Nearly one year after New York State legalized paid gestational surrogacy, which is when a surrogate carries a baby who shares no biological relation, the law finally went into effect February 15.
The gestational surrogacy bill, labeled the “Child-Parent Security Act,” passed in the budget in April of last year following a prolonged fight over the rights of surrogates and egg donors, as well as additional concerns that having a baby through gestational surrogacy would primarily only be feasible for wealthier folks.
Concerns over costs were not adequately resolved. It costs tens of thousands of dollars — or even more than $100,000 — to have a baby through gestational surrogacy, leaving many families unable to pursue such a route. According to Creative Family Connections, a surrogacy agency and law firm, the average cost of a surrogacy pregnancy can skyrocket north of $125,000. Southern Surrogacy, another surrogacy agency, notes that the total average cost of surrogacy begins at around $70,000 — and that’s before medical costs are considered.
When asked about the cost-related concerns last year, out gay State Senator Brad Hoylman of Manhattan — the bill’s lead sponsor in the upper chamber — expressed hope that the movement to implement universal healthcare would alleviate some healthcare costs. Universal healthcare does not appear imminent at the moment,
As lawmakers considered the bill, out lesbian Assemblymember Deborah Glick of Manhattan was one of the most vocal opponents, telling the New York Times that she felt gestational surrogacy amounted to “pregnancy for a fee, and I find that commodification of women troubling.”
Nonetheless, there was pressure to pass a bill legalizing the practice — especially considering that New York was one of few states that had yet to legalize paid gestational surrogacy. An earlier version of the bill passed the State Senate in 2019 but faltered in the lower chamber.
However, Hoylman and Assemblymember Amy Paulin of Westchester — the bill’s lead sponsor in the lower house — successfully steered the legislation to passage. The final version of the legislation that was passed last year included a “bill of rights” that the bill’s sponsors touted as having the strongest protections for surrogates in the nation. The legislation also confronted the “second parent adoption” process by scrapping unnecessary hurdles surrounding the non-biological parents’ rights to the child.
Among other provisions, the bill allowed intended parents to get a court to provide an “order of parentage” stipulating that they become the parents as soon as the child is born. At least one of the intended parents are required to be a resident of New York State for at least a half-year before the surrogacy agreement is completed.
After the law went into effect, Hoylman reflected on his own experience navigating gestational surrogacy before it became legal in New York State.
“My husband and I had our two daughters through surrogacy — but we had to travel 3,000 miles to do it because our home state had banned the practice,” Hoylman said in a written statement. “Thanks to the Child-Parent Security Act, gestational surrogacy is finally legal in New York State, giving LGBTQ couples and people experiencing infertility the opportunity to build a family through surrogacy here at home. This legislation sets a new gold standard for surrogacy, providing women acting as surrogates with the strongest legal and health protections in the nation while also protecting intended parents and egg donors.”
Paulin also tied in her own experience having children as she touted the legislation’s impact.
“Today, couples with infertility issues and same-sex couples will be able to start their families in New York without facing the logistical and legal obstacles that have impeded them,” Paulin said. “I had fertility issues when I attempted to get pregnant with my second child, so I am well aware of the pain and suffering that is attached to wanting a child.”
Paulin also insisted that the law would help families avoid “incurring exorbitant costs” since they would no longer need to travel to other states, but she did not address the already-high costs of gestational surrogacy in general.
Governor Andrew Cuomo, who was a key supporter of the gestational surrogacy legislation, celebrated the law’s enactment.
“For far too long, LGBTQ+ New Yorkers and New Yorkers struggling with fertility were denied the opportunity to start a family because of arbitrary and archaic laws and I couldn’t be prouder of the way New York came together to say we won’t stand for this any longer,” Cuomo said. “New York is a loving state and were proud to lead the charge for fairness and equality last year. With this law now in effect, no longer will anyone will be blocked from the joys of starting a family and raising children simply because of who they are.”
Alexander Roque, who is the CEO of the Ali Forney Center, praised the governor and spoke up about his experience having children.
“Governor Cuomo’s tireless care for, commitment to and centering of LGBTQIA rights is among the most noble commitments to justice and equality for all,” Roque said. “Moreover, in doing so, Governor Cuomo is setting a standard for other leaders to follow in protecting and really thinking about and responding to the needs of our movement. As a gay parent who had no coverage or benefits in supporting my family journey, I know firsthand the impact this legislation will have on our families…”
Ron Poole-Dayan, the executive director of Men Having Babies, said, “Today we believe that New York leapfrogged to have the most comprehensive and ethical surrogacy laws ever drafted, with extensive protections to all involved, legal clarity and a streamlined process for parentage rights, and attention to long term physical and mental health outcomes. We thank Governor Cuomo for his leadership and look forward to working with him on building upon this historic achievement for LGBTQ families.”
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