THE WASHINGTON TIMES: U.S. warms to surrogacy as ‘womb-for-rent’ scandals prompt crackdowns in Asia
By Cheryl Wetzstein
December 1, 2015
In countries like India, Thailand and Nepal, authorities have become so alarmed by “womb-for-rent” scandals that they have cracked down on commercial surrogacy businesses. But in the U.S., state legislative efforts seem aimed at permitting the practice, not banning it.
Having someone else’s baby — often in exchange for tens of thousands of dollars — is growing into a major industry worldwide.
But, as one opposition group asks, “Is surrogacy a beautiful, loving act, or does it simply degrade pregnancy to a service and a baby to a product? Can we find a middle ground? Should we even look for one?”
Currently, New York and the District are among a handful of U.S. jurisdictions that ban commercial surrogacy, and lawmakers in both places are seeking to overturn the bans.
“Compared to the 50 states, District law is among the most restrictive with regard to surrogacy agreements, which is out of step with our commitment as a city to equality and family,” Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen said in January when the city council unanimously introduced the Collaborative Reproduction Amendment Act of 2015.
“I believe surrogacy should be an option for District residents who wish to have children,” Mr. Allen said, noting that the bill reflected input from pro-gay liberal groups such as the Human Rights Campaign, Family Equality Council and National Center for Lesbian Rights.
In New York state leaders are waiting to hear from a prominent task force, which might recommend that the state’s 1992 ban on commercial surrogacy be dropped.
New York lawmakers, like openly gay state Sen. Brad Hoylman — himself a father thanks to surrogacy — are ready to act, having already introduced bills to permit surrogacy agreements and commercial gestational carriers, as women are sometimes called.
In response, Jennifer Lahl, a nationally known opponent of surrogacy, has testified against the District bill and is also urging New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo not to undo his own father’s ban on commercial surrogacy.
The New York State Task Force on Life and the Law, established by late Gov. Mario Cuomo, issued a report in 1988 that said commercial gestational surrogacy “could not be distinguished from the sale of children and that it placed children at significant risk of harm,” Ms. Lahl, president of The Center for Bioethics and Culture Network (CBCN), wrote to the current governor in November.
“Our question to Gov. Andrew Cuomo is ‘What’s changed?’” she recently told The Washington Times.
“Nothing has changed: It’s still not in the best interests of women and children to enter into commercial surrogacy contract arrangements,” said Ms. Lahl, who contends she knows of two cases where women carrying triplets are fighting legal pressure to abort one of the fetuses.
Read the rest here