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Wombs for rent? Babies to buy? NOT in New York State!

Wombs for rent? Babies to buy? NOT in New York State!

Choices Founder/President Merle Hoffman joined over 100 women leaders in writing and circulating a powerful letter to NY Governor Cuomo urging him to stop supporting a bill legalizing commercial surrogacy. The letter stated that the bill would “legalize and legitimize the reproductive trafficking of women in New York State, open the door to the mass exploitation of women in consumer-driven contract pregnancies in our State, and ultimately render New York State a global destination for reproductive tourism.” [Full letter here]

Misleadingly named the “Child-Parent Security Act,” the bill was finally stalled by lawmakers who said that they needed more time to consider it. In other words, something like it could be reintroduced, which is what Governor Cuomo has said he wants to do. For now, however, it’s not an option. 

Merle Hoffman wrote her own letter of opposition where she spoke bluntly about the bill and sent it to friends and colleagues urging them to take action:

The proposed “Child-Parent Security Act” is a uniquely dangerous legislative proposal. It supposedly purports concern for “Parents” and “Children” while codifying a view of women as receptacles or someone else’s property. Women’s bodies and women’s wombs belong to them and not the State, Church or Government. This is the bottom line in the abortion debate and should be in any discussion or proposed legislation surrounding surrogacy.

For 48 years I have been on the front lines in the battle for Abortion Rights and Reproductive Choice and   faced many threats and myriad challenges.                

In 1977 Henry Hyde passed the Hyde Amendment cutting off Medicaid funding for poor women’s abortions. This Amendment still lives in law today, and staying true to form, the exponential increase of Kafkaesque anti- abortion State prohibitions that are racing to become the case to overturn Roe, target the poor the young the vulnerable and women and girls of color.  

In the first 5 months of 2019, sixteen states have passed laws restricting abortion, including six with “heartbeat” statutes that prohibit abortion after six weeks of pregnancy before many women even know they are pregnant. Some of these laws would incarcerate doctors who perform abortions and women who have them. Some extend this restriction to miscarriages, requiring women to prove that the miscarriage was not in fact an abortion, which in some states could make them vulnerable to being charged with murder. 

These states comprise the more economically challenged populations in this country. States that figured most statistically significant in my 2012 study (done in conjunction with Adelphi University) ABORTIONOMICS—WHEN CHOICE IS A NECESSITY. This study showed quite clearly that economics play a statistically significant role in a woman’s decision to have an abortion. 

Just as in the abortion decision, the decision to become a birthmother/ surrogate is highly driven by economic pressures. Women in economic need are more vulnerable to viewing surrogacy as a temporary way out of debt, or in many cases the only way to survive. New York State should not support legislation that supports the commercialization of poor women’s’ wombs and may very well reinforce reproductive trafficking and baby selling.

As Roe continues to be weakened within many jurisdictions in the U.S., the vulnerability of the birthmother /surrogates will increase proportionately. There is no way to guard against this in our state law. The failure to understand this complexity in evaluating the proposed commercial surrogacy legislation before New York State legislators will result in the failure to protect the lives and autonomy of women.

As one of the premier and oldest reproductive health organizations in the country, we urge you to demand that your legislators reject the “Child-Parent Security Act” because at its core, it omits women’s moral agency, places women at higher medical risk, codifies using women’s bodies as mere vessels of commercial service and ultimately negates woman’s core humanity…

I feel obliged to reach out to you with this request, as so many lives are at stake.
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