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P.M. v. T.B.

Supreme Court of Iowa
907 N.W.2d 522 (2018)


A married couple, the Ms (plaintiffs), both had children from previous marriages but wanted one of their own. Unable to conceive this child, the Ms placed an advertisement for a surrogate mother. T.B. (defendant) answered their ad. T.B. was a married woman with four children of her own from a previous marriage. T.B. was having trouble conceiving a child in her current marriage and was trying to earn extra money to pay for medical treatments to help her do this. The parties ultimately signed a gestational surrogacy agreement, which is an agreement in which couples use a third-party as the surrogate mother to carry their embryo. In the agreement, T.B. agreed to be implanted with and carry up to two embryos from donated eggs that had been fertilized by Mr. M’s sperm. In exchange, the Ms agreed to pay for T.B.’s medical expenses during the pregnancy and to pay T.B. $13,000 after the child’s birth. The $13,000 was meant to help T.B. afford the necessary medical procedures for her to have her own child in her current marriage after having the Ms’ baby. T.B. was successfully implanted with two embryos from the Ms and became pregnant. The parties’ relationship then began to deteriorate. T.B. eventually delivered both twins 13 weeks prematurely, but she did not tell the Ms about the delivery. One twin died eight days after birth, but the other twin survived. When the Ms learned about the births, they sued T.B. for custody of the live baby. The trial court enforced the terms of the parties’ surrogacy agreement, which meant terminating any of T.B.’s parental rights in the baby and giving Mr. M custody of the baby. T.B. appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Waterman, J.)

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