ALBANY — Gov. Cuomo plans to renew his fight to legalize paid gestational surrogacy during the upcoming legislative session — a move that could enable New Yorkers to pay a woman to carry a baby to term through in-vitro fertilization.
Under current law, New York is one of only three states that ban infertile and gay couples from entering into a contract with someone to carry a child to full term in exchange for compensation.
The governor, who mounted a failed bid to lift the ban last year, announced Monday that the issue will once again be a priority heading into the legislative session starting next week.
“New York’s surrogacy ban is based in fear not love, and it’s past time we updated our antiquated laws to help LGBTQ couples and people struggling with fertility use commonplace reproductive technology to start families,” Cuomo said.
Repealing the ban was included in Cuomo’s executive spending plan in 2019, but was stripped out of the final state budget after negotiations with the Democratic-run Legislature.
Legislation that would have legalized the practice passed the Senate in June as Cuomo enlisted the assistance of television producer Andy Cohen to advocate for the measure.
The “Watch What Happens Live” host, who is gay, talked about his personal journey of having a child through surrogacy in California and his shock at discovering the Empire State bans the practice.
Pushback from an unlikely combination of religious organizations and women’s groups concerned about potential exploitation of surrogates, particularly those from low-income backgrounds, preceded the bill’s failure to gain enough support in the Assembly.
Like the measure from last session, Cuomo’s proposal would create protections for surrogates, “ensuring the unfettered right of surrogates to make their own health care decisions, including whether to terminate or continue a pregnancy.”
It would also ensure that surrogates have access to comprehensive health insurance and independent legal counsel of their choosing, paid for by the intended parents.
The measure would also streamline the “second parent adoption” process by requiring only a single visit to court to recognize legal parenthood while the child is in utero.
Currently, the process can take about a year and imposes many burdensome expenses, including lawyer’s fees, court fees and fees for the mandatory home visit from a social worker that can cost up to $5,000.
Petitioning parents must also provide a letter stating their position and salary, a letter from their primary physician, a letter from the child’s pediatrician stating the child is in good health, a list of every residence the petitioning parent has lived in for the past 28 years and relevant financial information, in addition to providing fingerprints for a background check, according to the governor’s office.
Cuomo vowed Monday to simplify the process and keep up his fight to legalize paid surrogacy.
“I’m going to make it a priority again this year to repeal the ban and provide the nation’s strongest protections for surrogates and parents choosing to take part in the surrogacy process,” he said.
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