How Will the Zika Virus Affect Egg Donation and Surrogacy Contracts?
Stories of local Zika transmission in Florida came as disheartening news, especially for those who are pregnant or thinking about having children in the near future. While many people infected by Zika won't have symptoms or will only have mild symptoms like a fever or rash, the effects can be catastrophic for pregnant mothers. Passed from mother to child, Zika can cause microcephaly and other birth defects.
Given the dangers Zika poses to unborn children, it's bound to have an effect on all aspects of pregnancy and fertility, including egg donation and surrogacy contracts. Here's a look at what you need to know about Zika and surrogacy:
Of course, the first step is to make sure any prospective or expecting mother is Zika-free. Because symptoms are either mild or non-existent, all women donating eggs or planning to be a surrogate mother should be tested. Fertility clinics should already require Zika testing before egg donation and any surrogacy contract should include pre-pregnancy Zika testing as a requirement.
While the spread of Zika and the extent to which Americans travel abroad should make you concerned about Zika no matter where you live, the fact remains that some regions are more dangerous for virus transmission than others. (If you're wondering where, you can check with the Centers for Disease Control.)
Prospective egg donors and egg donation clinics located in these areas should be especially careful. But the impact on surrogacy can be even greater. A surrogacy contract can include terms regarding everything from dietary prohibitions to prenatal care requirements, so it should come as no surprise that new contracts may include travel restrictions on surrogate mothers. All prospective mothers, include surrogates, should avoid Zika hotspots.
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The worst nightmare for any expectant mother, and soon-to-be parents in a surrogacy, is that a mother will become infected by Zika while pregnant, endangering the fetus. There is currently no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika, therefore the risk of serious birth defects is real. So can you include an abortion clause in a surrogacy contract if the fetus is likely to have birth defects?
That may depend on your state surrogacy laws. And the feelings both sides have regarding abortion. If you're thinking about entering into a surrogacy contract, make sure to have it written or reviewed by an experienced family law attorney before signing. You can find one in your area and most will provide a free consultation.