Congratulations to New York for at last enacting legislation that helps create families. Meanwhile, in Michigan, Nebraska, and Louisiana, you can be a surrogate — but only without payment.
Dr. James Grifo is Director for the NYU Langone Fertility Center, Director of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology, and a Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the NYU School of Medicine.
Nazca Fontes is the founder and CEO of ConceiveAbilities, a surrogacy agency serving intended parents, egg donors, and surrogates across the U.S.
We want a world where everyone who wishes to become a parent, can.
We’re about to step closer to that world. Today, February 15th, compensated surrogacy — the practice of paying a surrogate to carry a child — is being legalized in New York.
This is a milestone event. A triumph for modern families. New Yorkers will no longer have to hopscotch around the country, incurring ridiculous costs, absurd inconvenience and now the risk of COVID infection, just to become a parent.
Infuriatingly, that’s still the case in three states. In Louisiana, Nebraska, and Michigan, paid surrogacy is not only outlawed, it’s actually criminal. You could face fines and jail time for trying to safely and responsibly have a child.
And for what possible reason? Gloria Steinem last year suggested that compensated surrogates are clueless, desperate and likely to be exploited.
She’s wrong. Here are the facts:
This past spring, we hired Accelerant Research to survey 100 surrogates and more than 500 qualified surrogacy prospects so we, too, could get a deeper understanding of the women we serve.
We found that the women who are drawn to surrogacy are generous, well-informed, and, surprising even to us, rather affluent.
More than 60% reported a household income above $75,000.
More than half volunteer regularly.
Nearly half are registered blood and organ donors.
Almost one-quarter of them foster pets.
68% see surrogacy as a way to support the LGBTQ community.
More than three-quarters said they did so because they knew someone personally in need. Two-thirds said they were witness to a relative or close friend’s struggle with infertility.
But the single biggest reason was a simple desire to help: 87% said they find joy in helping others. 74% reported they are motivated by a sense of empowerment as a surrogate.
Is there a financial motivation as well? Definitely. Two-thirds said the income lowers financial stress by paying down student loans and other debt.
So, in reality, surrogates are knowledgeable and clear-headed.
Further, where laws are in place, so are sanctions to safe-guard surrogates and properly match them with the right person in need. These rules dictate surrogates are properly screened and vetted to ensure they are making informed decisions on their own behalf.
New York’s legislation even contains a “Surrogate’s Bill of Rights.”
So kudos and congratulations to New York for at last enacting legislation that helps create families. Meanwhile, in Michigan, Nebraska, and Louisiana, you can be a surrogate — but only without payment.
So, in essence, these states ask women to carry a child and give birth for someone else — but only if she does it for free. She must be unrewarded and unpaid. And legally unprotected.
Now that is exploitation.