Michigan Updates Parentage Laws to Protect All Families

New law protecting Michigan families and access to family building provides an example for the nation amid efforts to restrict reproductive freedom

ROYAL OAK, Mich. (April 1, 2024) – The Michigan Fertility Alliance (MFA), one of the largest grassroots citizen-led groups of its kind in the country, today applauded Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s signing of the Michigan Family Protection Act (MFPA).

The MFPA updates Michigan law to ensure that all children, including children born through assisted reproduction and to LGBTQ+ families, will have equal access to a secure legal relationship with their parents and to critical rights such as health insurance, inheritance, social security, and decision-making about medical care and education that flow from that relationship. The law also removes Michigan’s criminal ban on surrogacy contracts and provides legal safeguards for family building through surrogacy to protect all involved – parents, children, and surrogates.

“This is an incredible victory for Michigan families,” said Stephanie Jones, Executive Director of the Michigan Fertility Alliance. “Hundreds of thousands of Michiganders who want children rely on assisted reproduction to build their families. Whether straight, LGBTQ+, cancer survivors, coupled or not, Michiganders needed a clear law in place to protect all children and parents as well as those who help parents grow their families as surrogates. We’re grateful to Governor Whitmer, legislative champion Representative Steckloff, and all our legislators who heard our stories and recognized the need to support and protect children, families, and access to family-building in Michigan.”

The MFA served as a lead voice for families while the Michigan House and Senate considered and passed the package of bills collectively known as the Michigan Family Protection Act. During the legislative process, several members of the MFA, including parents, surrogates, and doctors, alongside nationally known experts in parentage and family law across the country, told lawmakers their personal and professional stories of how Michigan’s outdated statutes have adversely affected children. 

“This family-focused law came together thanks to the grit and unwavering determination of our grassroots group of parents and other citizens that make up the Michigan Fertility Alliance with the support of family, parenting, reproductive equity, and LGBTQ+ advocates and experts,” added Jones. “Families take many forms – and we’re so glad we came together and learned from one another to create a law that will make having children a loving reality for everyone.”

This timely legislation also makes Michigan an example to other states for updating outdated parentage and family-building laws. It comes in the wake of aggressive efforts around the country to restrict Americans’ ability to make personal decisions about whether, when, and how to build their families, as well as efforts to undermine equal rights for LGBTQ+ people and families.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2022 that there is no federal constitutional right to abortion, efforts have escalated to restrict not only abortion but contraception and access to family building like IVF, surrogacy, and other forms of assisted reproduction. Michigan is the first state to update its parentage laws after an unprecedented Alabama Supreme Court ruling effectively shut down IVF access in that state. 

“The nationwide outcry against the Alabama ruling showed how crucial IVF and other forms of assisted reproduction are to many people’s family building process,” said Courtney Joslin, Professor at U.C. Davis School of Law and Reporter for the Uniform Parentage Act of 2017, upon which the Michigan Family Protection Act is based. “Yet in many states, parentage laws are decades out of date and haven’t kept pace with how families are formed. Critically, that leaves many children born through assisted reproduction – including IVF and surrogacy – without clear legal ties to their parents. When children lack legal relationships with their parents, they are extremely vulnerable; they may not be entitled to child support or to important government protections.”

“Michigan has shown us what strengthening families should look like in 2024: making it more possible for people to fulfill their dreams of building a family and more accessible for all families, including LGBTQ+ families, to obtain the safety and stability that comes with legal parentage,” said Polly Crozier, Director of Family Advocacy at GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD). “Amid efforts to restrict Americans’ reproductive freedom and roll back protections for LGBTQ+ people and their families, the Michigan Family Protection Act is an inspiring example for other states where gaps in parentage laws leave families vulnerable.”