WINDSOR TERRACE — A new state law allowing couples to hire women to give birth to their children for a fee will have all sorts of negative ramifications, according to Catholic leaders and pro-life supporters who are speaking out against it.
The process commonly known as commercial surrogacy is no longer banned in New York State as of Feb. 15, the date the new law went into effect. Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the bill, called the Child-Parent Security Act, as part of the state budget in 2020.
The practice, which is also known as gestational surrogacy, was banned in New York for nearly 30 years. Women can be paid between $25,000 and $50,000 to carry a child. The process usually involves implanting a fertilized egg into the surrogate’s womb.
The original law banning gestational surrogacy was signed in 1992 by Gov. Mario Cuomo, father of the current governor. The practice also violates the teachings of the Catholic Church.
Msgr. Michael Curran, a professor of Moral Theology at St. Joseph’s Seminary and College in Yonkers, said surrogacy is wrong because babies born of this process are not created out of a coming together of a man and a woman in an intimate marriage.
“With surrogacy, the child is being denied the chance to be born of loving parents. The child becomes an object. It is important to safeguard the dignity of the family,” he said.
Msgr. Curran said Donum Vitae (Respect for Human Life), a document issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1987, does a good job of explaining the church’s position on surrogacy, in vitro fertilization, and other issues. He recommended that Catholics read it. Donum Vitae is meant to serve as instruction on respect for human life in its origin and on the dignity of procreation.
“According to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, every human being is always to be accepted as a gift and blessing of God,” said Mother Maria Amador, PCM general superior. “To procreate a new human being, the spouses collaborate with the Creator giving themselves in love and in fidelity. This important collaboration of a man and a woman does not justify any “right to children.”’
Kathleen Gallagher, director of Pro-Life Activities for the New York State Catholic Conference, attended the ceremony when Mario Cuomo signed the ban 29 years ago. She expressed disappointment with the ban reversal.
“It treats those children as made-to-order merchandise rather than priceless gifts from a loving God. It denigrates and exploits women, reducing them to nothing more than hosts,” she said.
In addition, it exploits women, according to Gallagher.
“It’s an unequal transaction. It’s not lower-income couples hiring rich women as surrogates. It’s rich people hiring poor women,” she said. Baby brokers, who foster contracts between couples and women, advertise in low-income communities and other places where it is assumed women are desperate to make extra cash, she said.
Christian Rada, the director of Marriage, Family Formation and Respect Life Education for the Diocese of Brooklyn, said the church considers surrogacy immoral because it is a breakdown of the family unit.
“It’s taking the marital act between a man and a woman, the two principles of it — which are unitive and procreative — and separating them,” he said. “You shouldn’t separate them because then you’re basically using one person for the means of the other.”
“Just because we can scientifically join a sperm together with an egg in a test tube in a lab doesn’t mean it’s morally right to do so,” Rada added.
However, Cuomo and others who supported reversing the ban, said surrogacy gives infertile couples and members of the LGBTQ community the chance to be parents.
“For far too long, LGBTQ+ New Yorkers and New Yorkers struggling with fertility were denied the opportunity to start a family because of arbitrary and archaic laws and I couldn’t be prouder of the way New York came together to say we won’t stand for this any longer,” Cuomo said.
State Senator Brad Hoylman, a Democrat representing Chelsea, sponsored the bill to reverse the ban.
“My husband and I had our two daughters through surrogacy, but we had to travel 3,000 miles to do it because our home state had banned the practice,” he said.
The new law contains several protections for birth mothers, according to the governor’s office, including a Surrogate’s Bill of Rights mandating access to health insurance for mothers and legal counsel — all paid for by the intended parents.
“They also include psychological counseling,” Gallagher said. “If they’re including that, it means they are aware there will be major problems down the line.”
Mother Maria also sees problems ahead.
“It seems to be that now natural conception will be the result of trade, law, and the market,” she said. “However, the most vulnerable will be the child itself who won’t be able to achieve their own proper human, social, and psychological development.”