Washington Governor Jay Inslee has signed into law Senate Bill 6037, which substantially updates and improves Washington’s version of the Uniform Parentage Act (UPA).
The UPA is the law that addresses how people are legally recognized as parents. This update strengthens protections for LGBTQ parents and non-biological parents, while maintaining the protections for rape survivors created by the 2017 Rape Survivor Safety Act.
“This law strengthens Washington law to guarantee that parents are treated the same, whether they are a same-sex or different-sex couple,” says David Ward, Legal Voice Senior Attorney. “It also takes important steps to help ensure that both parents will be legally recognized as parents in every state in the country. Further, it preserves important protections, created by the Washington Legislature in 2017, for rape survivors who become pregnant as a result of the sexual assault and who choose to give birth.”
The law also addresses a controversial aspect of parentage: compensated surrogacy. The surrogacy provisions of SB 6037 will repeal Washington’s criminal ban on compensated surrogacy, and regulate such arrangements. The new law’s provisions were developed over many years and with substantial input from Legal Voice and other advocates for women’s rights. This law provides important protections for women acting as surrogates—protections that will help balance the power between intended parents and surrogates, ensuring that such arrangements are entered into knowingly, with care, and subject to legal oversight.
“This is a strong law that not only legalizes compensated surrogacy, but also appropriately regulates it to ensure the health, economic security, and bodily autonomy of women acting as surrogates,” says Sara Ainsworth, Legal Voice Advocacy Director. “These regulations provide women and their families, on both sides of these contracts, with security and meaningful power in making decisions for themselves about whether and how to engage in surrogacy arrangements. Regulating surrogacy here also helps keep such arrangements local, rather than in countries outside the U.S., where some exploitative practices have taken place. Senate Bill 6037 makes Washington State a national leader in the necessary and appropriate regulation of compensated surrogacy.”
Compensated surrogacy laws vary from state to state; some states have criminal bans, some have contract regulation, and some have no laws at all. Washington is the first state to include key protections for people acting as surrogates, including comprehensive regulation of third party surrogacy brokers; clear provisions allowing the woman acting as surrogate to make all decisions about her health, her activities, and her pregnancy; and the requirement that the woman acting as surrogate has legal counsel throughout the entire arrangement, not just during the contract.