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New York Senate passes bill to allow commercial surrogacy

17 June 2019
Appeared in BioNews 1002

A bill that proposes to lift the ban on commercial surrogacy in New York State was passed by the State Senate last week. 

The bill, which is supported by New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, was passed after an amendment to include a 'Surrogate's Bill of Rights', such as the sole right to decide whether to terminate a pregnancy, and access to healthcare funded by the intended parents. 

The change is part of a package of measures intended to advance LGBTQ rights. It is currently illegal for a surrogate to be paid in New York State, although altruistic surrogacy is permitted. 

'I think that's a mark of progress for our community and a mark of progress for human rights in general,' State Senator Brad Hoylman told the New York Times. Hoylman is in a same-sex marriage and his two children were born through surrogacy in California. 

However, the bill would need to be approved by the State Assembly in order to become law. Several prominent members have said that they will not be supporting the legalisation of commercial surrogacy. 

Assemblywoman Deborah Glick told the New York Post: 'I certainly do not think that there is sufficient protection for the women who do not appear to be considered as people in the arrangement, but rather as the donor and the surrogate.'

She told the New York Times: 'It is pregnancy for a fee, and I find that commodification of women troubling.'

The bill has also received criticism from outside the state legislature. In a written message to lawmakers, the political activist and feminist Gloria Steinem said that permitting commercial surrogacy would put 'disenfranchised women at the financial and emotional mercy of wealthier and more privileged individuals'.

Dennis Poust, spokesman for the New York State Catholic Conference, told WRVO: 'We see this as fundamentally something which will exploit women’s bodies for the benefit, largely, of men.'

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