Legal Overview of Surrogacy

Bill Handel, founding Director of the Center for Surrogate Parenting, Inc. (CSP) started his practice of surrogacy in 1980, through the Law Offices of William Handel. In 1986, CSP was incorporated. Karen Synesiou, who joined CSP in 1990, became co-owner and director in 1994.

In 1992, CSP and the Californian Bar Association co-sponsored Senate Bill 937. SB937 was drafted to attempt to regulate the professionals involved in surrogate parenting, to set guidelines in screening and accepting surrogates, and to clearly identify the parents of the child conceived through surrogacy. SB937 passed all the committees, but was vetoed by Governor Pete Wilson on the grounds that there was no need for legislation.

California Enacts Landmark Legislation Giving Same Sex Parents Via Surrogacy Equal Parenting Rights

After a 20-year campaign by Center for Surrogate Parenting, legislative history was made on September 23, 2012, when California Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 1217, a ground- breaking bill that amends the Uniform Parentage Act and affords same sex couples conceiving children through surrogacy the same parental rights and protections as other parents in the state. California has taken the unprecedented step of changing the legal definition of "intended parent" to be "an individual, married or unmarried," making it legislatively illegal to discriminate against same sex parents both before and after their children are born from surrogacy arrangements.

California Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes sponsored the bill, which took two years to pass. This effort was spearheaded by attorney Bill Handel and Karen Synesiou, co-owners of the Center for Surrogate Parenting (CSP). The agency has been a pioneer in helping same sex couples create families and was the first in the world to help a gay couple become parents via surrogacy years ago. They collaborated with reproductive attorneys Andy Vorizmer and Dean Masserman to draft the law with Assemblyman Fuentes. CSP and the law firm of Vorzimer Masserman have earned a worldwide reputation for their work with gay couples in surrogacy arrangements, amongst them Elton John and David Furnish, proud parents of Zackary born in 2010.

In addition to founding CSP, Bill Handel, is the most listened to radio talk show host at Los Angeles' KFIAM 640, and has been committed to LGBT rights issues for his entire 27-year broadcasting career.

Please click below for the overview of surrogacy law by state for intended parents and surrogate mothers in the United States.