In 2019, New York was in the process of legalizing surrogacy, and several bills were making their way through the state legislature. Many of the bills did not include sufficient regulations to protect surrogates, egg providers, or the children born through these arrangements. Our Bodies Ourselves worked with a New York State Group of Ad Hoc Experts — researchers and educators, health practitioners and advocates — who made recommendations to state Senator Liz Krueger as she drafted and introduced a bill to vastly improve upon the surrogacy practice proposed in the other bills. While a sub-par bill was passed anyway at the start of the pandemic in spring 2020, legislators continue in 2022 to introduce amendments and alternative bills to improve surrogacy practice in New York. OBOS continues to work with the New York State Group as requested, as it assists legislators in their efforts.
Throughout this period since 2019, OBOS has worked to improve surrogacy practice in New York State, a potential hub for domestic and global surrogacy. The organization has leveraged its name and track record in this effort, submitting the following position statement, letters to government officials, and sample op-ed at key moments in New York’s legislative process.
- Position Statement of Our Bodies Ourselves on the Child-Parent Security Act (S.17A), October 2019
This position statement was submitted to the New York State Group and Senator Krueger’s office in October 2019.
- Memo/letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo, Assembly Speaker, and Senate Majority Leader, February 2020
Just as the pandemic hit, New York Governor Cuomo launched his “Love Makes a Family” campaign and supported a sub-par bill with woefully inadequate protections for surrogates, egg providers and children. We tried to deter him with this letter – also addressed to leaders of the New York legislature – calling for removal of surrogacy legislation from the budget and outlining the ways in which Senator Krueger’s bill was far better. We also criticized the Governor’s process, which would legalize surrogacy without public discussion.
- Pandemic No Excuse for Governor to Fast Track Under-Debated Bill on Surrogacy Regulation, March 2020
This unpublished op-ed, written by Our Bodies Ourselves and Dr. Timothy R B Johnson, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Michigan, was intended to bring public attention to Cuomo’s undemocratic process in slipping surrogacy legislation into his budget, skirting public debate. However, with all eyes and ears on the early weeks of the pandemic, even interested media outlets were not able to shine their spotlight on surrogacy regulation.
- Letter to New York State Dept of Health, co-signed by Gloria Steinem, April 2021
Unfortunately, Cuomo pushed through “his” bill as part of the budget process, making it law. As required by the law, the following year, the NY State Department of Health posted information and guidelines on surrogacy and egg “donation,” which were also terribly inadequate. This letter stated how it was “incumbent on the Department of Health (DOH) to address flaws and omissions in the law by providing information that will serve to safeguard the health and rights of all parties in surrogacy arrangements” and pointing out how the DOH guidelines fell short.