In the three decades since In re Baby M (1988)—the first legal battle concerning the legitimacy of surrogacy contracts—many states have adopted laws to deal with gestational surrogacy. In New York, it is currently illegal to compensate a woman to bear a child on behalf of commissioning parents.
A new law sponsored by state legislators Amy Paulin and Brad Hoylman could change that. The Child-Parent Security Act (first introduced in the 2013–14 legislative cycle) would allow for intended parents to commission and pay for a surrogate pregnancy. Hoylman himself paid a gestational surrogate in California to bear his daughter Silvia, now three, and he wants to make it easier for prospective parents in New York to do so as well.
The most noteworthy part of the legislation is Section 5A, the part of the bill that deals with compensation for paid gestational surrogates. It reads:
Compensation may be paid to a donor or gestational carrier based on services rendered, expenses that have been or will be incurred, time, and inconvenience. Under no circumstances may compensation be paid to purchase gametes or embryos or to pay for the relinquishment of a parental interest in a child.
Recently, Voices in Bioethics editorial staff members Derek Ayeh and Kevin Van Geem sat down with podcast host Rachel Bloom to discuss the ethics of paid gestational surrogacy.
To read the Child-Parent Security Act in its entirety, and to get updates on the status of the bill, please visit:
For the case details and philosophical issues at stake in the Baby M matter, please read:
Steinbock, Bonnie. “Surrogate Motherhood as Prenatal Adoption.” Journal of Law, Medicine, and Ethics 16, no. 1–2 (1988): 44–50. Doi: 10.1111/j.1748-720X.1988.tb01049.x
For more on how market norms crowd out other moral considerations, including the corruption of human life due to gestational surrogacy contracts, please read:
Sandel, Michael J. What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits on the Market. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012.
To read Gary Becker and Julio Jorge Elías’ argument in favor of a market for organs, please read:
Becker, Gary S. and Julio Jorge Elías. “Introducing Incentives in the Market for Live and Cadaveric Organ Donations.” The Journal of Economic Perspectives 21, no. 3 (Summer 2007): 3–24.