January 3, 2020

by Ed Mechmann

Last year, our Governor spearheaded the passage of the so-called Reproductive Health Act, which treats unborn children as disposable commodities. Now he’s announced that he’ll be pushing for the passage of a “surrogate parenting” bill, which would treat babies as commodities to be bought and sold, instead of as persons to be loved and cherished.

Ironically, in the 1990’s, our present Governor’s father followed the unanimous recommendation of the Task Force on Life and the Law and banned commercial surrogacy here in New York. It was clearly seen as an exploitation of women and degrading to human life.

Nothing has changed since then, except that the whims of so-called “progressive” opinion have shifted. A new report in 2017 was issued by a deeply divided Task Force on Life and the Law, calling for the legalization of commercial surrogacy. But a powerful minority report from Task Force members pointed out that the dangers of surrogacy still remain, and will always remain.

Those dangers are self-evident from the way that commercial surrogacy works. There are standard contracts for surrogacy, easily available on the internet. A contract is agreed upon between “intended parents” and the “gestational carrier”. That terminology alone tells you enough about the degradation of women that is inherent in this practice. The standard surrogacy contracts impose all sorts of obligations on the “carrier”, and there is a severe penalty if she doesn’t comply – if she violates any provision, she forfeits any payment under the agreement and has to reimburse the “parents” for any of their expenses. This could entail tens of thousands of dollars in penalties and lost income. How is it “progressive” to treat women this way?

The contract also gives the “intended parents” the power to control virtually every aspect of the “carrier’s” life, subjecting her to medical oversight by a doctor chosen by the “parents” and restrictions on her activities, including, believe it or not, her sexual activities with her husband. Even worse, the contract gives the “parents” complete discretion over whether the “carrier” will have an abortion, if the “parents” decide that the unborn child has a disability, or if it is a multiple pregnancy and they want to “reduce” the number.

The current version of the New York bill would give some protections to the surrogate, but only if she lives in New York. And since there’s no residency requirement for surrogates, these protections may be illusory in many cases.

The power imbalance of these arrangements should cause outrage among supposed “progressives” and feminists. Low-income women are certainly going to be more attracted to enter into these contracts, and the costs of IVF and the surrogacy arrangement ensures that only high-income people could afford to be “intended parents”. So much for the “progressive” concerns about income inequality.

Our current laws still ban selling bodily organs, selling of babies who are already born, paying people to surrender parental rights, we set limits on payments to mothers giving children up for adoption. But this bill would shatter that consensus and put babies on the market for purchase and sale, so long as it’s done before they’re born.

Just in case anyone doubts the dehumanizing mentality that’s pushing for this, note carefully this horrific language in the bill: “No fertilized egg, embryo or fetus shall have any independent rights under the laws of this state, nor shall any fertilized egg, embryo or fetus be viewed as a child under the laws of this state.” An entire class of human beings will be explicitly removed from any recognition or protection under the law. Shades of the infamous statement in the Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision that a black man “had no rights which the white man was bound to respect”.

In other nations, the injustice of this practice is clearly seen. Most countries, including all of Europe, have banned it as a violation of fundamental human rights. Developing countries have outlawed it because they don’t want their women being treated as mere incubators for rich Western “fertility tourists”. But here in the moral free-fire zone of America, it’s a supposedly enlightened practice glorified by the media with glowing portraits of rich celebrities and their latest vanity purchase.

We can still try to hold back this measure, by contacting our legislators and urging them to oppose legalizing baby-selling. The New York State Catholic Conference has been leading this fight, and they have  an alert in their Action Center that will allow us to send emails to our representatives. We also have  more information on our website about the dangers of commercial surrogacy.

With this bill, as with the abortion expansion law, our Governor has made clear that morality has been jettisoned in favor of absolute personal autonomy and the exploitation of weak people by powerful ones. There is no apparent concern for the exploitation of poor women. None for the babies thrown away through economically-coerced “fetal reduction”. None for the “excess embryos” trapped in frozen limbo through IVF. None for the children who will be separated from their birth mother and perpetually confused by the question of who their parents really are.

Powerful, influential and wealthy people want to buy babies, and our Governor wants to open up the market place.