Ryan Franco/ Unsplash
Ryan Franco/ Unsplash

As the state legislative session nears its end, the fight to continue the current ban on commercial surrogacy in New York also appears to be ending. 

A newly proposed bill (A.1071-B/S.2071-A.) is being readied for passage by both houses, and would legalize surrogate motherhood in the state. 

Unlike altruistic surrogacy, where women are not compensated for their time as surrogate mothers, commercial surrogacy refers to any arrangement where the surrogate mother is compensated for her services and reimbursed for medical expenses while pregnant.

New York is one of only three states, alongside Louisiana and Michigan, that bans commercial surrogacy outright. 

On Tuesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo called for state lawmakers to approve the new bill while speaking at a LGBTQ fundraiser. Cuomo promised to get the bill passed by the end of the legislative session, which is due to conclude on June 19. 

The Catholic Church has long stood against commercial surrogacy, saying that the process exploits vulnerable and low income women and commoditizes human life.

Kathleen Gallagher, director of pro-life activities for the New York State Catholic Conference, said that commercial surrogacy “really is the legislature playing God.”

“We think that both women and children will be exploited under this bill,” said Gallagher. “This will be opening a Pandora's box of potential consequences.”

Commercial surrogacy has been a controversial topic for decades. Advocates for its legalization argue that the procedure would be safer if regulated, and allows for surrogate mothers to receive compensation for their time while pregnant.

Those opposed - which includes many feminist groups - argue that monetary compensation would pressure low-income women into becoming surrogates for cash, and objectifies women and their children as products to be bought and sold. 

“This isn’t going to be rich women” acting as surrogates, Gallagher said. “It’s going to be economically poor women.”

On May 22, the NYSCC released an alert about the likelihood of the bill’s passage. Only a day later, and over 3,000 messages had been sent to the state legislature opposing the bill. 

“The female womb is a life-giving gift from God,” Gallagher said, and is not to be regarded as a mass “reproductive machine.”

For more information on commercial surrogacy, or to write to state lawmakers about opposition to the bill, visit: https://www.nyscatholic.org/nys-catholic-conference-action-center/?vvsrc=%2fcampaigns%2f56187%2frespond