There isn’t much good news coming out of New York state at the moment. The state, with a city of 8.5 million people, currently has 150,000 COVID19 infections.
But there is SOME good news for New Yorkers who need to use a surrogate. The state has finally overturned its long-held ban on paid surrogacy. This allows residents to enter into paid surrogacy contracts from Feb. 15, 2021.
This brings New York into line with every other state except Louisiana and Michigan. These states still prohibit commercial surrogacy; paying a woman to carry a child that is not biologically related to her.
Amy Paulin, Democrat said, “Today, we bring New York law in line with the needs of modern families. We are simultaneously enacting the strongest protections in the nation for surrogates.” Ms. Paulin was co-sponsor of the bill and has been working to get New York to legalise surrogacy since 2006.
So how did New York end up being so behind the times in the first place?
It all relates to a famous legal battle known as the Baby M case. In 1985, a surrogate, Mary Whitehead, agreed to be inseminated with sperm from William Stern. His wife had multiple sclerosis and couldn’t carry a child, they paid Mary Whitehead $10,000 USD.
However, when Baby M was born Ms Whitehead changed her mind. She wanted to keep the baby on the grounds that half of the baby’s DNA was hers. The Sterns won the legal battle. In order to avoid similar scenarios in the future, neighbouring New Jersey Supreme Court made a new ruling in 1988. This made paying women to bear children illegal. Then. New York followed suit.
Other states in the US drew different lessons from the case. Since then, nearly all surrogacies in the US have been gestational. This means a donor egg from either the intended mother or an outside donor is used. This avoids similar legal challenges.
Assemblywoman Amy Paulin has personal reasons for wanting to see the law changed. She struggled with secondary infertility when attempting to conceive her second child. She is well aware of the pain of not being able to expand your family.
She said, “This law allows families to avoid much of that pain, by giving them the opportunity to have a family in New York. Travelling around the country incurs exorbitant costs simply because they want to be parents.”
She’s not kidding about the exorbitant costs! Surrogacy already comes with an eye-watering price tag of $80,000 to $250,000, which includes a minimum compensation of $35,000 for the surrogate. The new law also requires that would-be parents pay for one year of private health insurance of the surrogate post-birth.
Ms. Paulin says ,“The law gives the strongest protections in the nation to surrogates.”
A surrogate must be over 21 and the parents must pay for legal counsel for their surrogate, plus for the surrogate’s health and life insurance during the pregnancy.
RESOLVE applaud new legislation
RESOLVE, the National Infertility Association in the US, applauded the passage of the bill, known as the New York Child Parent Security Act, into law.
Risa Levine, a RESOLVE advocate in New York said, “I am ecstatic to learn that we have finally reversed the ban on compensated gestational surrogacy in New York. We know that infertility is painful enough without added obstacles. Now, mums in waiting can participate, with their surrogates, in their pregnancies, close to home. And intended parents will be legal parents, right from birth. This is a colossal step forward for our community, and I am grateful for every single person who stepped forward to advocate and tell their stories. We did it!”
Barbara Collura, President of RESOLVE, said, “Legislative victories like this don’t happen overnight. This victory is years in the making and we needed committed doctors, attorneys, and advocates who never gave up or gave in. I am also proud of all our coalition partners in the Protecting Modern Families Coalition who made such a difference in bringing this over the finish line.”
Hopefully, when the COVID19 scourge passes, some New Yorkers, at least, will have cause to celebrate in coming years with their new families that this law will help to bring about.