Legal Implications of Artificial Reproductive Technologies in North Carolina

Understanding the Legal Terrain of ART in North Carolina

The advent of artificial reproductive technologies (ART) has revolutionized the prospects for individuals and couples wishing to have children. In North Carolina, as elsewhere, ART encompasses a range of procedures such as in vitro fertilization (IVF), surrogacy arrangements, and sperm/egg donation. Each of these technologies carries its own set of complex legal considerations that individuals must navigate.

Regulatory Framework Governing ART

North Carolina does not currently have comprehensive legislation specifically addressing the use of ART. However, various state laws and court decisions provide a piecemeal legal framework. For instance, while there are no statutes directly regulating IVF procedures, the state's Assisted Reproductive Technology Program works within existing laws to ensure safety and ethical compliance in fertility clinics.

Surrogacy, another key aspect of ART, is partially addressed in North Carolina law. The state recognizes gestational surrogacy contracts—where the surrogate is not genetically related to the child—but traditional surrogacy agreements remain legally complex due to the surrogate's genetic link to the baby.

Parental Rights and ART

Determining parental rights in cases involving ART can be particularly challenging. North Carolina law presumes that a child born within a marriage is the legitimate child of the husband. However, when it comes to children conceived via ART, this presumption can be rebutted if evidence is presented that the husband is not the biological father. This raises important considerations for parties using sperm donors.

Egg and sperm donors also face legal questions regarding their rights and responsibilities. Typically, donors sign contracts relinquishing parental rights, but disputes can still arise. For example, in the landmark case Johnson v. Calvert (1993) in California, it was held that intent to parent was a crucial factor in determining motherhood in a surrogacy arrangement—a principle that has been influential across states.

Safeguarding Rights Through Legal Agreements

To mitigate potential legal issues arising from ART procedures, parties often enter into detailed contracts outlining each person's rights and responsibilities. These agreements are crucial for protecting all involved parties and should be drafted with the help of an experienced attorney familiar with North Carolina’s legal landscape.


The legal implications of artificial reproductive technologies in North Carolina are multifaceted and evolving. Individuals engaging with ART should seek legal counsel to navigate this complex terrain effectively. As technology advances and societal attitudes shift, it is likely that North Carolina will continue to develop its legal framework governing ART.