ALBANY, NY — The Protecting Modern Families Coalition, led by Family Equality Council, today joined together with elected officials, parents, surrogates, and advocates in Albany for a lobby day to call on the New York State Legislature to pass the Child-Parent Security Act this legislative session. This critical legislation will modernize state law to support and protect New Yorkers that utilize assisted reproductive technology, such as in vitro fertilization or gestational surrogacy, to form their families.
Coalition advocates were joined by bill sponsors Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblymember Amy Paulin; New York parents who have used surrogacy to form their families; and surrogates from across the country who have helped New York parents. The speakers spoke out about why legalizing surrogacy and modernizing New York’s laws is so important, especially to those who use a third-party to form a family, and those who undergo a burdensome and complex process of establishing legal parenthood as a non-biological parent (as is common for lesbian couples).
“New York State has always served as a beacon of hope for communities seeking equal rights and protections under the law. However, the state has fallen behind in supporting so many New Yorkers who rely on technological advances in reproductive medicine to create and build families,” said The Rev. Stan J. Sloan, CEO of Family Equality Council, which works to advance equality for LGBTQ families. “With the support of Governor Cuomo, we are encouraged that New York’s representatives will understand the important role this legislation will play in the lives of so many of their constituents who are burdened by an outdated and hostile system when seeking to become parents. We look forward to working with our partners in government to ensure the Child-Parent Security Act becomes law in 2019.”
Over the past three decades, medical technology has evolved to offer new pathways to forming a family for those experiencing infertility as well as for LGBTQ people. Unfortunately, New York law has not experienced that same evolution – forcing New Yorkers to live with uncertainty about the legal relationship between intended parents and their children or else leave the state to pursue these new options.
Unlike states with more supportive laws, current New York law governing assisted reproductive technology relies primarily on biology rather than intention to determine parental rights. This can result in sperm and egg donors having rights and responsibilities they don’t want, while intended parents and their children are forced into legal limbo.
For example, under present law, single women working with a sperm donor are unable to fully guard their legal relationship to their child if the donor were to change his mind and seek custody. And lesbian couples seeking to become parents through the use of a sperm donor often must undergo a costly and intrusive second-parent adoption to ensure the parental rights of both are protected when outside of the state. Additionally, New York is one of only two states in the country where it is illegal to enter into a compensated gestational surrogacy agreement.
“As the proud father of two children born through surrogacy in California where it’s legal, I’ve experienced firsthand the need to provide the option of surrogacy to New Yorkers and establish strong laws to protect all the parties in a surrogacy arrangement, including the surrogates, gamete donors, and intended parents,” said Senator Brad Hoylman. “Becoming a parent should be a joyous occasion, not an illegal act. We need to legalize and regulate compensated surrogacy contracts sensibly. Passing the Child-Parent Security Act will help us do this. I’m grateful to Assemblymember Paulin and our dedicated coalition of advocates for their support.”
“Though New York State is the progressive capital of the nation on so many issues, we are one of only two states that still ban and criminalize surrogacy,” said Assemblymember Amy R. Paulin. “I had fertility issues when I attempted to get pregnant with my second child, so I am well aware of the pain and suffering that is attached to wanting a child. This bill would allow families to avoid much of that pain by giving them the opportunity to have a family in New York and not travel around the country, incurring exorbitant costs simply because they want to be parents.”
The Child-Parent Security Act, sponsored by Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblymember Amy Paulin, would modernize New York law so that intended parents who enlist the help of a third-party to conceive their child would have a secure legal relationship with their child from the moment of birth. It would also legalize gestational surrogacy (where the surrogate is not genetically connected to the child because she did not contribute her egg), provided that the arrangement follows “best practices” in the field that protect the interests of the surrogate, intended parents, and child. These protections include the right of the surrogate to make decisions about her health and the health of the fetus, and ensuring they obtain their own legal representation, among other commonsense protections.
“We work with so many New Yorkers who, because of the state’s outdated laws, experience real hardship and legal uncertainly in fulfilling their dreams of having a family,” said Risa A Levine, New York resident and Board Member of RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association. “We look forward to the day The Child Parent Security Act becomes law and makes our state the leader it should be in supporting all families.”
“Over ten years ago, and after I had the opportunity to create a family of my own, I willingly and wholeheartedly decided to help people who couldn’t have children. I was able to provide these loving families with a sense of hope that they otherwise didn’t think existed. So many people comment that it was such a selfless act on my part, but I don’t view it that way. It was a true gift for me and for the parents I partnered with,” said Vickye Ashton, a two-time surrogate to New York families who resides in California. “So while I wish for my experience to resonate here today, what I really wish for is that the Child-Parent Security Act becomes law so that more New York families can create healthy, lasting, successful relationships through surrogacy that bring children into loving homes.”
Protecting Modern Families Coalition
The Protecting Modern Families Coalition advocates for New York families who rely on advances in medical assistance to have children. The coalition is made up of leading LGTBQ, infertility, faith, and women’s organizations dedicated to passing the Child-Parent Security Act during the 2019 legislative session, including the Academy for Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys, American Society for Reproductive Medicine, Auburn Theological Seminary, Equality New York, Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center of New York City, RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, Union Theological Seminary, Men Having Babies, and National Council of Jewish Women.
To learn more, visit www.modernfamiliescoalition.com.
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