Gestational Surrogacy
Gestational Surrogacy

BDFLPO-RT-LOGOGestational surrogacy brokers are increasingly promoting state laws to sanction contract pregnancy agreements that commodify women as “wombs for rent,” and treat children as disposable commodities. Learn about the policy implications including paid contract pregnancy, paid contract abortion and the medical dangers to women undergoing hormone injections and surgical transfer of a third parties’ human embryo.

Also learn about the veto messages of two governors, and read BDF’s veto request pending before Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal of a 2013 gestational surrogacy bill.

An increasing number of states are considering laws that create legal protections for Gestational Surrogacy brokers and the contracting parents, with no protection for the women and children who are “objects” of the contracts. Learn the policy points and review VETO messages by certain state governors below.

GestationalSurrogacyIssuesofConcern-MN – View a short memo that sets for a partial list of serious concerns surrounding gestational surrogacy bills.

What is Gestational Surrogacy? Gestational surrogacy is the newest form of trafficking in human persons. It is contracted pregnancy where a broker contracts with couples to find a woman for the use of her womb, and for an agreement to terminate the pregnancy in the case of disabilities. With unknown medical risks to the woman, the woman is paid to gestate a human being created via IVF using the couple’s gametes or the gametes of other parties – often college aged women paid to harvest their eggs. Even in states such as Texas where the law sanctions only “married” couples, brokers are able to use regular family law to market women to be hired as breeders to the gay community as explained by one surrogacy broker here.

Doesn’t this help infertile couples? We recognize the struggle and pain that couples endure when they are unable to have a child by natural means, and we do not question the intention of couples considering gestational surrogacy. However, an important distinction must be made between the good intentions of couples that desire biologically related children, and the actual practices of gestational surrogacy brokers who take advantage of citizens in states that have sanctioned financially induced contract pregnancy.

Is this good public policy? BDF’s study and experience regarding the actual impact of gestational surrogacy legislation enacted in several states supports our conclusion that such legislation inevitably has the unintended consequence of being the stimulus to a lucrative gestational surrogacy industry whose brokers engage in practices that are profoundly contrary to the dignity of women, children and families.

GestationalSurrogacyIssuesofConcern-MN – Read a list of serious concerns created by BDF for policy leaders considering gestational surrogacy bills.

Dorinda’s 2-Minute VIDEO about Surrogacy

Letter by Bishop Jarrell of Lafayette about Louisiana House Bill 187.

New Surrogacy Broker Price List

NRO Surrogacy Q&A with NOW board member Kathy Sloan

Surrogacy is one of those issues that is masked in terms designed to make people look away. “Gift” and “hope” and “miracle” are words third-party reproduction operations make money on, often ignoring real medical, never mind moral, concerns to women. The Surrogacy Parenting Agreement Act of 2013 is currently under consideration in the District of Columbia. Last week Kathleen Sloan, former program director of the Council for Responsible Genetics, along with Jennifer Lahl, president of the Center for Bioethics and Culture, testified against it, arguing that it is an open door to exploitation of women. Sloan, a member of the National Organization for Women’s national board, talks to National Review Online’s Kathryn Jean Lopez about some of the dangers of surrogacy.
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WASHINGTON POST: Read the informative OpEd by Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker pointing out how the exploitive practice of gestational surrogacy is being opposed by a diverse political spectrum – pro-life, pro-choice; Catholics, Christians and atheists:Surrogacy Exposed (May 24, 2013).

Read BDF’s veto request to Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal regarding the Louisiana gestational surrogacy bill, La. SB 162 (2013). This letter gives a comprehensive explanation of the unintended consequences of gestational surrogacy laws including the fact that state-sanctioned contract pregnancy necessarily sanctions contract abortion as set forth in standard surrogacy broker contracts.

See National Review Online opinion piece by BDF’s Dorinda Bordlee with informative links regarding the topic of gestational surrogacy.

