting to many people who for various reasons would not otherwise be able to build a family.

Assisted Reproduction includes the donation of gametes (sperm or ova), in vitro fertilization and transfer of embryos to a woman’s reproductive system, and surrogate gestation. While assisted reproduction can involve complex medical procedures, it can also involve complex legal issues as well. These legal matters must be properly addressed for the protection of all involved. 

Attorney for Assisted Reproduction in Seattle, Washington

If you are planning to use assisted reproduction technology you probably have many questions, including legal questions. Attorney Joyce Schwensen has experience working with families using all types of assisted reproduction technology, and she is familiar with the 2019 changes in Washington law that apply to these matters. Joyce Schwensen advises her assisted reproduction clients regarding a wide range of related legal and practical concerns, including parental rights and obligations, risks, expenses, legal procedures and requirements, obtaining birth certificates, and other matters. If you are interested in working with Joyce as your attorney through your assisted reproduction journey, call (206) 367-1065 or submit a request using the online contact form on this website.

Joyce Schwensen proudly assists couples and individuals using assisted reproduction technology throughout Washington, including Seattle, Bellevue, King County and Snohomish County.  


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What is Assisted Reproduction?

More and more parents are turning to assisted reproduction to become parents. The number of assisted reproduction procedures performed in the United States has more than doubled in the last 10 years. 

Thanks to modern technology, there are alternatives available for families who for various reasons would not otherwise be able to build a family.

There are many types of assisted reproduction technology, including:

  • In Vitro This procedure involves the creation of embryos outside of a woman’s body by fertilizing eggs with sperm in a laboratory setting. The resulting embryo(s) can be transferred into a woman’s reproductive tract to induce pregnancy, or they can be cryopreserved (frozen) for later use. In vitro is the basis for many types of assisted reproduction.
  • Sperm Donation involves a man donating sperm that is used to create embryos, either through non-sexual insemination of a woman or in vitro for transfer to a woman’s reproductive tract, without the sperm donor having legal responsibility for the child.
  • Egg Donation involves a woman undergoing medical treatment to stimulate a high production of eggs by her ovaries, and then having those eggs retrieved through a minor surgical procedure. The eggs are then used to create embryos in vitro for transfer to another woman’s reproductive tract, without the egg donor having legal responsibility for the child.
  • Gestational Surrogacy. This procedure involves a woman carrying a child that is not biologically hers so that a different individual or couple can be parents of the child. One or both of the intended parents may be the biological parents of the child, but this is not mandatory.
  • Genetic Surrogacy. This procedure involves a woman becoming pregnant by means other than sexual intercourse after having agreed to allow another different individual or couple to be the parents of the child. The intended father of the child may also be the biological father of the child, but this is not mandatory. Genetic surrogacy is a high-risk undertaking because the surrogate can terminate the agreement to release the child to the intended parents at any time until the baby is two days old.
  • Embryo “Adoption.” This procedure involves the transfer of ownership of cryopreserved embryos from the current owner or owners, who are usually the biological parents of the embryo(s), to another individual or couple for gestation and parenting.

People use assisted reproduction to build families for lots of different reasons. If you are considering using assisted reproduction technology, it is very important that you obtain legal assistance in order to protect yourself and your family throughout the medical procedures, and for the rest of your child’s life.


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Contracts for Assisted Reproduction

Many types of assisted reproduction require contracts to be entered into between the parties involved. For example, when a child is conceived from donated sperm, it is important that there be clear documentation that the child was not conceived through sexual intercourse between the mother and the donor. Similarly, where a surrogate agrees to carry a child to be parented by another individual or couple, a contract is needed to address a wide range of issues involved in the arrangement. In these and other assisted reproduction situations, it is imperative that there be well-written contracts between the parties. Joyce Schwensen is experienced in preparing all types of assisted reproduction agreements, as well as in advising her clients about the legal risks associated with assisted reproduction, and how those risks can be addressed and minimized as much as possible through legal documentation.


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Changes to Washington State Surrogacy Laws

As of January 1, 2019, substantial changes to Washington’s Uniform Parentage Act go into effect. The most significant legal changes are in the area of gestational and genetic surrogacy. In the past, the use of surrogates for assisted reproduction has been extremely limited in Washington State. Under the revisions to the law, however, restrictions on surrogacy are eased substantially. 

Before the new law, women who acted as surrogates were prohibited from being compensated. Compensation of a surrogate was a gross misdemeanor, and a contract for compensated surrogacy was unenforceable in Washington State. But starting in 2019, Washington law allows surrogates to receive compensation for carrying and delivering a baby. 

The new law also protects surrogates by specifying a surrogate has the authority to make all health and welfare decisions regarding the pregnancy and herself. This can include the right to terminate the pregnancy.

The new law also protects intended parents by instituting a procedure for a surrogacy agreement to be approved by a court during the pregnancy and a court order entered declaring the child to belong to the intended parents from the moment of birth.

There are some limitations to the new law, however. For example, a surrogate must be at least twenty-one years old and must have given birth at least once before in a non-surrogacy situation. A woman is also limited to the number of times she can act as a surrogate. Under Washington Revised Code 26.26A.705, a woman must not have entered into more than two surrogacy agreements that resulted in the birth of a child.


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Additional Resources for Assisted Reproduction in Washington State

To read Washington’s revised version of the Uniform Parentage Act yourself you can follow this link: Washington State Uniform Parentage Act

To read an informative article about changes to Washington’s surrogacy laws you can follow this link: Changes in Washington Law Will Allow for Paid Surrogates


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Attorney for Assisted Reproduction in Seattle, Washington

Assisted reproduction is a great way for couples and singles to build their families, but the laws that govern assisted reproduction are complicated. Joyce Schwensen is knowledgeable and experienced in working with families engaging in assisted reproduction.

Joyce Schwensen takes pride in helping clients with legal matters involved in assisted reproduction. If you are interested in working with Joyce as your attorney through your assisted reproduction journey, call (206) 367-1065 or submit a request using the online contact form on this website.

The Law Office of Joyce S. Schwensen represents clients throughout Washington State, including in Seattle, Bellevue, Kirkland, Woodinville, Redmond, and all parts of King and Snohomish Counties.


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