Assisted Reproduction Laws in Colorado

small picture of attorney bill henry
By: Bill Henry
PublishedJun 7, 2022
3 minute read

Modern technology has made it easier for all couples to have children, but many states lag in modernizing assisted reproduction laws. Colorado legislation is intended to protect the parental rights of individuals who use assisted reproduction technology to create their families. In this article, we’ll discuss how House Bill 22-1153, known as Marlo’s Law, changes adoption for parents of assisted reproductive technology.

assisted reproduction laws colorado

What is Assisted Reproductive Technology?

Assisted Reproductive Technology, or ART, is any method to become pregnant other than sexual intercourse. ART is used by single individuals and married couples who otherwise cannot become pregnant or have a child. 

Some common methods of Assisted Reproductive Technology include:
  • IVF (in-vitro fertilization)
  • egg and sperm donation
  • genetic surrogacy
  • gestational surrogacy
  • cryopreserved embryos or gametes

Why Colorado Assisted Reproduction Laws Were Needed

In the past, relying on medical advances and third-party egg and sperm donations to engineer viable pregnancies was the easy part for parents of assisted reproductive technology.

Until recently, Colorado law recognized only naturally-birthed children of a male father and a female mother. This meant non-biological parents who turned to ART to have a baby could not rely on their child’s birth certificate to prove parentage. As such, Colorado lawyers recommended that non-biological parents formally adopt their child born through ART. This step, though, created procedural hurdles and added expense. Even then adoption did not always guarantee parents full legal protection in future disputes. 

It was clear change was needed in assisted reproduction laws. Colorado legislators drafted Marlow’s Law, and on May 23, 2022, Governor Jared Polis signed it into law.

The bill is named in honor of its co-sponsor’s daughter. House Majority Leader Daneya Esgar and her wife Heather Palm had their daughter, Marlo, through ART.

How Marlow’s Law Protects Non-Biological Parents

Officially known as the HB22-1153, this legislation modernizes Colorado’s parentage laws to ensure that:

  • rightful parents of ART are no longer denied legal recognition,
  • their children are not denied legal protection, and
  • families are not deprived of the respect and dignity they deserve.

Much of the bill is dedicated to amending existing parentage laws. Under Marlo’s law, individuals are defined as parents regardless of how their child is born: naturally or through reproductive assistance and confirmatory adoption.

Gender-specific nouns such as mother and father and husband and wife have been eliminated from the statutes for legal and judicial clarity. This is especially important in cases where non-biological parents’ rights are challenged. The changes also eliminated strict interpretations of mother and father, which had led to unconscionable rulings in the past.

Streamlines Confirmatory Adoptions

Same-sex couples and other nonbiological parents were once faced with two undesirable choices:

  • navigate the pricey and invasive confirmatory adoption process or
  • take their chances and hope their name being on the child’s birth certificate will offer enough legal protection. 

Marlo’s Law makes confirmatory adoptions as easy as filing a basic petition with the child’s birth certificate listing the intended parents. Courts must certify properly filed petitions within 30 days.

For non-biological parents, this means no more:
  • home visits and inspections
  • affidavits confirming the circumstances of the child’s conception
  • fingerprinting or FBI background checks
  • in-person adoption hearings
  • legal expenses
Eliminates Discrimination

Parents of assisted reproductive technology, particularly lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer couples, faced legal discrimination and other barriers under the old statutes. Marlo’s law ensures all parents who conceive through ART, regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation, or marital status, are eligible for the same rights and protections.

Considerations if You’re Pursuing ART

Colorado Law Only

While Marlo’s Law enables assisted reproduction parents to bypass several hurdles, the law still has its limits. The legal recognition Marlow’s law provides does not extend beyond state lines. If you plan to move out of state, it’s wise to speak with a family law attorney to find out Until a similar law is passed at the Federal level, it is wise to speak with a family law attorney before relocating to another state and assuming you have the same rights and protections.

Sperm and Egg Donations Must Still be Legally Obtained

Colorado will not recognize the contract between parents and donor(s)If prospective parents do not go through proper avenues to secure an egg, sperm, or embryo donation that results in the birth of their child. Colorado also will not give legal cover to improper contracts from another state.
The only way to receive a donation and eliminate any legal threat by the donor is to follow the specific medical and legal route set out in state statutes.

Talk with an Assisted Reproduction Attorney 

If you are considering assisted reproductive technology to start a family, we encourage you to connect with a family law attorney who specializes in this area of law. Our ART attorneys will ensure your parental rights are rock solid. Call 303-688-0944 to begin your case assessment.

More Than Just Lawyers. Lawyers for Your Life.

Learn more about our law firm’s philosophy and values.