Sitting on the desk of Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal awaiting a possible veto is legislation that codifies compensated contracts for gestational surrogacy, often referred to as the “wombs for rent” bill.
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Policy Points and Governors’ Veto Messages:

Gestational surrogacy contracts commodify women as wombs for rent and children as products that can be aborted if below consumer expectations.
It is a common industry practice to pay a high surrogacy fee to women under the guise of “reasonable living expenses.” For example, the Florida-based DreamABaby.com website provides a Gestational Surrogacy Price List (2013) which mirrors the pricing structure of most surrogate brokers. The “price list” specifies that the gestational surrogate will receive $10,000 to $30,000 for “reasonable living expenses.” This fee is in addition to reimbursement for doctor visits, medical tests and required counseling and home studies.

State-sanctioned financially induced pregnancy necessarily encompasses state-sanctioned financially induced abortion.
Under the constitutionalized regime of Roe v. Wade and its progeny, the gestational carrier can “choose” to abort the pregnancy for any reason, including a financially incentivized request (or coercive demand) from the surrogate broker on behalf of the intended parents. See CNN, “Surrogate offered $10,000 to abort baby” (March 6, 2013). The DreamaBaby.com pricelist (link above) confirms that “abortion clauses” are standard in broker contracts, notifying intended parents of unspecified additional expenses for “termination of genetically abnormal pregnancy,” or “selective reduction of a multi-fetal pregnancy.”

State-sanctioned gestational surrogacy regulations give legal cover to surrogacy brokers who commodify women as products in catalogs before they are paid to undergo dangerous medical procedures.
Lured with the seemingly natural process of pregnancy, women hired as surrogates are subjected to the dangers of undergoing multiple injections of synthetic hormones and other drugs, along with the dangers of surgery for the transfer of another couple’s human embryo. These procedures can have devastating short and long-term health consequences. Surrogates are pumped with high doses of drugs such as Lupron, which is not FDA approved for fertility use; estrogen which is linked to breast and uterine cancers, heart attack, stroke and blood clots; progesterone; antibiotics; and steroids which are linked to high blood pressure, glaucoma, cataracts, peptic ulceration, and an impaired immune system.

GOVERNORS VETO GESTATIONAL SURROGACY LAWS

In recent years, at least two Governors have vetoed gestational surrogacy bills. In Minnesota, Governor Tim Pawlenty offered this insight in his 2008 veto message:
“The bill also fails in any manner to recognize or protect the life and rights of the unborn child. The unborn child is treated throughout the bill as a chattel, the rights over which are set and enforced under the terms of a contract. Indeed, if a dispute arises under the contract or a breach occurs, the courts are prevented from applying the normal “best interests of the child” standard for resolving the dispute. Instead the courts are required to apply a contract standard to determine the original intent of the contracting parties” (Governor Tim Pawlenty, 2008).

In 2012, Governor Christie issued the following veto message when he was presented with a similar bill in New Jersey:
“Permitting adults to contract with others regarding a child in such a manner unquestionably raises serious and significant issues. While some will applaud the freedom to explore these new, and sometimes necessary, arranged births, others will note the profound change in the traditional beginnings of a family that this bill would enact. I am not satisfied that these questions have been sufficiently studied by the Legislature at this time. Validating contracts for the birth of children is a step that cannot be taken without the most serious inquiry, reflection, and consensus. As those steps have not occurred, accordingly, I herewith return Senate Bill No. 1599” (New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s Veto Message).

Read BDF’s veto request to Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal regarding the Louisiana gestational surrogacy bill, La. SB 162 (2013). This letter gives a comprehensive explanation of the unintended consequences of gestational surrogacy laws including the fact that state-sanctioned contract pregnancy necessarily sanctions contract abortion as set forth in standard surrogacy broker contracts.

Outside Resources:

The Center for Bioethics and Culture (CBC), led by Jennifer Lahl, has been in the forefront of the movement demanding a cessation of the practice of gestational surrogacy because it:

  • exploits women’s bodies and endangers their health;
  • disregards the human rights of the children produced; and
  • commodifies human life, turning the dignity of birth into a commercial transaction and business opportunity for endless profit generation.

Learn more about the CBC gestational surrogacy resources here.