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Gestational Surrogacy: Navigating the Legal & Ethical Minefield: 2016 Update

(158 Ratings)

Produced on: August 22, 2016

Course Format On Demand Audio

Taught by


Course Description

Time 90 minutes
Difficulty Intermediate

Using a gestational carrier is an emotionally intense and legally complex arrangement that involves having another woman carry and deliver a child for another couple. It's officially legal in only a handful of states. The process in all can require vast amounts of time, money, and patience to succeed. Join attorney Melissa Brisman as she discusses the intricacies of gestational surrogacy. She begins by discussing the legal and ethical issues that can arise, and then analyze common pitfalls and risks of gestational surrogacy in the United States.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Understand what gestational surrogacy is
  2. Understand the legal and ethical issues with gestational surrogacy
  3. Be able to spot common pitfalls concerning gestational surrogacy


Melissa B. Brisman graduated Valedictorian from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and graduated with honors from Harvard Law School. She is an attorney admitted to practice in Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania, and is a licensed certified public accountant.

Melissa first started helping couples become parents in 1996. Actually, she was her own first client, guiding and directing the process in which she and her husband, Dan, became parents of twin boys carried by a gestational carrier. A few years later, they had a daughter carried by another gestational carrier.

As a mother, Melissa is uniquely qualified. She understands the emotion and concern involved in creating a family and, as a lawyer, has successfully won many cases in this field. She has helped protect the rights of hundreds of parents who have had miracle babies using all available reproductive technologies.

Melissa is the first attorney to obtain court orders directing that the genetic parents be placed on the original birth certificates of their children born to gestational carriers in the State of Maine, in 1997, and the State of New Jersey, in 2000. She also argued and won landmark gestational carrier cases before the Supreme Court of Massachusetts in 2001 and the State Supreme Court of New York in 2004, setting legal precedents for birth orders in these states.

In 2003, Melissa was the first attorney to obtain a court order placing two women on the birth certificate of their child, without an adoption, in the State of New Jersey; and, in 2005, to place two men on the birth certificate of their children, born through a gestational carrier, without an adoption, in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In 2008, she was also able to have two women who were validly married in Canada placed on the birth certificate of their child in the State of New York.

Melissa has been a keynote speaker at numerous events and organizational activities and for prestigious institutions across the country, including the New Jersey Society for Reproductive Nursing Specialists, the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, Cornell Hospital and the Donor Egg Conference held each year in Charleston, South Carolina. Melissa has also served as a faculty member for the 2010 International Nursing Conference on Reproductive Health & Infertility. Melissa is a Notable Contributor for GayParentstoBe and has served on the Boards of the American Fertility Association (AFA)/ Path2Parenthood, Fertile Dreams, and Conceive Magazine and has also been the legal advisor and a Board Member of Parents Via Egg Donation (PVED) and the LIVESTRONG Fertility Advisory Committee. Melissa is a professional member of Resolve, AFA, the American Bar Association-Family Law Section-Reproductive and Genetic Technology Committee (ABA), the Organization of Parents Through Surrogacy (OPTS), The Embracing Hope Scholarship Committee, the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), and the American Academy of Assisted Reproductive Technology Attorneys (AAARTA).

Melissa was the recipient of the 2015 Infertility Hero Award and 2004 Star of Resolve Award. She is a chapter author of Reproductive Medicine Secrets by Zev Rosenwaks, Fertility Preservation in Male Cancer Patients by John P. Mulhall, and Principles of Oocyte and Embryo Donation by Mark V. Sauer. In 2006, Melissa B.Brisman’s law firm, Melissa B. Brisman, Esq., LLC was named as a finalist for the prestigious 2006 Forbes Enterprise Award. Melissa is also the author of numerous articles on the subjects of gestational carriers and reproductive law.

Melissa was invited to attend a governmental seminar in Taiwan. Melissa was asked to speak to the government officials who were looking at their surrogacy laws and procedures in Taiwan and provide legal information and guidelines to help guide them in the process of editing their current policies and laws.

Melissa drafts and negotiates contracts for many types of reproductive arrangements including gestational carrier contracts, ovum, sperm and embryo donation contracts and adoptions; works with international couples; finalizes same sex and step parent adoptions; obtains court orders for gestational carrier arrangements to allow the intended parents to go directly on the birth certificate of their child at birth; processes name changes; and reviews insurance books on behalf of intended parents and their gestational carriers.


Adria B.

Very informative. Well done!

Leslie G.

Excellent presentation. One of the best

Steven W.

Great insights

Mary Ann S.

Very well done!

Charles F.

Great program.

Lisa M.

Really enjoyed this - fascinating information!

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